Mysterious Metallic Orbs Flying ‘All Over the World,' Pentagon Says at NASA UFO Panel

Motherboard (Vice) - Wed, 05/31/2023 - 11:31

Government officials have spotted mysterious metallic orbs flying all around the world, in addition to many other types of Unidentified Anomalous Phenomena (UAP), according to the first public meeting of NASA’s UAP independent study team, which was held on Wednesday.

Speakers at the meeting emphasized the need to collect more high-quality UAP data and lamented the stigma surrounding this topic, which they said makes it less likely for people to report unidentified phenomena. Indeed, multiple speakers noted that members of NASA’s UAP study team have been subjected to harassment as a result of their work in this field.

“It is really disheartening to hear of the harassment that our panelists have faced online all because they're studying this topic,” said Nicky Fox, associate administrator for the NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, during the meeting. “NASA stands behind our panelists and we do not tolerate abuse. Harassment only leads to further stigmatization of the UAP field, significantly hindering scientific progress and discouraging others to study this important subject matter.”

NASA’s UAP study team was convened in 2022 with the mission of investigating the origin and nature of UAPs with rigorous scientific standards using mostly unclassified data. NASA and other agencies, such as the Pentagon, use the term UAP instead of the more widely known UFO, which stands for unidentified flying object, in part to expand the scope of these studies beyond the aerial domain to include unexplained phenomena in oceans, space, and on the ground.  

The team is made up of 16 members with a range of backgrounds, including NASA astronaut Scott Kelly, oceanographer Paula Bontempi, and David Spergel, a Princeton astrophysicist who serves as the chair of the study. The livestreamed meeting on Wednesday offered a sneak peek of some of the major findings of the study, which will be released to the public in a full report later this summer.

The meeting included a presentation by Sean Kirkpatrick, director of the US Department of Defense’s All-Domain Anomaly Resolution Office (AARO), who shared tantalizing reports of unexplained metallic orbs seen at various locations on Earth. 

The presentation followed up on Kirkpatrick’s appearance before the Senate Armed Services Committee in April, where he initially described an image of one of these orbs that was taken by a U.S. military MQ-9 Reaper drone during a routine mission in the Middle East in 2022. 

“This is a typical example of the thing that we see most of,” Kirkpatrick said during the Wednesday meeting. “We see these all over the world and we see these making very interesting apparent maneuvers. This one in particular, however, I would point out, demonstrated no enigmatic technical capabilities and was no threat to airborne safety.”

“While we are still looking at it, I don't have any more data other than that,” Kirkpatrick added. “Being able to come to some conclusion is going to take time, until we can get better resolved data on similar objects that we can then do a larger analysis on.”

Kirkpatrick also shared newly-released footage of UAPs spotted during an aircraft training mission in the Western United States that have been provisionally identified as commercial aircraft. He noted that AARO receives an average of 50 to 100 reports of UAPs per month, though sometimes that sightings spikes due to weird events, like the Chinese balloon incident in February or Starlink launches. Only about 2 to 5 percent of reported UAP sightings turn out to be “really anomalous,” Kirkpatrick said.

“The majority of unidentified objects reported to AARO and in our holdings demonstrate mundane characteristics of readily explainable sources,” Kirkpatrick explained. “While a large number of cases in AARO’s holdings remain technically unresolved, this is primarily due to a lack of data associated with those cases.”

“Meanwhile, for the few objects that do demonstrate potentially anomalous characteristics, AARO is approaching these cases with the highest level of objectivity and analytical rigor,” he continued. “AARO has shared these cases with the appropriately cleared NASA team members in order to discuss and help recommend potential scientific areas of study that NASA may want to take lead on.”

To that point, many speakers at the meeting addressed the dire lack of high-quality data on UAPs, which has scuttled attempts to explain some of the most ambiguous sightings. The study team will include recommendations for collecting better data and building more efficient information-sharing systems in their report, which could help to finally solve many of the most perplexing UAP sightings—though at least some of the truth will likely remain out there.

“The current existing data and eyewitness reports alone are insufficient to provide conclusive evidence about the nature and origin of every UAP event,” said study chair David Spergel during the meeting. “They're often uninformative due to lack of quality control and data curation. To understand UAP better, targeted data collection, thorough data curation, and robust analyses are needed. Such an approach will help to discern unexplained UAP sightings, but even then there's no guarantee that all sightings will be explained.”

Categories: Tech News

Barracuda Email Security Gateways bitten by data thieves

The Register - Wed, 05/31/2023 - 11:15
Act now: Sea-themed backdoor malware injected via .tar-based hole

A critical remote command injection vulnerability in some Barracuda Network devices that the vendor patched 11 days ago has been exploited by miscreants – for at least the past seven months.…

Categories: Tech News

Dealmaster: Discounts on Star Trek gear, laptops, and more

ARS Technica - Wed, 05/31/2023 - 11:01

(credit: Paramount)

Now that summer is unofficially underway following the Memorial Day weekend, you can try to boldly go where no man has gone before to escape the heat. If you can't seek out new life and new civilizations, try embracing our humble planet with some stellar deals on Star Trek merchandise, like the replica U.S.S. Enterprise Bluetooth speaker or a new trivia game for the ultimate Trekkie. If you want to keep cool, a new air purifier will help circulate air and trap contaminants in its filter.

And even though the laptops and tablets in today's Dealmaster may not be as advanced as the U.S.S. Enterprise's library computer, you can still get plenty of work done on models from Lenovo, Apple, and HP. And like the tidy cockpit of the Enterprise, you can keep your workstation clean with some of our cable management deals.

Star Trek merchandise sale Kirk, Spock, and McCoy beam down.

