After seven highly unsuccessful years, Google+ is effectively dead.
On Monday, The Wall Street Journal reported that the private information of hundreds of thousands of the social media platform's users had been exposed to developers due to a software glitch, which the company discovered in March 2018 but decided not to disclose. According to the Journal, Google's legal team said in a memo that news of the breach would result in "immediate regulatory interest."
This report also indicated that Google planned to essentially shut down Google+ as it unveils new security measures, and the company quickly made that official in an announcement, saying the platform was permanently closing its doors to consumers. Google explained that there was indeed a glitch that could allow developers to access private profile information, including a user's name, email address, occupation, gender, age, and profile photo. However, Google said no other data, including private messages or phone numbers, could have been accessed, and that there's no evidence that developers were actually aware of this bug or that data was misused. Google adds that it "cannot confirm" which users were affected, but over 500,000 of them could have been.
However, it sounds like Google was ready to shut down the platform regardless of this issue, citing in its announcement the consumer version's "very low usage." For example, Google says that 90 percent of Google+ sessions last less than five seconds. Google+ will, however, be kept alive for businesses, who use it as a secure place for co-workers to communicate. The shutdown of Google+ won't happen immediately but will instead be a "wind-down" that ends in August 2019.
And with that, the platform once seen as a possible competitor to Facebook, but which quickly became synonymous with unfulfilled potential, was put out of its misery. Brendan Morrow
Using facial recognition software, public records, social media accounts, various databases, leaked documents, and more, The New York Times was able to confirm that at least nine suspects in the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi work for Saudi Arabia's security services, government ministries, or military.
Khashoggi vanished on Oct. 2, after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Turkey has said 15 Saudi agents flew into Istanbul that day on private jets, murdered Khashoggi inside the consulate within two hours of his arrival, then left the country.
The Times reports that one of the suspects is Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb. In 2007, the diplomat was assigned to Saudi Arabia's embassy in London, and he's been seen getting off airplanes with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Paris and Madrid and spotted in several photos taken of the crown prince during a recent visit to the United States. It's possible he was serving as a bodyguard. Other suspects include two members of the royal guard, a member of the security team who travels with the crown prince, and autopsy expert Dr. Salah al-Tubaigny, the Times reports.
The doctor holds a senior position in the Saudi Interior Ministry, and could only be directed to do something by a high-ranking Saudi authority, the Times notes. This strikes a blow to the suggestion that rogue agents murdered Khashoggi unbeknownst to the crown prince. Both the crown prince and his father, King Salman, have denied knowing where Khashoggi is, and said he left the consulate on his own. None of the suspects could be reached for comment. Catherine Garcia
If the Republicans lose the House during November's midterms, it's not President Trump's fault, Trump said Tuesday.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Trump said he will "handle it very well" if Democrats take over the House and launch new investigations or pursue impeachment. Trump has been hitting the campaign trail hard, he said, and doesn't believe "anybody has ever had this kind of impact." Democrats are polling well ahead of the midterms, and Trump said he did not agree that he's in a similar boat as former President Barack Obama, who in 2010 said it was his fault his party got "shellacked."
Trump also spoke about Michael Cohen, his former personal lawyer and fixer, accusing him of being a liar and "PR person who did small legal work," and defended calling adult film star Stormy Daniels "Horseface." AP asked him if he thought it was appropriate to comment on a woman's appearance, and Trump responded, "You can take it any way you want." He revealed that he should name U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley's replacement within the next two weeks, and blasted Attorney General Jeff Sessions, still unhappy that his recusal from the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election led to the appointment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller. "I can fire him whenever I want to fire him," he said. Catherine Garcia
President Trump defended Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, telling The Associated Press it wasn't fair to condemn the country over the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Khashoggi was last seen at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2. Turkey has said he was killed by Saudi agents inside the consulate, and on Tuesday, a senior Turkish official told AP "certain evidence" was found that proved Khashoggi was murdered there.
Trump tweeted earlier in the day that he spoke with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who "totally denied any knowledge" of what happened to Khashoggi, and he told AP, "I think we have to find out what happened first. Here we go again with, you know, you're guilty until proven innocent. I don't like that. We just went through that with Justice Kavanaugh and he was innocent all the way as far as I'm concerned." Kavanaugh was accused of sexual assault by multiple women, and narrowly won confirmation to the Supreme Court. Catherine Garcia
Less than a week after becoming the interim president and chief executive of USA Gymnastics, Mary Bono is stepping down from the role, following criticism from Olympians Simone Biles and Aly Raisman.
Bono is a former Republican congresswoman from Southern California. She recently tweeted a photo showing her covering up the Nike logo on her golf shoes, in response to Colin Kaepernick's Nike advertisement. "Don't worry, it's not like we needed a smarter usa gymnastics president or any sponsors or anything," Biles tweeted.
