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U.S. charges former top Apple lawyer with insider trading

Wed, 02/13/2019 - 14:59

Authorities said Gene Levoff exploited his positions as corporate secretary, head of corporate law and co-chairman of a committee that reviewed draft copies of Apple's financial results to trade illegally between 2011 and 2016. Prosecutors said Levoff, 45, of San Carlos, California, generated $604,000 in illegal gains, including realized profit and avoided losses, before Apple terminated his decade-long employment in September.

From Mass Weddings to Spilled Wine: How 6 Countries Around the World Celebrate Valentine's Day

Wed, 02/13/2019 - 14:58

Here are some unusual Valentine's Day traditions around the world

Suicide bomber targeting Iran's Revolutionary Guard kills 27

Wed, 02/13/2019 - 14:50

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — A suicide car bomber claimed by an al-Qaida-linked group attacked a bus carrying members of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guard paramilitary force Wednesday, killing at least 27 people and wounding 13 others, state media reported.

Former US intelligence officer charged with spying for Iran after defection

Wed, 02/13/2019 - 14:49

A former US Air Force intelligence officer has been charged with helping Iran target ex-colleagues with cyberattacks after defecting to the country in what was dubbed a “betrayal” of America.  Monica Witt, 39, was accused of switching sides after more than a decade of US military service and identifying American intelligence officers and their personal Facebook accounts for the Iranian regime.  Messages quoted in an indictment unsealed yesterday showed Witt saying that she wanted to “put the training I received to good use instead of evil” around the time of her defection.  Four Iranians said to have been involved in the cyber-attacks were also charged along with two Iran-based businesses, New Horizon Organization and Net Peygard Samavat Company.  The five individuals charged are all at large, meaning the chances of a successful prosecution remain unclear. The investigation to uncover the alleged crimes was being run for years.  John Demers, the US assistant attorney general, said: “This case underscores the dangers to our intelligence professionals and the lengths our adversaries will go to identify them, expose them, target them, and, in a few rare cases, ultimately turn them against the nation they swore to protect." Image released on February 13, 2019 showing the missing person page of the FBI website for Monica Witt Credit: HO/AFP/Getty Images   Witt, a US citizen, worked for the US Air Force as an intelligence specialist and special agent between 1997 and 2008. She worked with the Defence Department as a contractor until 2010.  During her service she was given access to secret and top secret information relating to counterintelligence, including material that contained the true names of secret agents and sources.  Early in her career she was taught the Farsi language and was deployed in a number of overseas locations, carrying out missions to counter America’s enemies.  Witt repeatedly promised to act in America’s interests and not share classified information she accessed, according to US prosecutors – pledges which she is accused of flagrantly breaking.  The first signs of Witt’s alleged defection came when she attended the Iranian New Horizon Organization’s “Hollywoodism” conference in February 2012.  The gathering was sponsored by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, a branch of Iran’s armed forces which was recently sanctioned by the Trump administration for its “malign” activities.  The conference was partly aimed at “condemning American moral standards and promoting anti-US propaganda”, US prosecutors said. By August 2013, just 18 months later, Witt had fled to Iran.  Messages between Witt and an unnamed Iranian-American who helped arrange the trip which were published in the indictment give an insight into her thinking before the defection. “Should i thank the sec of defense . . u were well trained,” the unnamed individual allegedly wrote to Witt in one message before her trip, appearing to reference the US defence secretary, her old boss.  Witt responded: “LOL thank the sec of defense? For me? Well, I loved the work, and I am endeavoring to put the training I received to good use instead of evil.” She added a smiling emoji and the words: “Thanks for giving me the opportunity.” In another message Witt wrote “If all else fails, I just may go public with a program and do like Snowden :)”. The apparent reference is Edward Snowden, the former CIA employee who leaked classified material in 2013 and then fled to Russia.  Once Witt was in Iran she was given housing and computer equipment by Iranian government officials, according to US prosecutors.  She is then accused of disclosing classified information about secret US projects and combing Facebook under an alias to identify former colleagues, putting together “target packages” that would help the Iranians find, track and “neutralize” the threat posed.  The four Iranians charged in the indictment then began a “malicious” campaign of targeting Witt’s former colleagues, according to US prosecutors.  The allegations included using fictitious or imposter Facebook accounts to send messages with links that would compromise their computers once clicked.  The Iranian nationals charged with computer intrusion and aggravated identity theft are Mojtaba Masoumpour, Behzad Mesri, Hossein Parvar and Mohamad Paryar.  Terry Phillips, a US special agent with the Air Force, said: “The alleged actions of Monica Witt in assisting a hostile nation are a betrayal of our nation’s security, our military, and the American people.   “While violations like this are extremely rare, her actions as alleged are an affront to all who have served our great nation.”  It is not known how those charged will plead if the case came to court. The five individuals charged had not commented publicly in the hours immediately after the indictment was unsealed.

