World's Most Destructive Botnet Returns With Stolen Passwords and Email In Tow
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica:
If you've noticed an uptick of spam that addresses you by name or quotes real emails you've sent or received in the past, you can probably blame Emotet. It's one of the world's most costly and destructive botnets -- and it just returned from a four-month hiatus. A post published on Tuesday by researchers from Cisco's Talos security team helps explain how Emotet continues to threaten so many of its targets.
Spam sent by Emotet often appears to come from a person the target has corresponded with in the past and quotes the bodies of previous email threads the two have participated in. Emotet gets this information by raiding the contact lists and email inboxes of infected computers. The botnet then sends a follow-up email to one or more of the same participants and quotes the body of the previous email. It then adds a malicious attachment. The result: malicious messages that are hard for both humans and spam filters to detect. The use of previously sent emails isn't new, since Emotet did the same thing before it went silent in early June. But with its return this week, the botnet is relying on the trick much more. About 25% of spam messages Emotet sent this week include previously sent emails, compared with about 8% of spam messages sent in April. "To make sending the spam easier, Emotet also steals the usernames and passwords for outgoing email servers," the report adds. "Those passwords are then turned over to infected machines that Emotet control servers have designated as spam emitters. The Talos researchers found almost 203,000 unique pairs that were collected over a 10-month period."
says Emotet has brought back another tactic where it refers to targets by name in subject lines. "Once opened, the documents attached to the emails claim that, effective September 20, 2019, users can only read the contents after they have agreed to a licensing agreement for Microsoft Word," reports Ars Technica. "And to do that, according to
a post from security firm Cofense, users must click on an Enable Content button that turns on macros in Word."
"After Office macros are enabled, Emotet executables are downloaded from one of five different payload locations," Cofense researchers Alan Rainer and Max Gannon wrote. "When run, these executables launch a service that looks for other computers on the network. Emotet then downloads an updated binary and proceeds to fetch TrickBot if a (currently undetermined) criteria of geographical location and organization are met."
Bill Gates: Don't Break Up Tech Giants, It Won't Stop Anticompetitive Behavior
dryriver shares a report from ZDNet:
Speaking with Bloomberg, Microsoft co-founder Gates said it is better to regulate big tech companies. Breaking them up will simply result in two companies indulging in bad behavior. "I don't know the last time a company was broken up but you have to really think, 'Is that the best thing if there's a way that a company's behaving that you want to get rid of?' Then you should just say, 'Hey, OK, that's a banned behavior,'" said Gates. "Splitting a company in two and having two people doing the bad thing, you know that doesn't seem like a solution," he added. Gates said it was a "pretty narrow set of things" where a break-up would be a suitable solution. "I was naive about this but that was a long time ago and I didn't realize that as Microsoft gets successful we'd come under scrutiny and we went through our thing back in the 1990s and that's made us more thoughtful about this kind of activity," he said. Gates also told the Financial Times that fossil fuel divestment
has had zero impact on emissions.
Authorities Consider Taking Legal Action Against Facebook Over Storm Area 51 Event
Local authorities in Rachel, Nevada -- the location of a
planned Aliengate festival that evolved out of a viral Facebook event --
are considering taking legal action to cover $250,000 the county plans to spend to prepare for the potential onslaught of visitors. Gizmodo reports:
Matty Roberts created the "Storm Area 51, They Can't Stop All of Us" Facebook event on June 27 as a joke, but the event went viral and evolved into an actual festival -- Alienstock -- which was planned for September 19-22 at the Little A'Le'Inn in Rachel, Nevada, near the US Air Force base known as Area 51. But just a few days before the event was supposed to begin, Roberts and his partners backed out, posting on their website that they "foresee a possible humanitarian disaster in the works" and after considering "the lack of infrastructure, planning, and risk management, along with concerns raised for the safety of the expected 10,000+ attendees, we decided to transition Alienstock away from the Rachel festival towards a safer alternative." That safer alternative is an "Area 51 Celebration" happening on Thursday night at the Downtown Las Vegas Events Center.
