Monday, November 25, 2019


A judge sentenced a 27-year-old mother in Ohio to 37 years in prison after killing her three infant sons. She pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and murder charges after she suffocated her three sons ages 3 months to 4 years in July 2014, April 2015 and August 2015, respectively, over a 13-month period. She told authorities that she feared the boys would grow up and abuse women. Her lawyers insisted that she is brain damaged and had been abused, both physically and sexually, throughout her life. She was impregnated by her mother’s 47-year-old boyfriend when she was just 17 years old. The two later married. He pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor sex charge in 2016, which stemmed from his relationship with her that took place when she was underage. One of her attorneys, said that his client suffered from lead poisoning as a child. A doctor’s exam confirmed her brain damage. Her guilty plea took the death penalty off the table. Her attorneys agree that “Sadly, she’s safer living a better life in jail than on the outside and she grieves for her children, whom she loves and misses every day.” Ohio Attorney General revealed that the court imposed two consecutive life sentences in connection to the murders, and added an additional seven years in prison for the involuntary manslaughter charge. (CNN)


Hacked accounts have appeared on the dark web for as little as $3 a pop (less than half the $6.99 monthly price of a Disney+ subscription) in the week since the site’s November 12th debut. While some viewers’ old username and password combinations may have been poached from other sites, many say their stolen login credentials were unique to Disney+. Disney+ fans complained about being hacked on Twitter amid other gripes about technical glitches and poor customer service. Disney said the hacks likely stemmed from security issues that affected other companies, as it has seen no sign of a breach specific to the new service.  The company generally locks users’ accounts and asks them to reset their passwords if its systems spot suspicious login activity, it said. Hackers may have snagged some login credentials from other data leaks and gotten others from users infected with keylogging or info-stealing malware. Disney said its answer to Netflix beat expectations by snapping up 10 million subscribers in its first day despite the technical difficulties, which the company attributed to high demand. The Disney+ catalog includes content from Disney, Pixar, Marvel and the Star Wars franchise. (New York Post)


A new study suggests intelligent life is likely to inhabit a star system drastically different than ours. The researchers modeled a theoretical Earth into binary star systems (those with two stars) and found that 87 percent of these “exo-Earths” should have the axis tilted similar to that of Earth, an important ingredient for intelligent life. Multiple-star systems are common and about 50 [percent] of stars have binary companion stars. So, this study can be applied to a large number of solar systems. These types of discoveries have been made in the past, including most recently LTT 1445 A b, a distant rocky exoplanet that has three stars. LTT 1445 A b is about 22 light-years from Earth. In 2016, NASA discovered a planet orbiting two stars in the OGLE-2007-BLG-349 system, 8,000 light-years away. A light-year measures distance in space and equals 6 trillion miles. The researchers compared Earth’s tilt to the tilt of Mars, noting the extreme variations between the two planets, and then looked at what Earth might be like if it were in the Alpha Centauri AB system, 4.4 light-years from Earth. Going out farther into deep space, the results became more promising, leading the researchers to believe it’s a possibility. The study was funded by NASA’s Exobiology Program. (Astrophysical Journal)


A bill to fight the flow of Americans’ sensitive personal data to China and other countries that threaten national security was introduced on November 18th by Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) in the wake of a hearing that raised concerns over Chinese-owned video-sharing app TikTok. TikTok had said it’s hired a U.S.-based auditing firm to analyze the app’s data security practices, in a letter to lawmakers at a Senate Judiciary Subcommittee earlier this month. During the hearing, The Senator said all it would take is “one knock on the door of their parent company based in China from a Communist Party official” for the data to be sent to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). He requested that TikTok executives testify before the panel—nobody showed up. The Chinese communist regime has representatives in almost every large company in China, Wright said. The concerns over TikTok come amid broader anxiety over forced technology transfers from U.S. companies to Chinese authorities and intellectual property theft. Over the past 12 months, TikTok has been downloaded more than 750 million times, according to research firm Sensor Tower; which is more than new users of Facebook, Youtube, or Snapchat in the same time period. (Epoch Times)