Kirk, Spock, and McCoy beam down. (credit: CBS)

  • Star Trek U.S.S. Enterprise replica Bluetooth speaker for $70 (was $80) at Amazon
  • Futuristic Hoverpen with embedded meteorite for $369 after coupon (was $399) at Amazon
  • Futuristic Hoverpen for $89 after coupon (was $99) at Amazon
  • TUBBZ Star Trek collectible duck vinyl figure for $25 (was $30) at Amazon
  • Star Trek 21-inch U.S.S. Enterprise Ship with lights and sounds for $40 (was $50) at Amazon
  • Star Trek Next Generation Bluetooth Communicator Badge for $65 (was $80) at Amazon
  • The Star Trek Book New Edition hardcover for $14 (was $28) at Amazon
  • Star Trek Spock ears for $8 (was $11) at Amazon
  • Star Trek original series playing cards for $11 (was $15) at Amazon
  • Star Trek Captains—The Autobiographies paperback book set for $31 (was $48) at Amazon
  • Star Trek: Picard: The Art and Making of the Series hardcover book for $45 (was $50) at Amazon
  • Star Trek The Next Generation Technical Manual paperback book for $17 (was $26) at Amazon
  • Star Trek Trilogy: The Kelvin Timeline in Blue-ray for $16 (was $20) at Amazon
  • Star Trek Starfleet Command cufflinks for $73 after coupon (was $77) at Amazon
  • Star Trek Playmates Toys for $12 (was $15) at Amazon
  • Star Trek Adventures: Utopia Planitia Starfleet Sourcebook collector's edition hardcover book for $66 (was $78) at Amazon
  • Playmobil Star Trek U.S.S. Enterprise for $340 (was $500) at Amazon
  • Star Trek Ascendancy game for $86 (was $100) at Amazon
  • Star Trek trivia game for $90 (was $100) at Amazon
  • Star Trek Scene It? for $25 (was $30) at Amazon
Air purifiers and fans
  • Dyson Pure Cool Purifying Fan TP01 for $300 (was $400) at Dyson | Amazon
  • Dyson Purifier Cool TP07 for $470 (was $590) at Dyson
  • Alen BreatheSmart FLEX air purifier for $304 (was $379) at Amazon
  • Molekule Air Mini+ for $310 (was $360) at Molekule
Laptops, desktops, and tablets The old IBM ThinkPads used a red-green-blue IBM logo for models with color screens. As monochrome models got phased out, that meant that they all had the multicolor logo. Lenovo can't slap an IBM logo on the 25th Anniversary ThinkPad, so it offered this version of the ThinkPad logo instead.

The old IBM ThinkPads used a red-green-blue IBM logo for models with color screens. As monochrome models got phased out, that meant that they all had the multicolor logo. Lenovo can't slap an IBM logo on the 25th Anniversary ThinkPad, so it offered this version of the ThinkPad logo instead. (credit: Lenovo)

  • Lenovo Slim 7i (14-inch Intel Core i7-1260P) for $880 with MAYDEAL coupon (was $1,280) at Lenovo
  • Lenovo Slim 7 Gen 7 (16-inch AMD Ryzen 7 5800H, Radeon RX6600S) for $990 with GAMINGEXTRA coupon (was $1,700) at Lenovo
  • Lenovo Yoga 9i (14-inch Intel Core i7-1360P) for $1,150 (was $1,400) at Best Buy
  • Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5i (16-inch Intel Core i5-1335U) for $603 with SURPRISE5 coupon (was $860) at Lenovo
  • Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 (16-inch AMD Ryzen 5 7530U) for $527 with SURPRISE5 coupon (was $750) at Lenovo
  • Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 5 (15-inch AMD Ryzen 5 7530U) for $580 with SURPRISE5 coupon (was $830) at Lenovo
  • Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 3 (15-inch AMD Ryzen 3 7330U) for $400 after MAYDEAL coupon (was $650) at Lenovo
  • Lenovo ThinkPad Z16 (16-inch AMD Ryzen 7 Pro 6850H) for $1,337 with THINKMEMW2 coupon (was $2,799) at Lenovo
  • Lenovo Legion Pro 5i Gen 8 (16-inch Intel Core i7-13700HX, RTX 4060) for $1,450 (was $1,700) at Lenovo
  • Lenovo Legion Slim 5i Gen 8 (16-inch Intel Core i7-13700H, RTX 4060) for $1,450) (was $1,630) at Lenovo
  • Lenovo Legion 7 Gen 7 (16-inch AMD Ryzen 7 6800H, Radeon RX6700M) for $1,501 with GAMINGEXTRA coupon (was $2,300) at Lenovo
  • Lenovo Legion 5 Gen 7 (15-inch AMD Ryzen 7 6800H, RTX 3070 Ti) for $1,311 with GAMINGEXTRA coupon (was $2,260) at Lenovo
  • Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 6 (14-inch Intel Core i7-1185G7) for $1,099 (was $3,869) at Lenovo
  • Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Titanium Yoga (13-inch Intel Core i5-1140G7) for $810 (was $1,849) at Lenovo
  • Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Titanium Yoga (13-inch Intel Core i7-1160G7) for $974 with X1CLEARANCE23 coupon (was $3,219) at Lenovo
  • Lenovo ThinkBook 13x Gen 2 (13-inch Intel Core i7-1255U) for $825 with THINKBOOKDEAL coupon (was $2,069) at Lenovo
  • Lenovo X1 Yoga Gen 8 (14-inch Intel Core i7-1365U) for $2,268 with THINKMEMW2 coupon (was $3,719) at Lenovo
  • Lenovo ThinkPad E14 Gen 4 (14-inch AMD Ryzen 7 6825U) for $652 with THINKSPECIALSAVE coupon (was $1,869) at Lenovo
  • Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 11 (14-inch Intel Core i5-1335U) for $1,591 with THINKMEMW2 coupon (was $2,609) at Lenovo
  • Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10 (14-inch Intel Core i7-1260P) for $1,719 with THINKMEMDEALS coupon (was $3,439) at Lenovo
  • Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10 (14-inch Intel Core i7-1270P) for $1,768 with THINKMEMW2 coupon (was $3,609) at Lenovo
  • Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9 (14-inch Intel Core i5-1135G7) for $1,000 with THINKMEMDEALS coupon (was $2,469) at Lenovo
  • HP Envy 17 (Intel Core i7-1260P) for $850 (was $1,300) at HP
  • HP Laptop 17Z (AMD Athlon Gold 7220U for $350 (was $500) at HP
  • HP Omen 25L Gaming Desktop (AMD Ryzen 7, Radeon RX 6700XT) for $1,100 (was $1,750) at HP
  • HP Envy All-in-One 34 (Intel Core i5-12400, GTX 1650) for $1,450 (was $2,000) at HP
  • HP Envy x360 (15.6-inch AMD Ryzen 5 7530U) for $650 (was $900) at HP
  • HP Envy 16 (16-inch 13th Gen Intel Core i9, RTX 4060) for $1,450 (was $1,750) at Best Buy
  • HP Pavilion x360 (14-inch Intel Core i5-1235U) for $500 (was $800) at HP
  • HP EliteBook 860 G9 (16-inch Intel Core i5-1245U) for $1,299 (was $2,663) at HP
  • HP Spectre x360 (13.5-inch Intel Core i5-1235U) for $850 (was $1,250) at HP
  • Apple MacBook Pro 13.3-inch M2 for $1,149 (was $1,299) at Best Buy
  • Apple MacBook Air 13.6-inch M2 for $1,049 (was ($1,199) at Best Buy
Memory and storage
  • Samsung Portable SSD T7 Shield 4TB for $220 (was $350) at Samsung
  • Samsung Portable SSD T7 1TB for $80 (was $140) at Amazon
  • Samsung Portable SSD T7 Shielf 1TB for $90 (was $160) at Amazon
  • Corsair Vengeance RGB 32GB DDR5 6000MHz RAM kit (2x16GB) for $119 (was $155) at Amazon
USB-C cables and cable organizers Just because it's USB-C doesn't mean you know which USB standard it uses. 