However, Little A'Le'Inn owner Connie West has made it very clear that she still plans to host her own Alienstock, despite Roberts' attorney sending her a cease-and-desist letter ordering her to stop using the name "Alienstock" since the event at that location was canceled. Lincoln County Sheriff Kerry Lee told Gizmodo that as of Wednesday morning, people had already started arriving at A'Le'Inn. "Matty Roberts is the one that started this on Facebook. So our district attorney, his opinion is that Matty Roberts and Facebook stand to be partially to blame for this" Lee told Gizmodo. "He's already told people that this is quote-unquote 'His event.' He told some of the other event promoters that this was his event. And so I guess if it's his event and he's taken ownership of it then we know where legal action should go toward. I'm not an attorney but that is what Lincoln County district attorney is saying." Facebook is protected from legal action regarding content created by one of its users under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, but it's possible that the district attorney may argue that this particular circumstance wouldn't be covered by those protections.
Two Years Later, Hackers Are Still Breaching Local Government Payment Portals
Two years after hackers first started targeting local government payment portals, attacks are still going on, with eight cities having had their Click2Gov payment portals compromised in the last month alone, security researchers from Gemini Advisory have revealed in a report shared with ZDNet today. From the news report:
These new hacks have allowed hackers to get their hands on over 20,000 payment card details belonging to US citizens, which are now being traded on the dark web, the cyber-security firm said. Click2Gov is a web-based portal sold by Central Square, formerly known as Superion, to US and Canadian municipalities, small and large alike. It comes as a cloud-based offering and in a self-hosted version. Once up and running, Click2Gov provides a self-service portal where US citizens can pay taxes and bills. Such portals are widespread across the US and are not only used by locals, but also by Americans living across the country to pay bills and taxes for property they own in other cities or states. In 2017, a hacker group began targeting self-hosted Click2Gov portals that had been lagging behind with software patches.
Instagram's Opioid Recovery Hashtags Are Full of Drug Dealers
An anonymous reader quotes a report from BuzzFeed News:
Dozens of top posts under the #opioidcrisis and #opioidaddiction hashtags contained comments touting Oxycontin, Percocet, Codeine, and other prescription opioids -- along with phone numbers and usernames for encrypted messaging accounts. A typical entry, under a video describing tens of thousands of deaths by drug overdose, offered "fast deals" on "Oxys, Roxy, Xans, Addy, codeine, perc...Available 24.7 for delivery." Social media's role in boosting the American opioid crisis, and the way dealers have used Instagram to connect with buyers, have long been known. Last year, the Washington Post described the service as "a sizable open marketplace for advertising illegal drugs." Instagram responded by cracking down on the drug-specific hashtags where many of these offers once lived.
Now, though, as Facebook strives to highlight the way its services can connect addicts with recovery communities, these hubs are also valuable real estate for dealers. It's a significant oversight for the company, which is trying to show it can deal with the problem of drugs on its platforms to discourage legislation that would increase its liability for hosting such content. Eileen Carey, an activist and former tech industry executive who for years has kept a record of drug sales on social platforms, told BuzzFeed News that she approached [Facebook's head of global policy management Monika Bickert after a Senate hearing on Wednesday] and showed her the comments. "She thanked me for flagging," Carey said. A day later, however, the hashtag-located opioid markets remained open for business. "We do not allow the sale of illegal drugs on Instagram," a Facebook spokesperson wrote in a comment to BuzzFeed News. "It is against our policies to buy, sell or trade non-medical or pharmaceutical drugs on our platform -- including in comments. Inappropriate comments can and should be reported, and will be reviewed like posts or stories."
Vaping Criminal Probe Announced By FDA As Illnesses Rise To 530
The FDA has
revealed a criminal investigation into the outbreak of vaping-related lung illnesses, which have risen to 530 across 38 states, according to the CDC.
