The reason a US Marine Corps pilot ejected from his F-35B stealth fighter jet last weekend remains unknown, but a government agency report on the dismal state of the F-35 fleet's maintenance provides a few clues.…
The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has proposed rules for commercial space launch companies to address orbital debris, a growing threat to spacecraft and satellites.…
Next year, watching TV shows and movies on Amazon Prime Video without ads will cost more than it does now. In early 2024, Amazon will show ads with Prime Video content unless you pay $2.99 extra.
Amazon announced today that Prime Video users in the US, Canada, Germany, and the UK will automatically start seeing advertisements "in early 2024." Subscribers will receive a notification email "several weeks" in advance, at which point they can opt to pay $2.99 extra for ad-free Prime Video, Amazon said.
That takes the price of ad-free Prime Video from $8.99/month alone to $11.98/month and from $14.99/month with Prime to $17.98/month.
The NYPD is launching a new pilot program for a robot that will patrol the subway, New York City Mayor Eric Adams announced in a press conference Friday morning. The robot will have a two-month trial period in the Times Square subway station, accompanied by a cop at all times, the mayor said.
“We’re taking existing technology—cameras, being able to communicate with people—and we’re placing it on wheels,” Adams said, pointing to the robot.
The Knightscope K5 security robot weighs about 400 pounds and can move at a maximum speed of three miles per hour.
“This is not a pushover,” Adams said, pointing to the robot. He then walked over to the robot and tried to push it over four times, saying it was “heavy.” The robot did not tilt, but rolled about an inch away from Adams at the first push. “It’s 420 pounds. It’s New York tested.”
K5 will be in the station from midnight to 6 a.m., recording video that the NYPD can review if an emergency or crime occurs, Adams said. It will not, however, go onto the subway platforms. Both Adams and the chief of NYPD Transit, Michael Kemper, said the machine will not employ facial recognition technology.
An NYPD spokesperson did not immediately respond to a question of whether that means the footage taken by the robot will not have facial recognition software applied to it in the future.
“It will not record audio, and it will not use facial recognition,” Adams said. “However, the K5 does have a button that connects you immediately to a live person, that New Yorkers can utilize 24-7, with questions, concerns, or to report an incident if needed.”
In response to an audience question, Adams said that the robot did not use artificial intelligence.
The NYPD does not own the robot, Adams said, but is in fact leasing it from the Knightscope company during the trial period for $9 per hour, which the mayor said was helpful due to the “very challenging budget restraints” of the NYPD. The police department’s current budget for Fiscal Year 2023 is $5.83 billion.
When asked by a reporter how much the robot cost, Adams said, laughing, “I know you wanted to write about how we’re wasting money, but I’m taking your thunder away. We’re leasing at $9 an hour.” This figure does not include the cost of the human officer who will be guarding the robot.
“I’m hoping you’re going to put a line in your story about how cost-efficient I am,” he continued. “This is below minimum wage. No bathroom breaks, no meal breaks. This is a good investment, so please make sure that’s added to the story, okay?”
An NYPD spokesperson did not immediately respond to a question about how much it cost for the robot to be accompanied by a human officer at all times.
Police security robots are a growing trend in the U.S., but their effectiveness is unclear. Companies like Knightscope, which makes the K5 robot, have said that their products reduce 911 calls, but have cited no public evidence about actual crime reduction. Adams said the robot’s main function would be to serve as a “deterrent to crime.”
The mayor was enthusiastic about the cost-effectiveness of the robot. “I want you guys to be extremely creative in your writing style to say ‘Eric, job well done,’” he told reporters. He then approached the robot for a photo opportunity and held up a hand heart to its left. The robot did not complete the hand heart, because it has no arms.
This content comes from the latest installment of our weekly Breaking the Vote newsletter out of VICE News’ D.C. bureau, tracking the ongoing efforts to undermine the democratic process in America. Sign up here to get it in your inbox every Friday.
Boxes in briefs
“You don’t know anything about the boxes.” That’s reportedly what Trump said to his longtime executive assistant when she informed him that the feds were going to question her about all those crates full of classified documents stashed at Mar-a-Lago. Thing is, Molly Michael most definitely did know something about the boxes, and Trump knew it.
Michael, who had worked for Trump since 2018 in the White House, coordinated closely with valet and alleged Trump co-conspirator Walt Nauta to move boxes to and from the now-famous basement storage room. But she apparently grew concerned last year when it became clear her boss intended to lie to the feds about the boxes of docs stored at Mar-a-Lago. She spoke to investigators, which is partly why you may know her as the unindicted “Employee 2” in the Mar-a-Lago indictment.
