May 22, 2017
In U.S. News Senators Richard Burr and Mark Warner announced on Friday that former FBI Director James Comey will publicly testify before a Senate Committee.  No date has been set, but the appearance before the committee will likely come sometime after Memorial Day. On Friday, former New York Congressmen Anthony Weiner plead guilty to sending obscene materials to a minor and will have to register as a sex offender.  Most of us remember that Weiner resigned from Congress in 2011 after it was revealed he was sending explicit texts to several women.     In International News Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have pledged $100,000 to a World Bank fund for women entrepreneurs.  The fund was the idea of Ivanka Trump.  The World Bank president, Jim Young Kim, stated, “This is really a stunning achievement. I've never seen anything come together so quickly, and I really have to say that Ivanka's leadership has been tremendous." During his first foreign trip as President and while delivering a speech to dozens of Arab and Muslim nations leaders, President Trump called for those leader to do their fair share and help with the burden in the fight against extremists.  Trump also called on the leaders to, “Drive them out of your places of worship. Drive them out of your communities. Drive them out of your holy land. And drive them out of this Earth." Iranian President Hassan Rouhani won reelection as president of that nation with 57% of the vote.  He won by a wide margin considering there were three other candidates in contention.  Rouhani is known as a more moderate leader by Iranian standards and was key in getting some sanctions eased in Iran when reaching a nuclear agreement with President Obama’s administration.   Members of the NGO Operations Mercy were attacked at a house in Kabul, Afghanistan over the weekend.  One German aid worker was killed and her Afghan bodyguard was beheaded in the attack.  A Finnish aid worker was also abducted.   Be sure to listen to our shows on May 15th and 16th for a discussion about the war in Afghanistan with international relations expert Matt Archibald.  Remember that our chats with guests are non-political and you get actual information. In Tech News Facebook is rolling out an option to order food within their platform, both on the mobile app and desktop site.  Unfortunately, we could not test the service and received a message that there aren’t any places that can deliver to you right now. The ransomware WannaCry that has encrypted many computer files while demanding that a ransom be paid or the files will be permanently gone has spread to over 300,000 computers worldwide.  However, French researchers claimed over the weekend that they have found a way to save the files under certain conditions.  First, the computer must not have been rebooted and second, the deadline for the ransom must not have passed.     A link to their solution can be found on our website. WannaCry — Decrypting files with WanaKiwi + Demos: Also, be sure to check out our chat about Cyber Security with the producer of The Cyber Wire on May 10th’s show.  
May 19, 2017
Today’s guest is Sean Lane, CEO of CrossChx, and we have a great chat about artificial intelligence. Email: CrossChx: In the News President Trump met with Juan Manuel the President of Columbia yesterday and held a joint news conference.  The President emphasized counter drug trafficking in partnership with Columbia.   Other key points include the President’s claims that illegal border crossings in the U.S. are down 73%, he wants the U.S. to work with South American countries on the Venezuelan problem, and also promised that MS-13 gang members will be gone from the U.S. soon. President Trump also took to Twitter today as he tweeted, “this is the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!” and “with all of the illegal acts that took place in the Clinton campaign & Obama Administration, there was never a special counsel!” The tweets were in response to Wednesday’s news that the Department of Justice appointment former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel to investigate Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election. Following a closed door Senate session in which Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appeared, reporters sought reaction and comment to President Trump’s displeasure with the appointment of special counsel.   After the same Senate session, Senator Dick Durbin was asked about Rosenstein’s explanation regarding why he appointed a special counsel to look into Russian allegations. In International News Coalition forces struck Syrian pro-regime forces on Thursday in a a de-confliction zone near At Tanf.  The Syrian government backed forces posed a threat to U.S. partner forces and ignored warnings to turn around their convoy.  Some of the warnings include an aircraft show of force and warning shots.  Russian attempts to dissuade pro-regime movements toward At Tanf were also ignored.    For all the background information regarding events leading up to the current conflict in Syria, be sure to listen to our shows from May 8th and 9th where we chat with Islamic Professor of History Brian Glyn Williams.   U.S. Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Elaine Duke met with EU officials in Brussels on Wednesday to discuss, “serious evolving threats to aviation security and approaches to confronting such threats.”  Specifically, there was talk of expanding the laptop ban in carry on baggage to flights coming from Europe.  Airline trade groups urged alternative security measures instead. The U.S. government has imposed sanctions on the chief and justices of the Venezuelan supreme court in retaliation for the court seizing powers from the opposition led congress earlier in the year.  The justices will have any U.S. assets frozen and are barred from traveling to the U.S. Several protests have occurred in Venezuela in the last several weeks that have led to over 40 deaths.  Protests are in opposition to Venezuela’s ruling president consolidation of power and the severe poverty that the country is experiencing.        In Tech News The FCC voted 2 to 1 today in favor of rolling back net neutrality regulations put in place by President Obama’s administration.  A Democratic FCC commissioner explained that the vote jeopardizes the ability of the open internet to function tomorrow as it does today while Republican commissioners argue that regulating the internet as if it was a utility has reduced companies investment into broadband infrastructure. The FCC will keep the issue open for public comment until a final vote is taken at a later date.   A side note as we comment on the dysfunction of the news media.  Several media outlets are reporting that the FCC have already received over a million comments regarding the net neutrality issue recently.  However, those outlets fail to mention that most comments were bots associated with a cyber attack meant to bring down the FCC’s website and not actual people commenting on the potential repeal of regulation.  Regardless of where you stand on the net neutrality rules, don’t be misled by fake news.            Google revealed a new processor this week at Google I/O.  The processor is designed to train and execute machine learning systems that help with everything from speech recognition to robotics.  The processor will not be sold, but will be available in Google's data centers so that users can access them in the cloud as they seek to develop artificial intelligence platforms.
