PayPal, Venmo To Roll Out Crypto Buying and Selling, Says Report (coindesk.com) 2

Fintech giant PayPal plans to roll out direct sales of cryptocurrency to its 325 million users, reports CoinDesk, citing people familiar with the matter. From the report: Currently, PayPal can be used as an alternative means for withdrawing funds from exchanges such as Coinbase, but this would be a first in terms of offering direct sales of crypto. "My understanding is that they are going to allow buys and sells of crypto directly from PayPal and Venmo," a well-placed industry source told CoinDesk. "They are going to have some sort of a built-in wallet functionality so you can store it there."

It is unclear which or how many cryptocurrencies would be available. The industry source said they expected PayPal "would be working with multiple exchanges to source liquidity." A second source confirmed that PayPal is looking to offer buying and selling of crypto and said the service could be expected "in the next three months, maybe sooner." San Francisco-based crypto exchange Coinbase and Luxembourg-based Bitstamp were mentioned as likely contenders by the sources.


Microsoft Edge Accused of Sneakily Importing Firefox Data In Windows 10 (softpedia.com) 25

Some Firefox users have discovered that the new default Windows 10 browser, which is shipped to their devices via Windows Update, sometimes imports the data from Mozilla's application even if they don't give their permission. Softpedia reports: Some of these Firefox users decided to kill the initial setup process of Microsoft Edge, only to discover that despite the wizard shutting down prematurely, the browser still copied data stored by Mozilla's browser. Several users confirmed on reddit that this behavior happened on their computers too. Microsoft has remained tight-lipped on this, so for the time being, it's still not known why Edge imports Firefox data despite the initial wizard actually killed off manually by the user. Users who don't want to be offered the new Edge on Windows Update can turn to the dedicated toolkit that Microsoft released earlier this year, while removing the browser is possible by just uninstalling the update from the device.
United States

America Is Reopening. Coronavirus Tracing Apps Aren't Ready. (wsj.com) 66

Smartphone apps meant to track where people have traveled or whom they have been near are mostly buggy, little-used or not ready for major rollouts, raising concerns as restrictions lift and infections rise. From a report: Local officials in Teton County, Wyo., home to Yellowstone National Park and resort town Jackson Hole, want to prevent a new wave of coronavirus cases as the area reopens. They decided to lean on technology. The county signed up for a location-tracking app developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to help accelerate contact tracing, the process of notifying and isolating people who might have been exposed to the virus. But as tourists stream into Yellowstone -- rangers spotted license plates from 41 states the day it reopened in mid-May -- the app isn't ready. It can't accurately track location, it's missing key features and its developers have struggled to protect sensitive user data. U.S. states and counties are placing great faith in contact tracing, in tandem with aggressive testing, as they reopen their economies. Pressure has increased as coronavirus infections rise in many states, including Arizona, Texas and Florida.

The quick spread of the coronavirus makes it hard for human contact tracers to keep up, so authorities are turning to smartphone technologies to help track where people have traveled or whom they have been near. What is emerging across the country so far, however, is a patchwork of buggy or little-used apps, made by partners ranging from startups on shoestring budgets to academics to consulting firms. Some are working with location-tracking firms that have been under fire from privacy advocates. None appears ready for a major rollout, even as more local governments ease restrictions. Utah signed a deal worth more than $6 million with a firm backed by the family of billionaire Nelson Peltz and other investors. Rhode Island hired Indian software company Infosys to build its app free. North Dakota's governor turned to an old friend who had built an app for a college football team in 2013. Apple and Alphabet's Google deployed technology that at least five U.S. states agreed to adopt, but integrating it into smartphone apps takes time and comes with significant trade-offs. Some local health departments aren't keen on privacy restrictions in the Apple-Google protocol that limit information they can collect. Others had already sunk money into Covid apps before the tech giants arrived on the scene.

