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IT40 News for 01/30/2019

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#1 $840M in gold bars prepared for loading onto Russian jet at Venezuelan airport: report

About 20 tons of gold from Venezuela's central bank was ready to be hauled away Tuesday on a Russian airline's Boeing 777 that landed in Caracas a day earlier, a Venezuelan lawmaker wrote on Twitter.

The destination of the $840 million in gold bars was unknown, but a source told Bloomberg News that it represented about 20 percent of the country's holding of the metal. The gold was set aside for loading, the report said.

The news outlet, which first reported on the tweet, identified the lawmaker as Jose Guerra. The lawmaker did not provide evidence for his claim but is identified in the report as a former economist at the country's central bank with close ties to workers still there.

Noticias Venezuela, a news outlet in the country, posted a photo of what it identified as a Nordwind Airlines plane from Moscow that made the trip with only a crew aboard.

Simon Zerpa, Venezuela's finance minister, did not comment about the gold when reached by Bloomberg and denied there was a Russian plane at the Simon Bolivar International Airport in Caracas.

"I'm going to start bringing Russian and Turkish airplanes every week so everybody gets scared," he joked.

Bloomberg reached out to Nordwind, which did not comment on the purpose of the flight. The airline did not immediately respond to an email from Fox News.

A plane belonging to a Moscow-based company was reportedly seen Monday heading to an international airport near Caracas, according to flight tracking records.

Reuters reported that there had been speculation about the jet that was “parked by a private corner of the airport.” And Reuters reported that it was the first time the plane made the trip.

Some conspiracy theories have circulated, including that the plane carried mercenaries, but there was no solid evidence, Reuters reported.

Russia, one of President Nicolas Maduro's staunchest supporters, is reportedly owed billions by the Latin American nation. Russia has said it expects Venezuela to have problems repaying debt ahead of an upcoming payment on a Russian loan.

Russia also has extensive commercial interests in Venezuela, including state oil company Rosneft’s partnership with Petroleos de Venezuela SA, a state company placed under sanctions Monday by the United States.

Venezuela is treading in the uncharted political waters after opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself interim head of state last week in a direct challenge to Maduro’s reign. The 35-year-old head of the opposition-led national assembly has the backing of more than a dozen mostly western nations including the United States, Canada and several members of the European Union.

Venezuela's Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to a prosecutor's request to prevent Guaido from leaving the country while the Socialist government conducts a criminal probe into his activities.

Guaido said outside the National Assembly building that he was aware of personal risks, but added, "Venezuela is set on change, and the world is clearly conscious of what's happening."

Fox News' Bradford Betz, Samuel Chamberlain and the Associated Press contributed to this report.


#2 At least 5 dead as temperatures plunge to expected lows not seen in decades

The Midwest is dealing with a cold spell as a polar vortex sends temperatures far below freezing, from North Dakota to Missouri and into Ohio. According to meteorologists, temperatures in the Chicago area could drop to minus 25 degrees Fahrenheit.

Ice and snow builds up along Lake Michigan on Jan. 29 in Chicago.

A commuter arrives at Western Avenue station, on Jan. 29, in Chicago. 

A high school student from China takes a selfie along Lake Michigan in Chicago, on Jan. 29.

Pedestrians contend with snow and cold weather at Clinton Street and Jackson Boulevard in Chicago, on Monday, Jan. 28, 2019.

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#3 Howard Schultz: A third party battle brewingTrump pushes back against U.S. spy chiefs on North Korea, Islamic StateDeep freeze envelops Midwest, even stops the mailRep. Ilhan Omar supports taxing wealthiest Americans up to 90%Pentagon: Several thousand more troops to the Mexico borderSuspect Dakota Theriot confesses to killing 5 in Louisiana, including parents: Police

The 360 is a feature designed to show you diverse perspectives on the day’s top stories.

Who: Howard Schultz, a 65-year-old billionaire businessman and former CEO of Starbucks

What: The coffee chain mogul announced that he is weighing whether to run as a “centrist independent” in the 2020 presidential election during an interview with CBS News’ “ 60 Minutes” – a move that has the potential to seriously alter the balance of the race.

