Category Archives: Alerts

Hackers Target Phone Numbers To Steal Identity 

By: Nathaniel Popper

Hackers have discovered that one of the most central elements of online security — the mobile phone number — is also one of the easiest to steal.

In a growing number of online attacks, hackers have been calling up Verizon, T-Mobile U.S., Sprint and AT&T and asking them to transfer control of a victim’s phone number to a device under the control of the hackers.

Once they get control of the phone number, they can reset the passwords on every account that uses the phone number as a security backup — as services like Google, Twitter and Facebook suggest.

“My iPad restarted, my phone restarted and my computer restarted, and that’s when I got the cold sweat and was like, ‘O.K., this is really serious,’” said Chris Burniske, a virtual currency investor who lost control of his phone number late last year.

A wide array of people have complained about being successfully targeted by this sort of attack, including a Black Lives Matter activist and the chief technologist of the Federal Trade Commission. The commission’s own data shows that the number of so-called phone hijackings has been rising. In January 2013, there were 1,038 such incidents reported; by January 2016, that number had increased to 2,658.

But a particularly concentrated wave of attacks has hit those with the most obviously valuable online accounts: virtual currency fanatics like Mr. Burniske.

Within minutes of getting control of Mr. Burniske’s phone, his attackers had changed the password on his virtual currency wallet and drained the contents — some $150,000 at today’s values.

Most victims of these attacks in the virtual currency community have not wanted to acknowledge it publicly for fear of provoking their adversaries. But in interviews, dozens of prominent people in the industry acknowledged that they had been victimized in recent months.

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Once In A Liferime Solar Eclipse 

By: Ashley Strickland of CNN 

The first glimpses of the first total solar eclipse to cross the United States from coast to coast in 99 years began in Oregon, with totality just after 1 p.m. ET. What started as a tiny crescent of the moon’s shadow turned into a perfectly beautiful eclipse in city after city. It ended in South Carolina about 3 p.m. ET.

A partial solar eclipse was visible until just after 4 p.m. in the Southeast. The next solar eclipse over the United States will occur in April 2024.

During totality in many cities, it looked like nighttime, with stars appearing in the sky and the temperature dropping. Crickets could be heard chirping in Jefferson City, Missouri.

Little crescents were visible on the ground and reflecting off car windshields and skyscraper windows. Particularly popular on social media were crescents showing up in the shade of trees. The spaces between the leaves acted as pinholes. The light that came through the many pinholes showed up as individual crescents.

The view from 35,000 feet — for those with the appropriate glasses — was stunning.

NASA was all about the eclipse and having a bit of fun with it, tweeting a joke about the moon blocking the sun — on social media.

“HA HA HA I’ve blocked the Sun! Make way for the Moon,” said the official NASA Moon account, which blocked the NASA Sun’s account.

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Catholic Church Refuses To Pay Victims Of Child Sex Abuse

By: Fiona Keating of The Independent 

The Catholic Church and British local authorities have been accused of using a legal loophole to avoid paying compensation to victims of child sex abuse.

The Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme, a government agency, has denied some children financial settlements because it said the victims had “consented” to the abuse, a group of charities has warned.

Lawyers representing victims have warned that this line of defence is becoming increasingly common.
One case that the charity Victim Support brought attention to involved a 12-year-old girl who was given alcohol, brought into woodland and then sexually assaulted by a 21-year-old male. The girl was denied compensation because she had “voluntarily” gone into the woods with the man.

“No child ever gives their ‘consent’ to being abused, and the increased use of this line of defence, although still quite rare, is worrying,” said Anne Longfield, the Children’s Commissioner for England. “I have contacted the Ministry of Justice previously and again recently about this issue and the Government should look urgently at what can be done to tackle it.”

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Terrorist Attack In Spain

By: Laura Smith-Spark of CNN

At least 13 people were killed and more than 50 injured after a van rammed through crowds of people in the heart of Barcelona Thursday in what police described as a terror attack.

Eyewitnesses reported scenes of panic and chaos as the van plowed through crowds in the renowned Las Ramblas avenue, which was teeming at the time with locals and tourists.

One person has been arrested, Catalan police said. Police are treating the incident as a terror attack and have sealed off the area.

“We can confirm 13 dead and more than 50 injured,” Joaquim Forn, the Catalan interior minister, told a news conference.

City officials ordered all public events to be canceled, while emergency services requested the closure of metro and train stations in the area.

Reports of the attack first emerged on social media at about 5 p.m. local time (11 a.m. ET). About two hours later, police confirmed that Spain had suffered a deadly attack.

