Technology

Georgia voting equipment breach at center of tangled tale

A breach of sensitive voting equipment data from a rural county in Georgia spilled into the public light last month when documents and emails produced in response to subpoenas revealed the involvement of high-profile supporters of former President Donald Trump. Since then, a series of revelations about what happened in Coffee County have raised questions about whether the Dominion Voting Systems machines used throughout Georgia have been compromised. The tale involves a bail bondsman, a prominent attorney tied to Trump and a cast of characters from an area that rarely draws notice from outsiders.

NASA delays moon rocket launch due to potential hurricane

NASA is skipping next week's launch attempt of its new moon rocket because of a tropical storm that's expected to become a major hurricane. It's the third delay in the past month for the lunar-orbiting test flight featuring mannequins but no astronauts. Hydrogen leaks and other technical problems caused the previous scrubs. NASA decided Saturday to forgo Tuesday's planned launch attempt and instead prepare the rocket for a possible return to its Florida hangar. Managers will decide Sunday whether to haul the 322-foot rocket off the launch pad. Currently churning in the Caribbean, Tropical Storm Ian is expected to slam into Florida's Gulf coast by Thursday.

China using civilian ships to enhance navy capability, reach

China has been increasingly using civilian ships including hundreds of fishing trawlers to back up its vast territorial claims and project military power. China’s navy is already the world’s largest by ship count and has been rapidly building new warships. It launched its first domestically designed and built aircraft carrier in June and at least five new destroyers are on the way soon. Experts say civilian vessels such as fishing boats that are anchored for months at a time in the disputed South China Sea do more than just augment the raw numbers of ships. They perform tasks that would be difficult for the military to carry out such as slowly displacing other vessels without involving armed conflict and complicating the rules of engagement.

GM spending $760M to convert Toledo factory to make EV parts

General Motors says it will spend $760 million to renovate its transmission factory in Toledo, Ohio, so it can build drive lines for electric vehicles. It’s the first GM engine or transmission plant to begin the long transition from internal combustion engines to EVs. GM has a goal of making only electric passenger vehicles by 2035. The investment will keep the jobs of about 1,500 hourly and salaried workers at the Toledo plant, which now makes four transmissions used in pickup trucks and many other GM internal combustion vehicles. It’s good news for workers in Toledo, who have been worried about the future of their plant.

US allows tech firms to boost internet access in Iran

The Treasury Department says it will allow American tech firms to expand their business in Iran to boost internet access for the Iranian people. The Iranian government cut most internet access for its 80 million citizens during a crackdown on demonstrators protesting the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in the custody of Iran’s morality police. The morality police detained Amini last week, saying she didn’t properly cover her hair with the Islamic headscarf, which is mandatory for Iranian women. She collapsed at a police station and died three days later.

US Sen. Warnock: Electric car tax credit needs 'flexibility'

U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock is urging the U.S. Treasury secretary to use “flexibility” in defining how automakers and consumers qualify for a revised tax credit for Americans buying electric vehicles. The Democratic senator from Georgia sent a letter Friday to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen raising concerns that the tax credit President Joe Biden signed into law last month could place some automakers at a competitive disadvantage. They include Hyundai, whose EVs would no longer qualify for the credits of up to $7,500 until the company opens its first U.S. electric vehicle plant in Georgia. That's not expected until 2025. Congress revised the credit so that it only applies to electric vehicles assembled in North America.

Lawsuit: California utility targeted Asians in pot searches

A data privacy watchdog's lawsuit says a Northern California utility routinely fed customers’ power use information to police so they could target illicit marijuana grows, without requiring a warrant or suspicion of wrongdoing. It says customers of Asian descent were targeted by the Sacramento Municipal Utility District and Sacramento police. A SMUD spokeswoman said Thursday that the utility shares information on specific properties to stop what it believes to be power theft. A police spokesman couldn't comment on a pending lawsuit. Extraordinary use of electricity has long been a telltale sign of illegal grow houses producing thousands of marijuana plants hidden in seemingly ordinary homes.

