U.S. and Britain jointly accuse Kremlin of massive cyberattack on millions of routers, internet providers
On Monday, the U.S. and British governments accused the Kremlin of conducting a huge cyberattack on routers and other internet hardware around the world, with the presumed aim being economic and political espionage and possibly sabotage. In a first-ever joint U.S.-British cybersecurity alert, the FBI, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and Britain's National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) said the years-long campaign targeted millions of devices, primarily used by "government and private-sector organizations, critical infrastructure providers, and the internet service providers (ISPs) supporting these sectors."
"We have high confidence that Russia has carried out a coordinated campaign to compromise ... routers, residential and business — the things you and I have in our home," said Rob Joyce, the White House cybersecurity coordinator. Jeanette Manfra, the Homeland Security Department's chief cybersecurity official, added that the U.S. and Britain "condemn the actions and hold the Kremlin responsible for the malicious activities." The aim of the attack, which dates back at least to 2015, seems to be to "seize control" of internet infrastructure to intercept traffic moving through the routers of people and organizations, NCSC chief Ciaran Martin said. Australia also blamed the Kremlin on Monday for a cyberattack on hundreds of Australian companies in 2017.
The U.S. has become more aggressive in calling out Russia and other countries publicly for cyber-malfeasance, including a March 15 warning from the U.S. Computer Emergency Response Team (US-CERT) that Russian government "cyber actors" have tried to infiltrate U.S. agencies and companies that deal with power, water, aviation, and other critical sectors. But it isn't clear why the U.S. and Britain are issuing this new alert now, U.S. cybersecurity researcher Jake Williams tells The Associated Press. "Calling the Russians out on this hardly makes much sense unless there's some other agenda (most likely political)." Peter Weber
President Trump seems to have one go-to solution for any problem: Build a wall.
Josep Borrell, Spain's foreign minister, revealed this week that Trump told his government that in order to keep migrants from entering Spain, they needed to build a wall across the Sahara. Borrell said they told Trump the wall would have to stretch for 3,000 miles to cover the desert, but Trump was undaunted. "The Sahara border can't be bigger than our border with Mexico," he said. The U.S.-Mexico border is approximately 1,954 miles.
Spain does have two autonomous cities on the north coast of Africa, but the wall would have to be built almost entirely on foreign land. So far this year, more than 33,600 migrants have arrived in Spain by sea, three times as many as in 2017, and 1,723 have died on the journey. More migrants are coming to Spain than Italy and Greece, and while it is straining resources in some areas of southern Spain, Borrell said in July the government does not consider this a crisis. "We're talking about 20,000 migrants so far this year for a country of more than 40 million inhabitants," he said. "That's not mass migration. We're trivializing the word 'mass.'" Catherine Garcia
An Australian boy was arrested on Wednesday for putting sewing needles inside strawberries.
New South Wales police said the boy admitted he had put the needles inside the strawberries as a prank, ABC News reports, but they do not believe he's behind other recent cases of food contamination and they are looking for additional suspects. Since Sept. 12, three brands of strawberries have had to be recalled in Australia, due to several reports of consumers finding needles inside the berries. Authorities said it's possible other brands could be targeted as well, and to be safe people should cut strawberries before eating them.
Needles have been found in strawberries in New South Wales, Queensland, Tasmania, and South Australia. Police have also heard reports of needles in bananas and apples, but those are considered isolated incidents. Anyone found guilty of purposely contaminating food could be sentenced to prison for up to 10 years. "Whether it's done with the intention of prank, whether it's done with the intention of serious harm to another individual, it's no difference," Stuart Smith, acting assistant commissioner of the New South Wales Police Force, said. "They are going to be charged with that offense and they are going to find themselves in front of a court." Catherine Garcia
Christine Blasey Ford's lawyer released a statement Wednesday night reiterating her client's request for an FBI investigation into Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh before she testifies in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Ford has accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault when they were teenagers. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) has scheduled a hearing Monday, giving Ford and Kavanaugh the opportunity to speak about the allegation. Grassley also said he'll send staffers to California to interview Ford privately there if she prefers.