It was the latest in a series of attacks in Europe in which vehicles have been used to mow down pedestrians in public spaces.

Catalan police said they were continuing to hunt for the perpetrators and that the force had activated its terror response protocols. Unconfirmed reports suggested the suspects may have been attempting to reach a getaway vehicle.

Local Spanish media earlier reported that two armed men had entered a restaurant. But Catalan police dismissed rumors that the attacker had been holed up near Las Ramblas and said there “was never a hostage situation.”

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Driver Who Plowed In To Protestors Saturday Afternoon in Virginia Is Denied Bail

Compliments of The BBC

James Alex Fields was denied bail as he was arraigned for second-degree murder, three counts of malicious wounding and one count of hit and run.

Heather Heyer, 32, died and 19 were injured when a car hit demonstrators in Charlottesville on Saturday.

Mr Fields is said to have harboured Nazi sympathies.

President Donald Trump has been criticised for not specifically denouncing the far-right elements in the weekend’s march.

But the White House has defended his remarks as explicitly condemning the white supremacy groups involved.

Ken Frazier, CEO of drugs giant Merck, announced on Monday he would resign from the president’s American Manufacturing Council over Mr Trump’s response to Charlottesville.

Mr Frazier, who is African American, tweeted he had “a responsibility to take a stand against intolerance and extremism”.

James Alex Fields looked nervous and listless on the small monitor in the corner of the courtroom. Mostly he kept his head down, his eyes darting occasionally up towards the camera.

He was wearing a striped jumpsuit and had the neat, buzzcut hairstyle favoured by many white supremacists and neo-nazis who have united under the banner of the so-called “alt-right”.

Judge Robert Downer read his charges – one count of murder, one count of hit and run, three counts of malicious wounding.

Alex Fields spoke briefly to say he was employed by Securitas and Omni Ohio, could not afford a lawyer, and had no ties to Charlottesville. Judge Robert Downer denied him bail, and revealed he could not be appointed a public defender because someone in the public defender’s office was directly affected by the crime.

His appointed lawyer, Charles Webster, named in court by the judge, had yet to be contacted to inform him of his latest client.

In 10 minutes it was over. Outside the court, known white nationalist Matthew Heimbach was shouting that the death of Heather Heyer was the fault of the police.

“Nazis go home,” the crowd chanted back at him. “I think I like it in Charlottesville,” he said. “I think I’ll stay.”

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Pretending To Be Happy When You Are Sad May Not Be As Beneficial As We Thought 

Compliments of UC Berkeley 

Pressure to feel upbeat can make you feel downbeat, while embracing your darker moods can actually make you feel better in the long run, according to new UC Berkeley research.

“We found that people who habitually accept their negative emotions experience fewer negative emotions, which adds up to better psychological health,” said study senior author Iris Mauss, an associate professor of psychology at UC Berkeley.

At this point, researchers can only speculate on why accepting your joyless emotions can defuse them, like dark clouds passing swiftly in front of the sun and out of sight.

“Maybe if you have an accepting attitude toward negative emotions, you’re not giving them as much attention,” Mauss said. “And perhaps, if you’re constantly judging your emotions, the negativity can pile up.”

The study, conducted at UC Berkeley and published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, tested the link between emotional acceptance and psychological health in more than 1,300 adults in the San Francisco Bay Area and the Denver, Co., metropolitan area.

The results suggest that people who commonly resist acknowledging their darkest emotions, or judge them harshly, can end up feeling more psychologically stressed.

By contrast, those who generally allow such bleak feelings as sadness, disappointment and resentment to run their course reported fewer mood disorder symptoms than those who critique them or push them away, even after six months.

“It turns out that how we approach our own negative emotional reactions is really important for our overall well-being,” said study lead author Brett Ford, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Toronto. “People who accept these emotions without judging or trying to change them are able to cope with their stress more successfully.”

