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August 7, 2014
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In an age where it seems like nowhere is safe from espionage, let alone the internet, Google is taking the lead on making security a smart business practice. The search giant announced in a blog post Wednesday that it would start prioritizing HTTPS in its algorithm, giving sites using encrypted, secure connections higher ranking in its searches.

Google explains:

Over the past few months we've been running tests taking into account whether sites use secure, encrypted connections as a signal in our search ranking algorithms. We've seen positive results, so we're starting to use HTTPS as a ranking signal. For now it's only a very lightweight signal — affecting fewer than 1% of global queries, and carrying less weight than other signals such as high-quality content — while we give webmasters time to switch to HTTPS. But over time, we may decide to strengthen it, because we'd like to encourage all website owners to switch from HTTP to HTTPS to keep everyone safe on the web. [Google]

Encrypted data means users connecting over unsecured Wi-fi networks will have one more obstacle between their information and snoopers — but concerns over cost and connection time have historically made website operators hesitant. But Christopher Soghoian, a principal technologist for the American Civil Liberties Union, told The Wall Street Journal that this is "the ultimate carrot" for sites to start encrypting their connections. We'll have to see whether the prospect of more love from the ever-fickle Google search algorithm seduces site operators into beefing up their connections. Kimberly Alters

1:08 p.m. ET

Imagine, for a second, if you could fly aboard Air Force One. History has been made on that plane, from former President George W. Bush circling the American skies in the hours after the Sept. 11 attacks to Hillary Clinton's ride last summer with former President Barack Obama as the first presidential candidate who was not a sitting vice president. What knowledge and prestige you'd be privy to! What an honor!

Now imagine, for one more second, if you could fly aboard Air Force One today:

Oh, if those cabin walls could talk, we imagine they'd relay some colorful language. Kimberly Alters

12:49 p.m. ET
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The U.S. government last fall ruled the death of Mikhail Lesin, Russian President Vladimir Putin's former media czar, an "accident," but two FBI agents and a U.S. intelligence agency official say he was actually beaten to death, BuzzFeed News reported Friday. The three agents were not "directly involved" in the investigation of Lesin's November 2015 death in a Washington, D.C., hotel room, but they said they "learned about it from colleagues who were."

The FBI agents also revealed yet another previously unreported bit of information: Lesin was in D.C. to talk to Department of Justice officials about "the inner workings of RT, the Kremlin-funded network that Lesin founded," BuzzFeed reported. He was apparently slated to meet with the DOJ the day after he was killed in the hotel room, which the DOJ had reportedly paid for.

"There seems to be an effort here to cover up that fact for reasons I can't get into. What I can tell you is that there isn't a single person inside the bureau who believes this guy got drunk, fell down, and died," one of the FBI agents told BuzzFeed, dismissing the official explanation for Lesin's death. "Everyone thinks he was whacked and that Putin or the Kremlin were behind it."

The agents claimed that the FBI "has obtained evidence and conducted witness interviews that indicate Lesin was murdered," apparently with a baseball bat. Read the full story at BuzzFeed News. Becca Stanek

12:00 p.m. ET
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North Korea has launched what appears to be a ballistic missile, Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis said Friday. The missile, launched shortly before midnight local time in Japan, is apparently headed for Japanese waters. It could land in Japan's "exclusive economic zone," Reuters reported, citing Japan's public broadcaster NHK.

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said the missile flew for roughly 45 minutes. There were "no immediate reports of damage," CNBC reported.

Davis said the Pentagon is "assessing" the situation "and will have more information soon." Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has called a meeting of Japan's National Security Council.

This test would mark the 14th missile test North Korea has conducted this year. Becca Stanek

This is a breaking news story that will be updated as more details become available.

10:46 a.m. ET

It's unclear which people Fox News' Jesse Watters has been talking to, but he claims "a lot" of them "wish President Trump was a dictator." Watters explained Thursday on The Five that if Trump were a dictator then "maybe we could repeal ObamaCare." "It would be a lot easier that way," he said, hours before the ObamaCare "skinny repeal" died on the Senate floor.

Watters made the remark as the panel discussed a recent quote from Democratic Rep. Keith Ellison (Minn.), comparing Trump to King George III. Ellison said Trump's efforts to "intimidate people, to pack the courts, to intimidate the press" are all part of his plan to "just run everything himself." "We fought a war of independence against somebody — King George — who was trying to do that," Ellison said.

But Watters seems to think that, for the sake of repealing the health-care law that insures more than 20 million Americans, it wouldn't be so bad for Trump to be a little more like the man who sparked the Revolutionary War. Watch Watters make the case below. Becca Stanek

10:03 a.m. ET

Frustrated with White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, President Trump is reportedly already considering whom he wants to replace him with, The New York Times reported Thursday:

[...] Mr. Trump has openly told people that he has lost faith in Mr. Priebus. He has said he wants "a general" as chief of staff, and has focused on John F. Kelly, the retired four-star Marine now serving as homeland security secretary. Many of his advisers, however, consider that a bad idea. [The New York Times]

Even if Trump's advisers manage to talk him out of tapping Kelly, the chances of Priebus sticking around are looking pretty low. The New York Times reported that Trump has lately taken to bringing up the time Priebus suggested that Trump drop out of the presidential election after the infamous Access Hollywood tape of Trump talking about grabbing women by the genitals surfaced. Trump reportedly goes around asking his associates, "'Do you remember when Reince did that?'"

Read more at The New York Times. Becca Stanek

9:09 a.m. ET

As Senate Republicans fell silent early Friday morning upon learning they did not have enough votes to pass an ObamaCare repeal, the crowd gathered outside the U.S. Capitol burst into cheers. People bracing for a "skinny repeal" of the Affordable Care Act hugged, danced, pumped their fists in the air, and clapped the moment they learned the repeal would not become a reality:

Senate Republicans' ObamaCare repeal attempt, an effort seven years in the making, was defeated after three Republican senators — Susan Collins (Maine), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), and John McCain (Ariz.) — voted against the proposal that would've ended ObamaCare's individual mandate. Republicans weren't entirely sure which way McCain would vote until the decisive moment he silently walked up to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and gave him a thumbs-down. Becca Stanek

8:48 a.m. ET

After Senate Republicans failed to repeal ObamaCare, GOP Rep. Mo Brooks (Ala.) on Friday morning suggested that it might be time for a change in party leadership. Brooks urged Senate Republicans not to quit pushing to repeal and replace ObamaCare, but he said that if they're willing to quit, maybe some Republicans should quit too. "If they're gonna quit, well then by golly, maybe they ought to start at the top with Mitch McConnell leaving his position and letting somebody new, somebody bold, somebody conservative take the reins," Brooks said on CNN's New Day.

"You think the problem is leadership? You think it's time for a change?" CNN's Chris Cuomo clarified. Brooks responded by noting that "unquestionably, the leadership at the top is responsible" for the failed repeal vote. "If Mitch McConnell cannot get the job done on this, how is he going to get the job done on the rest of President Trump's agenda over the next three and a half years?" Brooks said.

Brooks insisted that it isn't "necessarily anything bad about Mitch McConnell," but "he's got a job to do." "And if he can't do it, then as The Apprentice would say, 'You're fired,' and get somebody who can," Brooks said.

Watch it below. Becca Stanek

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