Russian President Vladimir Putin delivered a speech at the Kremlin today where he announced the annexation of portions of Ukraine in Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia. In his speech he accused the West of being satanists and said that Russia wants to lead an anti-colonial movement to smash the West. He then formally announced the annexation of territory that Russia invaded and took by force. After the speech was over, the Associated Press reported that Ukraine had officially applied for membership to NATO. U.S. President Biden called the annexation illegitimate, promised to continue to support Ukraine, and announced new sanctions on Russia.
Putin’s speech and the annexation of these territories is the culmination of a war that began in 2014 when Kremlin-backed forces seized Crimea and pieces of eastern Ukraine.
"I want the Kyiv authorities and their real masters in the West to hear me, so that they remember this. People living in Luhansk and Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia are becoming our citizens. Forever,” Putin said in his speech, according to a translation from Reuters. “We call on the Kyiv regime to immediately end hostilities, end the war that they unleashed back in 2014 and return to the negotiating table. We are ready for this … But we will not discuss the choice of the people in Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson. That has been made. Russia will not betray them."
In a 2005 speech, Putin told the world that the collapse of the Soviet Union “was the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century.” It was a theme he returned to in his speech announcing the annexation of the territories seized from Ukraine.
"As once before, after the Revolution, the borders of the Union republics were carved up from behind the scenes,” he said. “So the last leaders of the Soviet Union, contrary to the direct expression of the will of the majority of people in the referendum of 1991, destroyed our great country, confronting the people with a fait accompli. I admit that they did not fully understand what they were doing, and what consequences this would inevitably lead to in the end. But this is no longer important. There is no Soviet Union, the past cannot be brought back. And Russia today does not need it anymore. We are not striving for this."
Putin’s speech was ostensibly about the annexation of new territory into Russia, but he kept returning to the West. He blamed “Anglo-Saxons” for the destruction of the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines without blaming a specific country. "Sanctions were not enough for the Anglo-Saxons: they moved on to sabotage,” he said, according to the Reuters translation. “It is hard to believe but it is a fact that they organized the blasts on the Nord Stream international gas pipelines, which run along the bottom of the Baltic Sea. In fact, they began to destroy the pan-European energy infrastructure. It is clear to everyone who benefits from this. Of course, he who benefits did it."
Putin also also made a veiled homophobic joke and talked about sex change operations during his speech, according to Financial Times Moscow Bureau Chief Max Seddon. He then accused the West of “Outright Satanism.”
“Putin [said] Russia wants to lead an ‘anti-colonial movement’ to liberate the world. ‘We need to turn this disgraceful page. Western hegemony will be smashed. This is inevitable. We must do this for our people, the great historical Russia,” Putin said, according to Seddon.
The speech included one reference to nuclear weapons, typical for Putin’s recent public statements. During several speeches in February, after the invasion, he made direct nuclear threats and put Russia’s nuclear forces on high alert. In his speech announcing the “partial mobilization” of the Russian people on September 21, Putin accused NATO of using nuclear blackmail and said he would not hesitate to use his own nukes.
"To those who allow themselves to make such statements about Russia, I would like to remind you that our country also has various means of destruction, and for some components more modern than those of the NATO countries," he said in September. "And if the territorial integrity of our country is threatened, we will certainly use all the means at our disposal to protect Russia and our people. This is not a bluff."
With this referendum Putin has expanded the territory which he has threatened to protect with nuclear weapons. He used the threat of nuclear war to do it. But he was quick, in his speech today, to point to America. "The U.S. is the only country in history that has ever used nuclear weapons. Creating a precedent, by the way,” he said.
The speech ended with Putin and the four Moscow-backed leaders of the territory Russia forcibly seized holding hands and chanting “Russia! Russia!” Minutes after the speech concluded, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy released a video where he announced Ukraine would be applying for membership to NATO.
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Kent Bogard does not sell a product that makes a semi-automatic AR-15 rifle shoot like a fully-automatic machine gun—he wants to make that very clear.
“You saw how simple it is, a child could install it,” he says in one breath, before adding a clarification in the next: “It’s not a machine gun.”
Bogard does, however, offer a $50 item that he says can be discreetly and easily installed on nearly any AR-style weapon, enabling it to shoot hundreds of rounds per minute. That extremely high rate of fire is virtually indistinguishable from machine guns, which are strictly regulated under federal law. But again, he emphasized, his device does not make a machine gun, at least not according to his reading of the statute.
“There’s no regulation against it,” Bogard said. “There’s nothing technically illegal about it.”
The product, which Bogard has dubbed “The Bolt,” appears to be the latest workaround developed by gun enthusiasts to simulate full-auto machine gun fire on semi-auto AR rifles, which are legal to own in most places if they remain configured to fire one round per trigger pull. A machine gun shoots multiple bullets with a single trigger squeeze, a feature included on some weapons used by military and police; civilian ownership is restricted except for certain circumstances, with a background check and special license typically required.
The tough laws on machine guns—having one without the right paperwork can carry a 10-year prison sentence—haven’t stopped the public from seeking them out, often with deadly consequences. VICE News and The Trace previously documented the rise of “auto sears,” another small and simple device that creates full-auto machine guns and has been linked to mass shootings and cases involving anti-government extremists across the country.
But there are also other devices that don’t work exactly like a machine gun but mimic the functionality, unleashing a spray of bullets within a split second. The most high-profile example is the “bump stock,” used in the 2017 Las Vegas massacre, which left 61 people dead and remains the deadliest mass shooting by a single gunman in U.S. history.
Bogard, a 77-year-old Florida native who now lives in Idaho, told VICE News that before making “The Bolt,” he sold more than 4,000 bump stocks (which retailed for around $300 each) at gun shows across the Pacific Northwest, until they were banned in 2018 after the Vegas shooting. The bump stock uses force generated by the gun’s recoil to rapidly pull the trigger over and over, faster than humanly possible, simulating a machine gun but not actually operating like one.
Anticipating that bump stocks would be outlawed post-Vegas, Bogard said, he began developing a new device that uses a similar principle. By changing the configuration of the trigger mechanism, the design enables a shooter to harness the recoil and pull the trigger extremely fast. In a sales pitch delivered by Bogard at one gun show recently, he claimed the modification allows him to empty a 30-round magazine in 2.3 seconds.