Just because it's USB-C doesn't mean you know which USB standard it uses.  (credit: Scharon Harding)

  • Baseus 100W PD USB-C braided 3.3ft cable for $10 after coupon (was $12) at Amazon
  • uni 100W USB-C braided 10ft cable for $9 after coupon (was $12) at Amazon
  • AINOPE 100W USB-C right-angle braided 10ft cable with USB-A adapter for $10 after coupon (was $19) at Amazon
  • Apple Thunderbolt 4 Pro 1.8m cable for $119 (was $129) at Amazon
  • 100-piece reusable cable ties for $7 (was $14) at Amazon
  • 3-pack cable management box for $31 (was $34) at Amazon
  • 60-piece adhesive cable clips for $8 (was $10) at Amazon
  • No-drilling under-desk cable management box for $19 after coupon (was $25) at Amazon
Wearables and smartwatches Unlike in the smartphone app, you can tap into your Training Readiness score on the watch to see further details and graphs for each factor.

Unlike in the smartphone app, you can tap into your Training Readiness score on the watch to see further details and graphs for each factor. (credit: Corey Gaskin)

  • Fitbit Charge 5 for $120 (was $150) at Best Buy
  • Fitbit Sense 2 for $230 (was $300) at Best Buy
  • Fitbit Ace 3 activity tracker for kids for $70 (was $80) at Best Buy
  • Garmin Forerunner 45 for $130 (was $170) at Best Buy
  • Garmin Vivoactive 4S for $200 (was $350) at Best Buy
  • Garmin Venu 2 for $300 (was $350) at Best Buy
  • Garmin Epix Gen 2 for $800 (was $1,000) at Best Buy
  • Garmin Fenix 7 for $500 (was $700) at Best Buy
  • Garmin Fenix 7x for $800 (was $1,000) at Best Buy

Ars Technica may earn compensation for sales from links on this post through affiliate programs.

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Categories: Tech News

'The Comm': The Group Linked to a Nationwide Swatting Rampage

Motherboard (Vice) - Wed, 05/31/2023 - 10:47

The FBI is investigating a cybercriminal group called “the Comm” whose members are allegedly involved in a nationwide wave of swattings that impacted schools and universities earlier this year, according to court records reviewed by Motherboard.

The FBI arrested at least one alleged member of the group, Braiden Williams, in May. Posts on the messaging app Telegram uncovered by Motherboard suggest authorities may have arrested another member too.

The news comes as schools and universities around the country face an onslaught of swatting calls, in which criminals phone law enforcement or the schools themselves and make bogus threats of bombings or mass shootings. The idea generally is to elicit a response from police which then shuts the school down.

“I am currently involved in an investigation of cyberstalking by WILLIAMS and other co-conspirators who have threatened to commit bombings of numerous universities throughout the United States,” an affidavit written by FBI Special Agent Zachary Fuller reads. Seamus Hughes, who runs Court Watch, first alerted Motherboard to the affidavit. Motherboard then uncovered more court records that relate to the group.

Do you know anything else about the Comm or ACG? We'd love to hear from you. Using a non-work phone or computer, you can contact Joseph Cox securely on Signal on +44 20 8133 5190, Wickr on josephcox, or email

In May, the Ambler Police Department in Pennsylvania contacted the FBI concerning numerous nationwide bomb threats. These threats were made in the name of a 15 year old girl the FBI refers to in its affidavit as VICTIM A. “Emails were sent to hundreds of schools and universities describing VICTIM A’s purported plans to commit acts of mass violence. These emails caused significant disruptions at schools and universities across the country, especially because they occurred on a weekend when many schools were hosting graduations,” the document reads.

A sister of the victim, called VICTIM B in the affidavit, told investigators that recent swatting attacks involved the “Comm Group.”

The Comm uses Discord and Telegram to engage in a wide spread of criminal acts, according to the complaint. These include SIM swapping, stealing cryptocurrency, swatting, and “corporate intrusions,” it reads. The Comm also commissions real life violence, according to the complaint. In September, Motherboard reported on the dramatic pivot in SIM swapping communities turning to real world acts, such as firebombings, shootings, and kidnappings. 

