India’s Ender’s Game | Theresa Mayxit For Sure | Hey Tech, Please Spy on My Family

MARCH 28, 2019  /   SUBSCRIBE



One Small Step For Man, One Giant Missile To Kill Satellites: India has officially upped the space race ante. Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced on Wednesday that Indian scientists had shot down one of their own satellites in space with an anti-satellite missile (ASAT). Modi said the country’s first test of such technology is a major breakthrough that establishes India as a space power. It becomes the fourth country to have used an ASAT, after the US, Russia, and China. The successful anti-satellite test, conducted from an island off India’s east coast, will allow the country to protect its assets in space from foreign attacks. A statement from the foreign ministry read: “The capability achieved…provides credible deterrence against threats to our growing space-based assets from long-range missiles, and proliferation in the types and numbers of missiles.”

The US ran the first anti-satellite test in 1959, when satellites themselves were rare and new. In the 1960s and early 1970s, the Soviet Union tested a weapon that would be launched into orbit, approach enemy satellites and destroy them with an explosive charge. In 1985 the US destroyed one of its satellites with the ASM-135A, launched from an F-15 fighter jet. There were no more tests until 2007, when China jumped in, destroying a satellite and creating the largest orbital debris cloud in history with more than 3,000 objects.




Follow The Blood Trail To The Money Trail To The Campaign Trail: On Wednesday Austria’s chancellor, Sebastian Kurz, confirmed a financial linkbetween the man accused of gunning down 50 people in two attacks on mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, and the Austrian branch of the far-right Identitarian Movement, which claims to want to protect Europe’s “cultural identity” from Islam. The Austrian government is now investigating the possibility of dissolving the movement. “Our position is very clear. No form of extremism must be allowed to have a place in our society, whether it be radical Islamists or rightwing fanatics,” Kurz said. Martin Sellner, the head of the Identitarian Movement in Austria, said Tuesday on social media that police had searched his apartment the previous day and seized electronic devices after he received a “disproportionately high donation” from a person with the same surname as the suspected Christchurch shooter. (Guardian) Additional read: “Facebook Bans White Nationalism and White Separatism: After a civil rights backlash, Facebook will now treat white nationalism and separatism the same as white supremacy, and will direct users who try to post that content to a nonprofit that helps people leave hate groups.” (Motherboard)

From New Jersey With Love: A Spanish judge lifted a secrecy court order Tuesday and revealed documents accusing, among others, an American, a Mexican, and a South Korean of infiltrating North Korea’s Embassy in Madrid on February 22, just days before President Trump’s second summit with the North Korean leader began. The three individuals are part of a revolutionary group named Free Joseon that calls for the overthrow of Kim Jong-un; they admitted taking computers and other items of enormous value which they later shared with the FBI at the latter’s request. The judge referred to the group as a “criminal organization” and named the leader, who allegedly fled to New Jersey via Lisbon and offered the stolen material to the FBI in New York a few days later. Spanish media previously reported that the group could be affiliated with US intelligence. Neither the CIA nor the FBI would comment to reporters. (NPR, WaPo)

Additional World News




Theresa Mayxit For Sure: UK Prime Minister Theresa May met with her conservative members of parliament and promised she will step aside before the next Brexit negotiations begin. “I know I don’t go around the bars and the dining rooms gossiping with colleagues, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t heard the message,” May said, indicating she understood that many MP’s made her departure a precondition for backing her already twice-defeated withdrawal deal. MPs responded to her announcement with “respectful recognition for her hard work and service, not celebration,” one said. An MP leaving the meeting said May had fired the starting gun on a Tory leadership contest that would be likely to take place over the summer, with a new leader potentially in place for the Conservative conference in the autumn.




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ACA Under Attack: In March 2018 Forbes reported that the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, hit an all-time high in popularity with the public, and insurers were talking about expanding coverage and reducing rates for 2019. President Trump and Republicans continued trying their best to wreck the law. Then came the 2018 midterm elections, and a Washington Post analysis of exit poll data from 69 battleground districts found the number one motivating issue sending people to the polls in November was health care — more important than Trump, the economy or immigration. Democrats overwhelmingly support the ACA, and so many were voted in it was deemed a Blue Wave. Conversely, Congressional Republicans have done everything in their power to quash as many parts of the ACA as they could get away with, and what they couldn’t accomplish Trump tried taking out by executive order. Yet despite overwhelming public support, and millions of Americans who would lose even minimal health care without the ACA, Trump has kicked off a renewed battle to completely dismantle the law.

Late Monday, perhaps emboldened by Attorney General’s Barr’s almost quixotic summary of Special Counsel Mueller’s report, Trump’s Justice Department filed a two-sentence letter in a pending federal case that argued the entire law should be struck down. The president repeatedly says he wants the GOP to be the party of great health care, and promises if the Supreme Court strikes down the ACA “we will have a plan that’s far better than Obamacare.” But so far, there’s not been one word spoken or written anywhere about what that future plan might be. (Forbes, NPR)

Additional USA News




Hey Google, Siri, and Alexa, Please Spy on My Family: When you’re talking to your virtual assistant, do you know who’s really listening, and what they’re really hearing? A reporter attending a product unveiling in San Francisco in October 2017 received a Google Home Mini as a gift. It’s the bagel-sized device answering to the Amazon Echo Dot. After a couple of days the reporter went online to check his voice search activity and was shocked to see that thousands of short recordings that should never have been made were already logged. He later wrote on the Android Police website: “My Google Home Mini was inadvertently spying on me 24/7 due to a hardware flaw.” Google quickly replaced his malfunctioning device, but the advocacy group Electronic Privacy Information Center still wrote the Consumer Product Safety Commission urging it to recall the Mini because it “allowed Google to intercept and record private conversations in homes without the knowledge or consent of the consumer.”

So eavesdropping can occur by accident, or mistake, or on purpose. Designers at Microsoft and Google and other companies receive reports detailing the most popular user queries so they know what content to add. Chat logs might be made anonymous so the reviewer doesn’t see the names of individual users, or the data might be summarized. Still, the review process is shockingly intimate. Microphones in smarthome products from Amazon, Apple, Google and Microsoft, as well as the microphone-equipped AIs in everybody’s phones can pick up voices from across the room. One writer put it this way: “By buying a smart speaker, you’re effectively paying money to let a huge tech company surveil you.” (Android Police, Guardian)




“We are never prepared for what we expect.” – James A. Michener

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