Archive for the ‘Donald Trump’ Category

Sorry, Mr. President, America’s testing capacity isn’t “unrivaled”

May 15th, 2020
Donald Trump speaks at a Rose Garden press briefing on Monday, May 11.

Enlarge / Donald Trump speaks at a Rose Garden press briefing on Monday, May 11. (credit: Oliver Contreras/Sipa/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

President Donald Trump believes that America is the world's champion when it comes to coronavirus testing.

"In the span of just a few short months, we’ve developed a testing capacity unmatched and unrivaled anywhere in the world, and it’s not even close," Trump said in a Monday press conference. He noted that daily testing has risen from around 150,000 per day three weeks ago to around 300,000 per day this week and that the US was on track to surpass 10 million tests this week (we reached that milestone on Thursday).

Trump is correct in one respect: the US has performed more coronavirus tests than any other country with the possible exception of China. But by most other measures, the American testing effort is mediocre at best.

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Posted in coronavirus, Donald Trump, science | Comments (0)

Facebook takes down event pages for several anti-quarantine protests

April 20th, 2020
Protestors demonstrate against Washington state's stay-at-home order at the Capitol building in Olympia on April 19, 2020.

Enlarge / Protestors demonstrate against Washington state's stay-at-home order at the Capitol building in Olympia on April 19, 2020. (credit: Karen Ducey/Getty Images)

Facebook has nixed event pages for planned protests against stay-at-home measures in California, New Jersey, and Nebraska. The actions come at the request of state officials, who say the gatherings would violate state orders.

Facebook event pages for similar protests in other states remain online.

"Unless government prohibits the event during this time, we allow it to be organized on Facebook. For this same reason, events that defy government's guidance on social distancing aren’t allowed on Facebook," a Facebook spokesperson told Politico.

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Posted in Coranavirus, COVID-19, Donald Trump, Facebook, Policy | Comments (0)

At Trump’s request, Ford and GM help ventilator makers boost output

March 24th, 2020
At Trump’s request, Ford and GM help ventilator makers boost output

Enlarge (credit: Taechit Taechamanodom)

One of the most crucial things the United States can do to prepare for the surging coronavirus outbreak is to beef up our stockpile of ventilators. These mechanical breathing machines are crucial for keeping patients with severe cases of COVID-19 alive. The United States currently has around 170,000 of the devices; experts say that may not be enough if the number of coronavirus cases continues to grow exponentially.

On Sunday, President Donald Trump tweeted that "Ford, General Motors and Tesla are being given the go ahead to make ventilators and other metal products, FAST!" (Presumably he meant "medical products.")

This is an apparent reference to new guidance from the Food and Drug Administration, published Sunday, that dramatically loosens the agency's normally strict oversight of ventilator technology. The new policy not only gives medical professionals broader latitude to modify existing FDA-approved ventilators, it also creates a streamlined process for complete newcomers to the ventilator market to get FDA approval.

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Posted in cars, coronavirus, Donald Trump, Ford, GM, science, Tesla | Comments (0)

Facebook slaps “partly false” label on Trump-endorsed video of Biden

March 9th, 2020
A man in an open-collared suit speaks into a microphone.

Enlarge / Joe Biden speaks at a rally in Kansas City, Missouri, on Saturday. (credit: Kyle Rivas/Getty Images)

On Saturday, White House Social Media Director Dan Scavino posted a video that appeared to show Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden losing his train of thought and then concluding "we can only re-elect Donald Trump." Trump's followers naturally cackled with delight.

In reality, Scavino's clip cut Biden off mid-sentence. What he actually said was, "we can only re-elect Donald Trump if in fact we engage in this circular firing squad. It's gotta be a positive campaign."

After outrage from Biden supporters, Facebook slapped the video with a notice warning that the video contained "Partly false information checked by independent fact-checkers." To actually watch the video, users had to click on a small "See video" button.

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Posted in 2020 election, Donald Trump, Facebook, Joe Biden, Policy, Twitter | Comments (0)

Publishers blast rumored ban on paywalls for federally funded research

December 27th, 2019
Donald Trump.

Enlarge / Donald Trump. (credit: NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images)

The Trump White House is rumored to be working on a beefed-up open access mandate. The potential executive order would require all scientific papers that are based on federally funded research to be made available online free of charge as soon as they are published. That would supersede a 2013 rule issued by the Obama White House that required federally funded papers to become freely available one year after publication.

The White House hasn't actually announced the new policy yet, but the rumors were enough to get the attention of scientific publishers. Last Wednesday more than 100 publishing organizations signed a letter calling on the Trump administration to scrap the proposal.

The letter warned that an open access mandate would "jeopardize the intellectual property of American organizations engaged in the creation of high-quality peer-reviewed journals and research articles." Without the ability to charge the public for articles, scientific journals would have to pass those costs on to researchers or taxpayers, the letter warns.

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Posted in Donald Trump, Elsevier, Open access, Policy, Wiley | Comments (0)

No, Apple isn’t opening a new manufacturing plant in Texas

November 21st, 2019
Donald Trump speaks at Apple's Mac Pro manufacturing facility in Austin, Texas.

Enlarge / Donald Trump speaks at Apple's Mac Pro manufacturing facility in Austin, Texas. (credit: MANDEL NGAN / Getty)

President Donald Trump toured Apple's Mac Pro manufacturing facility in Austin, Texas, with CEO Tim Cook on Wednesday.

