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Vox Sentences: 1 in 500 of New Zealand’s Muslims

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New Zealand mourns a mass shooting; students around the world demonstrate in a global climate strike.


A mass shooting kills 49, injures 48 in New Zealand


Aftermath Of Mosque Terror Attack Felt In Christchurch

Fiona Goodall/Getty Images

  • A mass shooting at the Al Noor and Linwood mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, killed at least 49 people and injured dozens on Friday. A 28-year-old Australian man who claimed responsibility is in custody. Friday is a Muslim holy day. The names of the victims have not yet been released. [Vox / Jennifer Williams, Alex Ward, and Jen Kirby]
  • The suspect posted a white nationalist manifesto on Twitter and the extremist forum 8Chan, before opening fire in the two mosques. He provided a link to his Facebook page, where he broadcast the attack live. In order to get the disturbing footage, the gunman may have worn a helmet camera. Tech companies scrambled to respond and remove the graphic 17-minute video, but this proved difficult as it was shared through other accounts. [NYT]
  • The shooter’s statement addressed the US Second Amendment right to bear arms in the manifesto. New Zealand’s gun laws are stricter than the US’s — people must obtain a license through a highly vetted process to own firearms; even if they get the license, some weapons are off limits without police endorsements, and special storage and inspection rules are in place — but there are still some gaps. Investigators are looking into what kind of weapons were used and how the attacker obtained them. [Vox / German Lopez]
  • Social media sites are struggling to permanently remove the video content and the 74-page manifesto, which was republished on news sites and even available for download in some cases. It raised a range of questions about how journalists should responsibly report following an attack, when posting the shooter’s content would just give him more power over the narrative. [Atlantic / Yasmeen Serhan and Krishnadev Calamur]
  • 41 people died at the Al Noor Mosque and seven were killed at the Linwood Mosque, where a worshipper seized the gun from the shooter, who fled to a car outside. The video footage shows glimpses of the gunman’s face during the rampage. The attack was New Zealand’s first mass shooting since 1997. [WSJ / Rhiannon Hoyle, Rachel Pannett, Adrien Taylor, and Rob Taylor]
  • One in 500 of New Zealand’s Muslims were killed or wounded in the shooting. The country’s Muslim population increased by nearly 28 percent from 2006 to 2013. At least 48 people are being treated at local hospitals. [HuffPost / Marina Fang]
  • New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern described Friday as “one of New Zealand’s darkest days,” referring to the attack as an act of terrorism. The gunman reportedly had been planning the shooting for two years and claimed in his manifesto to be defending Europeans and whites against immigrants. [NPR / Dalia Mortada and Laurel Wamsley]

#FridaysForFuture sparks climate demonstrations

  • Hundreds of students in more than 1,700 locations around the world skipped school on Friday to demonstrate on behalf of climate action. UN research says there are only two dozen years left to reverse the most damaging impacts of climate change. [Washington Post / Griff Witte, Luisa Beck, Brady Dennis, and Sarah Kaplan]
  • How this started: Last August, 16-year-old Greta Thunberg began skipping school on Fridays to protest outside the Swedish Parliament, saying the government was failing to keep up with the Paris climate agreement. News of her demonstrations spread and she began speaking with climate negotiators. She was nominated this week for a Nobel Peace Prize. [Vox / Umair Irfan]
  • Thunberg inspired the #FridaysForFuture movement around the world. The global climate strike is an offshoot of this movement, which asks: If global climate change is our greatest existential threat, why go to school? Students in each country have different demands. The US Youth Climate Strike is largely asking for acceptance of the Green New Deal. [CNN / Harmeet Kaur]
  • Climate change is a desperate situation. A 2018 report by the United Nations gave the world until just 2030 deadline before irreversible conditions unleash dangerous weather and climate conditions on humans, threatening the food supply, especially. Thunburg gave a damning speech to the UN COP24 in December, demanding delegates take more action. [NPR / Jeff Brady and Jennifer Ludden]
  • Are we finally waking up to climate change? Friday marked the largest-ever climate demonstration — it’s hard to say whether change will come from the top, but there’s a sense something must be done. The generation protesting will absorb the impacts of climate change, not the older generations in power. [Time / Ang Li]