The Washington Post says there have been seven confirmed deaths from these illnesses so far. CNET reports:
The FDA reportedly said it isn't seeking prosecution for ill people who've vaped cannabis and come forward with information. "The focus is on the supply chain," Mitch Zeller, director of the FDA's Center for Tobacco Products, told the Post. "We're very alarmed about products containing THC." Suspicion has recently turned to chemical dilutants, or "cutting agents," found in some black market THC vaping oils. The FDA has collected more than 150 samples from patients across the country and is now analyzing them for the presence of cutting agents and other substances. According to the CDC, more than half the patients are under 25, with two-thirds between 18 and 34, and 16% under 18.
YouTube Creators May Lose Verified Badges As Verification Process Becomes Stricter
rolling out changes to its verification program for creators, making it tougher for growing channels to earn a checkmark beside their name and removing verification badges from people who don't meet the heightened criteria. An anonymous Slashdot reader shares a report from The Verge:
YouTube's current system allows anyone with more than 100,000 subscribers to be verified. Now, YouTube is emphasizing verifying prominent channels that have a "clear need for proof of authenticity," according to the company. This includes traditional YouTubers, musicians, comedians, and artists, among others. Verification is an extremely important feature for creators. It affects which creators get top recommendations when people search for something on YouTube. Channels that no longer meet the criteria and may have their badge removed will be notified today, YouTube confirmed to The Verge. Creators will have the option to appeal the decision before the change takes place in late October.
The criteria for verification due to prominence essentially looks at whether a creator or channel is recognizable enough both in and outside of YouTube that the company needs to authenticate them. The company's authenticity rules are pretty simple: a channel has to be owned and operated by the person or company it claims to be in order to get a checkmark or other verification mark. For example, Beyonce's official channel should get a new artist profile icon and a musical note beside her name to show people that the page belongs to the real Beyonce. Under the new policy, YouTube's team will handle verification on their end, according to a press release. Channels that meet the new requirements don't have to apply for verification as it will automatically be handed out.
Alphabet Partners With FedEx, Walgreens To Bring Drone Delivery To the US
Google's Wing drone-delivery company announced today that it would be
partnering with FedEx and Walgreens to bring autonomous drone deliveries to the U.S. in October. "The pilot program will be launched in Christiansburg, Virginia, one of the two areas in the state that Wing has been testing its drone technology for years," reports Quartz. From the report:
People expecting packages from FedEx will be able to choose to get their deliveries made via drone, assuming that they live in certain areas that Wing has designated it can safely deliver parcels in. Similarly, Walgreens customers will be able to order products, such as non-prescription medicine, and have them delivered by drone. Walgreens said in a release that 78% of the U.S. population lives within 5 miles of one of its stores. Wing said that its drones can currently make a round-trip flight of about 6 miles (9.7 km), traveling about 60 miles per hour (97 km per hour), and can carry around 3 lbs (1.4 kg) of payload. The company also said that it would be offering deliveries from a local Virginia retailer, Sugar Magnolia. Wing won't be charging for the delivery service itself during the trial.
Wing said on a call with journalists that it will soon be reaching out to members of the Christiansburg community to let them know if they will be able to accept deliveries. Wing's drones don't actually land on the ground when they make deliveries; instead, they hover about 23 ft (7 m) off the ground, lowering their packages down through a winch cable system. If anything happens to snag the cable as it's delivering a package, the drone can sense the tension in the cord and release it, hopefully flying away without incident. It still requires what it calls safe delivery zones, like a backyard or a front pathway outside a house, to be able to make a delivery.
Google Makes the Largest Ever Corporate Purchase of Renewable Energy
Two years ago, Google became the first company of its size to buy as much renewable electricity as the electricity it used. But as the company grows, so does its demand for power. To stay ahead of that demand,
Google just made the largest corporate renewable energy purchase in history, with 18 new energy deals around the world that will help build infrastructure worth more than $2 billion. From a report:
The projects include massive new solar farms in places like Texas and North Carolina where the company has data centers. "Bringing incremental renewable energy to the grids where we consume energy is a critical component of pursuing 24x7 carbon-free energy for all of our operations," Google CEO Sundar Pichai wrote in a blog post today. While most of the renewable energy the company has purchased in the past has come from wind farms, the dropping cost of solar power means that several of the new deals are solar plants. In Chile, a new project combines both wind and solar power, making it possible to generate clean energy for longer each day.