Hackers can gain full control over Xiaomi electric scooter, security group finds

Wed, 02/13/2019 - 14:42

The Xiaomi M365 electric scooter has a defect in which hackers can take complete control over the vehicle, according to Zimperium.

Talks to end three-day Denver teachers strike resume after progress reported

Wed, 02/13/2019 - 14:09

Negotiators for striking Denver teachers and the city school district returned to the bargaining table on Wednesday after a productive session the previous day, as the walkout affecting 92,000 students entered a third day. The two sides sounded an optimistic note on Tuesday after resuming talks that had broken off on Saturday, and went late into the night seeking to resolve differences over a variable pay system, known as ProComp, which has been at the center of the dispute. "We exchanged proposals that are moving us closer and are hopeful that we will get to an agreement soon," union President Henry Roman and schools Superintendent Susana Cordova said in a joint statement late on Tuesday.

Pope discusses ethics of artificial intelligence with Microsoft chief

Wed, 02/13/2019 - 12:29

Microsoft President Brad Smith met Pope Francis on Wednesday to discuss the ethical use of artificial intelligence and ways to bridge the digital divide between rich and poor nations, the Vatican said. The head of the global tech giant and the 81-year-old Roman Catholic leader, who once said he is a "disaster" when it comes to technology, spoke for about 30 minutes in the pontiff's residence. The pair discussed "artificial intelligence at the service of the common good and activities aimed at bridging the digital divide that still persists at the global level", according to a statement.

US charges former Air Force intel agent with defecting to Iran

Wed, 02/13/2019 - 12:02

The US Justice Department charged a former Air Force intelligence official Wednesday with spying for Iran, saying she exposed a fellow US agent and helped the Revolutionary Guard target her former colleagues for cyber attacks. US officials said Monica Witt, who worked for years in US Air Force counterintelligence, had an "ideological" turn against her country and defected in 2013, turning over information on US intelligence operations against Tehran. "It is a sad day for America when one of its citizens betrays our country," said Assistant Attorney General John Demers, announcing the indictment.

Police apologise for sending officers in blackface to impersonate black drug dealers

Wed, 02/13/2019 - 11:58

One night in February 1993, Frankie Caruso and another white Baton Rouge detective darkened their faces to impersonate black drug dealers, as part of what was then characterised as a successful sting operation. The blackface operation, which current officials said had been approved by the Police Department, drew swift condemnation this week from the city’s mayor and its police chief. “Blackface photographs are inappropriate and offensive,” Police Chief Murphy J Paul Jr said in a statement on Monday.

Honda Tomo EV is the cute concept we hope to see in future cities

Wed, 02/13/2019 - 11:31

Designed in part by Master of Transportation Design students from Italy's Istituto Europeo di Design, the Honda Tomo EV that's expected to go on display at the Geneva Motor Show represents the compact, smart EVs of Honda's future, according to the institution. In January, the Istituto Europeo di Design (IED) in Turin, Italy, announced that about a dozen of their graduate design students were partnering with Honda to create what turned into the zero emissions-producing Tomo concept car, whose name means "friend." Since this was announced last month, all we've known about the project -- which is part of the Master in Transportation Design graduate students' theses -- is that the model will be a compact electric vehicle that will be on display at the Geneva Motor Show, March 7-17.

May's Strategy Faces Renewed Threat in Parliament: Brexit Update

Wed, 02/13/2019 - 11:28

(Bloomberg) -- With Theresa May seemingly heading for a high-stakes game of brinkmanship with the U.K. Parliament and the European Union, British politicians are again seeking ways to take control of the Brexit process.