Bono came under fire from Raisman due to her work with a law firm that many believe helped USA Gymnastics cover-up the Larry Nassar sexual abuse scandal. The former USA Gymnastics national team doctor was accused of molesting hundreds of gymnasts, and earlier this year, was found guilty of sexual assault of minors. In the wake of the scandal, the entire USA Gymnastics board resigned in January, and a new president, Kerry Perry, was hired, although she resigned nine months later.
After sending in her resignation letter Tuesday, Bono released a defiant statement, saying she had to step down because of "personal attacks." She defended covering the Nike logo on her shoes, saying it was free speech, and said it wasn't fair that the tweet "has now been made the litmus test of my reputation over almost two decades of public service." She did not address Raisman's concerns. Catherine Garcia
Brothel owner turned Nevada Assembly candidate Dennis Hof has died, just a day after his 72nd birthday, Nye County police confirmed Tuesday.
Hof was often described as "Nevada's most famous pimp," and starred in the HBO documentary series Cathouse. The bombastic Hof also authored The Art of the Pimp, which foreshadowed his foray into politics earlier this year. Branding himself as the "Trump of Pahrump," Hof unseated a three-term incumbent to win the Republican primary for Nevada's state Assembly in June.
His curious blend of vice and politics led to quite the unique birthday party the night before his death. Hof was celebrating with porn star Ron Jeremy, former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, and tax opponent Grover Norquist, The Nevada Independent reported. The party doubled as a campaign rally at the Love Ranch, one of his several brothels.
A Nye County spokesman said Hof apparently went to sleep on Monday night, and was found unresponsive the next morning. His death looks "normal" on its face, Nye County Sheriff Sharon Wehrly told the Independent, but there will still be an autopsy.
Hof's campaign manager, Chuck Muth, first tweeted about his death on Tuesday, and later told the Las Vegas Review-Journal he was "confused and stunned" by the news. Hof's Democratic opponent Lesia Romanov sent her condolences to "those who care about him." Nevada state law mandates Hof's name stay on the ballot this fall, but polling places will post that he has died. If Hof wins the election, county commissioners will appoint another Republican to take his place. Kathryn Krawczyk
Sen. Heidi Heitkamp's (D-N.D.) crumbling path to re-election just took another wrong turn.
Heitkamp's campaign published an open letter attacking her opponent Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) for his disparaging comments about the "#MeToo" movement, running it as an ad in several North Dakota newspapers on Monday. Now, she's apologizing after finding out the letter outed some of its signers as abuse survivors, The Associated Press reports.
Heitkamp's re-election chances have evaporated over the past few months; the newest Fox News poll shows Cramer ahead by 12 points. She's tried to win over voters with a focus on fighting sexual assault, notably opposing Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation despite the possibility of damaging her chances in the midterms. Cramer, meanwhile, called #MeToo a "movement toward victimization" an in interview with The New York Times last week.
The controversial Heitkamp letter decried Cramer's comments, and was signed by over 125 people. But some signers soon criticized the ad's publication, saying they "either hadn't authorized it or are not survivors of abuse," AP reports. Cramer quickly slammed the mistake as "revictimization of victims" when talking with AP, and one survivor whose name was unwittingly published said she would no longer vote for Heitkamp.
Heitkamp issued a statement saying she's "in the process of issuing a retraction" of the ad and "personally apologizing to each of the people impacted by this." AP reports that a "clearly emotional" Heitkamp also said she would investigate how her campaign got these names. Heitkamp said she didn't see the ad before its publication, but still took responsibility for the "very flagrant error." Kathryn Krawczyk
One of President Trump's closest allies in the Senate is not buying his theory about the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Tuesday said that he believes the missing Washington Post columnist was murdered and that it was likely "orchestrated at the highest levels of government," per CBS News' Alan He.
Trump suggested on Monday that "rogue killers" may have been responsible for Khashoggi's disappearance, but Graham doesn't "think it was a rogue event." Graham said Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is "the one pulling the strings right now." But Trump on Tuesday, seemingly without skepticism, promoted the crown prince's claim that he has no knowledge of Khashoggi's fate.
Khashoggi arrived at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, earlier this month and has not been heard from since. Turkish officials told the United States they found evidence he was murdered and dismembered by a Saudi security team, and gave The Washington Post scans of seven men they believe were part of the Saudi team responsible. Trump promised that "answers will be forthcoming shortly" as Saudi Arabia will "rapidly expand" its investigation. But Turkish officials told the Post that there has been a "lack of Saudi cooperation" in the investigation and that it appears the consulate was cleaned and repainted before they could examine it.
Graham said the Saudi crown prince is "very schizophrenic," and told Fox & Friends that he has "got to go." Until something new happens in Saudi Arabia, Graham added, he has "no interest in engaging with this government" because he "cannot imagine a more blatant example of contempt for a relationship than this." Brendan Morrow