Miscellaneous

  • Women are frustrated by the media’s embrace of 2020 Democratic candidate Beto O’Rourke, saying female candidates would never get the attention O’Rourke has garnered leading up to his entry into the race. [Politico / Natasha Korecki]
  • The Chairman’s Global Dinner, a gathering of diplomats three days before the Trump inauguration, cost about $8,000 per person. The opulent display is now being investigated by federal and congressional authorities as part of a probe into spending by the inaugural committee. [Washington Post / Michael Kranish, Rosalind S. Helderman, Mary Jordan, and Tom Hamburger]
  • The Federal Aviation Administration has not had a permanent leader for over a year — and the agency is under pressure around its handling of the Boeing 737 Max jet groundings this week following a crash in Ethiopia. The FAA first reiterated the planes were okay to fly, delaying grounding the planes despite other countries’ choice not to fly the Max 8. Then it reversed course. [The Hill / Brett Samuels]
  • Let’s have a moment of celebration for college admissions: A formerly homeless student got into 17 colleges through merit, demonstrating the acceptance system can work when done fairly. [NYT / Christine Hauser]
  • China is pursuing a $160 billion infrastructure plan, with new roads, subways, and railways in the works. The country’s provinces can’t afford the project, though, leaving gaps between Beijing’s order and local government abilities. [Foreign Policy / Edoardo Campanella]

Verbatim

“We have neither the intention to compromise with the U.S. in any form nor much less the desire or plan to conduct this kind of negotiation.” [North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui on potentially ending negotiations with the United States]


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Look at How Much “Game of Thrones” Characters Have Changed Over 8 Seasons

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During the summer of 2019, the final season of Game of Thrones aired. The show had gone on for almost 10 years which is a long time not only for the characters but also for the actors who portrayed them.

Bright Side is remembering what characters looked like in the very first episodes of the groundbreaking series and is comparing them to what they look like in the final season of the show.

1. Cersei Lannister

2. Jon Snow

3. Tyrion Lannister

4. Daenerys Targaryen

5. Sansa Stark

6. Arya Stark

7. Jorah Mormont

8. Varys

9. Jaime Lannister

10. Sandor Clegane

11. Brienne of Tarth

12. Samwell Tarly

13. Davos Seaworth

14. Theon Greyjoy

15. Brandon Stark

Did you watch Game of Thrones? Did you enjoy season 8? Tell us in the comment section below.

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Baltimore’s ransomware attack, explained – Vox

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Thirteen bitcoins are standing between the city of Baltimore and many of the services and processes its citizens rely on after hackers seized thousands of government computers at the start of the month. The ordeal has been going on for two weeks, and there’s no clear end in sight.

Here’s what’s happening: On May 7, hackers digitally seized about 10,000 Baltimore government computers and demanded around $100,000 worth in bitcoins to free them back up. It’s a so-called “ransomware” attack, where hackers deploy malicious software to block access to or take over a computer system until the owner of that system pays a ransom.

Baltimore, like several other cities that have been hit by such attacks over the past two years, is refusing to pay up. As a result, for two weeks, city employees have been locked out of their email accounts and citizens have been unable to access essential services, including websites where they pay their water bills, property taxes, and parking tickets. This is Baltimore’s second ransomware attack in about 15 months: Last year, a separate attack shut down the city’s 911 system for about a day. Baltimore has come under scrutiny for its handling of both attacks.

The ransomware attacks in Baltimore and other local governments across the US demonstrate that as ransomware attacks spread, and as common targets such as hospitals and schools beef up their online systems’ security, there are still plenty targets vulnerable to this kind of hack. It also exemplifies the conundrum that ransomware victims face: pay up and get your access back, or refuse — potentially costing much more in the long run.