On Tuesday, Ford, through her lawyers, asked for an FBI investigation, and on Wednesday, lawyer Lisa Banks criticized the committee for only inviting Ford and Kavanaugh to testify. "The committee's stated plan to move forward with a hearing that has only two witnesses is not a fair or good faith investigation; there are multiple witnesses whose names have appeared publicly and should be included in any proceeding," Banks said. "The rush to a hearing is unnecessary, and contrary to the committee discovering the truth." Grassley asked Ford's lawyers to let the committee know by Friday if she will attend Monday's hearing; Banks did not mention in the statement if Ford will be there. Catherine Garcia
On Wednesday, Jack Ma, founder and chairman of the Chinese retailer Alibaba, walked back a promise he made to President Trump in January 2017.
During their meeting, Ma told Trump he planned on creating 1 million jobs in the United States over five years, getting American businesses and farmers onto Alibaba's online platform to sell their wares in China. There's no way this could happen now, Ma told the Chinese news outlet Xinhua on Wednesday. "The promise was made on the premise of friendly U.S.-China partnership and rational trade relations," he said. "That premise no longer exists today, so our promise cannot be fulfilled."
On Monday, in the latest round of tariffs the U.S. imposed levies on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods, and China retaliated by slapping tariffs on $60 billion worth of U.S. imports. During an Alibaba investor conference on Tuesday, Ma called the trade tensions "a mess," but told Xinhua he will not "stop working hard to contribute to the healthy development of China-U.S. trade." Catherine Garcia
"Sunday Morning" has made it to Super Bowl Sunday.
The halftime show at Super Bowl LIII will be headlined by dad-friendly rock band Maroon 5, sources told Variety on Wednesday.
The pop group recently collaborated with rappers Cardi B and Kendrick Lamar, leading to predictions that they will join Maroon 5 on stage when they perform in Atlanta in February 2019. Besides "Sunday Morning," Maroon 5 could perform more recent hits like "Sugar," "Moves like Jagger," and "Animals."
The NFL has not confirmed that Maroon 5 was selected for the 53rd Super Bowl, but if the group performs, they would join the ranks of Prince, Beyonce, Bruno Mars, Katy Perry, and Paul McCartney, all of whom have performed Super Bowl halftime shows. Read more at Variety. Summer Meza
After spending 27 years in prison on a murky murder charge, Valentino Dixon has been declared innocent thanks to his colored pencils and a golf magazine.
Dixon was sentenced to 39 years to life in prison for the 1991 murder of Torriano Jackson, and served most of the sentence in the Attica Correctional Facility. He passed the time sketching detailed landscapes of golf courses, and eventually caught the eye of Golf Digest. In 2012, Dixon shared his story with the magazine: his shaky conviction, his maintained innocence, and how he longed to set foot on the courses he drew.
Despite a wave of media attention following the profile, Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo still puttered past a pardon for Dixon, Golf Digest details. But then, two attorneys stepped in and built a pro bono case around the original magazine article — though "it's embarrassing for the legal system that for a long time the best presentation of the investigation was from a golf magazine," one of the defenders told Golf Digest.
That defense, eventually corroborated with a wrongful convictions report, resulted in Dixon becoming a free man. The man who admitted responsibility for Jackson's killing on the day he was shot — and nearly every day since — pleaded guilty. And Dixon, with his "family and support team" in tow, went to the park.
Ryan Coogler, who earlier this year directed the wildly successful superhero film Black Panther, has just lined up a highly unexpected next project.
Per The Hollywood Reporter, Coogler is now set to produce Space Jam 2, the sequel to Warner Bros.' beloved 1996 movie in which Michael Jordan and the Looney Tunes characters unite to play a basketball game against evil aliens. This time, LeBron James will star in the lead role, having been attached to the project since 2016. Previously, Star Trek Beyond's Justin Lin was going to direct, but now, Random Acts of Flyness creator Terrence Nance will fill that role.
James told The Hollywood Reporter on Wednesday that he "loved [Coogler's] vision" for Black Panther, adding that he wants to inspire people with the Space Jam sequel the way Coogler did with that film. The Space Jam sequel does not yet have a release date or an official title, but it's set to begin production in 2019. James' production company, SpringHill Entertainment, teased the project on Instagram with a photo of a locker room populated by James and Bugs Bunny, and ComicBook.com writer Brandon Davis speculates the numbers seen in the picture, 1-23-20-21, might suggest the release date is Jan. 23, 2021. Read more about the Space Jam sequel at The Hollywood Reporter. Brendan Morrow