The United States is experiencing a “dramatic and concerning” rise in the rate of new anal cancer cases and deaths from the disease, particularly among young black men and elderly women, researchers reported last week. The incidence of squamous cell carcinoma of the anus (the most common type of anal cancer) rose 2.7 percent per year over a recent 15-year period, while anal cancer mortality rates increased 3.1 percent per year during that time. At this rate, the disease can be considered as one of the fastest accelerating causes of cancer incidence and mortality in the U.S., said the study’s lead author and an assistant professor at the UTHealth School of Public Health in Houston. Among some of the startling statistics:

  • The risk of developing anal cancer was five times higher for black men born in the mid-1980s compared to those born in the mid-1940s. That may be because young black men are disproportionately affected by HIV, which raises the risk for developing the cancer,
  • The risk doubled among white men and white women born after 1960. The disease may surpass cervical cancer to become the leading human papillomavirus-linked cancer in elderly women, the study noted. One possible reason: Older people have weaker immune systems, impairing their ability to clear HPV from their bodies, and elderly women outnumber elderly men,

The proportion of cases diagnosed when the cancer had already spread to other parts of the body doubled, which suggests the rise in cases isn’t driven by more intense screening that would catch early-stage tumors. It develops when malignant cells form in the tissues of the anus. About 6,530 people are diagnosed with anal cancer each year, with 91 percent of the cases believed to be caused by HPV, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (NBC News)


A transgender woman said she was “humiliated and traumatized after being forced to remove her makeup with hand sanitizer for her driver’s license photo”. The transgender woman said after her purse was stolen, she made an appointment at the Fairpark Driver License Office in Utah to obtain a replacement license. Claiming to have brought the required documents to the appointment, the transgender woman “was fully prepared to have to say my dead name,” while is currently in the process of changing the gender marker and legal name on paper. “I was told my wearing makeup would be confusing to the system. The employee said because my appearance didn’t match my gender, it wouldn’t be able to be picked up by the facial recognition software,” the transgender person said. Not having time to reschedule the appointment and because people were watching, the person felt “forced” into taking off the makeup. “I asked what I should do, and they handed me the hand sanitizer and wipes,”the person said. “The whole thing was terrible and traumatic. I had to take it off right then and there and I felt as a trans woman, I had forced myself to get clocked.” After removing the makeup, they took a second picture. This time, the makeup was smeared the person tried to “smile while crying.”  The chair of the board of directors of Transgender Education Advocates of Utah, said this is not the first time an incident like this has occurred. Two other transgender women were required to remove their makeup for their drivers license pictures in 2015, prompting her organization to provide training and a video about “how to treat trans people.” Transgender Education Advocates of Utah plans to work with the office again to “discuss a path forward” and prevent a similar incident from happening again. FYI: A “dead name” describes a trans person’s given name, if different than the name they choose to go by. (NBC News)


In Louisiana, the unauthorized download of a program onto a government computer caused the infection that shutdown a majority of state agency websites and temporarily halted service delivery for dozens of state offices last week. According to Cybersecurity Commissioner, the infection ultimately spread to 130 servers and affected around 600 computers from which officials say they will now have to remove and reinstall software. Early identification of the infection spurred officials with the Office of Technology Services (OTS) to initiate security protocols and shut down a majority of servers. This affected websites, email and Internet access for many agencies including the Office of the Governor, the Office of Motor Vehicles (OMV) and the Louisiana State Legislature, among others. Because of a prompt response, no data is believed to have been lost, state email is coming back online and a majority of government functions were protected rather than paralyzed. No ransom was paid, officials said. (KALB)