Schultz is a self-proclaimed lifelong Democrat who publicly endorsed Hillary Clinton in 2016. His announcement has caused some concern for the Democratic Party, which fears a Schultz candidacy could split the electorate and pave the way for President Trump’s reelection. Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, who ran in the 2004 Democratic primary, told Yahoo News that Schultz is “going to get, by my calculations, between 6 and 14 percent of the vote, and he’ll get zero electoral votes and he’ll give the possibility of swinging the race to Trump.”

Schultz again teased a 2020 run at the launch of his book tour in Manhattan, where a heckler was escorted off the premises for yelling: “Don’t help elect Trump, you egotistical billionaire,” before calling Schultz an expletive. The heckler added that Schultz should “go back to Davos with the other billionaire elite who think they know how to run the world.”

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#4 Sean Hannity: If Roger Stone’s arrest is a sign of things to come, we’ve lost our country. Say goodbye.  

With all the people we know who lied to Congress – former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, ex-CIA Director John Brennan, the folks who lied to the FISA court and years of scandals like Fast and Furious, IRS targeting conservatives and Hillary Clinton's missing emails, it's good to know the feds finally got their man.

Roger Stone, who is being charged not with Russia collusion, but the process crime of lying to Congress, was targeted for the same reason U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis said they went after Paul Manafort and the same reason they tried to bankrupt Gen. Michael Flynn. They want to put the screws to Stone, who is 66, to make him sing or compose against Trump. That’s the only reason.

Otherwise, why would you arrest him? If it was really for lying to Congress, he'd be near the back of a long line.

Last week's pre-dawn raid on Stone home in Fort Lauderdale featured 17 vehicles, including armored tactical trucks. There were 27 heavily armed agents – I don’t blame them, they don’t have a choice when they’re told to do something - in tactical gear with weapons drawn.

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#5 Deadly polar vortex blasts Midwest with record-breaking cold, forecasters warn to ‘minimize talking’ outdoors

Dangerous cold brings schools, airports and the U.S. Postal Service to halt; Ray Bogan reports from the Minneapolis Skyway System.

A deadly and likely once-in-a-lifetime arctic deep freeze from the polar vortex settled in over the Midwest on Wednesday, shuttering schools and causing the U.S. Postal Service to suspend mail delivery in areas as forecasters warned people to keep their mouths closed if stepping out.

Wind chills of negative 54 degrees Fahreneit were reported in International Falls, Minnesota and minus 52 degrees in Minneapolis on Wednesday morning while Des Moines, Iowa reported a bitterly cold wind chill of minus 42 degrees and the aptly-named "Windy City" of Chicago had a wind chill of negative 52 degrees just before sunrise.

"The heart of the Arctic cold has arrived," the National Weather Service's Chicago office said on Twitter. "The combined effects of the cold & winds are at their peak today with wind chills of -45° to -60° continuing. The afternoon highs today...yes the highs...will only be -11° to -17°."


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#6 Los Angeles police search for man they say brutally punched 2 women on viral video



Authorities in Los Angeles are looking for a suspect who they say was captured on video Saturday brutally punching two women at a hot dog stand.

The LAPD said the incident occurred in Downtown Los Angeles.

“Someone knows him, and we would like to be one of those people,” read a tweet by LAPD on Tuesday along with a video clip.



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#7 NewsIsraeli forces kill knife-wielding Palestinian girl: police

RAMALLAH, West Bank (Reuters) - Israeli forces shot dead a 16-year-old Palestinian girl who tried to carry out a stabbing attack at a checkpoint between the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem on Wednesday, police said.

Palestinian officials identified the dead girl as a resident of the Palestinian city of Ramallah.

There have been sporadic Palestinian street attacks on Israelis since U.S-brokered peace talks broke down in 2014.

Palestinians say assailants lash out in frustration at Israeli restrictions. Israel says the attacks are fueled by incitement and sometimes motivated by assailants' personal problems.

Yoram Halevi, Israel's Jerusalem police chief, said the Palestinian girl "whipped out a knife and tried to stab" security staff at al-Zaim checkpoint, and was shot.

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#8 NewsVenezuela power struggle: a play for time … and military’s supportNewsRebuilding Syria: Why Arabs and the West are on a collision courseNewsWhen anti-corruption protests succeed

Once Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó declared himself the country’s legitimate president last week, he set a clock ticking.

The longer Venezuela’s embattled leftist President Nicolás Maduro is able to defy the clock and retain his office, regional experts say, the better his chances of fending off this latest challenge and clinging to power.