Michael also reportedly handed over note cards bearing classified markings that Trump used to write to-do lists for her. That’s wild, but not as wild as an employer telling an employee that she doesn’t know anything about the boxes the feds are looking for. It sure sounds like…well…in the words of Trump’s former lawyer, a mob boss.
But I’m wondering if Michael could have witnessed any part of Trump’s 24-minute phone call with Nauta on June 23, 2022. According to the indictment, that call set the plot to delete MAL security footage in motion. But so far, we don’t know the contents.
Don’t forget to sign your friends up for Breaking the Vote!
One small Epps for man
This will surely quiet all the howls of conspiracy. Just kidding, it won’t! Ray Epps, the former Marine and Oath Keeper who right-wing conspiracy theorists pegged as an FBI plant on Jan. 6, pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count this week.
Epps became the target of conspiracy theorists after he was seen in videos hyping up protesters to enter the Capitol on Jan. 6. Tucker Carlson ran with the Internet fever dream of “the FBI instigated Jan. 6” and turned it into a ratings grabber, prompting Epps to face death threats and to sue Fox and Carlson for defamation. Carlson also said that Epps must be a federal agent since his photo was abruptly removed from the FBI’s Jan. 6 “persons of interest” page. Now we know that’s because Epps turned himself in. Something to remember the next time right-wing politicians and media figures swear they have the terrible truth about one of Trump’s enemies.
Not only did Epps get charged and plead guilty (informants generally don’t do that), the federal prosecutor handling his case told the court Epps was at no time “a confidential source or undercover agent for the government.” (US Attorneys generally avoid lying to judges in open court.) Epps is due for sentencing in December.
Right-wing crackpot lawyer and Trump worshipper Lin Wood was recommended for indictment by the Special Purpose Grand Jury that investigated the effort to overturn the election in Georgia. He wasn’t charged, and now Wood is a witness for the prosecution.
But don’t call Lin Wood a flipper, says Lin Wood!Cassidy Hutchinson, a top former aide to Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, is sworn-in as she testifies during the sixth hearing by the House Select Committee on the January 6th insurrection in the Cannon House Office Building on June 28, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images)
Hutch is expected
You’re about to be seeing a lot more of former Mark Meadows aide and Jan. 6 star witness Cassidy Hutchinson. She’s set to appear on Rachel Maddow’s MSNBC show Monday. There, she’ll surely be asked about the latest super-gross advance from her forthcoming book, “Enough.”
Hutchinson writes that Rudy Giuliani sexually assaulted her on Jan. 6 in the back-stage tent at the pre-riot Ellipse rally near the White House. Rudy moved toward her “like a wolf closing in on its prey,” she writes. Then, she said, Rudy put his hand under her blazer and up her skirt. Giuliani is also accused of sexual assault in a $10 million lawsuit brought by an ex-employee.
That $10 million suit is just one of Rudy’s financial nightmares. He also lost the defamation suit brought by Fulton County poll workers Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss; he’s being sued for defamation by Dominion for $1.3 billion; Smartmatic too; not to mention his 13-count indictment in the Fulton County conspiracy. Now his lawyers are suing him for $1.36 million in unpaid legal fees.
Rudy denied the allegations in a Newsmax interview.
Guilty and charging
Rudy famously hasn’t been able to get Trump to contribute much at all to his legal fees, despite the boss’s penchant picking up his allies' lawyer tabs. (BTW Jack Smith specifically cited Trump’s bankrolling of witnesses’ legal costs as obstruction this week.)
Anyway, how hurt will Rudy be when he hears Trump paid about $300,000 of newly-convicted Peter Navarro’s legal costs, according to Peter Navarro?
Land o’ fakes
Three fake electors were in front of a judge this week trying to get their cases removed to federal court. State Sen. Shawn Still, former Georgia GOP Chair David Shafer, and former Coffee County Chair Cathy Latham all argued that they were “contingent” electors–not fake ones–and as such they were federal officers deserving a federal trial.
Former Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows already had his bid to remove his case denied, but the case is under appeal. Latham is also charged in the Coffee County computer caper end of the Georgia RICO conspiracy.
Dept. of Motor Voters
Pennsylvania became the 23th state to automatically register residents to vote when they get their driver's license issued or renewed at the DMV. Gov. Josh Shapiro announced the change, which officials say will make a dent in the 1.7 million eligible residents who aren’t registered to vote in PA.
Pennsylvania will now register eligible voters when they get a license or state ID, unless they opt out. Previously residents had to affirmatively opt-in.