“I don’t have the fastest trigger finger in the world,” Bogard said in a phone interview with VICE News. “The rifle is going to bounce back and forth on the trigger if it’s [held with] a loose grip. If you do not know how to fire it, you’ve got a semi-automatic rifle—period. It will not ever mistakenly fire more than one round. You have to know how to hold the rifle to move how it wants to go.”
Similar devices have apparently been around for years, with YouTube tutorials showing the installation process and online retailers offering discount versions for a fraction of the price that Bogard charges at gun shows. But while not exactly new, Bogard’s Bolt and the proliferation of so-called machine gun conversion devices has sparked alarm among gun control advocates.
David Pucino, deputy counsel at the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, told VICE News that Bogard’s Bolt is essentially a ticking time bomb in the wrong hands.
“It's the latest devious attempt to get around the limits on machine guns,” Pucino said. “It’s an attempt to introduce an extraordinarily dangerous weapon into civilian hands. As in bump stocks, it’s only a matter of time until an innovation like this results in mass carnage.”
Asked whether he worries about enabling another tragedy, Bogard responded: “I don't think anybody is going to do any damage with the product I'm building.”
A spokesperson for the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives (ATF), which regulates firearms, told VICE News that decisions about similar products are made on a case-by-case basis.
“While I cannot speak specifically to this product, ATF has a very defined procedure for making determinations on such items,” said John Ham, the ATF’s acting deputy chief of public affairs. “Such products are evaluated by ATF’s Firearms and Ammunition Technology Division, who then determine if the item meets the definition of a machine gun under federal law.”
Last year, the ATF issued a cease-and-desist order to a company called Rare Breed Triggers, ordering them to stop making and selling a product called the FRT-15, which retailed for $380 and used a trigger modification to increase the rate of fire. Other types of “Forced Reset Triggers” could also be considered machine guns, the ATF said, because they “allow a firearm to automatically expel more than one shot with a single, continuous pull of the trigger.”
ATF agents even went so far as to test-fire a gun with an FRT-15 installed and the trigger held down with a zip tie—and it fired more than once, the government has said in court documents.
Rare Breed Triggers has responded with a lawsuit, arguing its device technically requires the trigger to reset and calling the cease-and-desist letter “the product of bad faith and/or the need to advance a political agenda.” The case remains pending in federal court in North Dakota.
Ryan Busse, a former gun company executive who now speaks out against the industry and AR-15s in particular, told VICE News that accessories like the bump stock, forced reset triggers, and Bogard’s Bolt rely on “artful dodges” to skirt the definition of machine gun under the law.
“In gun technology right now, perhaps things are changing faster than the definitions can keep up,” Busse said. “It’s like when the internet blew up 20 years ago, our laws were not established to keep up with that and perhaps that’s what’s happening here.”
Bogard said he has not sought permission from the ATF to sell his device, but he’s not hiding it either—he operates openly at gun shows and said he assumes undercover agents have already stopped by his booth without his knowledge. He declined to provide video footage of a modified gun in operation, and downplayed the danger of his device, calling it “a toy” and “a novelty item.”
But Bogard also noted his device is difficult to detect, hidden away inside the grip, with no obvious signs of anything changed on the gun. Several firearms experts, including one law enforcement official, who examined photos of the device shared by VICE News said they were previously unfamiliar with the modification.
“It’s invisible,” Bogard said. “Not even a military inspection will turn it up.”
Bogard declined to say exactly how many he’s sold already, but said it was more than hundreds and closer to thousands. He doesn’t plan to file for a patent or seek national distribution. Until recently, he said, the secret was one of his best selling points.
“A lot of the people who have purchased this from me, they don’t want people to know what they’ve got,” he said. “They’re, for the most part, scared of government control or what might happen. Confiscation, that's the thing right now.”
Of course that’s not to suggest what he's offering makes a machine gun, Bogard added, but still, “I can understand why everyone is twitchy about it.”
For years, a company that sells a box that helps cops unlock iPhones and Android phones has kept its technology secret, aggressively shielding details of how its software and hardware work, and even what it looks like, from the public.
But thanks to the fact that the company, which is called Grayshift, has to file documents with the FCC, we now can see the company’s new GrayKey device.
The documents were first spotted by Logan Koepke, the project director at Upturn, a nonprofit that does research and advocacy at the intersection of civil rights and technology. Koepke posted a link to the FCC filing on Twitter on Thursday.
Do you work at Grayshift? Or are you one of its customers? We'd love to hear from you. Using a non-work phone or computer, you can contact Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai securely on Signal at +1 917 257 1382, Wickr/Telegram/Wire @lorenzofb, or email email@example.com
The documents include several pictures as well as a description of the process that the company undertakes before every sale.
“GrayKey is a specialized product that is only available for use by verified law enforcement or government agencies; and it is not made available for use by the general public. For every account request from a potential customer, Grayshift undertakes a rigorous, risk-averse validation process to confirm that each originated from a valid law enforcement agency located in a supported country,” Grayshift’s chief financial officer Mark Snell wrote in one of the documents submitted to the FCC.A photo of the back of the GrayKey 2.0 device.
In 2014, Apple turned on encryption for virtually all data stored inside the iPhone, making it very hard to get unless whoever is trying to access it knows the PIN or passcode that is used to unlock the phone. Since then, forensics companies such as Grayshift and Cellebrite have had to up their game and come up with new technologies and solutions to help law enforcement agents unlock iPhones and access data that could be useful for an investigation.
In essence, while it’s unclear exactly how it achieves it, GrayKey bruteforces the iPhone or Android phones’ passcode and unlocks it—essentially hacking the phone—allowing customers to access and extract data from the phones.
Pictures of the first version of GrayKey leaked to the public in 2020, also thanks to documents filed with the FCC.
Motherboard has previously reported that the State Department, the Drug Enforcement Administration, local police, and even a police charity have either purchased Grayshift’s technology or have shown interest in doing so.
Grayshift did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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“Let’s get right to the violence,” Trump confidant and GOP ratfucker Roger Stone says in documentary footage from Danish filmmakers, which is now in the January 6 committee’s possession.
