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 state’s coronavirus cases and hospitalizations are at an all-time high.
In New York, the decisive moment came in March. In Arizona and other Sun Belt states, it struck as the spring turned to summer. In every state that has so far seen a large spike of COVID-19 cases, there has been a moment when the early signs of an uptick are detectable—but a monstrous outbreak is not yet assured. Can a state realize what’s happening, and stop a surge in time? Wisconsin is about to find out.
In the past week, Wisconsin has crashed through its own coronavirus records, reporting more cases and more COVID-19 hospitalizations than it has at any time since the pandemic began, according to the COVID Tracking Project at The Atlantic. It now ranks among the top states in new cases per capita, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and it is reporting more new cases, in absolute terms, than all states but California, Texas, and Florida.
The fires, smoke, and heat are no longer a fluke, but our future. The time has come for us to flee.
Portland, Oregon, has its share of gloomy days, so waking up to darkness wasn’t that strange. When I looked outside, however, the sky wasn’t overcast. It was filled with smoke the color of pumpkin spice, the result of nearby fires. A soupy miasma. The most noxious air in the world. I’d had enough. I told my husband, “We need to move.”
Having grown up in California’s Sonoma County, I’ve been spoiled by natural beauty and perfect weather. When I was 30, I briefly lived in New York, but after only six months, I started to miss horizon lines defined by mountains and sunsets, the sweet fragrance of dry vegetation in late summer, silvery oak trees and massive redwoods. I bought a one-way ticket back home. I remember the way the bay looked as my plane descended into San Francisco: glittery, golden, and serene—like a Maxfield Parrish painting I had on my wall in high school. I felt protected on this side of the country, grounded within the boundaries of water and range. I never thought I’d leave the West Coast again.
If the vote is close, Donald Trump could easily throw the election into chaos and subvert the result. Who will stop him?
Illustrations by Guillem Casasús / Renderings by Borja Alegre
There is a cohort of close observers of our presidential elections, scholars and lawyers and political strategists, who find themselves in the uneasy position of intelligence analysts in the months before 9/11. As November 3 approaches, their screens are blinking red, alight with warnings that the political system does not know how to absorb. They see the obvious signs that we all see, but they also know subtle things that most of us do not. Something dangerous has hove into view, and the nation is lurching into its path.
The danger is not merely that the 2020 election will bring discord. Those who fear something worse take turbulence and controversy for granted. The coronavirus pandemic, a reckless incumbent, a deluge of mail-in ballots, a vandalized Postal Service, a resurgent effort to suppress votes, and a trainload of lawsuits are bearing down on the nation’s creaky electoral machinery.
If the judge’s faith has put limits on her talent and ambition, there are few signs of it.
The first I heard of Amy Coney Barrett was when her name was floated as a possible nominee for the seat left vacant on the Supreme Court when Anthony Kennedy retired. I thought she was an interesting person, although not for any reasons of policy or politics: She is a mother of seven children, several of them very young; a Catholic; a deeply accomplished and distinguished member of the judiciary. I could not prevent myself from noticing, too, how beautiful she is, and wondering how the hell she balances raising seven children with her huge career. But there was little time to ponder these questions in my heart, as Mary did the annunciation, because Brett Kavanaugh was nominated instead of her, and things got so weird so fast that she slipped my mind.
Joe Biden should simply name what is true and what most Americans intuit about the president: He is a terribly broken man.
“I’m used to bullies.”
That’s a line Joe Biden has used several times during his run against Donald Trump, and he said it again recently in talking about the first presidential debate.
“I hope I don’t take the bait, because he’s going to say awful things about me, my family, et cetera,” Biden said at a virtual fundraiser. “I hope I don’t get baited into getting into a brawl with this guy, because that’s the only place he’s comfortable.” Biden expects to be able to keep his cool because, he said, “I’m used to dealing with bullies.”
The challenge for Biden isn’t simply that he’ll be facing a bully on the debate stage in Cleveland on Tuesday; it’s that he’ll be facing a man who is shameless and without conscience, a shatterer of norms and boundaries, a liar of epic proportions, a conspiracy-monger who inhabits an alternate reality. President Donald Trump operates outside any normal parameters.
The typical path to parenthood didn’t work for David Jay, a founder of the asexual movement. So he designed his own household—and is trying to show others what is possible.
Updated at 12:40 p.m. ET on September 24, 2020
David Jay is the oldest of 12 cousins on one side of his family and the third-oldest of 24 cousins on the other. As a kid, family to Jay meant having a lot of people around, a feeling of community, and crucially, a sense of permanence, that these people would always be in his life. Later, as an adult living in collective housing, he could access the feeling of family with those around him, but the permanence was gone. His roommates started finding romantic partners, having children, and dispersing. Jay had always wanted his own family with kids—and had known, for almost as long, that he wouldn’t be able to build one the usual way.