AT&T Says Customers Can't Sue the Company For Selling Location Data To Bounty Hunters
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard:
AT&T is arguing that its customers can't sue the company for selling location data to bounty hunters, according to recently filed court records. AT&T says the customers signed contracts that force them into arbitration, meaning consumers have to settle complaints privately with the company rather than in court. The filing is in response to a lawsuit filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). The issue circles around mandatory arbitration; that is, forcing consumers to settle complaints privately with the company rather than in court.
were selling access to their customers' location data to bounty hunters and others not authorized to possess it. All of the telecom giants have since stopped selling the data, but that hasn't stopped lawyers from
filing class-action lawsuits.
North America Has Lost 3 Billion Birds in 50 Years
Slowly, steadily and almost imperceptibly, North America's bird population is dwindling. From a report:
The sparrows and finches that visit backyard feeders number fewer each year. The flutelike song of the western meadowlark -- the official bird of six U.S. states -- is growing more rare. The continent has lost nearly 3 billion birds representing hundreds of species over the past five decades, in an enormous loss that signals an "overlooked biodiversity crisis," according to a study from top ornithologists and government agencies. This is not an extinction crisis -- yet. It is a more insidious decline in abundance as humans dramatically alter the landscape: There are 29 percent fewer birds in the United States and Canada today than in 1970, the study concludes.
Grassland species have been hardest hit, probably because of agricultural intensification that has engulfed habitats and spread pesticides that kill the insects many birds eat. But the victims include warblers, thrushes, swallows and other familiar birds. "That's really what was so staggering about this," said lead author Ken Rosenberg, a senior scientist at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and American Bird Conservancy. "The generalist, adaptable, so-called common species were not compensating for the losses, and in fact they were experiencing losses themselves. This major loss was pervasive across all the bird groups."
Apple's iOS 13 Just Launched But iOS 13.1, iPadOS Arrive Next Week
Apple's latest iPhone software, iOS 13, is now available -- but on Tuesday,
you'll already be able to download the first update, iOS 13.1. And you'll be able to revitalize your iPad with Apple's software created for its tablets. From a report:
Apple may be best known for its hardware, but it's really the seamless integration of its devices with its software that's set it apart from rivals. The company's ability to control every aspect of its products -- something that began when Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak founded Apple in 1976 -- has been key in making Apple the most powerful company in tech. The company's mobile software, iOS, gets revamped every year and launches when its latest phones hit the market. Starting Tuesday, you'll also be able to download the first update to the software, as well as the new iPadOS software tailored for Apple's tablets. iOS 13 brings a dedicated dark mode, a new swipe keyboard and a revamped Photos app (complete with video editing tools). iOS 13.1 will bring bug fixes and will let you share your ETA with friends and family members through Apple Maps. Siri shortcuts can be added to automations, and you can set up triggers to run any shortcut automatically.
How the Internet Archive is Waging War on Misinformation
San Francisco-based non-profit is
archiving billions of web pages in a bid to preserve web history. From a report:
Since the 2016 US election, as fears about the power of fake news have intensified, the archive has stepped up its efforts to combat misinformation. At a time when false and ultra-partisan content is rapidly created and spread, and social media pages are constantly updated, the importance of having an unalterable record of who said what, when has been magnified. "We're trying to put in a layer of accountability," said founder Brewster Kahle. Mr Kahle founded the archive, which now employs more than 100 staff and costs $18m a year to run, because he feared that what was appearing on the internet was not being saved and catalogued in the same way as newspapers and books. The organisation is funded through donations, grants and the fees it charges third parties that request specific digitisation services.