Opening statements in the seditious conspiracy trial of Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes and four other co-conspirators from the group are due to start Monday morning. The group is accused of amassing weapons and planning to storm the Capitol on Jan. 6. Oath Keepers were also seen guarding Stone in Washington on Jan. 5 and 6.
More than anyone, Stone is at a nexus between Trump, the Oath Keepers, and the Proud Boys. Members of that group, including longtime leader Enrique Tarrio, are set to have their own sedition trial in November.
I called up Andy Campbell, a senior editor at HuffPost and author of the new book “We Are Proud Boys: How a Right-Wing Street Gang Ushered in a New Era of American Extremism.” We talked about the trials, the group’s plans, and what messages they’re getting from Donald Trump.
Our conversation has been edited for length.
The Oath Keepers’ sedition trial is starting this week. What do people need to know about the Oath Keepers, Proud Boys, and similar groups?
The DOJ believes that not only did these two groups have a role in the execution of the insurrection but that they may have had a hand in plotting it. Hopefully these sedition trials bring clarity to what the planned plot was, and also illuminate the relationships between these guys and Trump’s inner circle. Roger Stone, Trump’s old confidant, had both Stewart Rhodes and Enrique Tarrio in a group text called “Friends of Stone,” and apparently was in contact with Tarrio by phone before and after the insurrection. Stone also told me in an interview last year that he’d been advising the Proud Boys for years on their political ambitions. And so I’m hoping that these sedition trials illuminate that relationship. I think we might learn some bombshells about their connection to Trump’s inner circle. And the fact that several top-level Proud Boys have already agreed to testify against their own means we may learn a lot.
How connected are Proud Boys to Donald Trump’s inner circle, even if Roger Stone is the buffer?
Stone has been the Proud Boys’ through-line to the GOP since 2017. He was the reason why they were able to so quickly position themselves as Trump soldiers and the reason why the GOP has been unable to rebuff or refute these extremist groups. And so I think all of Trump’s dealings with Enrique Tarrio are just going to be evidence against him; I really think that in the end, Trump’s going to have a hard time putting distance between himself and these trials.
Where do the Proud Boys fit into the Trump movement? How important are they to actualizing his threats of violence and his authoritarian movement overall?
Founder Gavin McInnes built the Proud Boys to do the things that the crusty old Republicans wouldn’t do. To go out into the streets and fight the GOP’s grievances. Tarrio used his relationships in Florida with Stone and others to try and make the organization more of a political monster. But their end goal was still political violence in the name of Trump. The playbook that the Proud Boys created for the extremist movement is to show how you can legitimize yourself and sanitize yourself through the right relationships. If the Proud Boys dissolve tomorrow, nothing changes. We have so much overlap now between all of the extremist groups: QAnon, all types of militias. The normalization that they’ve helped create means that this machine is going to keep on running with or without them.
Kyle Young, a Jan. 6 rioter, was sentenced this week to more than seven years. Trump several times has called for people like this to be pardoned. What do the Proud Boys hear when they hear Trump say that?
It’s just like when Trump told them to “stand back and stand by” in September of 2020. They truly believe that Trump is behind them all the way, and that the things that he says are marching orders. They also believe that for Fox News. So I think they have real hope that they can find some pardons. Certainly they’re excited about Trump saying he’s going to pardon January 6 people because they believe that they have Trump’s ear.
But none of these people are loyal. So I can’t imagine Trump going out of his way to help them get out of jail. I don’t see how that really helps him. The majority of the Proud Boys are still out there doing their thing in the name of Fox News and Trump. Just this last weekend, you have something like four drag queen story hours shut down because Proud Boys across the country were showing up and intimidating and harassing them, after weeks of Fox News whining about drag queens and trans issues. So the machine with or without Tarrio is working as planned. So I don’t see Trump going out of his way for him and the others charged with sedition.
How do you interpret Trump’s warnings that bad things will happen if he’s indicted?
Is it a direct communication?
Totally. In 2017 the Proud Boys were a lead group responding to the rhetoric. But now the political violence is so normalized that everybody’s involved, including everyday Americans. So I think Trump knows that everybody is going to react violently to this. The pipeline between the rhetoric and the violence in the street is so short now. How many hours was it between the time he was complaining about the FBI going through Mar-a-Lago and somebody showing up with a gun to an FBI field office? He knows he has people waiting to mobilize.
Do you see Proud Boys as a direct threat? What role are they planning on playing in 2024 around the election?
There will absolutely be Proud Boys violence in 2024 and I think in the 2022 election, too.
Arizona Republicans are calling for vigilante justice around ballot boxes. So you’re going to see the people out there. Tarrio told the Proud Boys following January 6, “We’re going to lay low, we want less violence and more political events because we’re in trouble now.” But the guys who joined the organization to fight still want to fight. Yes, I think they are absolutely going to show up in force for Trump’s election regardless of what happens.
I think we have to realize that the violence has trickled out to everyday Americans. It’s not just extremist groups anymore. Trump pointing to the back and calling the press the enemy, Trump glorifying Jan. 6 rioters,… that has come full circle. I think the spirit of January 6 is still here. All of the groups involved are still here, and everyday Americans have joined them. A swath of people believe that Jan. 6 defendants are wrongly accused. It’s going to be scary.
Note: Gavin McInnes was a co-founder of VICE. He left the company in 2008 and has had no involvement since then. He later founded the Proud Boys in 2016.
There’s a LOT of investigations, elections, and democracy to cover. Don’t let your friends be in the dark. Sign ’em up for Breaking the Vote!That’s a Bolduc Statement
Trump-endorsed New Hampshire Senate candidate Don Bolduc, during his GOP primary in August: “I signed a letter with 120 other generals and admirals saying Trump won the election, and dammit I stand by my word.”
Don Bolduc, when attacked in the general by Dem incumbent Sen. Maggie Hassan for servicing Trump’s lies: “So… you know … we, uhh … we, uhh … you know, live and learn, right?…Umm, I’ve done a lot of research on this, and I’ve spent the past couple of weeks talking to Granite Staters all over the state, from, you know, every party, and I’ve come to the conclusion—and I want to be definitive of this—the election was not stolen.”T.W.I.S.™ Notes
Now that we’re fully ensconced in DOJ’s pre-election 60-day “no overt investigative moves” window, it’s OK to let your guard down for warrants and searches of possibly criminal coup plotters, would-be election stealers, and classified document takers. But This Week in Subpoenas is still here with the latest from the Trump Comic Universe!
