August 14, 2020

The United States Postal Service has warned that in Pennsylvania, some mail-in ballots may not be delivered in time to be counted this November.

In a July letter to Pennsylvania State Secretary Kathy Boockvar, USPS general counsel Thomas Marshall described the "risk that ballots requested near the deadline under state law will not be returned by mail in time to be counted under your laws as we understand them," NBC News reports.

The USPS also described Pennsylvania's current deadlines as "incongruous with the Postal Service's delivery standards," per Axios. Voters in the swing state can request a mail-in ballot up to Oct. 27, and they have to be received by 8:00 p.m. on Election Day, according to The Hill.

But officials in the state are looking to extend the deadline to receive mail-in ballots three days, with Boockvar raising concern in a court filing that "voters who apply for mail-in ballots in the last week of the application period and return their completed ballot by mail will, through no fault of their own, likely be disenfranchised," CNN reports.

The warning in Pennsylvania came just after President Trump in an interview cited his desire to prevent universal mail-in voting this November, noting that if the Postal Service doesn't get the funding that Democrats are seeking, "that means you can't have universal mail-in voting, because they're not equipped to have it." Brendan Morrow

October 4, 2019

Government officials and a 2020 presidential campaign have been targeted by hackers believed to be linked to the Iranian government, Microsoft says.

In a blog post Friday, Microsoft revealed that between August and September, a group it refers to as Phosphorous, which "we believe originates from Iran and is linked to the Iranian government," attempted to hack more 241 email accounts. These accounts are associated with current and former government officials, journalists, prominent Iranians, and a presidential campaign.

Microsoft says the attackers attempted to gain access to the accounts partially using information gathered through research, and four accounts were compromised, though these weren't associated with the presidential campaign.

"While the attacks we're disclosing today were not technically sophisticated, they attempted to use a significant amount of personal information both to identify the accounts belonging to their intended targets and in a few cases to attempt attacks," Microsoft Corporate Vice President Tom Burt said. "This effort suggests Phosphorous is highly motivated and willing to invest significant time and resources engaging in research and other means of information gathering."

The presidential campaign that was targeted was not named in Microsoft's announcement. Brendan Morrow

April 22, 2019

Tesla says it's investigating after a video emerged seeming to show one of its Model S cars exploding.

Footage began to spread in China on April 21 showing smoke emerging from a Tesla vehicle, which subsequently bursts into flames in a Shanghai parking lot, CNN reports.

Since 2013, at least 14 incidents have occurred involving Tesla vehicles catching fire, although typically after a crash, Reuters reports. In January 2019, the company was sued by the parents of a teenager who was killed in a Tesla crash, alleging the Model S has "inadequate measures to prevent a post-collision fire" and its battery pack is defective, per MarketWatch.

Tesla confirmed that it's looking into the Shanghai incident, saying that "we immediately sent a team on-site and we're supporting local authorities to establish the facts." Other details about the apparent explosion aren't yet available, but Tesla said that "from what we know now, no one was harmed." Brendan Morrow

February 13, 2019

Is Congress' shutdown-averting deal in trouble?

Politico reported Wednesday that the bipartisan agreement has started "unraveling a bit." According to the report, "it seems as if the deal was announced a bit too early," because while the two parties had agreed on the broad strokes, when it actually started to be written, "there were both critical issues and ancillary issues that were not yet solved."

The agreement initially included $1.3 billion for border security, but Politico writes that there are some disagreements about the bill's language, with Republicans fearing Democrats will "try to tie the president's hands on who needs to give approval" for the border wall. There's also some disagreement about including language to give federal contractors who were affected by the shutdown back pay, as well as about extending the Violence Against Women Act.

While Politico notes that "these deals oftentimes fall apart a few times before they come back together," and it's not clear exactly how dire the situation is right now, the news is certainly a concern: A vote was expected to take place in the House of Representatives later today. If no bill is passed by Friday, Feb. 15, the government will shut down again. Brendan Morrow

October 18, 2018

Up next for Netflix? Some really bad PR, apparently.