United States

EU May Ban Travel From US As It Reopens Borders, Citing Coronavirus Failures (seattletimes.com) 126

European Union countries rushing to revive their economies and reopen their borders after months of coronavirus restrictions are prepared to block Americans from entering because the United States has failed to control the scourge, according to draft lists of acceptable travelers seen by The New York Times. From a report: That prospect, which would lump American visitors in with Russians and Brazilians as unwelcome, is a stinging blow to American prestige in the world and a repudiation of President Donald Trump's handling of the virus in the United States, which has more than 2.3 million cases and upward of 120,000 deaths, more than any other country. European nations are currently haggling over two potential lists of acceptable visitors based on how countries are faring with the coronavirus pandemic. Both include China, as well as developing nations like Uganda, Cuba and Vietnam.

Travelers from the United States and the rest of the world have been excluded from visiting the European Union -- with few exceptions mostly for repatriations or "essential travel" -- since mid-March. But a final decision on reopening the borders is expected early next week, before the bloc reopens July 1. [...] Prohibiting American travelers from entering the European Union would have significant economic, cultural and geopolitical ramifications. Millions of American tourists visit Europe every summer. Business travel is common, given the huge economic ties between the United States and the EU.


Fauci 'Cautiously Optimistic' Vaccine Could Be Available by End of 2020 or Early 2021 (bostonglobe.com) 125

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government's top infectious disease expert, told a House committee on Tuesday he believes "it will be when and not if" there will be a COVID-19 vaccine and that he remains "cautiously optimistic" that some will be ready at the end of the year. From a report: Fauci has returned to Capitol Hill at a fraught moment in the nation's pandemic response, with coronavirus cases rising in about half the states and political polarization competing for attention with public health recommendations. Fauci testified in his opening statement that a vaccine candidate for the coronavirus will enter Phase 3 of study in July. "This is one that has already shown in preliminary studies some very favorable response in the animal models that we've developed," Fauci said. Earlier this month, Cambridge-based Moderna announced the experimental COVID-19 vaccine it is developing with the US National Institutes of Health was on track to be tested in 30,000 volunteers -- some given the real shot and some a dummy shot.

Fauci was testifying along with the heads of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration, and a top official at the Department of Health and Human Services. Since Fauci's last appearance at a high-profile hearing more than a month ago, the US has been emerging from weeks of stay-at-home orders and business shutdowns. But it's being done in an uneven way, with some states far less cautious than others. A trio of states with Republican governors who are bullish on reopening -- Arizona, Florida and Texas -- are among those seeing worrisome increases in cases. Last week, Vice President Mike Pence published an opinion article in The Wall Street Journal saying the administration's efforts have strengthened the nation's ability to counter the virus and should be "a cause for celebration."
Dr. Fauci also told lawmakers Tuesday that the US will be increasing coronavirus testing, saying, "we're going to be doing more testing, not less," in response to President Donald Trump's recent claim that he asked to slow down testing during the pandemic.
Social Networks

K-Pop Stans' Trump Prank Ratchets Up the Internet Wars (bloomberg.com) 313

Optimism about the internet's role in politics peaked around the time of the Arab Spring, then steadily collapsed into alarm and despair until this weekend, when it ticked up again after President Donald Trump held a disappointing campaign rally. From a report: There are various ways to interpret the lower-than-expected turnout at the Tulsa, Oklahoma event, but among the most intriguing was the claim from a group of Korean pop fans that they'd undercut the campaign by coordinating to reserve thousands of tickets, then not showing up. They are likely giving themselves too much credit. Still, the narrative took hold for online observers as an example of a rare bright spot in the social media hellscape. The surge in activism from young Korean pop music enthusiasts has been one of the stranger plot lines of a uniquely unsettled time in American politics. Working together, they've rendered Twitter hashtags like #WhiteLivesMatter useless by filling them with music video clips, and they crashed a mobile app established by the Dallas Police Department to collect evidence of illegal activity at protests by overwhelming it with data.

