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Will the Department of Defense EMP drill shut down power grid? No

A video that falsely claims that a Department of Defense (DoD) communications drill will cause the national power grid to go out for several days in early November is causing panic on social media.  The video warns that the Department of Defense will be using an electromagnetic pulse to shutdown the power grid November 4-6 – and that everyone needs to prepare now.  While a training exercise is happening during that time period, the outcome has been exaggerated by false reports being shared on social media.  The official DoD announcement about the planned exercise states:

“This exercise will begin with a national massive coronal mass ejection event which will impact the national power grid as well as all forms of traditional communication, including landline telephone, cellphone, satellite, and Internet connectivity.” — Army MARS Program Manager Paul English

During the exercise, the national power grid will not be impacted. Most social media reports referencing the announcement do not mention the exercise is a simulation and will have no “real life” impact. “The average citizen will not even know this exercise is taking place. Our focus is to interoperate with the amateur radio community,” English told Snopes.

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Why the Far Right Thinks a Second U.S. Civil War Launches Saturday

According to a vocal group of conspiracy mongers who dwell on the fringes of the internet, millions of antifa soldiers will commit mass decapitations of white parents and raid the houses of innocent gun-owning citizens this Saturday to launch a second American civil war.The looming threat of a bloody Nov. 4 assault on everything that the ultra-right holds dear has been elevated beyond paranoid rumblings. Various permutations of the myth have now gained traction among notorious institutions such as Alex Jones’s InfoWars, which is also reporting news of nationwide riots leading to a civil war, and the John Birch Society, which is advising that people have buckets of water and sand ready to put out fires from antifa. Even the Gateway Pundit, a White House-credentialed pro-Trump blog, has helped spread the rumors of antifa beheadings. YouTube videos about it have millions of views, and it’s one particular video that helped to propel this exaggerated tale to prominence. Read More

South Koreans are protesting against Trump’s visit — and in support of it, too

SEOUL — Just days ahead of President Trump’s visit, hundreds of South Koreans took to the streets of the capital on Saturday in protest.But not everyone was against Trump’s visit: Just a few blocks away from the main anti-Trump protest by the U.S. Embassy, a smaller pro-Trump demonstration was taking place. The two events reflected the conflicting concerns in South Korea at a time when many feel the risk of conflict with North Korea is running high. Read More

The three most interesting new JFK assassination records

The newly released U.S. government files on the JFK assassination include some fascinating information. Here are three of the released documents that shed some light – and raise more questions – about what happened before and after President Kennedy was killed.The Soviets called Lee Harvey Oswald a “maniac”

An FBI document from 1966 sheds some light on how American intelligence perceived the Soviet reaction to Kennedy’s assassination. Citing several sources, the document lays out the “great shock” of the Soviet people and leadership, and their fears that JFK’s death could lead to war with the U.S

San Juan mayor calls for canceling ‘alarming’ contract for Puerto Rican power repairs

A $300 million contract to fix Puerto Rico’s hurricane-damaged power grid that was given to a tiny Montana company should be voided, said San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz, who said the process of awarding the no-bid contract raised ethical and legal questions. In an interview with Yahoo News on Tuesday evening, Cruz described the contract as “alarming.”As of Wednesday morning, 75 percent of Puerto Rico does not have power as a result of damage from Hurricane Maria. The storm hit the island, which is a U.S. territory, on Sept. 20.

The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority signed the contract with Montana’s Whitefish Energy last month. At the time, the firm had just two full-time employees. The contract was awarded without a competitive bidding process. Cruz, the mayor of Puerto Rico’s largest city, described the Montana company as inadequate and said there appears to be a lack of “due diligence” behind the contract.

“The contract should be voided right away, and a proper process which is clear, transparent, legal, moral and ethical should take place,” Cruz said.

Most Chipotle restaurants hacked with credit card stealing malware

The company first acknowledged the breach on April 25. But a blog post on Friday revealed the kind of malware used in the attack and the restaurants that were affected.

The list of attacked locations is extensive and includes many major U.S. cities. When CNNMoney asked the company Sunday about the scale of the attack, spokesman Chris Arnold said that “most, but not all restaurants may have been involved.”

Chipotle (CMG) said in its blog post that it worked with law enforcement officials and cybersecurity firms on an investigation.

The breaches happened between March 24 and April 18. The malware worked by infecting cash registers and capturing information stored on the magnetic strip on credit cards, called “track data.” Chipotle said track data sometimes includes the cardholder’s name, card number, expiration date and internal verification code.

The company said there is “no indication” that other personal information was stolen.

“During the investigation we removed the malware, and we continue to work with cyber security firms to evaluate ways to enhance our security measures,” the blog post reads.

A list of the restaurants and times they were affected can be found on Chipotle’s website.

The company recommended that customers scan their credit card statements for potentially fraudulent purchases. It also said victims should contact the Federal Trade Commission, the attorney general in their home states or their local police department.

Portland mayor calls for cancellation of free-speech rally

The mayor of Portland, Oregon, on Monday urged U.S. officials and organizers to cancel a “Trump Free Speech Rally” and similar events, saying they are inappropriate could be dangerous after two men were stabbed to death on a train as they tried to help a pair of young women targeted by an anti-Muslim tirade.