- Cannon fodder
Donald Trump is free to keep lying about the feds planting evidence in his Mar-a-Lago property. That’s one bottom line of Judge Aileen Cannon’s ruling yesterday, saving Trump from the special master she appointed at his request.
Retired judge Raymond Dearie had given Trump’s lawyers until today to detail what parts of DOJ’s inventory of seized documents aren’t accurate. But Cannon stepped in at the eleventh hour to back Trump up, and said he didn’t have to comply. A lot of these developments are incremental, but it’s pretty disturbing how Cannon appears to be pulling for Trump as he seeks to delay DOJ at every turn of its document review.
Dearie appeared to be trying to make Trump’s lawyers back up their client’s (almost certainly bullshit) claims that DOJ was inventing evidence. Of course if Trump’s lawyers make false statements in court, they do it under oath. But Cannon saved Trump from that self-brined pickle.
None of this affects DOJ’s criminal investigation involving about 100 classified documents, however. A federal appeals court already stayed Cannon when she said DOJ couldn’t keep using them in its probe.
- Askin’ Robin
It’s now clear the January 6 committee’s investigation is reaching beyond the riot, insurrection, and associated post-election coup attempt. That’s mostly because nearly two years later, Trump is still trying to get his loss overturned. Normal politics! The panel this week subpoenaed Wisconsin GOP Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, inquiring about a July phone call when Trump asked him (not for the first time) to rescind the results of the 2020 election. Vos is suing to try to get out of testifying.
Vos tried for well over a year to placate Trump’s demands for stolen-election froth in Wisconsin, mostly by giving retired judge Michael Gableman well over $1 million in taxpayer money to investigate 2020. Now Vos and Gableman hate each other, and Trump hates Vos. Midwestern nice!
- Slow Gin
It’s taken a while, but Ginni Thomas finally came in for a chat with the January 6 committee on Thursday. Once seated, she promptly disavowed cockamamie conspiracy theories and apologized for spreading them. Just fooling! In fact, Thomas, who actively lobbied White House chief of staff Mark Meadows to overturn the election, corresponded with one of the key legal architects of the coup plot, and is also the spouse of the only Supreme Court Justice to vote for letting Trump hide documents from the committee, told the panel that she still thinks the election was stolen.
Thomas reportedly also told the committee that she and her husband never discuss pending SCOTUS cases and never discussed her “post-election activities.”
- But His Emails
If the “lock him up” jokes just wrote themselves in your head, recall that Navarro is due to face a criminal trial next month on a separate matter: refusing to comply with January 6 committee subpoenas. It’s the same thing Steve Bannon was convicted for in July. He awaits sentencing.
“If core First Amendment rights have a core, such a debate is certainly at the core of core First Amendment rights.” — a court filing from Arizona GOP Chair Kelli Ward, trying to quash a January 6 committee subpoena of her phone records.
The study of agent texts - The U.S. Secret Service confiscated the phones of two dozen agents and handed them over to investigators looking at the agency’s role in Jan. 6. The phones went to the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general, who himself seemed… suss… to Jan. 6 investigators, when they found out agents’ messages from Jan. 5 and 6 had been deleted. Turns out Joseph Cuffari knew about it for months and said nothing.
So they DO have a point — QAnon sub-subcultures are all over the place, each with its own unique take on reality. Now that Trump is single-handedly keeping QAnon alive, let’s all agree that everyone saw, with their own eyes, that creepy one-finger salute that’s been cropping up at Trump rallies. But WHERE did it come from?
Legit political discourse — Surprise! One of Herschel Walker’s Georgia GOP Senate campaign “captains” is a Jan. 6 defendant!
Election crimes chief dies — The man Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed to head up his new Election Crimes and Security Office died suddenly this week. Pete Antonacci was the first director of the DeSantis creation, which as its first act announced the arrest of 20 convicted felons for alleged illegal voting.
A threat to democracy hiding in plain sight. THE NEW YORK TIMES
As more states create election integrity units, Arizona is a cautionary tale. WASHINGTON POST
Was Rudy Giuliani always so awful? THE NEW YORKER
Though it may have been eclipsed by the launch of its successor, the James Webb Space Telescope, long-lived Hubble continues to gaze deep into the universe.…
A trove of text messages released as part of the legal fight over Elon Musk’s effort to terminate his acquisition of Twitter has revealed frantic efforts to put the $44 billion deal together with help from a cast of high-profile Silicon Valley backers.
Hundreds of messages from early 2022 between Musk and his associates showed the billionaire entrepreneur had engaged with Twitter’s management and board, his advisers at Morgan Stanley, potential investors such as FTX chief executive Sam Bankman-Fried, and random supporters of his bid, including podcast host Joe Rogan.
Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s former chief executive, told Musk that he had previously tried to get him on to the company’s board in 2020 but was refused, the texts revealed.
The worlds of fighting and technology have been torn apart this week over two simple questions, to which there’s as of yet no clear answer: Has Meta CEO and apparent jiu-jitsu enthusiast Mark Zuckerberg bought out all the seating for a Saturday UFC show that will air on ESPN, and if so, is that because he seeks to test himself in the ultimate proving ground, the UFC Octagon?
As ESPN reported, in an unusual move earlier this week, the UFC announced that it would be closing this weekend’s fight card at the Apex, a facility it owns in Las Vegas, to the press and the public. Why would it do this? UFC boss Dana White didn’t really say, claiming that he merely wanted to give the hard-working fight press “a night off.”
On his Wednesday show, though, MMA insider Ariel Helwani said that a “very good source, very close to the event” had told him it had “something to do with Mark Zuckerberg,” and speculated that it might be Zuckerberg renting out the event so that he and his friends could watch, or possibly doing some sort of metaverse thing. And on that same day, UFC strawweight Mackenzie Dern—who would know, as she’s set to headline the card—stated as fact during a press conference that Zuckerberg would be there and had “rented out the whole event.”
“I’m excited and that just makes me more driven to put on a good show,” she said, “for Mark and whoever’s gonna be there.”
Later in the day, White issued an oddly specific denial:
White is a fight promoter who says all sorts of things, some of them true and some of them somewhat less so, so Motherboard sought to check the facts.
