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Category Archives: #breaking news

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

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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

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Protesters block the road to Donald Trump rally near Phoenix

Donald Trump’s rally in the Phoenix suburbs on Saturday was briefly delayed as dozens of protesters carrying signs that denounced racism blocked an Arizona highway leading to the rally site.

The route was first blocked by a pair of pickup trucks decorated with banners reading “Comb Over Racism: Dump Trump” and “Shut Down Trump.” Dozens of protesters then filled in the roadway, carrying signs reading “Love Trumps Hate” and “Stand Against Racism.” One homemade sign said, “Combat White Supremacy.”

As the trucks were towed away, protesters formed a human wall. Traffic finally resumed after officers began arresting

Later Saturday afternoon, scores of protesters temporarily blocked the entrance to the Tucson Convention Center, chanting “Shut it down!” and preventing supporters from entering a Trump rally there.

And in New York City, protesters from a wide range of left-leaning organizations organized a roaming protest Saturday targeting two of Trump’s most prominent properties in midtown Manhattan. There were reports that the police used tear gas to prevent a group of protesters from moving past barriers near Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue.  Read More

A UMass Boston Grad Is Allegedly Behind ISIS’ ‘Sophisticated’ Social Media Strategy

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, otherwise known as ISIS, has used social media as a recruitment tool, to the point Western intelligence services are just as fearful of the Sunni militant group’s “less lethal weapons.” From state-of-the-art, full-production videos to swiping hashtags to spread their message, ISIS’ social media strategy is “sophisticated” — and it’s allegedly being run by a University of Massachusetts Boston graduate.

A senior law enforcement official told ABC News that 32-year-old Ahmad Abousamra moved to Syria and used his computer-science skills to run social media for ISIS.

Although born in France, Abousamra is reported to have grown up in Stoughton, Mass. He attended Xaverian Brothers, a private, all-boys Catholic high school in Westwood, Mass., before transferring to Stoughton High. Abousamra then enrolled in Northeastern to study computer science, according to school officials. He only spent three semesters at the university, however; he went on to graduate from UMass Boston with a degree in computer science in 2006, according to the Boston Herald

In 2004, Abousamra traveled to the Middle East and soon started working as the “media wing” of al Qaeda in Iraq, or AQI, which later evolved into ISIS. He was charged with terrorism-related offenses in 2009 and, four years later, the FBI added him to its Most Wanted Terrorists list, offering a $50,000 reward for information leading to his capture and return to the states.  Read More

Web traffic, glitches slow Obamacare exchanges launch

People sign up for health insurance information at a Covered California event which marks the opening of the state's Affordable Healthcare Act, commonly known as Obamacare, health insurance marketplace in Los Angeles, California, October 1, 2013. REUTERS-Lucy Nicholson

The opening itself represented a victory for Obama’s signature domestic policy achievement after years of attack from Republican foes and delays in building the technology infrastructure to support sites in 50 U.S. states. It defied a partial federal government shutdown precipitated by Republican efforts to delay the law’s implementation.

“As long as I’m president I won’t give in to reckless demands by some in the Republican Party to deny affordable health insurance to millions of hard-working Americans,” Obama said in the White House Rose Garden after his meeting with people who stand to benefit from the healthcare overhaul.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, will provide subsidized health insurance based on income through the state exchanges and expand Medicaid coverage for the poor from January 1, representing the most ambitious U.S. social program since Medicare plans for the elderly launched in the 1960s.

Reuters checks in at least 47 states throughout the day turned up frequent error messages or traffic overload notices, particularly for 36 sites run by the federal government. One frequently observed glitch involved a page asking the user to answer security questions that either went blank or would not accept new data. Kansas officials urged residents to wait a few weeks for the “bugs” to be worked out before enrolling.  Read More

 

Fannie, Freddie making billions—why shut them down?

On a Monday morning five years ago this week, thousands of employees at mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac went to work to find a new boss: The federal government.

Crushed under the weight of thousands of defaulted mortgages and bleeding cash, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were put into government conservatorship.

Now, a short five years later, the two are making billions of dollars in profit—profit that goes straight to the U.S. Treasury. Against this backdrop, lawmakers are setting the stage for an epic debate on the future of U.S. housing finance, a future that will likely mean the end of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

“Everyone gets so caught up in their profitability, but everyone forgets that profitability is tied to their direct government support,” said Jaret Seiberg of Guggenheim Partners.

That’s why the debate over government involvement in the mortgage market is so fierce. Lawmakers are eager to protect taxpayers, but they also need to keep home finance afloat. How do you “wind down” two entities that now back two thirds of the U.S. mortgage market? And how do members of Congress reconcile that goal with the fact that the two are now huge cash cows? In order to look forward, it is essential to understand how we got here.  Read More

Virus targets the social network in new fraud twist

In the world of cyber fraud, a fake fan on Instagram can be worth five times more than a stolen credit card number.

As social media has become increasingly influential in shaping reputations, hackers have used their computer skills to create and sell false endorsements—such as “likes” and “followers”—that purport to come from users of Facebook, its photo-sharing app Instagram, Twitter, Google’s YouTube, LinkedIn, and other popular websites.

In the latest twist, a computer virus widely used to steal credit card data, known as Zeus, has been modified to create bogus Instagram “likes” that can be used to generate buzz for a company or individual, according to cyber experts at RSA, the security division of EMC Corp.  Read More

Best Video Applications for a One-Way Trip to Mars

Mars picture - illustration of a human settlement on Mars

An illustration of a human settlement on Mars.

Daniac and more than 100,000 other eager applicants have signed up for theMars One project, a plan to send humans to Mars—on a one-way trip—starting in 2022. (Related: “Ancient Mars Was Snowy, New Model Suggests.”)

The Mars One team plans to pick 40 astronauts from the more than 100,000 applications received from people worldwide. The crew will spend eight years undergoing specialized training in an isolated location to learn skills like dental work and electrical maintenance. In 2022, four of them will be launched into space on a one-way trip to Mars—with more astronauts slated for future missions. (See: “Mars Gets Its Close-Up.”)

To help the team winnow down the applicant field, we watched dozens of videos from the Mars One website, deciding who had the skills and the fortitude to take a giant leap into space. Below are several of our favorites:  See Them

US Air Force nuclear missile unit fails safety test

A crane crew removed the Minuteman III ICBM display from its support posts, from the grounds of the US Air Force Academy in Colorado.  20 August 2008

The US Air Force unit that oversees a remote Cold War-era nuclear missile installation has failed a safety test, the Air Force has said.

The 341st Missile Wing at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana made “tactical-level errors” in an exercise, it said.

The exercise concluded on Tuesday was meant to test the unit’s ability to operate safely, the Air Force said.

But a senior Air Force commander said the failure did not indicate the US nuclear arsenal was at risk.

“These inspections are designed to be tough to pass,” Lt Gen James Kowalski said in a statement. “A failure doesn’t mean the wing isn’t able to accomplish its mission.”

On Tuesday, the Air Force revealed the 341st Missile Wing was rated “unsatisfactory” after making errors during exercises conducted during an inspection 5-13 August. As a result of the failure, the entire inspection was graded “unsatisfactory”.

The Air Force did not reveal details on the exercise in question.

But Gen Kowalski told the Associated Press the airmen “fumbled” on a “small team exercise” that did not involve the crews who monitor the missiles from underground launch control capsules.  Read More

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