Everyone involved in the crisis appears to recognize this.

Recommended: Task for Venezuela's new 'president': make it more than a title

Mr. Guaidó, who just a few weeks ago was not widely known even in his own country, knows time is of the essence and is calling for massive national demonstrations Wednesday, and especially Saturday, to keep building public pressure on Mr. Maduro to step down.

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#9 NewsRebuilding Syria: Why Arabs and the West are on a collision courseNewsRebuilding Syria: Why Arabs and the West are on a collision courseNewsWhen anti-corruption protests succeed

The United States and its Arab allies are on a collision course over the reconstruction of Syria, where President Bashar al-Assad, bolstered by Russia and Iran, has emerged the victor in a devastating civil war.

With lucrative contracts on the line, Gulf states are lobbying Washington and Brussels to loosen sanctions and not ensnare Arab companies and investors looking to rebuild their neighbor.

But more is at stake than fat contracts: Arab officials and lawmakers argue that Syria’s reconstruction is the last best chance to limit Iranian influence in Syria and reintegrate Damascus into the Arab world.

Recommended: Postwar Syria? Arab world moving to bring Damascus back into the fold.

While much of the Arab world, the US, and Europe sided with anti-Assad rebel forces in the civil war, the Arabs are moving ahead of their Western allies in being willing to turn the page, even as the West continues to impose sanctions on the Assad regime, still regarded as having engaged in war crimes in the slaughter of its own citizens.

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#10 ‘Whatever works’: Lawmakers negotiate to avert another shutdown absent signal from Trump

© J. Scott Applewhite/AP
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Tuesday he will do whatever he can to avoid another government shutdown.

Republicans intent on averting another government shutdown sought Tuesday to expand border security talks to dealing with U.S. debt and other issues as lawmakers operated with no clear signal from President Trump on what he would accept.

The latest idea to tack on an increase in the nation’s borrowing limit to discussions over Trump’s demand for $5.7 billion for a U.S.-Mexico border wall divided Republicans and was immediately rejected by Democrats, a less-than-promising development on the eve of congressional negotiators’ first meeting.

“I don’t want to sink the whole thing,” Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said when asked about the flurry of proposals by her colleagues.

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Still, Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), a Trump ally, and others worked to nudge a bipartisan group of lawmakers toward including a debt-limit hike, hoping to avoid another shutdown in mid-February when funding expires as well as a market-rattling showdown over the nation’s debt.

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#11 Is Venezuela Safe? Trump Warns Against American Travel

President Donald Trump has issued his own personal travel warning, urging American citizens to avoid all travel to Venezuela as the South American nation is beset by a political crisis.

The country is currently witnessing a power struggle between long-time authoritarian President Nicolas Maduro and his rival, the 35-year-old self-declared interim president Juan Guaido, who leads the opposition-controlled National Assembly.

Guaido declared himself interim president last week, arguing that Maduro’s presidential election victory in May 2018 was illegitimate because of opposition boycotts and electoral irregularities. He was quickly recognized as legitmiate president by Trump.

Maduro—who is backed by nations including Russia and China—has led Venezuela since replacing the left-wing revolutionary Hugo Chavez in 2013. Though he has said he is willing to negotiate with the opposition to end the crisis, the country’s attorney general has announced an investigation into Guaido while the supreme court has imposed a travel ban on the young leader and frozen his bank accounts.

Early Wednesday morning, Trump wrote on Twitter: “Maduro willing to negotiate with opposition in Venezuela following U.S. sanctions and the cutting off of oil revenues. Guaido is being targeted by Venezuelan Supreme Court. Massive protest expected today. Americans should not travel to Venezuela until further notice.”

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#12 EU proposes ban on 90% of microplastic pollutants

A wide-ranging ban on microplastics covering about 90% of pollutants has been proposed by the EU in an attempt to cut 400,000 tonnes of plastic pollution in 20 years.

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Every year, Europe releases a bulk amount of microplastics six times bigger than the “Great Pacific garbage patch” into the environment – the equivalent of 10bn plastic bottles.

The phasing out proposed by the European Chemicals Agency (Echa) would remove 36,000 tonnes a year of “intentionally added” microplastic fibres and fragments, starting in 2020.

Cosmetics, detergents, paints, polish and coatings would all require design overhauls, as would products in the construction, agriculture and fossil fuels sectors.

