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Computer Hack Using Stolen NSA Cyberweapon Wreaks Havoc in 150 Countries

HeadlineMay 15, 2017
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A global computer hack, using a cyberweapon developed by the National Security Agency, has disrupted hospitals, universities, government offices, gas stations, ATM machines and more than 200,000 computers worldwide—and it’s expected to grow worse as people return to work this morning. On Friday, the cyberattacks began to ripple through more than 150 countries, locking medical workers out of the computer systems at dozens of British and Indonesian hospitals, disrupting train schedules in Germany, preventing Chinese students from accessing their final papers and freezing government computers from Russia’s Interior Ministry to police stations in India. Experts say it’s the first time a cyberweapon developed by the NSA has been stolen and released by hackers. The cyberweapon exploits weaknesses in Microsoft software. It appears the U.S. government knew for years about this weakness in the software but only told Microsoft about the vulnerability recently, meaning Microsoft had little time to fix the problem and for software users worldwide to update their systems. The cyberweapon is transmitted by email and then encrypts a computer, locking people out of their data and then threatening to destroy it unless a ransom is paid. On Sunday, Microsoft President Brad Smith confirmed the cyberweapon used in the attack was developed by the NSA, writing, “Finally, this attack provides yet another example of why the stockpiling of vulnerabilities by governments is such a problem. … An equivalent scenario with conventional weapons would be the U.S. military having some of its Tomahawk missiles stolen.” NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden tweeted, “Despite warnings, @NSAGov built dangerous attack tools that could target Western software. Today we see the cost.”

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More Headlines fromMay 15, 2017

James Clapper: Trump Represents Assault on U.S. Institutions

May 15, 2017
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On Capitol Hill, U.S. lawmakers are demanding President Trump turn over any recordings of conversations he had with fired FBI Director James Comey. The demand comes after President Trump threatened Comey in a Twitter rant on Friday, writing, “James Comey better hope that there are no 'tapes' of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press.” Late last week, Trump acknowledged in an NBC interview that he’d fired Comey, in part, over the FBI investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to allegedly hack the 2016 election. Comey has been invited to meet with the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday. Democrats have said they will not vote on a new FBI director until a special prosecutor is appointed to preside over the investigation into Trump’s ties to Russia. On Sunday, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said Trump’s decision to fire Comey represents an assault on U.S. institutions.

James Clapper: “I think, in many ways, our institutions are under assault, both externally—and that’s the big news here, is the Russian interference in our election system—and I think, as well, our institutions are under assault internally.”

Jake Tapper: “Internally from the president?”

James Clapper: “Exactly.”

The New York Times reports Senate Republicans are starting to distance themselves from President Trump, amid increasing frustration about the firing of James Comey. On Thursday, Maine Senator Susan Collins said, “It does seem like we have an upheaval, a crisis almost every day in Washington.”

Trump Threatens to End Daily News Briefings

May 15, 2017
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President Trump threatened Friday to end daily news briefings, suggesting he may simply host his own news conference every few weeks. On Twitter, Trump also acknowledged White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer and Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders have issued false statements to the press in the last week, writing, “As a very active President with lots of things happening, it is not possible for my surrogates to stand at podium with perfect accuracy!”
Meanwhile, lawn ornaments have begun popping up, depicting White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer hiding “among” the bushes—after Spicer spent several minutes attempting to hide himself in the shrubbery outside the White House while Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway were doing interviews on Tuesday about the firing of James Comey.

White House Close to Finalizing $100 Billion Arms Deal with Saudi Arabia

May 15, 2017
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Unnamed officials say the White House is close to finalizing an arms deal worth $100 billion with Saudi Arabia, ahead of Trump’s planned visit to Riyadh on Friday—the first stop on Trump’s first international trip as president. After Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Trump will visit Israel and then the Vatican.

North Korea Launches Latest Ballistic Missile Test

May 15, 2017
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North Korea launched a new ballistic missile Sunday morning. The missile flew 430 miles. North Korea says the U.S. military bases across the Pacific are now within striking range and that the missile is designed to carry a nuclear warhead. The test comes amid rising tensions between North Korea and the United States—tensions that were also fueled by the U.S.’s massive spring military drills on the Korean Peninsula.

Denver: Jeanette Vizguerra & Arturo Hernández García Win Deportation Stays

May 15, 2017
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In a major immigrant rights victory, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials have granted stays of deportation to two prominent undocumented Denver residents: Jeanette Vizguerra and Arturo Hernández García. Vizguerra sought sanctuary in the First Unitarian Society of Denver church shortly after Trump took office. She is one of the founders of the Metro Denver Sanctuary Coalition and was recently named one of Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People of 2017. This is Jeanette Vizguerra, speaking on Friday morning after she left the church for the first time in 86 days.