A subgroup within the Comm refers to itself as ACG, according to the complaint. ACG has been involved in all of those types of crime since at least summer 2021, it adds. Williams was a member of the Comm and worked with ACG to perform SIM swaps, steal hundreds of thousands of dollars, and launder those proceeds before sending them to ACG’s leaders, the complaint alleges. ACG also engage in online gambling, it adds.

Williams or his co-conspirators allegedly SIM swapped their way into targets’ Coinbase accounts, and Wiliams admitted to FBI agents in an interview that he worked with ACG, according to another set of court records filed in California found by Motherboard. He told agents he used the illicit funds for a trip to Europe and to buy an orange 2020 Dodge Challenger, a black 2015 Ford Mustang, and a 2016 Dodge Challenger, those court records add.

comm-to-publish.jpgA section of the affidavit. Image: Motherboard.

The FBI arrested Williams for those SIM swapping charges on July 22, 2022, the records say. He was released a few days later with some prohibitions on his internet access. In November, he was arrested again by local Kansas law enforcement following a high-speed chase, according to the court records. He was then, again, taken into custody by the U.S. Marshals for allegedly violating his bail conditions, and was transferred from Kansas to California a few months later. A judge then ordered Williams be released to a halfway house. That’s when the alleged harassment against VICTIM A appears to have started.

When FBI agents executed another warrant against the halfway house where Williams was staying, an agent found Williams’ phone was actively participating in a Discord call named “ACG MEETING.”

Motherboard found multiple references to ACG inside SIM swapping-focused Telegram groups Motherboard has access to. These include alleged dox of a young girl targeted in part by “Acg Dritan” and “Acg Joey,” according to Telegram posts. Next to photos of the young girl, the posts also appear to show images of someone harming themselves.

the-comm-to-publish-2.jpgA section of the affidavit. Image: Motherboard.

Another post mentions “acg aspertaine.” A man called James Thomas Andrew McCarty who allegedly used the nickname Aspertaine appears in multiple court records uncovered by Motherboard. McCarty allegedly swatted multiple schools, police departments, and private residences. McCarty and a co-conspirator then allegedly mocked responding law enforcement officers through Ring cameras they hacked, according to court records.

Motherboard also found a rap video on YouTube that claims to come from ACG Joey. It includes numerous mentions of SIM swapping and cryptocurrency, including “just linked the Coinbase,” “I hit a Verizon,” “made more money off SIMs.” 

The latest affidavit against Williams goes into detail about alleged harassment he conducted against VICTIM A specifically. She told investigators she accepted a Snapchat friend request from Williams in the fall of 2022. The pair chatted over the next few months on Snapchat, Telegram, and Discord, according to the complaint. As mentioned, Williams then went to jail. VICTIM A then decided not to have any more contact with Williams, and blocked Williams from communicating with her when she learned in around April 2023 that Williams had been released.

VICTIM A then faced a wave of harassment, including unsolicited food deliveries at her home. She noticed her online food delivery account had an unauthorized access notification, according to the complaint. She attributed this to Williams, it adds. Two masked males also used a brick to smash the Blink doorbell and then threw a brick through the glass front door of a house neighboring VICTIM A’s. Attached to the brick a handwritten note read “msg us or else”.

On May 13, VICTIM A then communicated with who she believed to be Williams through a friend’s Telegram account. The person made a threat to “bomb [her]” and “get active” if she did not communicate with him.

The FBI’s Kansas City Field Office, which the affidavit says has been investigating the Comm, declined to comment. Prosecutors listed on the docket of Williams’ latest case did not respond to a request for comment. Williams’ federal public defender acknowledged a request for comment, but did not provide a statement in time for publication. 

NPR reported 182 schools in 28 states received false calls about threats in September and October. In March, VICE News covered a deluge of swatting calls across Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Ohio, and Iowa. Then in April, Motherboard revealed a specific computer generated swatting service called Torswats was causing havoc across America.

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Categories: Tech News

Criminals spent 10 days in US dental insurer's systems extracting data of 9 million

The Register - Wed, 05/31/2023 - 10:32
LockBit gang claimed 'trophy' of spilling low income families' details. Their parents must be proud

The criminals who hit one of the biggest government-backed dental care and insurance providers in the US earlier this year hung about for 10 days while they extracted info on nearly 9 million people, including kids from poverty-stricken homes.…

Categories: Tech News

Twitter now worth just a third of what Musk paid for it

The Register - Wed, 05/31/2023 - 09:36
Is he out of touch? No, must be the employees, users, advertisers, regulators, creditors...

Twitter's value continues to decline. Investment firm Fidelity reports that its stake in the bird site has lost value for the third time since Elon Musk took over last October. By Fidelity's account, the company is now worth just a third of the $44 billion Musk paid for it.…

Categories: Tech News

The original Chromecast hits end of life after a decade of service

ARS Technica - Wed, 05/31/2023 - 09:26
The original Chromecast.

The original Chromecast. (credit: Google)

Rest now, little Chromecast. Google has announced the decade-old Chromecast 1 is finally hitting end of life. A message on Google's Chromecast firmware support page (first spotted by 9to5Google) announced the wind-down of support, saying, "Support for Chromecast (1st gen) has ended, which means these devices no longer receive software or security updates, and Google does not provide technical support for them. Users may notice a degradation in performance." The first-gen Chromecast launched in 2013 for $35.

The original Chromecast was wildly successful and sold 10 million units in 2014 alone. For years, the device was mentioned in Google earnings calls as the highlight of the company's hardware efforts, and it was essentially the company's first successful piece of hardware. The Chromecast made it easy to beam Internet videos to your TV at a time when that was otherwise pretty complicated.