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#13 Apartheid-Era Siege Mentality Still Drives South African Innovation

In 1986, the late P.W. Botha, then president of South Africa, revealed the toll that the international oil embargo was taking on his pariah state. “There were times,” he told the Windhoek Advertiser, “that we had enough oil for only one week.” If necessity is the mother of invention, the isolation of apartheid South Africa had an unintended consequence: It spurred innovation.

The oil embargo encouraged Sasol, a domestic company formed in 1950, to commercialize its pioneering coal-to-liquids technology, itself built on work conducted by German scientists during the second world war. The Fischer-Tropsch process, which Sasol honed to a fine art, enabled the country to survive sanctions by extracting fuel, naphtha, paraffin and a range of chemicals from coal.

Today, this and similar technology is used not only domestically but in countries as far afield as Nigeria, Qatar and Uzbekistan. During the Cold War, cut off from international suppliers, South Africa also built a sophisticated aerospace and defense industry, even developing a nuclear weapons program.

Those technological breakthroughs were part of what Alison Lewis, dean of the faculty of engineering at the University of Cape Town, calls a “frontier” mentality. “Under apartheid, there was a sense of ‘the world’s not going to help us. We’re just going to do our own thing,’” she says. “It’s controversial because it was the White Afrikaners who were doing the innovation.”

The challenge in postapartheid South Africa has been to harness that pioneering spirit to the benefit of all South Africans, particularly the Black majority, who were previously all but excluded from science and technology.

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#14 Venezuela’s Maduro offers to negotiate with opposition

Venezuela's political turmoil has further deepened amid growing tension over President Nicolas Maduro's future as the country's leader. Maduro started a second term on January 10 following a widely boycotted election last year that many foreign governments refused to recognize.

On January 23, Juan Guaido, the leader of the opposition-controlled National Assembly, declared himself the interim president.

on Jan. 29 in Washington.

Venezuelan opposition leader and self-proclaimed interim president Juan Guaido accompanied by his wife Fabiana Rosales, speaks to the media after a holy mass in Caracas on Jan. 27.

A supporter of Venezuelan opposition leader and self-proclaimed interim president Juan Guaido holds a document, regarding a proposed amnesty law for members of the military, police and civilians, as she explains it to the soldiers at the gate of Naval Command building in Caracas on Jan. 27.

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#15 Six men arrested for killing woman, four children for suspected ‘witchcraft’ in Indian village

Police in eastern India have arrested six men accused of battering a woman and her four young children to death and dumping the bodies down a village well because they suspected she was a witch casting spells.

Five men -- all from the same family -- along with a witch doctor broke into Mandri Munda's home in the state of Odisha on January 24 and used a crowbar to kill her and her children, aged 4, 7, 12 and 10 months, said Sushant Das, inspector at the Koida police station.

They alleged the woman had been practicing black magic and had cast a spell on their own family, which caused a 12-year-old girl to fall ill and die in December.

"The family had gone to a witch doctor, Budhram Munda. He said there is a witch in the village and that is why she (the daughter) had died," said Das.

Witch doctors are seen by believers as having powers to protect others against witchcraft.

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#16 Toxic Smog in Bangkok Forces Over 400 Schools to Close

Bangkok, which has been enveloped in a dense haze for weeks, registered an “unhealthy” air quality index (AQI) of 174 on Wednesday, according to Air Visual, which tracks pollution. When the index hits 151 or above, people are typically advised to stay indoors.

The persistent smog has prompted a slew of desperate measures to clear the particulate-filled air. Workers have been dispatched to water down the roads, closed some factories and cautioned against Chinese New Year celebrations involving burning paper and incense. Earlier this month, officials even tried to make it rain through cloud seeding.

But with the toxic matter still lingering as of Wednesday, Bangkok authorities ordered all 437 city-controlled public schools to close from lunchtime through Friday, AFP reports. They also declared a 580-mile portion of the city a “control area”.

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#17 Indonesia’s Merapi volcano unleashes river of lava

YOGYAKARTA, Indonesia — Indonesia's volatile Mount Merapi volcano has unleashed a river of lava that flowed 1,400 meters (4,590 feet) down its slopes.

Kasbani, head of the Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation Center, says Merapi on the island of Java has entered an "effusive eruption phase."

Kasbani, who goes by a single name, said the volcanic material that spewed out late Tuesday was the volcano's longest lava flow since it began erupting again in August.