Netflix executives are "nervous" about an upcoming Wall Street Journal investigation into its company culture, NBC News reported Thursday. While no specifics about the forthcoming article have been revealed, Netflix evidently expects something similar to The New York Times' 2015 investigation into Amazon, which described a "bruising" and "punishing" workplace where employees openly weep on a regular basis and are encouraged to sabotage one another.

The Times' exposé on Amazon also alleged that some workers dealing with illnesses or personal tragedies were "edged out" and not given any recovery time. One woman said that while fighting breast cancer, she became in danger of being fired and was put on a performance review plan. Unsurprisingly, the company dealt with substantial fallout following the article's publication.

Now, Netflix employees have reportedly been told to brace for a "critical" article about its culture apparently along those lines. The article will arrive at a time when the streaming giant has been enjoying some great press and growth. The company earlier this week announced that it beat its subscriber estimate in the third quarter of 2018, sending its stock soaring after a disappointing second quarter, per CNN.

But depending on the contents of the article, it remains to be seen how long-lasting any effects might actually be. As NBC News points out, three years after that New York Times investigation into Amazon, LinkedIn still ranks it as the #1 most desirable company in America. Brendan Morrow

September 18, 2018

A new poll has the Republican National Committee very concerned about the upcoming midterms.

The internal RNC poll conducted by Public Opinion Strategies shows that about half of Republicans, and 57 percent of Trump supporters, don't believe Democrats will take control of the House of Representatives, Bloomberg reports. According to the report, the RNC is worried this complacency will lead GOP voters to stay home, and subsequently hand the House to the Democrats.

The Democrats' prospects of winning at least 23 additional seats in the November midterms and thus retaking the House have been steadily climbing in recent months. FiveThirtyEight puts the chances at about 82 percent. Even in the RNC poll, 71 percent of overall voters said it was likely to happen. The report notes that Republicans must now make it their mission to clearly communicate to voters that the midterms matter, adding that Trump supporters don't seem to think "there is anything at stake in this election."

One reason for this false sense of security might be President Trump's utter confidence that Republicans could actually end up with an even bigger majority than before the midterms. GOP strategists told Axios in August that they feared Trump's prediction of a "red wave," in combination with Trump voters' tendency to dismiss anything negative about the president as "fake news," might suppress turnout and spell real trouble.

The poll was conducted from Aug. 29 through Sept. 2 by speaking to 800 registered voters over the phone. The margin of error is +/- 3.5 percentage points. Read more at Bloomberg. Brendan Morrow

April 28, 2018

Less than a month after a fatal fire broke out in New York City's Trump Tower, another high rise linked to President Trump's real estate empire has caught fire.

This time the blaze is in a 33-floor building that was to be known as the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Baku, the capital city of Azerbaijan. Trump ended his licensing agreement with the property after winning the 2016 election in as part of an effort to reduce possible conflicts of interest. The tower is still under construction.

The cause of the fire is at present unclear and under investigation. Local sources report about two dozen firefighters got the fire under control within several hours. Bonnie Kristian

February 20, 2018

Press coverage of President Trump and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly has often taken the form of a study in contrasts. Kelly is disciplined, orderly, no-nonsense. Trump is impetuous, chaotic, and often nonsensical. Kelly is portrayed not as a Trump enthusiast like policy adviser Stephen Miller, but as a "studiously apolitical" career soldier shouldering the grim duty of taming Trump.

But what if that's not true? This is the proposal of Perry Bacon Jr. in a new analysis today at FiveThirtyEight. "Kelly seems to have deeply-held views, particularly on immigration," Bacon writes, recently suggesting "undocumented immigrants who had not yet signed up for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program were 'lazy.'"

And like Trump, Kelly's first instinct was to defend former White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter when he was accused of abuse by his two ex-wives. In these and other ways, Bacon argues, Kelly differs from Trump in style, but in substance he is not "a kind of anti-Trump."

As for how the press "bungled the John Kelly story," Bacon presents five ideas for what went wrong, including insider journalism and insufficient knowledge of Kelly's political views. See Bacon's list here, and read The Week's Matthew Walther for the case that Kelly wasn't always this way. Bonnie Kristian

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