Jay is the founder of the Asexual Visibility and Education Network and one of the most prominent people in the asexual movement. (Asexual people, or aces, don’t experience sexual attraction, though many do have sex and form romantic relationships.) After starting AVEN as a freshman at Wesleyan University in 2001, Jay spent years explaining asexuality to the public, speaking at events and talking to the press. As he grew older, the questions on his mind moved beyond identity and attraction to issues of parenting and family life.
Amy Coney Barrett’s ascension is a triumph for the conservative legal movement.
Updated on September 26, 2020 at 5:21 a.m. ET.
When President Donald Trump announced today that Amy Coney Barrett is his nominee for the Supreme Court, he was effectively declaring victory. In 2016, Trump offered a horse trade to American conservatives: In exchange for their votes, he promised to appoint judges who would champion their interests. This nomination is yet another chance for Trump to remind his supporters that their bet paid off, conveniently timed just a few weeks before Election Day.
While Trump may see this nomination as a boon to his reelection campaign, the true victors are the leaders of the conservative legal movement, who built the sophisticated machine in Washington that made this moment possible. With most of America’s institutions, from Congress to the executive branch, locked into a state of dysfunction and partisan bitterness, the Court has become the ultimate venue for the parties to fight out controversies and entrench their power. Barrett’s nomination is the culmination of a decades-long strategy to advance judges steeped in a conservative judicial philosophy that tends to favor limited government regulation of businesses, produce skepticism of abortion rights, and promote an expansive view of religious liberty. If Barrett is confirmed, a new 6-to-3 conservative supermajority will be poised to determine Americans’ rights for a generation.
Only in America does so much power rest in the hands of elderly judges.
When the Framers of the Constitution debated the document’s careful system of checks and balances, they confronted a question that would only become more important over time: Should there be a mandatory retirement age for federal judges?
Alexander Hamilton argued against one. Writing in The Federalist Papers, he dismissed “the imaginary danger of a superannuated bench.” Hamilton won out, and the Constitution placed no term limits on the service of federal judges, including the men and (much later) women who would make up the Supreme Court.
More than two centuries later, the United States stands alone in its handling of lifetime appointments to its highest court, and the drawbacks of a “superannuated bench” have become ever more clear. Last Friday, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg became the third member of the Supreme Court to die in office in the past 15 years. Her death injects a partisan fight over the judiciary into the tempest of a presidential election, and it has brought about a nightmare scenario for Democrats, who have long feared the possibility that a conservative would replace her progressive vote on the Supreme Court and shift the nation’s jurisprudence dramatically to the right. But it also serves as a reminder that only in the U.S. does the balance of so much national power hang on the ability of an 87-year-old jurist to hold out for a few more months against the ravages of disease and the inevitability of life’s natural course.
1. The political fight to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg
“Democrats have few options to try to prevent President Donald Trump from confirming his nominee, whom he plans to announce on Saturday,” our politics writer Elaine Godfrey writes. “So they’re already gaming out how to get revenge.” Read about their Supreme Court Hail Mary.
The press hasn’t broken its most destructive habits when it comes to covering Donald Trump.
We’re seeing a huge error, and a potential tragedy, unfold in real time.
That’s a sentence that could apply to countless aspects of economic, medical, governmental, and environmental life at the moment. What I have in mind, though, is the almost unbelievable failure of much of the press to respond to the realities of the Trump age.
Many of our most influential editors and reporters are acting as if the rules that prevailed under previous American presidents are still in effect. But this president is different; the rules are different; and if it doesn’t adapt, fast, the press will stand as yet another institution that failed in a moment of crucial pressure.
In some important ways, media outlets are repeating the mistake made by former Special Counsel Robert Mueller. In his book about the Mueller investigation, True Crimes and Misdemeanors (and in a New Yorker article), Jeffrey Toobin argues that Mueller’s tragic flaw was a kind of anachronistic idealism—which had the same effect as naivete. Mueller knew the ethical standards he would maintain for himself and insist on from his team. He didn’t understand that the people he was dealing with thought standards were for chumps. Mueller didn’t imagine that a sitting attorney general would intentionally misrepresent his report, which is of course what Bill Barr did. Mueller wanted to avoid an unseemly showdown, or the appearance of a “fishing expedition” inquiry, that would come from seeking a grand-jury subpoena for Donald Trump’s testimony, so he never spoke with Trump under oath, or at all. Trump, Barr, and their team viewed this decorousness as a sign of weakness, which they could exploit.