He says the alert level of the volcano has not been raised.

The 2,968-meter (9,737-foot) mountain, located near the ancient Indonesian city of Yogyakarta, is the most active of dozens of Indonesian volcanoes.

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#18 The Most Dangerous Active Volcanoes on Earth

In 2018, many of us watched the destruction and devastation caused by major volcanic eruptions in Hawaii and Guatemala. While volcanic eruptions are certainly nothing new, these recent eruptions did serve as a reminder that dangerous active volcanoes exist all over the world, and will continue to be a potential threat to the surrounding creatures and environment.

While there are many active volcanoes around the world, experts generally classify the most dangerous ones as those that are closest to highly populated areas, as they can have the most deadly effects. And while it may seem like those with the most recent eruptions would be the most dangerous, the opposite is true: when volcanoes go a long time without erupting, they have more mounting pressure inside of them, leading to a bigger explosion. Take a look at some of the most dangerous volcanoes that exist today.

Cotopaxi is located in the Cordillera Central mountain range of central Ecuador and is one of the world's tallest volcanoes, with a height of 19,393 feet. It's also one of Ecuador's most active volcanoes, having produced more than 50 eruptions since the 16th century. Fifty of those eruptions have occurred since 1738, and the 1877 eruption was the most violent, producing mudflows that traveled 60 miles from the volcano and into the Pacific Ocean. The most recent eruption was back in 1904, although there was a scare in 2005. As the volcano is close to a highly populated area of Ecuador, the results would be devastating if it did indeed erupt today.

Perhaps you've heard of Mount Vesuvius: It's the volcano responsible for the destruction of the city of Pompeii back in A.D. 79. In the last 17,000 years, there have been eight major explosive eruptions that were followed by large pyroclastic flows-fast-moving streams of extremely hot gas and volcanic matter that can reach speeds up to 430 miles an hour. The last known eruption was in 1944. As Vesuvius is close to many populated areas of Italy, like the city of Naples, the Italian government does all it can to prepare for future eruptions.

Popocatépetl is North America's second highest volcano, located only 40 miles southeast of Mexico City-one of the largest urban areas in the world, with a huge population. While there haven't been any massive eruptions, there have been periods of activity throughout history, and in 1994 smoke poured from the volcano for the first time in 1,000 years, making many fearful of an eruption. Scientists predict that there will be a massive eruption eventually, they just don't know when it will happen. If it occurs, the event will bring with it 1,000-degree lahars (mudflows) and pyroclastic flows at speeds of 60 miles an hour, which would reach heavily populated areas, as well as lava ash that would destroy everything in the vicinity.

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#19 News Analysis: With U.S. and Taliban in Talks, Afghans Fear They Could End Up Trampled

KABUL, Afghanistan — A giant H has been painted on the broad boulevard in front of the American Embassy in Kabul, creating a new helipad that recently, embassy officials say, has been used only by Zalmay Khalilzad, the special United States diplomat who has been talking with the Taliban.

President Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan usually uses the roads, moving in armored convoys that snarl traffic in the gridlock-weary capital.

The pecking order is clear. As American policy in Afghanistan seems bent more than ever on making a deal with Taliban insurgents to withdraw American troops from the country after nearly two decades of war, Mr. Khalilzad’s diplomacy is taking priority.

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The talks between Mr. Khalilzad and the Taliban, while full of caveats, have raised some parallels to Henry A. Kissinger’s talks with North Vietnamese leaders, which presaged the American pullout from South Vietnam in 1973 and the collapse of South Vietnam two years later.

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#20 Ukraine Wants ‘Peace with Russia,’ It’s ‘Tired of War’

© Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko announced Tuesday that he sought peace with Russia, despite accusing his rivals in Moscow of sponsoring an eastern insurgency and interfering in Kiev's internal affairs.

Poroshenko made the remarks as he officially announced his bid for re-election during a forum entitled "From Kruty to Brussels. We are going our way" at Kiev's International Exhibition Center. The Ukrainian leader came to power after a 2014 revolution that expelled a pro-Moscow president and saw Russian annex the Crimean Peninsula in an internationally-disputed referendum, followed by two more eastern regions declaring autonomy.