So far, the archive has catalogued 330bn web pages, 20m books and texts, 8.5m audio and video recordings, 3m images and 200,000 software programs. The most popular, public websites are prioritised, as are those that are commonly linked to. Some information is free to access, some is loaned out (if copyright laws apply) and some is only available to researchers. Curled up in a chair in his office after lunch, Mr Kahle lamented the combined impact of misinformation and how difficult it can be for ordinary people to access reliable sources of facts. "We're bringing up a generation that turns to their screens, without a library of information accessible via screens," said Mr Kahle. Some have taken advantage of this "new information system", he argued -- and the result is "Trump and Brexit." Having a free online library is crucial, said Mr Kahle, since "[the public is] just learning from whateverâ...âis easily available."
Downloading Stays Legal, No Site Blocking, Swiss Copyright Law Says
From a report:
Switzerland's National Council has passed amendments aimed at modernizing the country's copyright law to make it more fit for the digital age. While services that host pirate sites or distribute content can expect a tougher ride moving forward, users will still be able to download pirate content for personal use. Furthermore, Swiss Internet service providers will not be required to prevent their customers accessing pirate sites.
Amazon's 'Climate Pledge' Commits To Net Zero Carbon Emissions By 2040 and 100% Renewables by 2030
In Washington today, Amazon announced a series of initiatives and issued
call for companies to reduce their carbon emissions ten years ahead of the goals set forth in the Paris Agreement as part of sweeping effort to reduce its own environmental footprint. From a report:
"We're done being in the middle of the herd on this issue -- we've decided to use our size and scale to make a difference," said Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and chief executive, in a statement. "If a company with as much physical infrastructure as Amazon -- which delivers more than 10 billion items a year -- can meet the Paris Agreement 10 years early, then any company can." Bezos' statement comes as employees at his own company and others across the tech industry plan for a walkout on Friday to protest inaction on climate change from their employers. Amazon's initiatives include an order for 100,000 delivery vehicles to Rivian, a company in which Amazon has previously invested $440 million.
Philippines Declares New Polio Outbreak After 19 Years
Philippine health officials declared a polio outbreak in the country on Thursday, nearly two decades after the World Health Organization declared it to be free of the highly contagious and potentially deadly disease. Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said at a news conference that authorities have confirmed at least one case of polio in a 3-year-old girl in southern Lanao del Sur province and detected the polio virus in sewage in Manila and in waterways in the southern Davao region. Those findings are enough to declare an outbreak of the crippling disease in a previously polio-free country like the Philippines, he said. The World Health Organization and the United Nations Children's Fund expressed deep concern over polio's reemergence in the country and said they would support the government in immunizing children, who are the most susceptible, and strengthening surveillance. "As long as one single child remains infected, children across the country and even beyond are at risk of contracting polio," UNICEF Philippines representative Oyun Dendevnorov said. WHO and UNICEF said in a joint statement the polio outbreak in the Philippines is concerning because it is caused by vaccine-derived poliovirus type 2.
India Tells Tech Firms To Protect User Privacy, Prevent Abuse
must protect user privacy and prevent abuse of their platforms, India's IT minister said on Thursday, speaking as the government draws up a data privacy law and seeks to push companies to store more data locally. From a report:
Federal Information and Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said he wanted Indians to have access to more technology platforms but said this should not undermine user privacy. "I have only one caveat -- it must be safe and secure, it must safeguard the privacy rights of the individual and you must make extra efforts that people don't abuse the system," Prasad told industry executives at a gathering organized by Alphabet's Google in New Delhi. India's 1.3 billion people and their massive consumption of mobile data has turned it into a key growth market for U.S. technology giants such as Google, Facebook and Amazon. India has already forced foreign payment firms such as Mastercard and Visa to store data locally.