That's the feeling the White House is going for next Thursday. In Washington, House Republicans are holding the first hearing in their impeachment inquiry, which is charging in front of the cameras with no evidence tying President Biden to his son Hunter's business dealings. For contrast, Joe Biden will be in Arizona, where, according to the White House, he's set to give remarks on the legacy of GOP Sen. John McCain and the job of "strengthening our democracy."
The White House is very much giving the political press a dual assignment for Thursday. As important as the news is, I'd argue how the news is covered is far more important for the coming election year. Let me know what you notice!U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland testifies before the House Judiciary Committee in the Rayburn House Office Building on September 20, 2023 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
The sum of its Spartz
Merrick Garland’s appearance Wednesday in Rep. Jim Jordan’s House Judiciary Committee, filled with GOP outrage about Hunter Biden and innuendo–but no evidence–of President Biden’s wrongdoing, broke no new ground. Except, maybe, for this novel take on Jan. 6 by GOP Rep. Victoria Spartz. Jan. 6 was for parents and kids in strollers! It’s the latest GOP effort to minimize and normalize the Jan. 6 insurrection and riot, just in time to “whatabout” it into oblivion with an evidence-free Biden impeachment.
Garland told Republicans that their efforts to single out prosecutors and officials won’t intimidate DOJ officials, though he only implied the sources, which are those same congressional Republicans and Trump himself. “We will not back down from defending our democracy,” he said.
“This is not good.”
— Steven Sadow, Trump’s Georgia lawyer, overheard in court while lawyers for co-defendant Jeffrey Clark argued that Trump authorized Clark’s actions in the alleged conspiracy.
Gopher the record — The judge hearing the 14th Amendment challenge to Trump’s ballot eligibility in Minnesota has set oral arguments for November 2. Activists in some states may use preemptive lawsuits to try to disqualify Trump. Others may sue the Secretary of State. Either way, experts say, this question is going to SCOTUS.
Anno Dominion — Dominion Voting Systems next big defamation suit for election lies will kick off just as early voting in the 2024 presidential election is getting underway. A judge in Delaware set a September, 2024 trial date for Dominion’s lawsuit against right-wing outlet Newsmax. Dominion is, of course, fresh off its record-breaking $787 million settlement with Fox News (in front of the same judge), and a settlement with pro-Trump OAN for undisclosed terms.
Lake it til you make it — Kari Lake, who lost the 2022 Arizona governor race by 17,000 votes then spun endless MAGA-esque conspiracies about her loss, is now running for Senate. Lake is expected to jump into the GOP primary, already populated by losing 2022 Senate candidate and election denier Blake Masters. Trump is behind Lake, but the field is crowded and complicated. A third GOP candidate is already in the primary; Democratic Rep. Reuben Gallego is in the race, while incumbent Kirsten Sinema has changed her party ID from Democrat to Independent and hasn’t even confirmed she’s running.
Meanwhile, Lake’s “I didn’t really lose” show was back in court Thursday trying to gain access to Maricopa county voter signatures she says she can prove are fraudulent. Whether she succeeds, the problem here is that Lake and her lawyers’ effort to get the signatures declared public records would make them open to public sharing, and naturally, conspiracy theories and doxxing. Stay tuned.
Lock me up? — Will I go to a cushy jail or a “bad” one? What about my bodyguards? Will I have to wear a jumpsuit? Donald Trump has a lot of questions lately about what life will be like if he winds up inside a jail cell.
FROM THE ATLANTIC
The UK has used a statutory instrument to introduce new rules designed to allow the sharing of personal data between the island nation and the US in compliance with data protection law.…
The UK's Competition and Markets Authority has given its provisional approval to recently proposed modifications to Microsoft's proposed Activision purchase. While the approval is not final, the announcement suggests that Microsoft will soon clear the final regulatory hurdle in its proposed $68.7 billion acquisition, which was first announced over 20 months ago.
The CMA initially blocked the Activision acquisition back in April, saying that the purchase would "substantially lessen competition" in the nascent cloud gaming market. But after the US Federal Trade Commission's attempt at a merger-blocking injunction lost in court in April, Microsoft and the CMA went back to the drawing board to negotiate a settlement.
That led to Microsoft's August announcement that it would sell those Activision streaming rights to Ubisoft. The CMA now says it "has provisionally concluded" that this sale "should address these [previously identified] issues."
Comment A now-challenged report that Google wants to end its reliance on Broadcom has drawn attention to the role the San-Jose-based electronics giant plays in the production of custom silicon for hyperscale clouds.…
Active Clubs—neo-Nazi clubs that focus on fitness and martial arts training—are growing at a rapid pace and not just in the United States.