This has gripped the imagination of some internet commentators, who noted how young people have reconstituted their "lightning-fast coordination and prodigious spamming abilities" for what the fans believe are righteous political causes. But spamming has historically been seen as a bad thing. When right-wing trolls coordinate to do things like pollute hashtags, pile onto people they dislike or disrupt the process of government it's regularly described as a serious threat to democracy. The tactics are remarkably similar, though the end goals are different.


Apple Gives Us Our First Glimpse of Foundation, Adapted From Asimov Series (arstechnica.com) 184

Wargames shares the official trailer of Apple's upcoming new TV series, Foundation, adapted from Isaac Asimov's seminal Foundation series of novels. Ars Technica provides more details: The original trilogy centered on a mathematician named Hari Seldon, who has developed a mathematical approach to sociology he calls "psychohistory" that enables him to predict the future of large populations -- like the Galactic Empire, which incorporates all inhabitants of the Milky Way. Unfortunately, Seldon's theory predicts an imminent collapse of the empire -- well, in 500 years, which is certainly imminent on galactic time scales. This will usher in a Dark Age lasting 30,000 years, after which a second empire will arise. The news is not well received by the members of the Committee on Public Safety, who essentially rule the empire, and Seldon is forced to stand trial for treason, along with a brilliant young mathematical protege named Gaal.

In his defense, Seldon argues that he cannot stop the collapse, but there is a way to limit those Dark Ages to just 1,000 years. He proposes creating a Foundation, a group of the most intelligent minds in the empire, charged with preserving all human knowledge in the Encyclopedia Galactica. Rather than executing Seldon, the committee decides to exile him to a remote world called Terminus, along with the members of the new Foundation, where they can begin compiling the encyclopedia. Much of the first book in the trilogy follows the establishment of the colony on Terminus and the various political machinations that shape its early history, along with a startling revelation: unbeknownst to the committee, Seldon has established a second Foundation at the other end of the galaxy.
It's unclear how closely the series will follow the novels, but one of the executive producers is Robyn Asimov, the novelist's daughter.

"Harris plays Seldon, with Pace co-starring as Brother Day, current Emperor of the Galaxy. Lou Llobell plays Gaal, Leah Harvey plays a gender-swapped Salvor, warden of Terminus, and Laura Birn plays Eto Demerzel, aide to Brother Day," adds Ars. "Other listed characters include Brother Dusk (Terrence Mann), the ruling family's oldest living member, and Brother Dawn (Cassian Bilton), the youngest member and heir apparent to Brother Day." Foundation is expected to debut on Apple TV Plus in 2021.

Stuck At Home, Scientists Discover 9 New Insect Species (wired.com) 34

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Wired: When the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County shut down due to the pandemic in mid-March, Lisa Gonzalez headed home with the expectation that she would be back in a few weeks. But once it became clear that she wouldn't get back anytime soon, Gonzalez, the museum's assistant entomology collection manager, converted her home's craft room into a makeshift lab. Then she began sifting through thousands of insects the museum had previously collected via a citizen science project. [...] Using just her own microscope, Gonzalez identified dozens of insect species by looking at features like tiny hairs or the shape of a fly's wings. She also found some unusual insects that she turned over to her colleague, Brian Brown, the museum's curator of entomology. Using a larger Leica stereoscope that he hauled in from the office, as well as a smaller compound microscope he found on craigslist, Brown discovered nine species of small flies, all new to science. "It's always cool to find new things, and it is one of the great joys of this job," says Brown. "It's not just finding slightly different new things -- we find extravagantly different things all the time."

The insects, mostly small flies, wasps, and wasplike flies, had been collected through the BioSCAN project, which began in 2012 with insect traps set at 30 sites throughout Los Angeles, mostly in backyards or public spaces. The pair recruited volunteers who were then trained in how to use the "Malaise traps," which resemble two-person pup tents that force bugs to fly upward into collecting nets before the volunteers can put them into vials. The BioSCAN project started when Brown bet a museum trustee that he could find a new species of insect in her backyard in West LA. He did, and the project took off. In its first three years, Brown and the backyard collector discovered 30 new species of insects and published their results. The museum team found an additional 13 new species in the past two years, plus he and the staff have discovered nine more since the pandemic shutdown.
"The nine new species include phorid flies, some of which are known for their ability to run across surfaces and or enter coffins to consume dead bodies," the report adds. "Brown and Gonzalez have also found botflies, parasites of rats and wasplike flies that have never been seen before in Southern California. They likely arrived from Central America, perhaps hitching a ride on a flowering plant or piece of food."