We first contacted Meta, to ask if Zuckerberg was renting out the Apex Saturday and whether he was fighting. Rather than answering, it simply referred us back to White’s oddly specific tweet, which denied that Zuckerberg is personally renting out the Apex but not that it has been rented out on his behalf (by his assistant, say) or that he is fighting.
An email to the UFC spokesperson listed as a point of contact on the press releases it sends us yielded no reply. An email to the ESPN and Disney spokespeople listed as points of contact on the press releases the UFC sends us did yield one, but not definitive answers. “I have been following this news and asked them myself yesterday,” wrote an ESPN spokesperson in an email copying in a second UFC spokesperson, ”and got the same response as you.”
This UFC spokesperson never got back to us, even after we followed up. Nor did representatives of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, which regulates fighting events, after we asked whether they were aware of Zuckerberg renting out the event, whether his doing so would raise safety or regulatory issues, and whether there would be regulatory implications if the UFC were to allow Zuckerberg to fight.
So, what do we know? Dern, a much more credible if not more knowledgeable source than White, has asserted as fact that Zuckerberg rented out the UFC Apex and will be there Saturday. White has not exactly denied this, and other involved parties are either saying nothing or pointing to White’s lawyerly denial. We’ll know for sure this weekend, but Motherboard chooses to believe that Zuckerberg will be testing his guerrilla jiu-jitsu against UFC competition—an excellent thing for him to be doing, as is anything that doesn’t involve promoting ethnic cleansing.
SpaceX, in collaboration with NASA, will study whether it is possible for the company to put the Hubble Space Telescope into a more stable orbit to further extend the groundbreaking telescope’s lifespan.
When it was launched in 1990, the telescope was expected to stay in operation for roughly 15 years. It has instead been taking incredible photos for more than 32 years, and was, until the James Webb Space Telescope became operational this summer, the most advanced space telescope. Because of drag associated with its orbit, the telescope is slowly falling back to Earth; NASA believes at this point that it will fall back to Earth sometime between 2030 and 2040.
“NASA and SpaceX signed an unfunded Space Act Agreement Thursday, Sept. 22, to study the feasibility of a SpaceX and Polaris Program idea to boost the agency’s Hubble Space Telescope into a higher orbit with the Dragon spacecraft, at no cost to the government,” NASA said in a press release. “There are no plans for NASA to conduct or fund a servicing mission or compete this opportunity; the study is designed to help the agency understand the commercial possibilities.”
The Hubble Space Telescope is the only space telescope designed to be serviced by human astronauts. NASA astronauts have made several high risk, astounding spacewalks to fix and maintain the telescope.
NASA says that the SpaceX study will take six months, and it will focus on whether the telescope can be pushed into a higher orbit, which “could add multiple years of operations to its life.”
A man who kidnapped a gay man he met through Grindr and Snapchat in a plot to murder and dismember him pleaded guilty to kidnapping on Thursday.
The kidnapper, Chance Seneca, met his intended victim in Louisiana in June 2020, according to the plea bargain in the case. Seneca allegedly convinced the victim, referred to in court documents as “H.W.,” to put on handcuffs for sex, then used a belt to strangle him until he passed out.
Seneca then put H.W. in a bathtub, stripped him naked, hit him with a hammer, stabbed him in the neck with an ice pick, and slit his wrists with a knife, according to the plea bargain. Seneca was trying to “satisfy his homicidal urges,” per the bargain.
Seneca had planned to dismember H.W., according to the plea bargain. But instead, he called 911 and told the dispatcher that he was responsible for strangling someone. The police arrested Seneca, who told them that he originally wanted to keep H.W.’s body parts.
H.W. wasn’t the first gay man that Seneca said he had planned to kill, according to the plea bargain. The day before meeting up with H.W., Seneca allegedly used Grindr and Snapchat to lure another gay man, but ultimately changed his mind and let him go.
Seneca had “planned to continue murdering until he was caught or killed,” according to the plea bargain.
“I’ve never really wanted to hurt… women,” Seneca told law enforcement. “It’s mostly just men.”
H.W. survived Seneca’s attack, but spent three days in a coma. The tendons in his wrists were damaged and severed, and he had permanent nerve damage in one hand.
In a statement, Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke called Seneca’s actions “shocking.”
“The internet should be accessible and safe for all Americans, regardless of their gender or sexual orientation,” Clarke said. “The Justice Department will continue to identify and hold accountable anyone who uses online spaces as a means to terrorize or abuse others.”
Seneca, who is set to be sentenced in January 2023, faces the prospect of life in prison. He could face further consequences if a court decides he targeted H.W. because of his gender or sexual orientation.
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Shape-shifting outsourcing biz Atos has rejected a joint bid of €4.2 billion ($4.09 billion) from tech consultancy Onepoint and Brit private equity fund ICG to buy its digital, big data and security divisions.…
Nikhit Dohre came home from school without his usual cheerful disposition. Normally, the 15-year-old would dive into chores to make life easy for his economically-disadvantaged family. But on September 7, Nikhit came back with blood oozing from his face, and his body covered in deep-blue bruises.
Nikhit’s family lives in the dusty underbelly of the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, which has the highest caste-based hate crime rates in the country. He told his family that his upper-caste teacher, a man named Ashwini Singh, beat him with a metal rod for making a mistake in a school test. For the next 10 days, Nikhit was in and out of hospitals. On Monday, Nikhit succumbed to his injuries.
“My son’s mistake was not to get a wrong answer in a test. It was his caste,” Nikhit’s father Raju Dohre told VICE World News.
In the world’s largest democracy, Hindus still practise the 3,000-year-old social hierarchy that divides them into four supposedly divinely ordained groups. Dalits, like the Dohres, fall outside the Hindu caste system, and are subjected to the banned practice of untouchability, daily humiliation and extreme violence.
India banned the caste-based hate crime of “untouchability” in 1923, but the discriminatory caste system has had a violent uptake with the resurgence of Hindu nationalism across the country. A person of “Scheduled Caste” – the official term for 1,109 oppressed castes – faces a hate crime every 10 minutes in India. In the last two months, at least four children from oppressed castes, including Nikhit, have died after allegedly being beaten in classrooms by their teachers from dominant castes.A photo of Nikhit Dohre (left) shared by his father Raju. Raju said his son was in excruciating pain for weeks until he succumbed o injuries inflicted by his teacher. Photo
This week, massive protests shook Auraiya, one of the state’s most underdeveloped districts, where Nikhit lived.