From Denmark, to France, and Canada, semi-autonomous white supremacist groups have been popping up across the globe and recruiting young white men to come train. According to a new report by the Counter Extremism Project (CEP) that was shared with VICE News, “since the creation of the first Active Club in late 2020, at least 100 Active Clubs have been created in the U.S, Canada, and Europe.”
"This is an unprecedented growth. I've never seen a network in right-wing extremism grow so fast. Usually it takes years to build a transnational network,” Alexander Ritzmann, the report’s author and senior advisor to the CEP, told VICE News. “It’s concerning.”
Active clubs could best be described as localized neo-Nazi groups built around the idea of working out and training martial arts—typically boxing and Brazilian jiu-jitsu—together. The groups are explicitly white nationalist but, like some other modern racist groups, try at best to hide their true intentions. The groups are run semi-autonomously on a local level and, according to the paper, can range in size from five to twenty-five members.
They were founded by Robert Rundo—an American neo-Nazi known for his ties to street fighting organizations and running from a federal charge for which he was arrested last spring—in late 2020 after he was inspired by similar clubs in Europe and activists in Europe. Since that time, the CEP report states there are “at least 46 in the United States across 34 U.S. states.”A map of the United States that shows where the Active Clubs have set up. Photo via CEP.
The groups have now begun appearing in real life, particularly at anti-LGBTQ protests, and have hosted fight tournaments where participants from across the United States come in. Large events are happening outside of America as well. According to Active Club Canada’s social media posts, they recently held a national event where members from the ten clubs that are sprinkled across the country came and trained together.
The report breaks down several of the countries where the clubs were started internationally. The most prominent are Canada and France, but it also includes Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, the U.K., and Sweden.
VICE News was told by a former member of an American Active Club that they offer assistance to each other, especially while a club is getting up off its feet. The report also includes evidence of this occurring internationally. In the most extreme cases, an Estonian national helped found a Swedish active club before being deported from the country in 2022. After being sent back to his country of birth the man then started an Active Club organization in Estonia.
If you have any information regarding neo-Nazi organizing or active clubs, we would love to hear from you. Please reach out to Mack Lamoureux via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @macklamoureux.
There are several reasons for the group's rapid growth. Firstly, there is an ease of entry to starting clubs—anyone, anywhere can essentially start one and if it becomes big enough, it will be recognized. Secondly, Active Clubs are part of the latest iteration of white nationalism, dubbed "White Supremacy 3.0," where groups present a softer face to the public. This aids them both in recruitment and keeping law enforcement from looking too closely.
“When recruiting, Active Club members should not talk about Jews and history,” reads the CEP report. “Instead, the focus in public should be on brotherhood, community, fitness, and self-defense.”
VICE News has spoken to several people who had worked with Active Clubs and helped recruit people to the movement. They said they would slowly start introducing racist ideas and activities as time went on and the members became more and more ingrained in the club. In the end, though, the goal was obviously to train for future violence.
The report outlines that this training isn’t simply to build bonds among the white nationalists and create loyalty by helping a young man become fit, it’s also to prepare a group for future violence. In some cases, members of Active Clubs have bragged about doing paramilitary style training, a few have taken part in criminal activities. In a lengthy quote that’s included in the report, Rundo outlines that he’s hoping to build something “like the minutemen (militia) in the early stages of the revolutionary war” for in the future when there is a “mass movement (and) a mass organization” ready to command it.
“He's not expecting a boxing match,” said Ritzmann, the report’s author. “It's more likely that they're actually preparing for targeted violence on a professional level rather than just saying, ‘Well, we like boxing and sports, and maybe if we're in a bar and there's a fight, we can win against the other guys.’”
“This could be the smartest and most dangerous way to organize right-wing targeted violence that I've seen for a long while.”
Apple has released iOS 17 and iPadOS 17 (and their first minor patch, version 17.0.1) to the public this week, and by most accounts, it's a fairly mild and stable update that doesn't seem to be breaking much. But a few years ago, as you might recall, Apple made a change to how it handles operating system transitions—iOS 16 will keep getting updates for a short stretch so that people who want to wait a bit before they upgrade can do so without missing important security updates.
The iOS and iPadOS 16.7 update covers all devices that could run version 16, including older stuff like the iPhone 8, iPhone X, and first-gen iPad Pro that can't be upgraded to version 17. In a couple of months, if precedent holds, newer devices will have to upgrade to keep getting security fixes, while iOS 16 updates will continue to support older devices for at least another year.
On the Mac side, Apple continues releasing security updates for operating systems for two years after they're replaced by a new version. For the last year, that has meant that versions 11, 12, and 13 (Big Sur, Monterey, Ventura) have all been getting patches. Now that version 14 (Sonoma) is around the corner, version 11 will stop being updated.