Huawei's Flagship Mate 30 Pro Has Impressive Specs But No Google
The Mate 30 series of smartphones from Huawei is now official, starting with the Mate 30 Pro and the Mate 30. From a report:
The announcement of Mate 30 series comes at a difficult time for Huawei, whose presence on the USA's entity list prevents US companies from doing business with the Chinese firm. Google said last month that these phones won't ship with Google's apps and services, nor will they come with the Play Store pre-installed, which is how most Android users outside of China download their apps. Huawei's response to the problem has been to nurture its own ecosystem of apps that are available through the Huawei App Gallery. The company announced that rather than shipping with Google's services pre-installed, the Mate 30 Series would instead ship with the Huawei Mobile Services (HMS) Core, which it claims is already integrated with over 45,000 apps. The company announced that it was investing $1 billion into its software ecosystem with an investment that would be split across a development fund, a user growth fund, and a marketing fund. Here's what happens when you attempt to
sideload an app developed by Google.
Solar and Wind Power So Cheap They're Outgrowing Subsidies
For years, wind and solar power were derided as boondoggles. They were too expensive, the argument went, to build without government handouts. Today,
renewable energy is so cheap that the handouts they once needed are disappearing. From a report:
On sun-drenched fields across Spain and Italy, developers are building solar farms without subsidies or tax-breaks, betting they can profit without them. In China, the government plans to stop financially supporting new wind farms. And in the U.S., developers are signing shorter sales contracts, opting to depend on competitive markets for revenue once the agreements expire. The developments have profound implications for the push to phase out fossil fuels and slow the onset of climate change. Electricity generation and heating account for 25% of global greenhouse gases. As wind and solar demonstrate they can compete on their own against coal- and natural gas-fired plants, the economic and political arguments in favor of carbon-free power become harder and harder to refute. "The training wheels are off," said Joe Osha, an equity analyst at JMP Securities. "Prices have declined enough for both solar and wind that there's a path toward continued deployment in a post-subsidy world."
Google is Bringing Its AI Assistant Service To People Without Internet Access
An anonymous reader shares a report:
Google Assistant, the digital assistant from the global search giant, is available to users through their smartphones, laptops, and smart speakers. Earlier this year, the company partnered with KaiOS to bring Assistant to some feature phones with internet access. Now Google is going a step further: Bringing its virtual assistant to people who have the most basic cellphone with no internet access. It's starting this program in India. At an event in New Delhi on Thursday, the company announced a 24x7 telephone line that anyone in India on Vodafone and Idea telecom networks (or Vodafone-Idea telecom network; as Vodafone owns Idea) could dial to have their questions answered.
The company said it tested the phone line service with thousands of users across Lucknow and Kanpur before making it generally available. Users will be able to dial 000-800-9191-000 and they won't be charged for the call or the service. Manuel Bronstein, a VP at Google, said through this program the company is hoping to reach hundreds of millions of users in India who currently don't have access to smartphones or internet.
'Personal Carbon Sequestration' Device Uses Algae To Remove CO2 From the Air
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Fast Company:
In the future, your office might have an extra appliance next to the copy machine and the refrigerator: an algae bioreactor. Designed to fit inside offices and eventually sit on the rooftops throughout cities, it can capture as much carbon from the atmosphere as an acre of trees. And there's an initial prototype already at work. Inside the bioreactor, algae does the work. "What's amazing about algae is it's really cheap and it's easy to grow -- the core things it needs are sunlight, CO2, and water," says Ben Lamm, CEO and founder of Hypergiant Industries, an AI-focused tech company that developed a prototype of the device, called the Eos Bioreactor. Because algae grows much more quickly than trees, it can also sequester carbon more quickly; the company estimates that the device, which optimizes the algae's ability to capture CO2, can sequester around two tons of carbon out of the air each year.