“Why else are our kids beaten up in schools?” Dhore said over the phone from Auraiya. In India’s caste system, family’s surnames often denote the caste as well as the occupation the family is expected to stay within. Dohre denotes manual labour. He said his village has an equal distribution of Dalits and dominant caste families, but the latter take up powerful positions in administration, police and education and want to keep his caste in menial jobs and out of school.
In schools across India, a large proportion of 200 million Dalits face caste discrimination and violence. In Rajasthan state, a dominant caste teacher was arrested for killing a 9-year-old Dalit student because the latter drank water reserved for upper-caste teachers. The same month, another upper-caste teacher beat a 13-year-old Dalit student to death for not paying school fees on time, while another was arrested for thrashing a 14-year-old Dalit student for requesting to go to the toilet. Yet another was arrested for assaulting a Dalit student for sitting in the front row of his class.
The reported cases are just the tip of the iceberg, experts and activists say, as the majority of incidents go unreported. “We all know who governs the local administrations, and people of Dalit communities are afraid of lodging complaints with the police station,” Vivek Kumar, a professor at India’s Jawaharlal Nehru University who researches caste in Indian democracy and politics, told VICE World News.
Schools, too, are primarily dominated by dominant-caste teachers. There’s no data for primary schools, but official data show that Dalits and indigenous people account for less than 5 percent of teaching roles in higher education. Meanwhile, Dalit students are segregated from dominant-caste students, forced to clean toilets or tortured for speaking up. In 2016, the suicide death of university student Rohith Vemula sparked a global #DalitLivesMatter movement, exposing high rates of Dalit suicides in the education system.
On Thursday, Auraiya police arrested Ashwini Kumar, the teacher accused of killing Dohre. The arrest followed Raju’s police complaint last week, which he said didn’t come easy as the cops dismissed him initially, saying his son must have done something wrong to provoke the teacher.
Kumar has been booked for culpable homicide and for violating laws that protect Dalits. Charu Nigam, the local police superintendent, didn’t respond to specific questions about the case, but said in a statement that Kumar was caught while attempting to flee the state and will soon be presented to the local courts.
When asked whether the police look at it as a caste-based crime, an official who spoke on condition of anonymity told VICE World News that “there is no caste in crimes.” The same official confirmed that Kumar is a “thakur”, a dominant caste whose members are often accused of attacking, raping and killing Dalits in the state.The accused Ashwini Kumar (in mask) was arrested by the local police on September 29. Photo: Auraiya Police
On Wednesday, after massive protests seeking justice for Nikhit turned violent, the police registered a complaint against nearly 300 people, including Raju, his family, and over a hundred Dalits.
“Our kid dies and we are the ones to face a police complaint,” said Raju. Chandra Shekhar Azad, a prominent Dalit rights leader in India, called this move by the Uttar Pradesh police a “suppression of Dalits.”
Even as U.S. universities ban caste-based discrimination in its campuses, in India, this is a distant dream. “One critical aspect these crimes highlight is how much upper castes are afraid of Dalits getting education,” said professor Vivek Kumar. “Not only is there a fear of their jobs being taken by the so-called untouchables, but also, who will be left behind to do their menial labour?”
For Raju, the suspect’s arrest isn’t enough. He has requested financial compensation from the state government, and he wants the riot case against him and his community dropped. At home, there’s a pall of fear and trauma. His 10-year-old son Raghav, who brought his bleeding brother home, hasn’t gone back to school since, and the family hasn’t eaten in 20 days.
“We heard that another kid of our caste was beaten up by his teacher a few days ago,” said Raju. “Even our youngest will not be spared because of caste discrimination.”
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Chipmakers are cutting back on production capacity and investment as demand for semiconductors continues to fall away, with Micron and Kioxia the latest to announce adjustments in light of the worsening outlook.…
Some people have their go-to ritual of taking a dip in Le Bain’s epic mini pool, while others must always have a Diet Coke as a 3 p.m. pick-me-up. Me? I’m a sock snob, and I have a very specific pair that cradle my feet every step I take. No, not those stupid little no-show socks that will give you a blister within five minutes—a good ol’ classic pair of tube socks that my dad would approve of. And while there are plenty of brands on the market that make my sock hierarchy, some just do it for me better.
Hanes is great, but sometimes a little logo action is what you need to amp up ta ‘fit, just like all those nostalgic Abercrombie tees that gave me life back in the day. Now, a little swaggy swoosh action graces the sides of my ankles every waking moment: I’m here to definitely pledge my allegiance to Nike Crew Socks.
They’re my ultimate sock for running or any high-endurance activity that involves a lot of foot movement. You will never have a blister again, I swear. When I’m not running, I try to get 10 miles of walking in a day, but you can’t be wearing trash on your feet with that kind of mileage, either. If you don’t have great quality socks, you might as well wear garbage bags on your feet.So, why am I so obsessed with these decidedly basic socks?
Nike socks are the cotton-polyester-blend cradles your blessed feet deserve. With cushioning at the heel and forefoot and a supportive arch band, you can expect zero blisters when stomping away on a hike, on the streets, or in the midst of a workout. They also keep feet dry with sweat-wicking fabric and breathability thanks to Dri-FIT technology (also found in much of Nike’s athletic apparel, such as the Element Half-Zip Running Top—another favorite of mine).
Naturally, the most classic of sock colors are white and black, but should you wish to mix things up with trendy nude colors, red, gray, and other hues, the options are plentiful. The logo peering out from my Hokas and Asics give my shoes that extra bit of oomph they need for a complete look, but they can be paired with anything and everything. I bet top dollar you’ve seen wannabe jocks sport them with Air Jordan slides and And 1 basketball shorts (actually… do they even make those anymore?), but move over, Chad, because their aesthetic appeal goes way beyond the court. See: Bella Hadid is wearing Nike socks as knee-highs with kitten heels and a pencil skirt, and where Bella’s normcore accessories lead, others follow—bloggers, influencers, and TikTokers are following suit. Like their iconic footwear second cousin, the Adidas Samba, they have transcended Foot Locker vibes and become a bona fide commodity that supersedes the subcultural Venn diagram, as at home on punks and preps as on people who are actually working out. This genius woman also made the socks into a tube top??? Impeccable.