"With the help of tens of thousands of insects collected through the BioSCAN project, over the years Brown and Gonzalez have expanded the count of known insect species in the Los Angeles basin from 3,500 during the last census in 1993 to around 20,000 today."

'BlueLeaks' Exposes Files From Hundreds of Police Departments (krebsonsecurity.com) 136

New submitter bmimatt shares a report from Krebs On Security: Hundreds of thousands of potentially sensitive files from police departments across the United States were leaked online last week. The collection, dubbed "BlueLeaks" and made searchable online, stems from a security breach at a Texas web design and hosting company that maintains a number of state law enforcement data-sharing portals. The collection -- nearly 270 gigabytes in total -- is the latest release from Distributed Denial of Secrets (DDoSecrets), an alternative to Wikileaks that publishes caches of previously secret data.

In a post on Twitter, DDoSecrets said the BlueLeaks archive indexes "ten years of data from over 200 police departments, fusion centers and other law enforcement training and support resources," and that "among the hundreds of thousands of documents are police and FBI reports, bulletins, guides and more." KrebsOnSecurity obtained an internal June 20 analysis by the National Fusion Center Association (NFCA), which confirmed the validity of the leaked data. The NFCA alert noted that the dates of the files in the leak actually span nearly 24 years -- from August 1996 through June 19, 2020 -- and that the documents include names, email addresses, phone numbers, PDF documents, images, and a large number of text, video, CSV and ZIP files. The NFCA said it appears the data published by BlueLeaks was taken after a security breach at Netsential, a Houston-based web development firm.

United States

Trump To Expand Coronavirus-Related Immigration Restrictions (axios.com) 270

The Trump administration will ban entry into the U.S. for foreigners on certain temporary work visas -- including high-skilled H-1B visas -- through the end of the year, senior administration officials told reporters Monday afternoon. From a report: The highly-anticipated immigration restrictions expand on President Trump's earlier coronavirus-related immigration ban introduced in late April -- which was also extended through the end of the year. Trump has leveraged emergency powers and economic concern from the coronavirus to slowly shut down large parts of the immigration system -- even as he urges states to reopen. The administration also announced Monday that it is working toward permanent regulatory reforms that would crack down on H-1B visas and work permits for asylum seekers. The official said these steps could open up 525,000 U.S. jobs. In addition to H-1B visas often relied on by big U.S. tech companies, the restrictions on entry will also affect visas for H-1B spouses, non-agriculture worker H-2Bs visas, short-term workers on J-1 exchange visas, and L visas, which allow companies to transfer employees working overseas to U.S. offices.

Further reading: Trump plan to ban H1-B will hurt Indian techies.
United States

Andrew Yang is Pushing Big Tech To Pay Users For Data (theverge.com) 103

Andrew Yang wants people to get paid for the data they create on big tech platforms like Facebook and Google, and with a new project launching on Monday, he believes he can make it happen. From a report: Yang's Data Dividend Project is a new program tasked with establishing data-as-property rights under privacy laws like the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) all across the country. The program hopes to mobilize over 1 million people by the end of the year, focusing primarily on Californians, and "pave the way for a future in which all Americans can claim their data as a property right and receive payment" if they choose to share their data with platforms. At the beginning of the year, the CCPA went into effect, granting consumers new control over their data online like the right to delete and opt out of the sale of their personal information. There's nothing in the law about tech companies paying for data (or, more specifically, paying them not to opt out), but Yang's new project is looking to show that the idea is popular with voters. The Data Dividend Project is betting on collective action as a means of changing the law and extending data property rights to users across the country. If this idea becomes law, Yang's team says it will work on behalf of users to help them get paid.