Battles between the Ukrainian armed forces and pro-government militias on one side and separatist groups allegedly backed by Russia on the other have killed more than 10,000 people as the two were locked in a bloody stalemate. Amid a spike in tensions that followed a November encounter between Russian and Ukrainian forces in the contested Kerch Strait, Poroshenko warned of imminent conflict, but on Tuesday appeared to soften his tone.

"Of course, we need peace with Russia. Cold, yet peace. People are tired of war," Poroshenko told the audience. "Russian propaganda and its liars in Ukraine tirelessly play with this painful emotion."

Russia has blamed Ukraine's uprising on pressure from the United States and the NATO Western military alliance it leads. Moscow also justified its 2014 intervention in Crimea by arguing that the political unrest in Kiev threatened the neighboring peninsula's majority-Russian-speaking population, but it has denied supporting separatist groups in Ukraine's Donbas region, where two self-ruling people's republics have been declared.

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#21 iPhone FaceTime Bug That Allows Spying Was Flagged to Apple Over a Week Ago

SAN FRANCISCO — On Jan. 19, Grant Thompson, a 14-year-old in Arizona, made an unexpected discovery: Using FaceTime, Apple’s video chatting software, he could eavesdrop on his friend’s phone before his friend had even answered the call.

His mother, Michele Thompson, sent a video of the hack to Apple the next day, warning the company of a “major security flaw” that exposed millions of iPhone users to eavesdropping. When she didn’t hear from Apple Support, she exhausted every other avenue she could, including emailing and faxing Apple’s security team, and posting to Twitter and Facebook. On Friday, Apple’s product security team encouraged Ms. Thompson, a lawyer, to set up a developer account to send a formal bug report.

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But it wasn’t until Monday, more than a week after Ms. Thompson first notified Apple of the problem, that Apple raced to disable Group FaceTime and said it was working on a fix. The company reacted after a separate developer reported the FaceTime flaw and it was written about on the Apple fan site 9to5mac.com, in an article that went viral.

The bug, and Apple’s slow response to patching it, have renewed concerns about the company’s commitment to security, even though it regularly advertises its bug reward program and boasts about the safety of its products. Hours before Apple’s statement addressing the bug Monday, Tim Cook, the company’s chief executive, tweeted that “we all must insist on action and reform for vital privacy protections.”

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#22 Apple Gets Sued Over FaceTime Bug That Lets People Eavesdrop

(Bloomberg) -- Apple Inc. was sued by a Houston lawyer who claims his iPhone inadvertently allowed an unknown person to eavesdrop on his private conversation with a client.

Apple has come under fire for a bug in its iOS 12.1 iPhone software that lets outsiders listen to conversations held during live video group chats using the company’s FaceTime feature.

Attorney Larry Williams II said the glitch intrudes on the privacy of “one’s most intimate conversations without consent,” according to the complaint he filed in state court in Houston. He said he was eavesdropped on while taking sworn testimony during a client deposition.

Williams is seeking unspecified punitive damages on his claims of negligence, product liability, misrepresentation and warranty breach.

Apple representatives didn’t immediately respond to phone and email messages seeking comment on the complaint.

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#23 Samsung is making 1TB storage chips for phones

Samsung has announced that it’ll start offering the world’s first 1TB eUFS (embedded Universal Flash Storage) solution for phone manufacturers, with mass production already underway. This means that phones will be able to have 1TB of storage with a single flash memory chip.

Samsung memory marketing VP Cheol Choi says in a statement that the 1TB eUFS is “expected to play a critical role in bringing a more notebook-like user experience to the next generation of mobile devices.” It’s the same package size as Samsung’s previous 512GB unit and has read speeds of up to 1,000 megabytes a second; that’s 10 times the speed of a typical microSD card, according to Samsung.

Last year Samsung promoted the Galaxy Note 9 as “1 terabyte ready,” but that’s only if you insert a 512GB microSD card — the highest capacity currently available — into the 512GB model. Will Samsung use its own memory chip to release a proper 1TB phone in the near future? It’s not unlikely, with various rumors suggesting that the upcoming Galaxy S10 Plus will have a high-end model that includes 12GB of RAM and 1TB of storage.

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#24 Potential global cyber attack could cause $85 bln-$193 bln worth of damage – report

A co-ordinated global cyber attack, spread through malicious email, could cause economic damages anywhere between $85 billion and $193 billion, a hypothetical scenario developed as a stress test for risk management showed.