Another interesting microtrend surrounding the sock: Etsy sellers have been blessing us with their own twist via hand-dyed variations. I 100% support the creative initiative, because I spotted tie-dyed, embroidered, and cow-printed (?) variations of these suckers. They’re absolutely stunning, if I must say so myself. I plan on buying 20 pairs—one for every ‘fit, please and thanks.
Just do it in these socks, you hot stallion.
The Rec Room staff independently selected all of the stuff featured in this story. Want more reviews, recommendations, and red-hot deals? Sign up for our newsletter.
Hacks are increasing but the hackers are not necessarily getting more sophisticated. What do Twitter, Twilio, and Uber all have in common? They were all hacked by, in part, a conversation. In all three cases, the hack was helped along by social engineering. Someone contacted an employee of the company and tricked them into giving up the keys to the company. It doesn’t matter how fancy your 2FA system is if an employee is just gonna give up their SMS codes to some rando on the phone.
But worry not. There are ways to protect yourself and your company against such attacks. With me today to work through it all is Rachel Tobac. Tobac is a hacker and the CEO of SocialProof Security, a company that aims to get your organization politely paranoid.
She also, coincidentally, just published a really amazing video that dramatizes a lot about what we’re going to talk about today. You can find it on Twitter @racheltobac.
Stories discussed in this episode:
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Humans have spent centuries wondering if we are alone in the universe, or if there are alien beings somewhere in the vast reaches of space. Given that Earth remains the only planet that we know supports life—and we are not even sure how it arose here—it remains challenging to assess the odds that extraterrestrial life exists based on this lonely sample size of one.
These limitations in our knowledge prompted the theoretical physicist Brandon Carter to propose decades ago that the presence of life on Earth does not indicate that the mysterious process of abiogenesis, in which living organisms arise from inanimate matter, is more or less likely to occur on other planets. Now, a mathematician has revisited this idea and come to a very different conclusion with a more optimistic view about the existence of alien life.
During the 1970s, Carter developed an influential series of arguments based on this “selection effect” of our own existence. This view suggests that humans, as a species that lives on a planet where life emerged, cannot make objective inferences about the possibility that life may be present on other worlds, in part because we have no idea if Earth is typical of planets that might host life. For this reason, we cannot exclude the possibility that Earth may be the only world in the universe that supports living beings.
This argument is widely accepted in the scientific community. But now, Daniel Whitmire, an astrophysicist who teaches mathematics at the University of Arkansas, has presented a new challenge to Carter’s assumptions that suggests “the occurrence of abiogenesis on Earth-like planets is not rare,” according to a recent study published in the International Journal of Astrobiology.
Whitmire told Motherboard over email that up until last year, he was one of countless researchers who thought that the Carter argument was “unassailable.” But he started to have doubts about its foundations during the peer review process for a different paper, when an anonymous reviewer offered an analogy between abiogenesis and human conception that inspired Whitmire to counter these long-held assumptions.
In order to rethink Carter’s assertion that we can’t judge if abiogenesis on Earth was easy or hard, Whitmire draws a comparison to his own existence, noting that he is here regardless of whether his conception, or origin, was easy or hard. For the purposes of this thought experiment, conception would be “hard” if contraception was used, and “easy” if it was not used. The basic idea is that, rather than a person’s existence not telling us anything about whether conceiving them was easy or hard, it can be shown mathematically that it was most likely easy.
“The Conception analogy stuck in my mind and ultimately I came to believe that the Carter argument must be wrong,” Whitmire said. “But at that point I didn't know why it was wrong.”
To tug on this thread, Whitmire developed a mathematics-based argument that builds on the analogy with the help of the so-called “old evidence problem” in Bayesian Confirmation Theory, which concerns the incorporation of newly-acquired data into existing hypotheses.
The details are pretty complicated, but the gist is that while Carter holds that old evidence (i.e. the existence of life on Earth) has no influence on the probability of its occurrence elsewhere, Whitmire’s paper attempts to show that, actually, this “old evidence” does in fact increase the probability of it occurring in the first place. Under this novel framework, both abiogenesis on Earth and Whitmire’s conception are more likely to have been easy than hard, which suggests that life on other planets may be common.
These ideas are a bit heady, and Whitmire notes that they might not actually have that much of an impact on anyone’s hopes or doubts about the probability of alien life existing somewhere in space.
“My opinion is that what many scientists believe about life and intelligent life in the universe is almost political or psychological,” Whitmire said. “If they want to believe life is rare they will point to the Carter argument or some other argument, like the statistical improbability of abiogenesis, to make their case.”Whitmire's formula. AB means abiogenesis, and LoE means life on Earth.
Likewise, Whitmire added that those who want to believe life is abundant can find evidence for that position in other studies, including his new paper.
“There is no reason that I know of (outside of my paper) for any objective optimism about abiogenesis being easy, yet this is the belief of most astrobiologists in spite of the Carter argument,” he said. “Perhaps my paper will give some objective credence to this subjective belief. That said, I think that arguments like mine and Carter's have some influence but the dominant attitude is that since none of the arguments are 100 percent, only future observations will decide.”
Fortunately, we live in an era packed with exciting missions focused on the search for extraterrestrial life, both inside our solar system and beyond it. NASA’s Perseverance rover is currently searching for signs of ancient life on Mars, and future missions may scout out Jupiter’s moon Europa or Saturn’s moon Enceladus, which are both considered to be potentially habitable. Next-generation observatories, including the James Webb Space Telescope, have the capacity to spot signs of life (or biosignatures) on planets in other star systems, and astronomers are scanning the skies for messages from technologically advanced aliens.
Of course, all of these efforts could come up short in the search for life beyond Earth. But just one detection of life beyond our planet—even if it were microbial, or long-extinct—would validate Whitmire’s new argument that abiogenesis is not rare in the universe.