Mayor Ted Wheeler said he hopes the victims will inspire “changes in the political dialogue in this country.”

Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche, 23, and Ricky John Best, 53, were killed as they tried to stop Jeremy Joseph Christian from harassing the women, one of whom was wearing a hijab, authorities say. Another who stepped in was seriously injured.

Christian’s social media postings indicate an affinity for Nazis and political violence. He was charged with aggravated murder, intimidation — the state equivalent of a hate crime — and being a felon in possession of a weapon and was scheduled to be in court Tuesday.

The federal government has issued a permit for the free-speech rally Saturday and has yet to give a permit for an event June 10. The mayor says his main concern was the participants “coming to peddle a message of hatred,” saying hate speech is not protected by the Constitution.

A Facebook page for the event says there would be speakers and live music in “one of the most liberal areas on the West Coast.” It features Kyle Chapman, who describes himself as an American nationalist and ardent supporter of President Donald Trump. Chapman was arrested at a March 4 protest in Berkeley, California.

Trump condemned the stabbing, writing Monday on Twitter: “The violent attacks in Portland on Friday are unacceptable. The victims were standing up to hate and intolerance. Our prayers are w/ them.”  Read More

Uber and Lyft return to Austin after Texas law kills the city’s fingerprint rule

Ride-hailing giants Uber and Lyft, which left Texas’ tech-savvy capital city a year ago over local fingerprint requirements for drivers, have returned after state lawmakers intervened.

Both companies began rolling on Austin’s streets again Monday, when Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law a bill that puts the state — not local governments — in charge of regulating the ride-hailing industry.

Local leaders in Austin, the conservative state’s most liberal city, argued unsuccessfully that its tech-driven economy was uniquely positioned to launch capable alternatives that could fill the gap.

“Austin is an incubator for technology and entrepreneurship, and we are excited to be back in the mix,” Uber spokesman Travis Considine said Thursday. “ We know that we have a lot of work to do in the city, but we couldn’t be more excited for the road ahead.”

Uber and Lyft — which are both based in San Francisco — fled Austin after losing a bruising and expensive fight to replace an Austin ordinance that required fingerprint-based background checks of drivers, a variety of data reporting and other requirements.

Advocates for fingerprinting say it’s the best way to weed out drivers with criminal records. Uber and Lyft have argued their background checks suffice and that fingerprint databases can be out of date. Fingerprinting can also slow down the process of adding new drivers.  Read More

Snapchat needs to evolve—or it’ll be brutally slaughtered by Facebook.

For Facebook, Snapchat isn’t an app to be feared.

It’s a feature to be absorbed.

The world’s largest social network  relentlessly taunts Snap Inc., their much-smaller competitor, known mostly for its disappearing messages app, by lifting Snap’s core functionality, and dumping it into a variety of products it doesn’t really belong.

Who knows what Facebook’s really thinking—the company tends to promote its features with fluff about letting you “share all the moments of your day“—but the ripoffs are almost certainly less about providing a service to users, and much more about outright killing Snapchat.

Some important background: An article in Bloomberg last year said Facebook was in a froth over a decline in “personal sharing” on its social network, which is used by 1.23 billion people every day. (Snapchat’s got 158 million daily users, its IPO filing revealed.) Personal sharing’s important: Your News Feed can’t just be a wasteland of viral videos and news about Hillary Clinton harvesting baby organs or whatever—you return to Facebook to see what your friends are up to.

When friends post personal statuses or pictures, it encourages you to do the same. Then Facebook has a nice crop of eager content-sharers to serve highly personalized ads to. Then, Facebook makes several billion dollars. Great!

The rub for Facebook, here, is that Snapchat’s all about intimate moments (and body parts) shared between friends (and lovers). You can take a snap of whatever, send it to whomever, and you don’t have to worry about your aunt or kid seeing it—as you do on Facebook. It’s a popular idea, and at the time of the Bloomberg report, Snapchat was enjoying explosive growth in its user base:

This lovely graph shows Snapchat's robust growth over a couple of years ending in December 2015.

 

Intel still beats Ryzen at games, but how much does it matter?

It’s OK now even if it’s not the fastest gaming processor ever—but the future gets tricky.

The response to AMD’s Ryzen processors with their new Zen core has been more than a little uneven. Eight cores and 16 threads for under $500 means that they’re unambiguously strong across a wide range of workloads; compute-bound tasks like compiling software and compressing video cry out for cores, and AMD’s pricing makes Ryzen very compelling indeed.  But gaming performance has caused more dissatisfaction. AMD promised a substantial improvement in instructions per cycle (IPC), and the general expectation was that Ryzen would be within striking distance of Intel’s Broadwell core. Although Broadwell is now several years old—it first hit the market way back in September 2014—the comparison was relevant. Intel’s high-core-count processors—both the High End Desktop parts, with six, eight, or 10 cores, and the various Xeon processors for multisocket servers—are all still using Broadwell cores.  Read More

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