Google does not really make "Chromecasts" anymore—or at least it doesn't make products that use the original Chromecast technology stack. The original 2013 Chromecast, 2015's second-generation version, 2016's Chromecast Ultra, and 2018's third-gen versions are all dead-simple streaming sticks. They run the Cast OS, which is an ultra-lightweight OS cobbled together from bits of Chrome OS and Android. They have no default interface, they can't run apps, and they have no control mechanism of their own. Old-school Chromecasts exist solely as media receivers for the cast button in various apps like YouTube. You press the cast button in an app, pick a TV, and the screen turns on and starts playing media. That's it.

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Categories: Tech News

Twitter value keeps falling under Musk, now worth a third of what he paid

ARS Technica - Wed, 05/31/2023 - 08:58
Elon Musk's Twitter profile displayed on a phone screen in front of a Twitter logo and a fake stock graph with an arrow pointing down.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | NurPhoto )

Twitter's value has reportedly dropped to about $15 billion, slightly more than one-third of the $44 billion that Elon Musk paid for it in late October 2022. The $15 billion valuation is based on Fidelity's latest analysis of its stake in the company.

"Fidelity Blue Chip Growth Fund's stake in Twitter was valued at $6.6 million as of April 28, according to the fund's monthly disclosure released Sunday," The Wall Street Journal wrote today. "That is down from about $19.7 million at the end of October, shortly after Musk's takeover, and the third time Fidelity has marked down the value of its Twitter stake, public disclosures show."

Fidelity's new calculation "puts Twitter's overall valuation at about $15 billion, or roughly a third of the deal price," the WSJ wrote. Twitter is identified in the Fidelity filing as X Holdings, the Musk-owned holding company that owns X Corp., which merged with Twitter. Fidelity's new valuation of Twitter was previously reported by Bloomberg.

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Categories: Tech News

A Snap-based, containerized Ubuntu desktop could be offered in 2024

ARS Technica - Wed, 05/31/2023 - 08:56
Snap apps laid out in a grid

Enlarge / Some of the many Snap apps available in Ubuntu's Snap Store, the place where users can find apps and Linux enthusiasts can find deep-seated disagreement. (credit: Canonical)

Ubuntu Core has existed since 2014, providing a fully containerized, immutable Linux distribution aimed at Internet of Things (IoT) and edge computing applications.

That kind of system, based on Ubuntu distributor Canonical's own Snap package format, could be available for desktop users with the next Ubuntu Long Term Support release, according to an Ubuntu mobile engineer. Pointing to a comment in one of his prior posts, Ubuntu blogger Joey Sneddon suggests that an optional "All-Snap Ubuntu Desktop" will be available with Ubuntu 24.04 in April 2024.

It's important to note that a Snap-based Ubuntu would seemingly be an alternate option, not the primary desktop offered. DEB-based Ubuntu would almost certainly remain the mainstream release.

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Categories: Tech News

Russia Bombs Road to Monument of Friendship with Ukraine as It Prepares for Attack

Motherboard (Vice) - Wed, 05/31/2023 - 08:21

Russia has destroyed a road near on its border with Belarus and Russia next to a monument memorializing the friendship between the three countries, presumably in preparation for an attack that would use that road to reach Russian positions.  

A video posted to Telegram by Ukrainian border guards shows a road exploding near the statue. “They went from ‘We’ll take Kyiv in three days’ to ‘Blow up the road so they don’t capture us,’” Andrii Demchenko, spokesperson for the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine, told Ukrainian news outlet Ukrainska Pravda.

The Three Sisters Monument sits at the intersection of the borders between Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine. Constructed in 1975, the monument consists of three tablets with the coat of arms of the three countries and a large white pillar with bas relief imagery from their history. A year ago, authorities in the Ukrainian Chernihiv Oblast where the monument sits declared their intention to remove it. 

But the monument is still there, despite the recent explosion. The destruction of the road comes as Ukraine’s counteroffensive spins up to push Russia from the country it invaded more than eight years ago. Kyiv-aligned anti-Putin militias captured the Russian border town of Belgorod last week. Drone attacks have targeted Russian supply lines.

On the same day Russia blew up the road next to the Three Sisters Monument, it shot down drones over Moscow. The drones struck targets in Moscow’s wealthy suburbs. Days before Russia’s annual Victory Day Parade earlier this month, drones exploded over the Kremlin. Kyiv denied its involvement in either attack.

Ukraine’s push into regions dominated by Russia for almost 10 years will likely be slow going. Its troops are retreating from some locations, but it’s dug trenches and left behind massive anti-tank barriers in others. It’s also still able to strike Kyiv and other cities with missiles. The drone attacks on Moscow came after a weekend of sustained bombardment on the Ukrainian capital by Russian missile systems.

But the counteroffensive is coming. The drone attacks on Moscow and the siege of Belgorod proved that Russia is not impregnable. The destruction of the road shows that Russia is taking the counteroffensive seriously.

Andriy Yermak, President Zelensky’s Chief of Staff, echoed the sentiments of the border guards. “The Russians are blowing up the border roads they were using to ‘capture Kyiv in three days,’” he said, according to Novaya Gazeta.

Categories: Tech News

Exasol brings SaaS-flex to on-prem and public cloud systems

The Register - Wed, 05/31/2023 - 08:15
In-mem data warehouse unifies approach across environments, beefs up cost optimizer

In-memory data warehouse and analytic system Exasol is bringing the separation of storage and compute it introduced in its SaaS offering to hosted public cloud and on-prem installations.…

Categories: Tech News

Legendary Torrent Site RARBG Shuts Down Due to War, COVID, Inflation

Motherboard (Vice) - Wed, 05/31/2023 - 08:10

One of the largest and longest-running torrent sites on the internet, RARBG, suddenly ceased operations this week, citing pandemic hardships and losing staff to the war in Ukraine. 

Instead of the former library of movies, music, TV shows and games available for torrenting, visitors to the homepage are now met with an apologetic message from administrators announcing that the expenses related to running the site have become too much for staff to bear of out their own pockets. 