Facebook violated rights of Palestinian users, report finds

Actions by Facebook and its parent Meta during last year’s Gaza war violated the rights of Palestinian users to freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, political participation and non-discrimination. That's according to a new report commissioned by the social media company. The report confirms long-standing criticisms of Meta’s policies and their uneven enforcement as it relates to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Written by the independent consulting firm Business for Social Responsibility, the report found that Meta over-enforced rules when it came to Arabic content and under-enforced content in Hebrew. But the report did not find intentional bias at Meta, either by the company as a whole or among individual employees.

FTC says Bezos, Jassy must testify in probe of Amazon Prime

Federal regulators are ordering Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and CEO Andy Jassy to testify in the government's investigation of Amazon Prime. The regulators rejected the company’s complaint that the executives are being unfairly harassed in the probe of the popular streaming and shopping service. The Federal Trade Commission issued an order denying Amazon’s request to cancel civil subpoenas sent in June to Bezos, the Seattle-based company's former CEO, and Jassy. The order also sets a deadline of Jan. 20 for the completion of all testimony by Bezos, Jassy and 15 other senior executives, who also were subpoenaed.

James Cameron turns to Earth before release of new 'Avatar'

There’s a new nature documentary series that promises to show viewers incredible animal behavior in vibrant clarity. Heard that all before? Well, this one is on steroids. “Super/Natural,” a six-part series from National Geographic on Disney+, has tapped “Avatar” creator James Cameron as executive producer, and he’s added special effects on top of leading-edge filmmaking technology. The effects sometimes morph the animals into something like stars in a Marvel movie, with their bellows distorting the air, lumbering attacks that cause shock waves in sand or pheromones from an insect rendered as bursting noxious clouds. Even trees light up when sugars move through their roots.

Saudi Arabia plans to send female astronaut to space in 2023

Saudi Arabia plans to launch a training program with the goal of sending its own astronauts, including a woman, into space next year. The kingdom is actively promoting science and technology as part of its wide-ranging Vision 2030 plan to overhaul its economy and reduce its dependency on oil. The plan, championed by Saudi Arabia’s crown prince and de facto leader, Mohammed bin Salman, also calls for greater integration of women into the workforce of the conservative Muslim country. Saudi Arabia lifted a long-standing ban on women driving in 2018. The neighboring United Arab Emirates launched a probe into Mars’ orbit in February 2021 and plans to launch a lunar rover in November.

NASA fuels moon rocket in test, hit again with pesky leaks

NASA's new moon rocket sprouted more fuel leaks in a test ahead of a possible launch attempt next week. The fueling demo had barely begun Wednesday when hydrogen began escaping at the same place and same time as before. Engineers managed to get the leak down to acceptable levels. But another leak cropped up elsewhere, before tapering down. Managers need to review the results of the daylong test in Florida tp determine whether the 322-foot rocket is ready for its first flight, a lunar-orbiting mission with mannequins in place of astronauts. Liftoff could come as soon as Tuesday.

Lindell sues to recover cellphone seized by FBI agents

MyPillow chief executive Mike Lindell has sued the Department of Justice and the FBI to demand the return of a cellphone seized from him at a fast food restaurant in Minnesota last week. Agents apparently seized it as part of an investigation into an alleged scheme to breach voting system technology. Lindell alleges in the complaint, filed Tuesday in federal court in Minnesota, that the confiscation violated his constitutional rights. Lindell is a prominent promoter of false claims that voting machines were manipulated to steal the 2020 presidential election. He asked the court to order the return of his phone and to prohibit authorities from using data from it.

Iranians see widespread internet blackout amid mass protests

Iranians are experiencing a near-total internet blackout amid days of mass protests against the government. They also lost access to Instagram and WhatsApp, two of the last Western social media platforms available in the country. An Iranian official on Wednesday had hinted that such measures might be taken out of security concerns. The loss of connectivity will make it more difficult for people to organize protests and share information about the rolling crackdown on dissent. Iran has seen widespread protests over the death of a 22-year-old woman who was detained for allegedly wearing the mandatory Islamic headscarf too loosely. Demonstrators have called for the downfall of the Islamic Republic, even as Iran's president addressed the U.N. General Assembly.