What’s going on in Baltimore, briefly explained

Hackers targeted the city of Baltimore on May 7 using a ransomware called RobbinHood, which, as NPR explains, makes it impossible to access a server without a digital key that only the hackers have.

The Baltimore hackers’ ransom note, obtained by the Baltimore Sun, demanded payment of three bitcoins per system to be unlocked, which amounts to 13 bitcoins to unlock all the seized systems. The note threatened to increase the ransom if it wasn’t paid in four days, and said the information would be lost forever if it wasn’t paid in 10 days. Both deadlines have now passed.

“We won’t talk more, all we know is MONEY! Hurry up! Tik Tak, Tik Tak, Tik Tak!” the note said.

The city government is refusing to pay, meaning that the government email systems and payment platforms the attack took down remain offline. The attack has also harmed Baltimore’s property market, because officials weren’t able to access systems needed to complete real estate sales. (The city said transactions resumed on Monday.)

Baltimore Mayor Jack Young, who’s officially been in his office less than a month, said in a statement on Friday that city officials are “well into the restorative process” and have “engaged leading industry cybersecurity experts who are on-site 24-7 working with us.” The FBI is also involved in the investigation.

“Some of the restoration efforts also require that we rebuild certain systems to make sure that when we restore business functions, we are doing so in a secure manner,” Young said. He did not offer a timeline for when all systems will come back online.

The Baltimore City Council president also plans to form a special committee to investigate this latest attack and try to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

A similar attack using RobbinHood hit government computers in Greenville, North Carolina, in April. A spokesperson for Greenville told the Wall Street Journal that the city never wound up paying, and that while its systems aren’t entirely restored, “all of our major technology needs are now being met.”

More than 20 municipalities in the US have been hit by cyberattacks this year alone. And such attacks can be expensive, perhaps especially if targets say they won’t pay. In 2018, hackers demanded that Atlanta pay about $50,000 in bitcoins as part of a ransomware attack. The city refused, and according to a report obtained by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Channel 2 Action News, the attack wound up costing the city $17 million to fix.

Ransomware attacks aren’t new — but we’re still figuring out how to deal with them

In 2017, a ransomware called WannaCry targeted tens of thousands of computers using Microsoft Windows operating systems in more than 100 countries. Officials in the US and the United Kingdom eventually blamed North Korea for the attack. Also in 2017, corporations in the UK, France, Russia, Israel, and Ukraine experienced ransomware attacks. US hospitals were also targeted.

Here’s how Timothy Lee explained for Vox what was going on and how ransomware had become more prolific:

The basic idea behind ransomware is simple: A criminal hacks into your computer, scrambles your files with unbreakable encryption, and then demands that you pay for the encryption key needed to unscramble the files. If you have important files on your computer, you might be willing to pay a lot to avoid losing them.

Ransomware schemes have become a lot more effective since the invention of Bitcoin in 2009. Conventional payment networks like Visa and Mastercard make it difficult to accept payments without revealing your identity. Bitcoin makes that a lot easier. So the past four years have seen a surge in ransomware schemes striking unsuspecting PC users.

Some ransomware schemes are so sophisticated that they even invest in customer service, helping victims who want to pay their ransoms navigate the complexities of obtaining bitcoins and making bitcoin payments.

Since then, a number of sectors and organizations have made improvements to their security practices to protect against ransomware. But the latest Baltimore attack exemplifies what a whack-a-mole game this is: One area improves its practices and hackers just go looking for another.


Recode and Vox have joined forces to uncover and explain how our digital world is changing — and changing us. Subscribe to Recode podcasts to hear Kara Swisher and Peter Kafka lead the tough conversations the technology industry needs today.

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Cameron Russell for ELLE

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A film by Kai Z Feng of our February 2014 cover.

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