The University of Alabama in Huntsville announced the class sponsored by the U.S. Department of Defense. The course teaches students to work with defense and intelligence agencies to solve unique problems provided by the Defense Department. One problem has already been proposed for UAH by the Missile Defense Agency at Huntsville’s Redstone Arsenal. “The world is moving forward and new adversaries are being born every day, and threats to national security are ever changing in nature,” course instructor said in a statement. “There is a need to understand the challenges and appreciate them on one end and to be able to solve these challenges on the other.” Students in the class will form five-member teams to solve a problem with guidance from a Defense Department agency mentor. They will interview dozens of DOD personnel and create an initial solution. Course requirements will be spelled out in the UAH course catalog. The course was created for the National Security Innovation Network by the Palo Alto, Calif., software company BMNT Inc. and the Common Mission Project. It started at Stanford University before spreading to major universities. (GovTech)


The former “American Idol” contestant facing a decade behind bars on federal drug trafficking charges blamed the ABC show for sending her on a downward spiral that eventually led to her arrest. Appearing on the singing competition ruined 32-year-old Antonella Barba’s life, culminating in her 2018 drug bust, her attorney claimed in court documents filed in US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. She pleaded guilty in July to charges of fentanyl possession with intent to distribute, and is begging for leniency. In the 18-page filing, her attorney described her as a pious and driven person who began playing violin at the age of 4 and had a stellar academic career. But competing on the show in 2007 “interrupted her dream of a career in architecture” and was “where it all went wrong,” he lawyer said while citing a letter of support from his clients mother. The filing also cited letters of support from relatives and friends who said then-19-year-olds “sudden move to Hollywood” for the competition was a “recipe for disaster.” She reached the top 16 on the sixth season of “American Idol”, but was “devastated” when she wasn’t able to hack it. She simply couldn’t “come to terms with her lack of success in the entertainment industry,” the filing states. In 2018, she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, anxiety disorder and narcissistic personality disorder, according to the filing. In October 2018, she  was arrested in Norfolk, Va., while serving as a courier for a drug ring. “The most probable reason that she finds herself before this Court is that her inability to come to terms with her lack of success in the entertainment industry exacerbated her then undiagnosed mental illness,” the filing states. Her attorney is asking for the court to give his client a break and sentence her to no more than 3.8 years. (Page Six)


Port Neches-Groves ISD in the Beaumont, Texas, area paid an undisclosed amount of money via Bitcoin to a suspected overseas cyberattacker who encrypted millions of the district’s files and issued a four-day deadline to respond to the criminal demands. The director of information services, safety and homeland security for the district, said information technology staff had gained access to almost all of the files. School district officials declined to release the exact ransom price, but the director said it was “up there.” The price was negotiated by the district’s insurance company, he said. While the computer access is being returned, a cybersecurity team retained by the district is doing a thorough analysis of the district’s physical computers and network. As the file access is returned, district officials are still investigating how and where the attackers got into the system. One possibility was a fake Google Chrome logo that was found on one of the district’s computers. Moving forward, the district is looking to implement new preventative measures to stop similar attacks in the future. (GovTech)


A school district in Colorado has closed more than 40 schools for two days after a virus outbreak rapidly spread through the student population, according to school officials. It’s the first time the Mesa County Valley School District 51 has had to close all schools due to illness. More than a dozen schools in the state’s 14th largest district reported increased absences “due to illness and several incidences of vomiting in public areas of the schools,” according to the Mesa County Public Health Department. A second, related virus has also been affecting students in recent weeks, the district said. The health department says it is working to identify the illness, which is “acting a lot like norovirus” and lasts between 12-24 hours. Norovirus, sometimes called the “stomach bug,” is easily spread through direct contact, consuming contaminated food or water, or touching contaminated surfaces and then putting your hands in your mouth, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The closure includes all after-school activities, the district said, and schools will remained closed until after Thanksgiving break. Mesa County Valley School District 51 is the largest school district between Salt Lake City, Utah, and Denver, Colorado, the district website says. It serves more than 22,000 students in 46 schools and programs, employing nearly 3,000 employees. (CNN)


  • Blase’Day
  • International Day For the Elimination of Violence Against Women Day
  • International Hat Day
  • Shopping Reminder Day

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