How steep Fed rate hikes affect your finances

Mortgage rates have jumped, home sales have slumped and credit cards and auto loans have gotten pricier. Savings rates are slightly juicier, though. Many economists say they fear that a recession is inevitable in the coming months. With it could come job losses that could cause hardship for households already hit worst by inflation. Wednesday, the Federal Reserve acted again to sharply raise its key short-term rate, as its previous rate hikes are already being felt by households across the economy.

European spyware investigators criticize Israel and Poland

European Parliament members investigating the use of surveillance spyware by European Union governments have sharply criticized Israel. They accuse Israel of a lack of transparency in allowing the sale of powerful Israeli spyware to European governments that have used it against critics. The European lawmakers also condemned the Polish government for refusing to meet with them during a fact-finding visit to Warsaw that ended Wednesday. The committee of inquiry is investigating the use by EU governments of Israel’s Pegasus spyware and other invasive surveillance tools, viewing such technology as a threat to democracy in the 27-member bloc. They will publish a report on their findings in November.

Spain fines delivery app Glovo 79M euros for labor violation

Spain has fined delivery company Glovo nearly 79 million euros ($78 million) for violating a 2021 law that obliged app-based food delivery platforms to make their riders full employees. Spanish Labor Minister Yolanda Díaz said Glovo had continued to treat some 10,000 regular riders as self-employed workers when they should have been taken on as staff employees. Diaz said the fine had led to Glovo hiring those 10,000 riders. The minister confirmed the penalty, originally reported by Cadena SER radio, on Wednesday. Glovo is a Spanish company that operates in 25 countries, mostly in Europe.

Musk to seek exemption from Iran sanctions for Web access

Elon Musk’s hopes to operate his satellite internet firm in Iran require permission from the Treasury Department, which said Tuesday it welcomes applications to support internet freedom in the country, which is largely isolated from western economies. The Tesla CEO tweeted Monday that his satellite internet firm Starlink would seek permission to operate in Iran. National security adviser Jake Sullivan said it’s up to Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control to decide on Starlink’s next steps. Starlink, a division of spacecraft manufacturer SpaceX, also owned by Musk, has been in operation since 2019. It disperses thousands of satellites orbiting the Earth to provide broadband access globally.

NTSB wants all new vehicles to check drivers for alcohol use

The National Transportation Safety Board is recommending that all new vehicles in the U.S. be equipped with blood alcohol monitoring systems that can stop an intoxicated person from driving.  The recommendation, if enacted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, could reduce the number of alcohol-related crashes, one of the biggest causes of highway deaths in the U.S. The new push to make roads safer was included in a report released Tuesday about a horrific crash last year in which a drunk driver’s SUV collided head-on with a pickup truck near Fresno, California, killing both adult drivers and seven children.

New York City subway trains getting security cameras

Security cameras, which are already ubiquitous on New York’s streets, will soon be installed in all of the city’s nearly 6,400 subway cars as officials work to rebuild riders’ faith in the system’s safety. New York Governor Kathy Hochul made the announcement Tuesday. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority received about 5.5 million dollars in state and federal funding for purchasing and installing cameras on about 6,355 subway cars. The new project is expected to be fully completed sometime in 2025. It is intended to keep commuters feeling safe and aid law enforcement in fighting crime.

Video shows 'unauthorized access' to Ga. election equipment

A court filing says a Republican Party official in Georgia told a computer forensics team to copy components of the voting system at a rural elections office two months after the 2020 election and spent nearly all day there, contradicting her deposition testimony. The Monday filing is part of a broader lawsuit challenging the security of Georgia’s voting machines that's been drawn into a separate investigation of ex-President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn his loss in Georgia. The filing says Cathy Latham helped coordinate the arrival of the team at the Coffee County elections office Jan. 7, 2021, and spent nearly all day there instructing the team what to copy. Security camera video shows Latham welcoming the team.