The European Commission has re-imposed a fine of €376.36 million (about $400 million) on chipmaker Intel for abusing its dominant position in the x86 processor market. The move is the latest twist in an antitrust saga that has been now running for more than two decades.…
Months out of law school, Yosef Weitzman already has a huge courtroom role in the biggest antitrust trial of the century. In a US federal trial that started last week, Google is accused of unlawfully monopolizing online search and search ads. The company’s self-defined mission is to make the world's information universally accessible, yet Google successfully opposed livestreaming the trial and keeping the proceedings wholly open to the public. Enter Weitzman.
The fresh law graduate is among a handful of legal or antitrust geeks trying to attend most, if not all, of the public portions of the trial, fearing a historic moment of tech giant accountability will escape public notice. Some have pushed off day jobs or moved near to the Washington, DC, courthouse. All are obsessively documenting their observations through social media and daily email newsletters.
The trial is scheduled to run near-daily through November, and few news outlets can dedicate a reporter to a courtroom seat for eight hours a day for the duration. Most reporters focused on Google are based in San Francisco. Legal and regulatory publications that can commit charge hundreds of dollars for content subscriptions. Any antitrust junkie—or frustrated Google Search user—wanting an affordable readout from the sparsely attended, era-defining trial, must rely on Weitzman, or a handful of others firing off tweets, skeets, and Substacks. “Regardless of your view on this trial and Big Tech, it will affect everyone, so it’s important that the public is aware of what’s going on as the trial unfolds and to record what happens,” Weitzman says.
Thousands of travellers are stuck at UK airports as the dual gremlins of "planned maintenance" for eGates and air traffic control restrictions led to delayed and cancelled flights along with long queues at the border.…
Once I finished putting the E-Coast together, I was left with a gorgeous e-bike that was enjoyable to ride. But getting there involved more time and swearing than I'm used to. The good news is that Priority apparently heard the curses of its customers, as the part that made assembly miserable has been removed. So you might not need a pro bike tech after all.
Unlike some e-bike manufacturers, which seem to have popped up out of nowhere in the last couple of years, Priority has been around since 2014, when it launched via Kickstarter. Nine years and two Kickstarters later, it has a robust lineup of motorized and human-powered bicycles.
Microsoft is busy plumping cushions in anticipation of its new gaming bedfellow Activision Blizzard after the UK's Competition and Markets Authority said most of its concerns about the merger had been addressed.…
Two weeks ago, the US Copyright Office refused to register a copyright for Théâtre D'opéra Spatial, an AI-generated image that got widespread media attention last year after it won an art competition. It’s at least the third time the Copyright Office has ruled that AI-generated art cannot be copyrighted.
The Copyright Office first ruled on this issue in 2019. Artist Stephen Thaler tried to register an image that he said had been created entirely by a computer program. The Copyright Office rejected the application because copyright protection is only available for works created by human beings—not supernatural beings (like the Holy Spirit), not animals (like this now-famous monkey), and not computer programs.
The ruling raised an important question: Was the issue just that Thaler should have listed himself, rather than his AI system, as the image's creator? Or is AI-generated art categorically excluded from copyright protection?
Welcome to Edition 6.12 of the Rocket Report! Two of the world's most successful small satellite launchers suffered failures this week. We've seen many small launch companies experience failures on early test flights, but US-based Rocket Lab and China's Galactic Energy have accumulated more flight heritage than most of their competitors. Some might see these failures and use the "space is hard" cliché, but I'll just point to this week as a reminder that rocket launches still aren't routine.
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.
Rocket Lab suffers launch failure. Rocket Lab's string of 20 consecutive successful launches ended Tuesday when the company's Electron rocket failed to deliver a small commercial radar imaging satellite into orbit, Ars reports. The problem occurred on the upper stage of the Electron rocket about two and a half minutes after liftoff from the Mahia Peninsula in New Zealand. This was the fourth time a Rocket Lab mission has failed in 41 flights. A small commercial radar surveillance satellite from Capella Space was destroyed when the rocket crashed.
Opinion I run my computers until they die. I'm cheap that way and it's one reason why I'm a Linux fan. Thanks to Linux, I have PCs that are closing in on 20 years of useful life.…
On Call Welcome once again to On Call, the Register column in which readers recall how they dug themselves out of holes while delivering tech support.…
DataGrail Summit Generative AI is uncharted territory, and those wishing to explore it need to be aware of the dangers, privacy shop DataGrail warned at its summit this week in San Francisco.…