The message says that some staff have died from COVID or are still coping with complications, while others are fighting at war. The message states: 

“Hello guys, We would like to inform you that we have decided to shut down our site.
The past 2 years have been very difficult for us - some of the people in our team died due to covid complications, others still suffer the side effects of it - not being able to work at all.
Some are also fighting the war in Europe - ON BOTH SIDES.
Also, the power price increase in data centers in Europe hit us pretty hard.
Inflation makes our daily expenses impossible to bare. Therefore we can no longer run this site without massive expenses that we can no longer cover out of pocket. After an unanimous vote we've decided that we can no longer do it. 
We are sorry :(“ 

Tech and piracy outlet Torrent Freak independently confirmed the message with a source familiar with the matter.

The pirated content hosted by RARBG, which began operating 15 years ago, supplied other piracy sites with high-quality content. Website analytics tool Similarweb estimates that received more than 40 million visitors in April 2023; by comparison,, another popular torrent site, saw 24.4 million. 

The site’s closure comes at a time when piracy is increasing, and as services like Netflix, HBO Max (now just “Max”) and Disney Plus squeeze subscribers with increased pricing for shared plans, crackdowns on login sharing, and sudden show cancellations. In some cases, when shows are abruptly canceled, they’re taken off streaming platforms altogether; fans are left with nowhere else to access those movies or shows, and the people who helped make them are cut off from streaming residuals. 

Categories: Tech News

Prisoners are Being Tortured to Death in El Salvador’s Prisons

Motherboard (Vice) - Wed, 05/31/2023 - 08:04

The 23-year-old prisoner arrived at the hospital with broken feet and hands, and what looked like burn marks on his back. His corpse was delivered to his family in a closed casket. The medical examiner’s office determined the man died a “sudden death.”

Torture and death have become normal in El Salvador’s prisons under authoritarian President Nayib Bukele, according to a new report by the Salvadoran human rights group Cristosal. The report says that 153 people died in custody after being arrested under Bukele’s year-long crusade against gangs, including 47 this year, according to the new investigation.

The group said it has proof that at least 28 incarcerated people “died violently from torture, blows… asphyxiation by strangulation, injuries, among other causes.” It identified one case where the autopsy indicated the prisoner, who died from strangulation, may have been asphyxiated with a “rigid object” like a stick or baton. 

The report is the most extensive reckoning to date of the human rights abuses that have occurred during Bukele’s campaign to dismantle the country’s violent street gangs—MS-13 and Barrio 18—which have long terrorized the country and fueled one of the highest murder rates in the world.

Even Bukele’s critics acknowledge that Bukele has largely succeeded, a feat that has made him wildly popular in El Salvador and an example to other Latin American countries enduring gang violence.

But his crusade has come at a cost. Bukele has run roughshod over human rights, threatened critics with imprisonment, and kept El Salvador under what was supposed to be a temporary “state of emergency” for more than a year. The decree gives police free rein to arrest people without evidence, prohibits freedom of assembly, and denies citizens the right to legal counsel.

Since Burkele declared the state of emergency in March 2022, police have arrested more than 60,000 Salvadorans for being alleged gang members, many on flimsy evidence or none at all. Nearly two percent of El Salvador’s adult population is now incarcerated, giving the tiny Central American country the distinction of having the highest incarceration rate in the world.

In February, Salvadoran authorities opened a new 40,000-capacity “Terrorism Confinement Center” to accommodate the soaring prison population.

The report on the reality inside the prisons is based on photographs, mortuary reports and interviews with incarcerated people who have been released in recent months, according to Cristosal. The former prisoners, whose identities were withheld, said other incarcerated people were tortured with electric shocks and batons. 

They also said conditions inside were inhumane, and included overflowing toilets that spilled onto the floor. A 20-year-old man said there were 45 men in his cell when he entered La Esperanza prison in San Salvador. Ten days later, it held 252.

“There was no water to clean with,” he told Cristosal. “[Men] slept under the cots and on the floor, some on the bathroom floor. There, they got fungus on their backs.” 

Categories: Tech News

Interview: How System Shock balanced faithful recreation and modern design

ARS Technica - Wed, 05/31/2023 - 07:52
Cyborg pointing a pistol in front of a screen in System Shock

Enlarge / Remaking and remastering a revered game may be nearly as tricky as remaking a space station employee as a cyborg enforcer.

After nearly seven years of development, more than a decade after Stephen Kick first started looking into the rights, and almost 30 years after its release, System Shock is back. It's simultaneously just how you remember it and also quite new.

One of the unique aspects of this new version of the game from Nightdive Studios is how it mixes the concepts of "remake" and "remaster," which are typically applied as binary labels. The levels, puzzles, enemies, weapons, and items are largely the same, though they look and feel different. The textures, visual effects, audio logs, and engine are redone, and some story elements have been tweaked for cohesion. Not all the door codes are the same (except the famous one), and some rooms and hallways are redesigned for better navigation. Is this something of a ... remake-ster?

I asked Stephen Kick, CEO of Nightdive, and Larry Kuperman, director of business development, how the developer decided which changes to make to one of gaming's most revered and influential classics to make it accessible to a modern audience. They were more than prepared for the question, seemingly having asked it of themselves.

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Categories: Tech News

The 11-Year-Old Shot By A Cop After Calling 911 Is Suing Police

Motherboard (Vice) - Wed, 05/31/2023 - 07:39

The mother of an 11-year-old boy who was shot by an Indianola, Mississippi cop after calling 911 for help has filed a federal lawsuit seeking at least $5 million in damages.

Nakala Murry filed the lawsuit on behalf of herself and her son Aderrien Murry, who she said suffered from a collapsed lung, lacerated liver, and fractured ribs after being shot by Indianola police officer Greg Capers on May 20.

The lawsuit alleges the City of Indianola, Police Chief Ronald Sampson, and Capers violated Murry’s Fourth Amendment right to be “free from excessive force” and 14th Amendment right to “substantive due process without intentional exposure to known danger.” It accuses the city of “gross negligence or reckless disregard in failing to supervise its employees.”

