Fishing With Dynamite

Show me the memos; Theresa May opted for a little-watched Facebook Live Q&A over televised debate; and more.

  • Show me the memos: Perhaps fearing a situation just like the one we’re in now, James Comey wrote a memo documenting a February conversation with Donald Trump in which the president asked him to drop the investigation of Michael Flynn, Michael Schmidt reports for The New York Times. Last night, Representative Jason Chaffetz, Republican chairman of the House Oversight Committee, asked the F.B.I. to turn over any records of conversations between Trump and Comey in the agency’s possession.

  • This morning Vladimir Putin offered to share records of Donald Trump’s conversation with Russian diplomats with Congress, Eric Tucker, Catherine Lucey, and Julie Pace report for the Associated Press.

  • Whistleblower Chelsea Manning walked free today after seven years behind bars, and to mark the occasion Evan Greer pulled together a collection of songs for a benefit album called Hugs for Chelsea, Jon Blistein reports for Rolling Stone. Download the album here.

  • “It was like fishing with dynamite,” one former NSA employee said of using the spying tool EternalBlue, which was stolen by hackers and released upon the world as the WannaCry virus last week, Ellen Nakashima and Craig Timberg report for The Washington Post. This helps explain why the agency didn’t reveal the vulnerability that made EternalBlue possible to Microsoft, even though they worried about the consequences if it fell into the wrong hands.

  • We don’t know much about the Vulnerabilities Equities Process, or how the U.S. government determines whether or not to inform a tech company about a security vulnerability, Mike Orcutt explains in MIT Technology Review.

  • Shona Ghosh reports for Business Insider that the U.K.’s Government Digital Service decided to stop paying for support for Windows XP to pressure the NHS into upgrading its software. An anonymous source said the people who make budget decisions for the NHS are not tech savvy enough to know the importance of upgrades.

  • Kalev Keetaru ruminates in an op-ed for Forbes on the slow-burn tactics of Obama administration technology and innovation actors, criticizing the portrayal of basic tools and usages as groundbreaking; the number of political appointees and contractors touting their own companies’ technologies in these roles; and the philosophy of “little plans” so as to not disrupt too much.

  • Senate staffers can now use the encrypted messaging app Signal, Zack Whittaker reports for ZDNet.

  • Rethinking debates: Commentators are going hard on Theresa May and her Facebook Live event yesterday. “After a gruelling morning in Abingdon on Monday, where she accidentally met a couple of people who were not convinced by her supremacy, the Supreme Leader retreated to ITV’s Facebook page for the afternoon so that she could happily talk to herself without any fear of interruption,” John Crace wrote in The Guardian. “With between 13,000 and 14,500 viewers tuning in throughout its 45 minutes, Theresa May’s Facebook Live event would have registered as an audience of zero if it had been broadcast on any TV channel. Just the way the Supreme Leader likes it.”

    “This was the first time a prime ministerial candidate had ever taken question from the public on Facebook, and it was, of course, a fundamentally pointless exercise,” Sam Kriss wrote for Vice. “But it’s a format that makes sense for her. Theresa May believes that the British public are about to deliver her a massively increased majority on a tide of nationalist bitterness and the queasy libidinal effluent that drips from every Tory’s mouth as he utters the word “mummy”; and for her part she wants nothing to do with them. Her rallies are delivered in front of tiny clumps of the thoroughly vetted and absolutely glum; whenever she’s confronted by an actual ordinary, hard-working person her eyes glaze over in invertebrate fury. Facebook Live offers the public without their actual presence, which is ideal for someone whose main goal seems to be purging the earth of the flesh and its weakness. Social media doesn’t help bring politicians closer to the population; it’s mediation, a distancing act, a hygienic bubble to keep her far away from the crowd and their filth.”

    Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn interrupted to ask about stagnating wages and the beleaguered NHS before asking why May wouldn’t participate in a proper TV debate. “What I think is more important”, May replied, “is that I and he take questions directly from the voters. I don’t think people get much from politicians having a go at each other. I think people want to hear directly.”

  • What sharing economy? David Talbot reports for the San Francisco Chronicle on some of the buyer’s remorse in San Francisco at relinquishing so much power to ride-hailing companies Lyft and Uber.


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