Who is excluded from conferences and summits and why?

Wed, 02/13/2019 - 11:13

The exclusion of countries, peoples or individuals from high-profile summits and conferences often says much about the events themselves.

Winter storm warnings posted as more snow heads for Hawaii's mountains

Wed, 02/13/2019 - 10:49

Days after a weekend storm dumped rare snow on Maui, another wintry system is forecast Wednesday and Thursday for the tropical island chain.

Here’s Why We Give Roses on Valentine’s Day—And What the Flower Really Means

Wed, 02/13/2019 - 10:30

Popularized by Victorian women, the tradition has its origins in Turkey

Should Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax resign amid sexual assault allegations?

Wed, 02/13/2019 - 10:25

Virginia Republican Rep. Ben Cline says he applauds the victims for having the courage to come forward.

UK's Labour pushes government to change Brexit 'red lines': spokesman

Wed, 02/13/2019 - 10:12

Britain's opposition Labour Party pressed the government to change its "red lines" on Brexit on Wednesday after two policy chiefs held "frank and serious" talks with ministers, a party spokesman said. Prime Minister Theresa May and her ministers are trying to persuade not only their governing Conservative Party to back her deal to leave the European Union, but are also holding talks with Labour to see whether they can find common ground.

Suffolk DA ‘Ready’ to Investigate Fairfax Sexual Assault Allegations

Wed, 02/13/2019 - 09:55

Rachel Rollins, district attorney for Suffolk County, Mass., is prepared to launch an investigation into the sexual assault allegation recently brought against Virginia lieutenant governor Justin Fairfax provided his accuser, Vanessa Tyson, is willing to file a complaint, the Boston Globe reported Wednesday.Rollins claims she emailed Tyson's attorneys last week asking if they would like to file a criminal complaint related to their client's allegation that Fairfax sexually assaulted her in a Boston hotel room in 2004, but have not yet received a response.“We will help in any way we can if she chooses to come forward,” Rollins told the Globe in an interview. “We would offer any number of services starting from getting them in touch with counselors all the way, if they were so inclined, to seek prosecution.”Fairfax, who previously admitted to having a consensual sexual encounter with Tyson, once again denied the assault and floated the possibility of filing a criminal complaint against her in a statement provided to CNN Wednesday.“The Lt. Gov. has stated repeatedly that he has never sexually assaulted anyone ever.He has called publicly for a fair, impartial investigation,” the statement reads in part. “He has nothing to hide. He would cooperate fully with an investigation by Suffolk County District if a criminal complaint is filed. In that event the Lt. Gov. will explore all options with regard to filing his own criminal complaint in response to the filing of a false criminal complaint against him.”In a graphic statement released last week by her attorneys, Tyson accused Fairfax of forcing her to perform oral sex on him while the pair were in Boston for the 2004 Democratic National Convention.Fairfax was also accused last week by a second woman who claims he raped her while the pair were undergraduates at Duke University in 2000. He has also denied that claim.

A Hawaii State Park May Have Seen Its First Ever Snowfall

Wed, 02/13/2019 - 09:26

Polipoli Spring State Park in Hawaii was covered in snow in what may be the first time ever.

Iran's Zarif says Warsaw meeting 'dead on arrival'

Wed, 02/13/2019 - 09:23

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Wednesday that a two-day conference being co-hosted by Washington in Warsaw on Iran and the Middle East was "dead on arrival". "It is another attempt by the United States to pursue an obsession with Iran that is not well-founded," Zarif told a Tehran news conference. Zarif said not even Washington had any interest in the conference as a forum for an exchange of views among the 60 participating countries.

Global oil supply to swamp demand in 2019 despite output cuts: IEA

Wed, 02/13/2019 - 08:45

The IEA left its demand growth forecast for 2019 unchanged from its last report in January at 1.4 million barrels per day. "It is supported by lower prices and the start-up of petrochemical projects in China and the U.S. Slowing economic growth will, however, limit any upside," the agency said. The IEA raised its estimate of growth in crude supply from outside the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to 1.8 million bpd in 2019, from 1.6 million bpd previously.