The Mississippi Bureau of Investigation is investigating the shooting and Capers has been placed on leave. Sampson remains at work.

Reached by VICE News, an Indianola police officer said the department had no comment because the investigation is ongoing.  

According to the lawsuit, Murry was at home with Aderrien, her other child, and her nephew on May 20, when she got an “unexpected visit from an irate father of one of her minor children” at around 4 a.m. She instructed Aderrien to call police for help.

When Capers arrived on scene, he had his gun drawn and told everyone to exit the house, the lawsuit says, noting as Murry was coming around the corner of a hallway that led into the living room, “he was instantly shot” by Capers.

“Capers failed to assess the situation before displaying and/or discharging his firearm,” says the lawsuit, brought forth by the family’s attorney Carlos Moore.

As a result of Capers’ misconduct, “an 11-year old sustained major injuries to his body that will require extensive time in order for him to recover,” it continues.

Aderrien was released from the hospital on May 24. In an interview with ABC News, he said being shot “felt like a Taser, like a big punch to the chest.” He said he had his hands raised when he was shot.

Aderrien said after he was shot, he ran to his mother and that he was bleeding from his mouth.

Aderrien told CNN at night he’s haunted by thoughts of himself dead.

“Sometimes, I can see myself laying inside the coffin,” he said. “But my main thought is me dead.” On the night of the shooting, he said he thought he was going to die so he started apologizing to his mother for bad behavior towards a teacher and family member.

The lawsuit alleges that both Murry and her son are suffering from “serious emotional distress” and post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the shooting. It says the city and Sampson are culpable in failing to monitor Capers. 

“The injuries endured by all plaintiffs could have been avoided if defendants would have acquired the adequate training on how to provide proper assistance and care. However as a direct result of the defendants’ deliberate indifference, reckless disregard, and gross negligence, plaintiffs sustained injuries and damages.”

Both Capers and Aderrien are Black. Murry previously told reporters she believes the issue at play is about a lack of police training rather than race.

“We didn't feel protected. We felt like victims,” she said.

Moore previously called for Capers and Sampson to be fired and for body-camera footage from the shooting to be released.

Categories: Tech News

A US Woman Went to Mexico for Rehab. She Was Killed and Put in a Blender.

Motherboard (Vice) - Wed, 05/31/2023 - 07:37

CIUDAD JUÁREZ, Mexico - A woman from Kansas who traveled to Mexico to receive treatment at a drug rehabilitation center in the border city of Ciudad Juárez was murdered and dismembered, according to local authorities.

Celia Yaneth Castañeda, 35, was taken to the rehab center by her relatives after she returned from the United States, where she had been living for the last 10 years and developed an addiction to drugs and alcohol.

During her first night at the Monarch rehab center, Castañeda allegedly had a “violent episode” because of her withdrawal symptoms and attacked both of the owners—identified as Diana Paola and Claudia Rubi—according to news reports

Paola and Rubi subsequently beat Castañeda to death in retaliation, and then tried  to hide her dead body by cutting it into pieces, according to local authorities. 

The gruesome details emerged during a recent court hearing in Ciudad Juárez, where the judge read a police report describing the gruesome scene that unfolded at the property. 

On arrival, police officers found a metallic trash can that contained black-and-white pajamas and a woman's slipper stained with blood. As the officers proceeded further into the property, Paola and Rubi allegedly attempted to flee but were quickly apprehended, according to the police report. 

Authorities then found plastic buckets filled with human bones and flesh in the bathtub, along with plastic bags containing six large bones and two knee bones, according to the court hearing. After searching the kitchen, investigators found a blender containing human flesh. The suspects had reportedly attempted to liquefy the victim's genitalia, along with other soft body tissues and intestines, according to local news reports. 

During the hearing, the judge said he withheld from disclosing even more graphic details in order to preserve the dignity of the victim.

"For the sake of not re-victimizing the victim, for the sake of her dignity, I will not go on," the judge said, after reading the police report. 

The trial against the rehab center owners is still ongoing and they could face life in prison if found guilty. 

Castañeda’s murder is the latest in a wave string of femicides in Mexico in recent years, and part of a macabre trend across the country.

Categories: Tech News

Aggressive PC discounts might not be here for long, says HP

The Register - Wed, 05/31/2023 - 07:29
After challenging Q2, CEO reckons channel inventory starting to finally clear

HP is counting the cost of customer demand being zapped by inflation and continued pricing promotions to clear higher than normal inventory after revenues plunged by more than a fifth in its latest quarter.…

Categories: Tech News

The Leader of the Gun Church That Worships With AR-15s Is Now a MAGA Rapper

Motherboard (Vice) - Wed, 05/31/2023 - 06:34

The leader of a controversial religious sect that worships with AR-15s has been taking notes from the niche but growing music subgenre dubbed “MAGA Rap.” 

Pastor Hyung-Jin “Sean” Moon, the flamboyant figurehead of the Rod of Iron Ministries (also known as The Sanctuary Church) has a YouTube channel where he’s spinning his far-right sermons into rap videos. (YouTube removed the channel shortly after VICE News reached out for comment). 

Moon’s rap name is “King Bullethead,” and like others in the genre, he’s looking to spread far-right ideological positions through questionable rhymes and low-budget, bombastic music videos, often while taking aim at the LGBTQ community. 

In “Eggplant Emoji,” Moon appears in a rural setting, clad in camouflage, wearing reflective Oakley-esque sunglasses, a crown of gold bullets balanced atop his bald head. He wears skeleton gloves and waves around a gold-plated AR-15. 

A group of heavily-armed church members dressed in patriotic colors stand behind Moon, as he fast-raps about how children are being brainwashed into joining the LGBTQ community and praises conservative women who discriminate against trans women. “They got no shlong, ding dong, hot dog, johnny eggplant emoji/ they got no thang swinging between their legs and making them horny,” he raps. “Conservative women knows that only God can make ‘em man and women/ Love Jesus, family, guns, USA they be lovin’.”