“If life (or past life) were found anywhere in our solar system or beyond that would statistically guarantee that the origin of life is very easy and life can be expected to be abundant throughout the universe,” Whitmire concluded. “That's why so much effort is being put into missions to Mars and ultimately Europa, and elsewhere. If life is easy, then the James Webb telescope may find extrasolar planetary biosignatures in the not-too-distant future.”
A Goodwill store is currently selling Nazi memorabilia adorned with Hitler’s image and swastikas.
A trio of mugs featuring images of the Nazi leader alongside hate symbols like the swastika and the motto of the SS are currently on sale on Goodwill’s online store for just $13.99, currently sold by the Goodwill of Western New York.
The listing is titled “3 Vintage Adolf Hitler German Mugs W/ Pin” and has a minimum price set at $13.99. There is currently one bid made on the items and the auction is set to finish on Tuesday evening.
The items were listed by the Goodwill of Western New York, which is headquartered in Buffalo and operates 19 retail stores and donation points across the region. Goodwill, a nonprofit dedicated to employment services, operates thousands of thrift stores around the United States.
Two of the mugs feature images of Hitler, what appears to be a reproduction of his signature, and his title: “Der Fuhrer.” They also feature the Nazi Eagle which incorporates a swastika.A screenshot of the Goodwill sale page featuring Nazi memorabilia. (Goodwill)
The third mug features a variety of different hate symbols, including the Odal Rune, the Arrow Cross, the Broken Sun Cross, and the Wolfsangel symbol which was appropriated by the Nazi regime during Hitler’s reign, and remains listed as a hate symbol by the Anti-Defamation League database.
The mug also features the phrase: “Meine Ehre heißt Treue” which translates as “My honor is called loyalty" which was the motto of the SS during Hitler’s reign. The use of the motto has been outlawed in Germany since 1947.
The pin states, “Ven you’re German, it’s hard to be humble.”
There are no details provided about the provenance of the items, and the only information given is that the mugs are in “good” condition though they show “some sign of wear.”
VICE News was alerted to the listing by a reader who said “it is an absolute disgrace that an organization such as Goodwill whose mission is to help individuals with disabilities would go ahead and post this for sale.”
The reader, who asked to remain anonymous over fears of threats from white supremacists, also sent an email to Goodwill requesting the listing be removed. “It is absolutely disgusting to see this on your website and I request that it be immediately taken down and the items destroyed. This is not how your organization should conduct itself and I hope to never see such racist, inhumane imagery on your website again.”
Goodwill of Western New York and the national Goodwill office did not immediately respond to VICE News’ requests for comment about the item listing.
Goodwill has operated an online store since 1999, and despite virtually zero marketing of the site, it passed $1 billion in cumulative sales last year and is visited by over 20 million every week. In 2020, Goodwill sold almost 5 million items online. The items on the site are listed by employees of regional stores. The items are put up for sale on an auction basis similar to eBay, with a minimum price that has to be met before the item can be sold.
The sale of Nazi memorabilia is a highly controversial one and this is not the first time an item has been sold by Goodwill featuring a Nazi symbol. In 2017 a shopper in a Goodwill store in Pasadena, California found a pair of shorts featuring the Nazi eagle emblazoned on the front. The item was immediately removed from the shop floor when it was brought to the attention of staff.
While the sale of Nazi “collectibles” is banned outright in countries like Germany, France, and Austria, there is no such prohibition in place in the U.S. However, eBay does ban the sale of Nazi memorabilia for beaching its “Offensive Materials Policy.”
Most major auction houses also refuse to sell Nazi memorabilia, but smaller ones still do. In July, Alexander Historical Auctions in Maryland sold a watch that once belonged to Hitler for over $1 million.
There was significant backlash against the sale, with 34 Jewish leaders signing an open letter slamming the auction, which also included items such as a dog collar belonging to Eva Braun’s terrier, Wehrmacht toilet paper, and the cutlery and champagne glasses of senior Nazi figures.
‘’The sale of these items is an abhorrence,” Rabbi Menachem Margolin, Chairman of Brussels-based European Jewish Association, wrote at the time. “There is little to no intrinsic historical value to the vast bulk of the lots on display. Indeed, one can only question the motivation of those buying them. Europe suffered egregiously because of the perverted and murderous ideology of the Nazi party. Millions died to preserve the values of freedom that we take for granted today, including almost half a million Americans. Our continent is littered with memorial mass graves and the sites of death camps.”
SME accounting software vendor Sage stands accused of misleading customers following statements detailing when clients will be forced to migrate to subscription-based licensing, enraging the user community.…
Inspired by the functioning of pulsed lasers, scientists from France and Japan have developed an acoustic counterpart that enables the precise and controlled transmission of single electrons between quantum nodes.Riding the waves
The spin of an electron can serve as a basis for creating qubits—the basic unit of information of quantum computing. In order to process or store that information, the information in qubits may have to be transported between quantum nodes in a network.
One option is transporting the electrons themselves, something that can now be done by having them ride sound waves. “More than 10 years ago, we demonstrated it for the first time,” said lead researcher Christopher Bauerle of the Grenoble-based Institute Néel.
Welcome to Edition 5.12 of the Rocket Report! As a bit of late breaking news, Firefly attempted to make its second orbital launch attempt with the Alpha rocket early Friday, at 3 am EST (07:00 UTC) from California. However in the final moments before liftoff the vehicle went into "auto abort" after engine ignition. Firefly is reviewing data from the scrub to determine its next attempt.
As always, we welcome reader submissions, and if you don't want to miss an issue, please subscribe using the box below (the form will not appear on AMP-enabled versions of the site). Each report will include information on small-, medium-, and heavy-lift rockets, as well as a quick look ahead at the next three launches on the calendar.
Virgin Orbit faces "difficult" licensing in Britain. The next launch of Virgin Orbit's LauncherOne rocket, which fires its engines after being dropped from a carrier aircraft, is due to occur no earlier than October 29 from Spaceport Cornwall in southwestern England. A report in Cornwall Live says that the launch window that opens at the end of October is viable for several weeks and that the company still aims to launch during the fourth quarter of this year. During a Cornwall Council meeting earlier this month, Louis Gardner, cabinet member for the economy, provided details about licensing issues that are still being worked through.
Red Hat has released the latest iteration of its OpenStack Platform 17, with a strong slant towards network operators building out modern infrastructure such as that needed to deliver 4G and 5G services.…