"We're seeing the beginning of a very powerful and important plant," Trump said during the visit. "I want to see Apple building plants in the United States. That's what's happening."

Trump echoed that theme in a tweet after the tour. "Today I opened a major Apple manufacturing plant in Texas that will bring high paying jobs back to America," he wrote.

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Posted in apple, Donald Trump, Mac Pro, Policy, tariffs, Texas, Tim Cook | Comments (0)

Impeachment hearing reveals major White House phone security fail

November 14th, 2019
US Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland's phone conversation with President Trump in June was overheard by embassy staffers with Sondland at a Kiev restaurant (and probably by other countries' intelligence services).

Enlarge / US Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland's phone conversation with President Trump in June was overheard by embassy staffers with Sondland at a Kiev restaurant (and probably by other countries' intelligence services). (credit: Mark Wilson / Getty Images)

In testimony yesterday before the House Intelligence Committee, diplomat William Taylor said that he had recently learned of a phone call between George Sondland—the US ambassador to the European Union—and President Donald Trump. Taylor, the senior diplomat for the US in Ukraine, said that his staff overheard Trump during a call with Sondland while at dinner with the ambassador at a restaurant in Kiev.

The contents of that discussion—that Trump asked Sondland about "the investigations" Trump wanted Ukraine to conduct as an alleged condition of releasing military aid—may or may not be damaging to the president's case that he was not seeking foreign assistance for his 2020 presidential campaign. But as anyone in national or diplomatic security will attest to, an open phone call between the president and an ambassador regarding topics of diplomatic interest in a public place like a restaurant—a place where any foreign intelligence organization could be monitoring for collection purposes—would be a major breach of operational (and national) security.

This is not the first time that the administration has let issues of national security play out before a public audience. In February of 2017, President Trump consulted with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe regarding a North Korean ballistic missile test and made phone calls from the restaurant of his Mar-A-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, in plain view and within earshot of other diners—some of whom essentially live-streamed the situation from their cell phones. A few months later, Trump shared intelligence data with Russia's foreign minister and ambassador in an Oval Office meeting concerning an Islamic State plot to bring down passenger planes with laptops turned into bombs.

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Posted in Biz & IT, digital surveillance, Donald Trump, George Sondland, imsi catchers, kiev, opsec, Policy | Comments (0)

White House kicks infosec team to curb in IT office shakeup

October 23rd, 2019
Photograph of the White House on a sunny day.

Enlarge / The White House is kicking its information security team to the curb. (credit: Prasit photo / Getty Images)

An internal White House memo published today by Axios reveals that recent changes to the information operations and security organizations there have left the security team in tumult, with many members headed for the door. And the chief of the White House's computer network defense branch—who wrote the memo after submitting his resignation—warned that the White House was likely headed toward another network compromise and theft of data.

The White House Office of the Chief Information Security Officer was set up after the 2014 breach of an unclassified White House network by Russian intelligence—a breach discovered by a friendly foreign government. But in a July reorganization, the OCISO was dissolved and its duties placed under the White House Office of the Chief Information Officer, led by the new CIO Roger L. Stone. Stone pulled from the ranks of the National Security Council where he was deputy senior director for resilience policy. (Stone is not related to indicted Republican political consultant Roger J. Stone.)

The resulting changes have put an emphasis more on convenience than security. The Office of Administration at the White House has reportedly been purging information security staffers while responsibility for cybersecurity is outsourced from the streamlined IT operations team. In August, White House CISO Joe Schatz left the White House for a tech consulting job. And according to the memo, senior security experts have been leaving en masse since then as the White House has become increasingly hostile to the information security team.

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Posted in Biz & IT, CISO, Donald Trump, Policy, White House, White House OCISO | Comments (0)

Political ads can lie if they want, Facebook confirms

October 10th, 2019
The Facebook logo is displayed on a TV screen on September 9, 2019 in Paris, France.

Enlarge / The Facebook logo is displayed on a TV screen on September 9, 2019 in Paris, France. (credit: Chesnot | Getty)

A few weeks ago, Facebook made it clear that posts shared by politicians are exempt from Facebook's community standards and also from fact-checking. The company did, however, indicate one area where posts made by politicians' accounts could be subject to scrutiny: in paid advertising. Faced with a stark real-world test, though, Facebook appears once again to be erring on the side of letting misinformation circulate far and wide if a politician promotes it.

The ad in question involves—you guessed it—President Donald Trump and his campaign for re-election. The Trump campaign in the past week has been airing ads on Facebook making false accusations about former Vice President Joe Biden, a Democratic candidate for the 2020 presidential nomination. The ads' claims about Biden's activities in Ukraine and elsewhere have been repeatedly debunked as baseless conspiracy theories, not only by media outlets but also by Republican politicians.

Cable network CNN deemed the ads in question too misleading to broadcast and refused to air them. Facebook, however, considers the matter out of its hands.

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Posted in Advertising, disinformation, Donald Trump, elections, Facebook, misinformation, Policy, political advertising | Comments (0)

Adobe Suspends Accounts for All Venezuela Users Citing U.S. Sanctions

October 8th, 2019
I have really bad news for Adobe customers in Venezuela… California-based software company Adobe on Monday announced to soon ban accounts and cancel the subscriptions for all of its customers in Venezuela in order to comply with economic sanctions that the United States imposed on the Latin American country. The Trump administration issued an executive order on 5th August 2019, targeting

Posted in adobe, cyber security, Donald Trump, economic sanctions, tech companies, United States, United States politics | Comments (0)