Insurance claims after such an attack would range from business interruption and cyber extortion to incident response costs, the report jointly produced by insurance market Lloyd's of London and Aon said on Tuesday.

Total claims paid by the insurance sector in this scenario is estimated to be between $10 billion and $27 billion, based on policy limits ranging from $500,000 to $200 million.

The stark difference between insured and economic loss estimates highlights the extent of underinsurance, in case of such an attack, the stress test showed. An attack could affect several sectors globally, with the largest losses in retail, healthcare, manufacturing and banking fields.

Regional economies that are more service dominated, especially the United States and Europe, would suffer more and are vulnerable to higher direct losses, the report said.

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#25 Japan to survey 200 mln gadgets for cyber security

Japan is preparing a national sweep of some 200 million network-connected gadgets for cyber-security lapses ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, an official said on Tuesday.

The government-backed National Institute of Information and Communications Technology will start the survey from February to check potential vulnerabilities in items such as routers, webcams and web-connected home appliances.

Tokyo is rushing to beef up cyber security as the nation prepares to host major global events, such as the Rugby World Cup this year, the Group of 20 meetings and the summer Olympic Games.

Cyber security has become increasingly important as sporting events introduce new technologies for everything from broadcasting to ticketing.

For the study, researchers will take common but unsafe IDs and passwords often exploited by malware -- like "abcd", "1234" or "admin" -- to see if devices are readily accessible by hackers, said institute spokesman Tsutomu Yoshida.

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#26 Facebook’s unified messaging plan might finally convince you to leave Facebook

A bombshell report late last week revealed that Mark Zuckerberg and Co. are considering a massive overhaul of Facebook’s instant messaging apps which include two top-rated chat apps (Messenger and WhatsApp) and the chat version of Instagram. The plan, according to the report, consists of ensuring that a user belonging of any of the three apps above would be able to get in touch with any other user, without having to register an account on a different social network to do so. The plan might seem brilliant if you forget that Facebook is behind it, and Facebook’s doesn’t act unless it can monetize everything down the road. But there may be an unexpected silver lining in all of this: Facebook’s sort-of unified messaging system might convince you to finally drop Facebook for good.

Before you freak out about Facebook uniting Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram under the same roof — especially if you’re using WhatsApp — you should know that the three chat apps aren’t going away and that WhatsApp isn’t losing its end-to-end encryption. That’s a feature not available on Messenger by default, although you can use it in Secret chats.

But, according to The New York Times report, Zuckerberg ordered that all the apps incorporate end-to-end encryption. That should be great news for anyone worried about Facebook’s spying of messages.

It’s unclear when the three chat apps will be unified. Say that you’re doing most of your messaging on WhatsApp right now because of end-to-end encryption, as well as the fact that, for the time being, there are no ads in it. Once the unified chat system launches, you’ll be able to message anyone on Facebook and Instagram without needing accounts on those social networks.

In other words, if the only reason that prevented you from leaving Facebook at any point since last year’s Cambridge Analytica scandal, was Messenger, then you’ll finally be able to ditch the social network without worrying about not being able to get in touch with specific contacts with whom you only chat via Messenger.

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#27 Priyanka Chopra Tells Ellen DeGeneres How Nick Jonas Slid Into Her DMs

Priyanka Chopra may be settling into married life, but she still beams when talking about her new husband, Nick Jonas. 

The “Quantico” actress dropped by “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” Wednesday to chat about her new movie, “Isn’t It Romantic,” as well as her relationship with Jonas, with whom she tied the knot last month. Though Chopra and her now-husband have had lengthy acting and singing careers, she admitted neither of them knew much about the other’s work when they first began dating in 2018. 

“Everyone knew the Jonas Brothers. I just didn’t know the music. ... I really didn’t know much about them,” she told DeGeneres. “In fact, Nick and I both didn’t know much about each other, so we did a show-and-tell after we started dating, where we showed each other our work from when we were younger ― the embarrassing stuff, the horrible things. It was great.”

And the newlyweds can thank social media for helping to bring them together. As to how she was first introduced to Jonas, Chopra quipped, “He DMed me, actually.”

“He DMed me on Twitter,” she said. Having recently watched the music video for Jonas’ 2016 hit “Close,” she was intrigued. 

... To Read more, please click here


IT40 Places & Things in the Media for 01/29/2019

IT40 People in the Media for 01/30/2019

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