Apple and the U.S. government are gearing up for a public and legal battle over FBI Director James Comey's demand that Apple give the FBI a tool to break the passcode on San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook's iPhone, a tool Apple argues create a "backdoor" around the iPhone's security, putting customer privacy and safety at risk and setting a dangerous precedent in the U.S. and abroad. Google CEO Sundar Pichai sided with Apple on Wednesday, but Apple CEO Tim Cook also got a more surprising endorsement for his stand against the FBI: Gen. Michael Hayden, former NSA director (1999-2005) and CIA chief (2006-2009).
In a conversation with Wall Street Journal associate editor John Bussey posted Wednesday, Hayden said that he understands both sides of the unbreakable end-to-end encryption debate, but when it comes to demanding a backdoor, "I think Jim Comey's wrong." Comey's logic, Hayden said, "is based on the belief that he's the main body, and that you should accommodate your movements to the movements of him, which is the main body. And I'm telling you, with regard to the cyber domain, he's not — you are."
The entire debate over private encryption versus government access is like a "medieval morality play," Hayden said, and "if I were in Jim Comey's job, I'd have Jim Comey's point of view." But after taking part in these discussions inside the U.S. intelligence community since the 1990s, he told Bussey, he could win the pro–encryption argument on both national security grounds — "America is simply more secure with unbreakable end-to-end encryption" — and in a "slam dunk" when he includes the "broad health of the United States." Before you start hailing Hayden as a civil-libertarian hero, though, watch where he goes at the 6:30 mark. Peter Weber
Megyn Kelly noted on Monday's Kelly File that Donald Trump had used his big speech at Gettysburg to threaten lawsuits against women accusing him of sexual assault, that another women came forward anyway with new accusations on Sunday, and that on Monday, Trump said sarcastically that the woman, Jessica Drake, is "a porn star," and "I'm sure she's never been grabbed before." Kelly played that audio clip, then said, "Oh boy."
"Well, the Trump campaign communications adviser Jason Miller, who we like, was set to appear on The Kelly File tonight," she said, "but he canceled not long after the campaign asked us if we would bring this issue up tonight, and we said, 'Maybe. We're going to talk about Trump's speech at Gettysburg, and Trump is the one who brought up suing the women." Kelly then implicitly called Miller a chicken: "Joining me now, Julie Roginsky, who's brave enough to walk onto the set, and even when it's bad news for her candidate, she does as well."
Kelly asked Roginsky, a Democratic strategist, about Trump's comments, and she said dryly, "Well, you know, the slut-shaming, I think, is kind of inappropriate." When Kelly noted that some critics are saying Drake can't really be offended by Trump's allegedly propositioning her for sex since she is paid to have sex on camera, Roginsky said she couldn't speak to Drake's feelings "but I think the forcible kissing is the issue for me."
"Again, I want to stress, it's her word against his, he deserves the presumption of innocence," Roginsky added. "I look forward to the depositions in his lawsuit when they come out." "No, he's not going to sue anybody, please," Kelly laughed. "By the way, he didn't say — if he's going to sue them after the election, I assume that means only if he loses, otherwise we're going to have a really awkward first 100 days."
Hillary Clinton wants us all to believe she's "so squeaky clean," Kelly said, pivoting, "but she does some dirty stuff, too. So it is not impossible that there was some coordination, at some level, by the Clinton campaign with one or more of these women." "I think this is very much like Bill Cosby, where you have a torrent of women coming out, and one begets the next," Roginsky said, adding that some accusers "have said they're not voting for Hillary, they don't like Hillary, they're Republicans." Peter Weber
Just in time to completely ruin your New Year's resolution to not eat dessert for breakfast, two limited edition cereals based on Girl Scout cookies will hit shelves in January 2017.
Yes, it's true! Girl Scouts Cookie cereals will hit U.S. stores in January. We'll share more details soon! pic.twitter.com/sVHprf6bzc
— General Mills (@GeneralMills) October 24, 2016
General Mills announced the new products on Monday, with spokesman Mike Siemienas saying more details are forthcoming. The two flavors are both crowd pleasers: Thin Mints, like the Girl Scout cookie of the same name, and Caramel Crunch, based on the Caramel deLite/Samoa. Some of the proceeds from cereal sales will go to the Girl Scouts of the USA, which says it agreed to the deal with General Mills in order to generate more awareness of its program. Bringing attention to the Girl Scouts while making it possible to eat Thin Mints in a whole new way? That's a win/win. Catherine Garcia
As Donald Trump's campaign "sputters to a close," Trump has resorted to "a series of increasingly paranoid attacks" on the media, pollsters, banks, and even alligators, Seth Meyers said on Monday's Late Night, citing a speech Trump gave in Florida on Sunday. "I think Trump's fear of alligators solidifies his role as 2016's Captain Hook — but you know, with a super tiny hook." Trump aired his grievances, and threatened to sue every woman accusing him of sexual assault, at a Saturday speech in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, that was supposed to focus on his presidential mien and serious policies, Meyers said. "Basically, Trump did worse at Gettysburg than the South did." Somehow this led to a video of Abe Lincoln's lewd hot-mic comments on the Access Pennsylvania train.