Joel Schumacher, Director With a Flair for the Distinctive, Dies at 80 (hollywoodreporter.com) 20

Joel Schumacher, the writer-director who came from a world of window dressing and costume design to bring a singular style to films including St. Elmo's Fire, Flatliners and a pair of Batman movies, died Monday. He was 80. From a report: Schumacher died after a yearlong battle with cancer, a representative announced. Schumacher's directorial body of work also included the horror comedy The Lost Boys (1987), which he was handed after Richard Donner passed on it to helm Lethal Weapon; the John Grisham thrillers The Client (1994) and A Time to Kill (1996); and 8MM (1999), the noirish drama starring Nicolas Cage. The Warner Bros. regular dealt with dark themes with the medical thrillers Flatliners (1990) and Dying Young (1991), both starring Julia Roberts, and Falling Down (1993), with Michael Douglas playing an unhinged man who embarks on a violent rampage all around Los Angeles. Schumacher had an uncanny ability to recognize young talent, and he cast members of "The Brat Pack" -- including Demi Moore, Rob Lowe, Emilio Estevez, Judd Nelson and Ally Sheedy -- in St. Elmo's Fire (1985). He also boosted the careers of other young actors like Roberts, Kiefer Sutherland, Matthew McConaughey and Colin Farrell by giving them prominent parts in his films.

Wirecard Says Missing $2.1 Billion Never Existed, Rips Up Earlier Accounts (reuters.com) 80

Wirecard said on Monday that 1.9 billion euros ($2.1 billion) missing from its accounts was likely never there and it was looking at the sale or closure of parts of its business as it sought to avert a looming cash crunch. From a report: The former German stock market darling, which processes payments for companies including Visa and Mastercard, has seen billions of euros wiped off its value in recent days and began trading in Frankfurt down 40%. Wirecard is scrambling to shore up its finances and has appointed investment bank Houlihan Lokey as it seeks a deal with creditors, after seeing its credit rating slashed to junk by rating agency Moody's on Friday. In a statement on Monday, Wirecard also withdrew financial statements for 2019 and said it was examining cost cuts to address the crisis which has engulfed what was once hailed as a relatively rare success story for the German technology sector. "The Management Board of Wirecard assesses ... that there is a prevailing likelihood that the bank trust account balances in the amount of 1.9 billion EUR do not exist," it said.

Temperature Hits 100 Degrees in Arctic Town in Siberia (gizmodo.com) 117

An anonymous reader quotes Gizmodo:A freak heatwave has been scorching most of the Arctic for weeks now, but it broke records Saturday when the temperature hit 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit in a town in Siberia, one of Russia's northernmost regions.

It's likely the hottest temperature ever recorded north of the Arctic Circle, CBS meteorologist Jeff Berardelli wrote on Twitter, though the recording is still pending verification...Last month, Siberia reported temperatures almost 40 degrees above normal for this time of year. (Also, parts of the region caught on fire...)


Washington Post: A Top NASA Official Improperly Contacted Boeing (washingtonpost.com) 32

The Washington Post reports:After a top NASA official improperly contacted a senior Boeing executive about a bid to win a contract potentially worth hundreds of millions of dollars, the company attempted to amend its proposal past the deadline for doing so, according to people with knowledge of the matter.That raised alarm bells inside the space agency, where officials were concerned that Boeing was attempting to take advantage of inside information. Ultimately, the matter was referred to NASA's inspector general office, and NASA's leadership last month forced Doug Loverro to resign from his position as the associate administrator of NASA's human spaceflight directorate.

Boeing did not win one of the lucrative contracts to build a system capable of landing astronauts on the moon. But the inspector general investigation could be another headache for a company under fire for having an unusually cozy relationship with federal regulators, especially if it identifies wrongdoing on the part of Boeing senior executives... "It's one thing to have a mistake that violated the Integrity in Procurement Act," according to a congressional aide with knowledge of the matter. "It's another if the company took that information and acted on it."