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A 1%er For The People

Compliments of Change.org, Nick Hanauer petition 

My name is Nick Hanauer and I’m filthy rich. I’m not a 1%’er. I’m a 0.001%’er. If you read the business section of the paper, you’ve probably seen my name: I was one of the first investors in Amazon.com. I’ve sold other companies for billions of dollars, and now my friends and I own a bank. I’m a proud and unapologetic capitalist.
So you might be surprised to learn that I’m starting a petition to say that it would be criminally stupid for Congress to give rich guys like me another tax cut. 
In fact, I believe that not one penny in tax cuts should go to millionaires, billionaires and wealthy corporations. Everyone knows that the biggest lie in economics is that tax cuts for the rich create growth and jobs. When Republicans talk about tax reform, they’re really talking about trickle down nonsense. The truth is, taxes on the rich don’t need to be “reformed”—they need to be raised, because it’s investments in the middle class that make our economy grow.  
Our democracy and our economy are being ripped apart by growing inequality. Tax cuts for the rich masquerading as reform will only make it worse. I need you to help me fight for a tax code that puts working families back at the center of the economy. Another round of tax breaks for people like me will undermine our commitment to what really makes our country stronger—Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, public education, investments in infrastructure and R&D, and more—and make it impossible for the middle class to fulfill their function as the true job creators. 
Join me and pledge to oppose any effort to cut taxes for the wealthy and well-connected. Not one penny in tax cuts should go to millionaires, billionaires and wealthy corporations.

Link To Petition 

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Complete Cure For Cervical Cancer ?

By: Margaret Paul of ABC

Cervical cancer could be almost completely eliminated, research has found, thanks to a new vaccine being reviewed by Australia’s pharmaceutical authority.

A Melbourne-based study, led by the Royal Women’s Hospital and Victorian Cytology Service, looked at nearly 900 samples of cervical cancer, and found the Gardasil vaccine being given to students in their first year of secondary school protects against 77 per cent of them.

The study published in the International Journal of Cancer found the new Gardasil 9 vaccine protected against 93 per cent of cancers.

The lead researcher, Associate Professor Julia Brotherton, said the research was very exciting.

“It’s truly ground-breaking,” she said.

Australia’s Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee [PBAC] is reviewing how cost-effective the new vaccine is for Australia, and a decision is due later this month.

Professor Brotherton said she expected the committee would consider the research.

“I’m very hopeful that this vaccine will become available to young people in the first year of high school when we give the vaccine, hopefully as early as next year,” she said.

Another benefit to the new vaccine is that it requires fewer injections.
The current vaccine given to young people requires three doses.

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New Zealand Authority Pushes To Ban Alcohol In Supermarkets 

By: Eleanor Ainge Roy of The Guardian

The New Zealand Medical Association has called for a ban on selling alcohol in supermarkets, saying that having it next to groceries and food normalises a dangerous drug.

Wine and beer have been widely available in most supermarkets around the country since 1990, although spirits can be bought only in bars and off-licences.

The New Zealand Medical Association (NZMA) said having alcohol in supermarkets normalised the drug, and made buying it cheap and easy – meaning people put a bottle of sauvignon blanc in their trolley alongside their bread, milk and toilet paper without a second thought.

According to the association well over half a million New Zealanders consume alcohol in a hazardous way, with many emergency rooms filled on Friday and Saturday nights with alcohol-related admissions.

The NZMA believes it is the government that is best placed to crack down on heavy consumption – a position supported by many health and social policy academics and Alcohol Healthwatch. 

Dr Kate Baddock, the chair of the association, said evidence suggested alcohol was worse than methamphetamine, marijuana and heroin, because it was a cheap, addictive, psychotropic drug.

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Bees May Just Not Be Going Extinct 

By: Alan Bjerga of Bloomberg 

The number of U.S. honeybees, a critical component to agricultural production, rose in 2017 from a year earlier, and deaths of the insects attributed to a mysterious malady that’s affected hives in North America and Europe declined, according a U.S. Department of Agriculture honeybee health survey released Tuesday. 

The number of commercial U.S. honeybee colonies rose 3 percent to 2.89 million as of April 1, 2017 compared with a year earlier, the Agriculture Department reported. The number of hives lost to Colony Collapse Disorder, a phenomenon of disappearing bees that has raised concerns among farmers and scientists for a decade, was 84,430 in this year’s first quarter, down 27 percent from a year earlier. Year-over-year losses declined by the same percentage in April through June, the most recent data in the survey.

Still, more than two-fifths of beekeepers said mites were harming their hives, and with pesticides and other factors still stressing bees, the overall increase is largely the result of constant replenishment of losses, the study showed.

“You create new hives by breaking up your stronger hives, which just makes them weaker,” said Tim May, a beekeeper in Harvard, Illinois and the vice-president of the American Beekeeping Federation based in Atlanta. “We check for mites, we keep our bees well-fed, we communicate with farmers so they don’t spray pesticides when our hives are vulnerable. I don’t know what else we can do.”

Environmental groups have expressed alarm over the 90 percent decline during the past two decades in the population of pollinators, from wild bees to Monarch butterflies. Some point to a class of pesticides called neonicotinoids as a possible cause, a link rejected by Bayer AG and other manufacturers.

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