Jeanette Vizguerra: “It’s a special day for me, because I will be able to celebrate Mother’s Day with my children and my grandchildren.”

Arturo Hernández García spent nine months in the same sanctuary church two years ago. He was recently arrested by ICE even though the Obama administration had told him he was not considered a “priority for removal.”

Vermont Activist and Dairy Worker Cesar Alex Carrillo Deported to Mexico

May 15, 2017
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Meanwhile, in Vermont, 23-year-old activist and dairy worker Cesar Alex Carrillo has been deported. Carillo was arrested in March along with two other activists with the group Migrant Justice, Enrique Balcazar and Zully Palacios. Carrillo was deported to Mexico on a so-called voluntary departure order, which will give him a better chance of being allowed to return to the U.S. to reunite with his wife and their 4-year-old daughter Solmarie. To see our full coverage of Jeanette Vizguerra, Arturo Hernández García and Cesar Alex Carrillo, go to democracynow.org.

Trump Administration Revokes DACA for DREAMer Jessica Colotl

May 15, 2017
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Meanwhile, in Atlanta, another immigration activist, DREAMer Jessica Colotl, is fighting her possible deportation, after the Trump administration revoked her DACA status, which gives her permission to live, work and study in the United States. In 2010, while Colotl was a student at Kennesaw State University, she was arrested, jailed for 37 days and threatened with deportation for driving without a license. After a successful campaign by her fellow students to win her freedom, she became one of the faces of the movement to pass the DREAM Act to protect undocumented students. Colotl is now working as an immigration paralegal, and she’s suing to get her DACA reinstated.

Yemen: State of Emergency Declared in Sana’a as Cholera Kills 115 People

May 15, 2017
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In Yemen, officials have declared a state of emergency in the capital Sana’a over a cholera outbreak that has already killed 115 people. Yemen’s health, water and sanitation services have been severely impacted by the ongoing U.S.-backed, Saudi-led war on Yemen. This is Dr. Hussein El Haddad, the director of one of the few hospitals in Sana’a that is still functioning.

Dr. Hussein El Haddad: “The situation is very bad. The children that are suffering from cholera are countless, and there aren’t enough beds. The technical know-how [in the hospital] is also insufficient to deal with the situation we are facing.”

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Pakistan: 25 Killed in Attack on Politician’s Convoy in Balochistan

May 15, 2017
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In Pakistan, at least 25 people were killed and 30 more were wounded in an attack targeting the convoy of a senior Pakistani politician in the southwest province of Balochistan Friday. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack, but local officials have blamed local militants.

WHO: Ebola Kills 3 in Democratic Republic of Congo

May 15, 2017
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In the Democratic Republic of Congo, the World Health Organization says Ebola has killed at least three people in the past three weeks, raising fears of another widespread outbreak on the continent. In 2014, Ebola killed more than 11,000 people across West Africa.

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Mexican Activist for Families Whose Children Have Been Disappeared Is Murdered

May 15, 2017
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In northern Mexico, an activist for parents whose children have gone missing was assassinated by armed gunmen on Wednesday—Mother’s Day in Mexico. Miriam Rodríguez was the director of the San Fernando Collective of Missing People. Her own daughter, Karen, had gone missing in 2012.

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Mexico: Group of Reporters Attacked by Armed Men in Iguala, Guerrero

May 15, 2017
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Meanwhile, in the southern state of Guerrero, a group of reporters was attacked, robbed and threatened by a group of armed men Saturday. The attack occurred outside Iguala, where 43 students were disappeared from the Ayotzinapa teachers’ college in 2014. The journalists, who all survived the attack, said the men threatened to burn them alive.

Hong Kong: Families Who Sheltered Edward Snowden in 2013 Face Deportation

May 15, 2017
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In Hong Kong, three families who offered refuge to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden when he was in hiding in 2013 are facing possible deportation after their asylum claims were rejected. The families are from Philippines and Sri Lanka. Their lawyers say Hong Kong authorities intentionally targeted the three families for expedited immigration screening.

Virginia: Torch-Bearing White Mob Protests Removal of Confederate Monument

May 15, 2017
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And in Charlottesville, Virginia, dozens of torch-bearing white nationalists gathered Saturday for two rallies to protest plans to remove a Confederate monument. White nationalist Richard Spencer led the protesters, who chanted “We will not be replaced.” While the torch-bearing mob evoked the long, bloody history of white terrorism against African Americans, some took to Twitter to mock Spencer and the other white nationalists for using party store-style tiki torches at the rally.

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