In “Big MAGA 20,” Moon appears at the same desk where he usually delivers his rambling hours-long sermons (these days, they’re uploaded to Rumble since the church was kicked off YouTube years ago for spreading election and COVID-19 disinformation). 

“They can’t stop us so they silence, censor and act like Communists,” he raps. “Politicians lie to get their power and form their little cliques/Politics is a combination of the words ‘poly’ and ‘ticks’/‘Poly’ means more than one, a few, a group of cliques, and ticks are parasites that suck your blood until the very last drip.”

Moon’s church, which imagines the “Rod of Iron” in the Bible’s Book of Revelations as a modern-day AR-15 and Jesus Christ as a manufacturer of assault weapons, is an example of an extremist group that, despite being somewhat insular and fringe, operates in lockstep with the broader far-right and GOP when it comes to fighting the culture war du jour. 

Moon started his church in Newfoundland, Pennsylvania, in 2017, with the help of his elder brother, the CEO of a gun manufacturing company called Kahr Arms. It was a spinoff from the Unification Church, an accused global cult founded and led by his late father, Rev. Sun Myung Moon, whose devoted adherents became known as “Moonies.” It was famous for holding mass weddings featuring thousands of couples. 

Like his father, Hyung-Jin Moon has sought to fuse spirituality with right-wing politics, preaching a form of Christian nationalism that has increasingly crept into the GOP and pews nationwide. In his theological framework, anything he considers “unchristian” or progressive is dubbed “political satanism,” an evil force that’s working counter to the holy mission to restore God’s kingdom. 

In late 2020, fighting “political satanism” meant contesting the results of the presidential election. Moon and other senior members of the church were at the Capitol on Jan. 6 (though there’s no evidence to suggest they went inside). 

But today, the current “Satanic panic,” which has led far-right militants to target drag shows and family-friendly pride events nationwide, appears to be massively influential on Moon’s burgeoning rap career. The far right has coalesced around false narratives that claim exposing children to anything vaguely LGBTQ is tantamount to grooming, and that the LGBTQ community are pursuing a secret satanic agenda to brainwash children. 

Moon labels many of his tracks targeting the LGBTQ community as “Comedy” despite his dehumanizing, apocalyptic lyrics (for some reason, he also tags far-right commentator Matt Walsh, a leader in the current attack on LGBTQ culture and rights). 

“Stonewall gay riots began a movement, to take Christian morals down and make us the U.S. of Gays,” Moon raps in one track called “Rainbow Ishtar.” “If we don’t turn, we’re gonna burn/If we keep pissing God off, we’ll be food for the worms/The rainbow is for promise, not pride for the pervs.” 

Another six-minute song called “Fruit Ninja,” Moon raps, “Did you hear about this group called LGTBQ/You may have heard them in your school or even your church pew/They are telling our kids they can switch to any gender/Taking hormones slicing organs like they’re playing Fruit Ninja.” 

Other tracks promote a grab bag of other far-right conspiracy theories. “Suddenly Dead” promotes the widely debunked claim that people who received the COVID-19 vaccine have been dropping dead. “Red Eye Patriot” promotes the baseless “Fedsurrection” conspiracy, which claims undercover federal agents were behind Jan. 6 with the goal of smearing Trump supporters. “They call us conspiracy theorists and domestic terrorists/They did the sedition and blamed it on you and me,” Moon raps. 

Moon launched his King Bullethead channel on YouTube in Dec. 2022, and he promises new music videos every Friday, uploaded under the banner “Guns, God, MAGA.” 

The fact he hopes to maintain a presence on YouTube offers some insight into Moon’s goals, which may include further expanding his reach into mainstream MAGA circles and broadening his appeal beyond his dedicated cadre of followers, many of whom he siphoned away from his late father’s congregation. 

In recent years, the church has acquired two significant plots of property, a compound near Waco, Texas, and a mountain in Tennessee. 

The church also hosts an annual “Freedom Festival” on his brother’s Kahr Arms property in Pennsylvania. Recent speakers have included an array of fringe GOP candidates, gun-world influencers, and even some former Trump-orbit personalities, such as Steve Bannon and Sebastian Gorka. 

While Moon may be enjoying his reach on YouTube for now, he has a long way to go if he wants to compete with some of the biggest MAGA rappers in the game. He currently has just 1,000 subscribers, and some videos have only broken 3,000 views, compared to the 50,000 subscribers enjoyed by others in the genre. 

What’s more, it appears YouTube has recently started to take action against the King Bullethead channel by flagging some of his more incendiary videos for removal. As a result, he’s started redirecting followers and subscribers towards his Rumble channel. 

Categories: Tech News

XFS bug in Linux kernel 6.3.3 coincides with SGI code comeback

The Register - Wed, 05/31/2023 - 06:30
G.N.U. Silicon Graphics: a company is not dead while its name is still spoken

SGI may be no more but people are still using its code – and some more of that code may be about to enjoy a revival.…

Categories: Tech News

Cyberweapon manufacturers plot to stay on the right side of US

ARS Technica - Wed, 05/31/2023 - 06:04
Montage of Paragon and NSO Group logos

Enlarge (credit: FT montage/Shutterstock/Dreamstime)

In the summer of 2019, as Paragon Solutions was building one of the world’s most potent cyberweapons, the company made a prescient decision: before courting a single customer, best get the Americans on side.

The Israeli start-up had watched local rival NSO Group, makers of the controversial Pegasus spyware, fall foul of the Biden administration and be blacklisted in the US. So Paragon sought guidance from top American advisers, secured funding from US venture capital groups, and eventually scored a marquee client that eludes its competition: the US government.

Interviews with half a dozen industry figures about the divergent paths of the two companies underline how the shadowy spyware industry is being reshaped around those friendly to American interests.

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Categories: Tech News