Record-Breaking Hack, Supreme Leaders & Trumped-up Tapes


Remember when we said we would connect Trump supporters with non-Trump supporters? Well, apologies for the delay there. We’ve been buried by the news but we are back on track. In the next 48 hours, we’ll be pairing people from both sides, but not every non-Trump supporter will receive a penpal.

We had roughly 4 times the number of non-Trump supporters expressing interest in this than Trump supporters. We also asked some Trump supporters to provide an update on how they feel about Trump (note: many of these responses came in before the firing of James Comey). You can read these responses here. Other Trump voters or supporters, please share your thoughts on how you feel the president is doing by emailing us at Also, if you know of a Trump supporter or you are a Trump supporter who would like to join this penpal program, then please also contact us at


Global Hack Makes Everyone “Wannacry”: Over 150 countries and more than 100,000 organizations have been hit by an attack of “ransomware,” which involves encrypting information from computers and asking for ransom in order to restore it (in this case, $300 paid in bitcoin). The ransom message was translated into 28 languages (indicative of a sophisticated attack and of course, very thoughtful on the part of the hackers). The attack, which began on Friday, is believed to be the biggest online extortion attack ever recorded. Russia was the worst hit, followed by Ukraine, India, and Taiwan.

Markus Jakobbson, chief scientist with security firm Agari, said that the attack was “scattershot” rather than targeted. “This is not an attack that was meant for large institutions. It was meant for anyone who got it.” While this may be the case, vital infrastructure such as the Spanish telecommunications giant Telefonicá, the British national healthcare system (NHS), and Germany’s national railway were all compromised. The attack used malicious software called “WanaCrypt0r 2.0” or WannaCry, which exploits a vulnerability in the Windows operating system. In March, Microsoft released a patch for the flaw, but computers that have not installed the security update were and remain vulnerable.

The malware was made available online on April 14 by a group called Shadow Brokers, which claimed last year to have stolen “cyber weapons” from the US National Security Agency. In a blog post on Sunday, Microsoft president Brad Smith “appeared to acknowledge” that the hackers indeed used one of the tools from the April leak. A computer security expert, known only as MalwareTech on Twitter, is credited with stopping the spread of the ransomware on Saturday when he activated a digital “kill switch.” He warned on Sunday that hackers could attack again by simply upgrading the virus. There is no word yet on the originators of the attack.

North Korea’s Supreme Leader Seeks New Moniker of Supreme Menace: Yesterday North Korea had its most successful launch ever as a missile flew roughly 435 miles and landed west of Japan and into the ocean. The missile seemed to have left the atmosphere and re-entered, which is a critical distinction in the development of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). Immediately after the launch, the US and Japan called for the UN Security Council to hold an emergency meeting. The launch occurred at the same time that China was holding an international summit to promote its “One Belt, One Road” initiative, a global initiative intended to strengthen China’s investment, influence, and trade links to the rest of the world.

The New York Times reports that Chinese President Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin spoke after learning about the missile test. Contents of the conversation weren’t disclosed but we wouldn’t be surprised if they giddily said to one another, “Together we can work to weaken democracy all over the globe!” And, “Why does anyone think we can control the North Korean nut job who has his people call him the Supreme Leader?” Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, called this latest missile test a “flagrant menace” and that the aggression will not stand, man.   


Angela Merkel’s Party Wins State Election: Elections in Germany’s most populous state, Nord-Rhein Westphalia (NRW), saw Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party, the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU), become the state’s largest party. Merkel’s party garnered 33 percent of the vote (a significant increase), while the ruling Social Democratic Party (SPD) came in second at 31.2 percent, a seven point decline from their 2012 results. The defeat is all the more brutal given that the state has been ruled by the social democrats for 46 out of the last 51 years.  

SPD leader Martin Schulz, who aims to dethrone Merkel in September, was confronted with significant criticism–his party has now underperformed in three consecutive state elections. Ironically, the last time Merkel’s CDU unseated the social democrats in NRW was in 2005, which prompted a snap federal election that the conservatives won, earning Merkel her first term as Chancellor. Nord-Rhein Westphalia may yet again become Merkel’s godsend as state elections are considered a barometer for the general election, which will take place in September.


Dear Mr. President, Show Us Those Tapes!: On Sunday, members of Congress called called on President Trump to turn over any tapes of conversations with fired FBI chief James Comey, as Democrats considered a boycott of the vote on Comey’s replacement. In his millionth “highly unusual move,” Trump tweeted last Friday a very-not-thinly veiled threat to Mr. Comey: “James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!” (Has Trump ever thought of issuing threats in private? Like, on a burner phone or something?) Ah, what a way to top off a week, with a threat to a man whose previous agency is full of FBI agents who may now have axes to grind. (Don’t worry, in what was clearly an attempt to project his presidential self, Trump also remembered to troll Rosie O’Donnell regarding her views on Comey.) Trump and a White House spokesman declined to confirm or deny whether tapes of Trump and Comey’s conversations exist.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said the White House must “clear the air” about whether there are any taped conversations. “You can’t be cute about tapes. If there are any tapes of this conversation, they need to be turned over,” Graham told NBC’s “Meet the Press.”  Republican Senator Mike Lee of Utah said that if tapes do exist, it was “inevitable” that they would be subpoenaed. He also recommended against recordings in the White House–it’s “not necessarily the best idea.”


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