"So now, instead of trying to win the election by saying things that might actually get more people to vote for him, Trump has decided instead to complain that it's rigged against him," adding to the list of riggers the estimated 1.75 million dead people who are still on the voter rolls nationwide, Meyers said, adding, "Yeah, they may be registered, but I have a feeling turnout will be low." Trump's lashing out at alligators and dead people isn't depressing voter turnout, he noted, pointing to the long lines as early voting kicks off in places like North Carolina. "People are waiting in line for four hours to vote!" Meyers said. "To put that in context, four hours is longer than Donald Trump prepared for any of the debates." Watch below. Peter Weber
A committee of media lawyers at the American Bar Association (ABA) commissioned a report on Donald Trump's use of libel lawsuits, real and threatened, and veteran First Amendment lawyer and former journalist Susan E. Seager returned with an article titled "Donald J. Trump Is a Libel Bully but Also a Libel Loser." The ABA declined to publish the report in the committee's journal as written, The New York Times reports, and one of its reasons was "the risk of the ABA being sued by Mr. Trump."
Seager studied seven cases in which Trump and his companies filed lawsuits pertaining to free speech; Trump lost four, withdrew two, and in the final case obtained a default judgment in private arbitration after the former beauty contest participant failed to appear in court. "Donald J. Trump is a libel bully," the report begins. "Like most bullies, he's also a loser, to borrow from Trump's vocabulary." But while "journalists and whistleblowers" won in court, it noted, that came "at significant cost of time, energy, and money."
The ABA wanted to change the headline to "Presidential Election Demonstrates Need for Anti-Slapp Laws" and cut the first paragraph calling Trump a "libel bully" and a "loser." In an Oct. 19 email, ABA deputy executive director James Dimos said the changes were needed to address "the legitimately held views of ABA staff who are charged with managing the reputational and financial risk to the association," adding that reducing the likelihood of a lawsuit by "removing inflammatory language" is "the same advice members of the forum would provide to their own clients."
Lots of First Amendment and media lawyers, including three former chairmen of the ABA's media-law committee, disagreed. "It is more than a little ironic," one former chairman, David J. Bodney, told The New York Times, "that a publication dedicated to the exploration of First Amendment issues is subjected to censorship when it seeks to publish an article about threats to free speech." Seager agreed. "I wanted to alert media lawyers that a lot of these threats are very hollow," she said, adding that the ABA's actions proved her point: "The ABA took out every word that was slightly critical of Donald Trump."
You can read the unchanged report at the Medial Law Resource Center, and learn more about the ABA's stated rationale for seeking those changes — including that it is nonpartisan — at The New York Times. Peter Weber
President Obama is used to criticism, which is why when he read aloud mean tweets on Jimmy Kimmel Live Monday night, he let such disses as "Barack Obama is the Sharknado of presidents. Loud, stupid, and over-hyped!" roll off his back.
While Obama let @Woodstockdave get away with saying he "couldn't negotiate getting a Whopper without pickles," he didn't let @Maaaaartz get off so easily — after he accused Obama of dancing "like how his jeans look," the president encouraged him to find a new insult. "You know, this jeans thing, this is so old," he said. "This is years ago. C'mon."
Obama saved the best burn for last, after he read a barb from perhaps the world's most prolific Twitter user, the man of 33,800 tweets and counting, @realDonaldTrump, who declared: "President Obama will go down as perhaps the worst president in the history of the United States!" Obama's response, before dropping his phone since he didn't have a mic? "Well, @realDonaldTrump, at least I will go down as a president." Watch the video below. Catherine Garcia
Donald Trump wants everyone to start watching his campaign's new show on Facebook Live — just don't call it Trump TV.
On Monday night, Trump Tower Live, a 30-minute show that will air nightly on Trump's Facebook page, was launched, and host Boris Epshteyn made it clear this was not a practice run for Trump's much-rumored Trump TV project. Epshteyn and co-host Cliff Sims both spent the beginning of the show making the case for why now is the time to run such programming. "This is our campaign and most importantly our candidate being out there and speaking directly to the voters, directly to the viewers," Epshteyn said. "We are excited to be bypassing the left-wing media, which screws everything up." Sims declared it would be "malpractice on our part if we didn't utilize the massive online platform that [Trump] has to take his vision, his message to Make America Great Again, directly to the people."
Trump Tower Live got off to a bumpy start — the team didn't appear to know when they first went live, the sound at times was uneven, and there were some awkward pauses — but at one point, more than 50,000 people were watching, the Los Angeles Times reports; the number of viewers dropped off by half by the time the show was over. Night one's guests included Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway and the Republican National Committee's Sean Spicer. Catherine Garcia
Pete Burns, the lead singer of the '80s band Dead or Alive who went on to appear on reality television shows, died Sunday after going into cardiac arrest, his management announced Monday. He was 57.
Burns was "one of our great true eccentrics, and such a big part of my life," Boy George said Monday. Burns got his start in the late 1970s as a member of the British goth band Nightmares, which morphed into Dead or Alive. The band released their first album, Sophisticated Boom Boom, in 1984, followed by Youthquake in 1985, which featured their biggest hit, "You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)." The song reached No. 1 on the U.K. charts and 11 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the U.S.
Known for his androgynous look, Burns once said in an interview that the "trouble is that people are all too ready to jump to conclusions about anybody who they think looks a bit strange," and that over the years, he had to learn "how to deal with people who refuse to take me seriously. That's where I learnt the blunt side of my character." Burns appeared on Britain's Celebrity Big Brother in 2006, and was open about the numerous cosmetic surgeries he underwent, telling the Daily Mail: "People redecorate their homes every few years, and I see this as no different. Changing my face is like buying a new sofa." Catherine Garcia