The first version of the device, which is currently in operation, is three-by-three-by-seven feet. It's a closed system that works indoors, connecting with an HVAC system to reduce CO2 levels inside and release cleaner air. The closed system also makes it possible for the team to study how algae grows -- with sensors monitoring everything from light and heat and pH to the speed of growth and oxygen output -- and how the system can be tweaked to work best in different conditions outside on rooftops. "With the first generation Eos, we have precise control of every aspect of the algae's environment and life cycle," he says. "It's a photobioreactor, but it's also an experimentation platform. We'll be using this platform to better understand the environment that best suits biomass production under controlled circumstances, so that we can better understand how to design reactors for the variety of environmental conditions we're going to encounter in the wild." The team behind the device says they're working on mobile apps that can monitor and run the bioreactors autonomously. It's also "working on DIY plans that it will release next year so people can build the bioreactors at home," the report mentions.
AT&T Explores Parting Ways With DirecTV
According to The Wall Street Journal, AT&T is
exploring parting with its DirecTV unit as customers are
leaving the service in droves. From the report:
The telecom giant has considered various options, including a spinoff of DirecTV into a separate public company and a combination of DirecTV's assets with Dish Network, its satellite-TV rival, the people said. AT&T may ultimately decide to keep DirecTV in the fold. Despite the satellite service's struggles, as consumers drop their TV connections, it still contributes a sizable volume of cash flow and customer accounts to its parent. AT&T acquired DirecTV in 2015 for $49 billion. The company's shrinking satellite business is under a microscope after activist investor Elliott Management Corp. disclosed a $3.2 billion stake in AT&T last week and released a report pushing for strategic changes. Elliott has told investors that AT&T should unload DirecTV, The Wall Street Journal has previously reported.
Jettisoning DirecTV would be an about-face for Mr. Stephenson, who billed the acquisition of the company as a bold move to diversify beyond the wireless phone business and tap into a growing media industry. The deal made AT&T the largest distributor of pay TV channels, ahead of Comcast. DirecTV is now part of an entertainment and consumer wireline unit that made up 27% of AT&T's $173.3 billion 2018 revenue. For Mr. Stephenson, who has helmed AT&T for 12 years, parting ways with DirecTV would be an acknowledgment that a major cornerstone of his diversification strategy hasn't gone as planned. It also adds pressure for AT&T to deliver on the promise of the Time Warner deal. Mr. Stephenson has signaled he is prepared to step down as CEO as soon as next year, the Journal reported last week. The Journal goes on to say that AT&T may ultimately decide to keep DirecTV because of "AT&T's towering net debt load, which stood at more than $160 billion earlier this year. The cash generated by the pay-TV giant has helped pay down that debt and fueled other investments in the rest of the company."
"Any spinoff of DirecTV would be unlikely until mid-2020 at the earliest, five years after the deal closed, to make it a tax-efficient transaction for AT&T," the report adds.
Navy Confirms Existence of UFOs Seen In Leaked Footage
A Navy official has
confirmed that recently released videos of unidentified flying objects are real, but that the footage was not authorized to be released to the public in the first place. From a report:
Joseph Gradisher, the spokesman for the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Information Warfare, confirmed to TIME that three widely-shared videos captured "Unidentified Aerial Phenomena." Gradisher initially confirmed this in a statement to "The Black Vault" a website dedicated to declassified government documents. "The Navy designates the objects contained in these videos as unidentified aerial phenomena," Gradisher told the site.
He tells TIME that he was "surprised" by the press coverage surrounding his statement to the site, particularly around his classification of the incursions as "unidentifiable," but says that he hopes that leads to UAP's being "de-stigmatized." "The reason why I'm talking about it is to drive home the seriousness of this issue," Gradisher says. "The more I talk, the more our aviators and all services are more willing to come forward." Gradisher would not speculate as to what the unidentified objects seen in the videos were, but did say they are usually proved to be mundane objects like drones -- not alien spacecraft. "The frequency of incursions have increased since the advents of drones and quadcopters," he says. The three videos of UFOs were published by the New York Times and "
To the Stars Academy of Arts and Science," a self-described "public benefit corporation" co-founded by Tom DeLonge, best known as the vocalist and guitarist for the rock band, Blink-182.