May 18, 2017
In the News The U.S. Justice Department appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller to serve as special counsel to oversee the FBI’s investigation into any Russian interference in the last presidential election.  The announcement was made by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein who also pointed out that the decision is not a finding that crimes have been committed or that any prosecution is warranted.  No such determination has been made. Over 40 suspected members of the gang, MS-13 were arrested in Los Angeles and face federal charges which include murder, extortion, drugs and weapons related crimes.  Acting U.S. Attorney Sandra Brown stated,  "Today's charges and arrests, however, will deal a critical blow to the top leadership of this criminal organization and will significantly improve safety in neighborhoods across this region." White House spokesman Sean Spicer said on Wednesday that the President will continue to interview candidates for the FBI Director position and is to meet with acting Director Andrew McCabe, former Oklahoma Governor Frank Keating, former Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman, and former FBI official Richard McFeely. Meanwhile, the Senate Judiciary committee asked the FBI to provide memos related to the recently terminated FBI Director Comey and his interactions with his superiors in both the Trump and Obama administrations.  This includes information related to accusations of President Trump’s associates and Russia and the Clinton email investigation. In International News Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that President Trump did not divulge any secrets during a meeting with Russian officials and offered to provide a transcript to Congress.  Putin also sarcastically joked that he should reprimand Russian officials for not sharing any secrets with him or Russian intelligence services. At least 4 attackers stormed a state run television office in Jalalabad, Afghanistan.  At least six people died in the attack which involved one suicide bomber detonating explosives and other attackers engaging in small arms fire. The Taliban denied the attack while the Islamic State claimed responsibility. Be sure to listen to our show from May 15th and 16th for a chat about U.S. involvement in Afghanistan with international relations expert Matt Archibald.   In Tech News Android’s new operating system, called Android O is not available to beta users. The updates includes notification dots that lets users know if a specific app has any notifications pending.  Other updates include a picture in picture feature to watch videos, enhanced autofill, and smart text selection that helps with avoiding highlighting and unhighlighting text. Another company has entered the blockchain as a service business as SAP enters the market.  SAP will provide ready to use blockchain technology in the cloud.  So, for a fee, the technology can be accessed similar to how users would access cloud based email systems or Amazon’s AWS.  There is no need for the technology to be stored at the user’s site. Blockchain is a distributed ledger technology and can be a reliable record of who owns what.  For an explanation of blockchain and its many users, be sure to check out our show from May 4th where we chat with Professor and CEO Mark Mueller-Eberstein.  
May 17, 2017
In the News The U.S. National Security Advisor, H.R. McMaster told reporters on Tuesday that it was wholly appropriate that President Trump shared ISIS threat information with Russia and that no sources and methods of intelligence collection were disclosed.  McMaster’s statement came amidst a barrage of questions from reporters about recent news media coverage about the appropriateness of the President sharing threat information with other nations. President Trump met with Crown Prince Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan of the United Arab Emirates at the White House today to discuss steps to deepen our strategic partnership and promote stability and prosperity throughout the Middle East.  The two leaders discussed bilateral defense cooperation, counterterrorism, resolving the conflicts in Yemen and Syria, and the threat to regional stability posed by Iran.  They also explored ways to increase economic cooperation. A new Pew Research Center survey finds that 83% of Americans say increasing use of renewable energy sources is a top or important priority for the country’s energy policies. This is one of several considerations the American public thinks should be a priority for the country’s energy policies. A majority of U.S. adults (54%) agree that “Government regulations are necessary to encourage businesses and consumers to rely more on renewable energy sources.” But the public is divided on the core question shaping the debates in the early period of the Trump administration: Is it possible to cut back environmental regulations and still effectively protect water and air quality? Some 49% think it is possible to trim regulations and still protect air and water, while 47% believe it is not possible to protect those resources with fewer regulations. These views differ widely by political party. Pew Research: Chelsea Manning, the U.S. Army soldier convicted in 2013 for several violations of the Espionage Act among other charges, is set to be released from prison after receiving a commuted sentence from President Obama in January.  Manning was originally sentenced to 35 years in prison and provided over 700,000 sensitive military files to WikiLeaks.    In Business News Twitter co-founder Biz Stone said that he is returning to Twitter in an effort to help guide the company’s culture which might help boost morale. Stone wrote in a blog post that, “It’s important that everyone understands the whole story of Twitter and each of our roles in that story. I’ll shape the experience internally so it’s also felt outside the company.” It should be noted that last April, Twitter reported its first revenue decrease since the company went public in 2013.    In Tech News Instagram, owned by Facebook, is adding face-tracking filters to its camera capability that is similar to Snap’s features.  The ability to add filters or overlays to photos is popular among teenage and millennial users.  Facebook already added what they call Stories as a feature that makes pictures or video slideshows disappear after 24 hours, a feature similar to Snap and what made it famous. According to a Korean website called The Investor, Samsung has already sold over 5 million units of the Galaxy S8 released in late April.  The S8 has yet to be released in several countries to include China.  So, stronger sales might be seen in the next month.  Some experts predict that 50 to 60 million units will be sold in the first year. Be sure to check out our show from May 1st where we talk with Michael Fisher about the S8.  He is MrMobile on YouTube. FactFruit Episode: YouTube Review: The Investor:
May 16, 2017
Matthew Archibald, Phd in International Relations and scholar on Afghanistan, is today’s guest.  He will help us learn about the U.S. involvement in Afghanistan and some of the current challenges facing that nation. In the News After losing the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Hillary Clinton announced on Monday that she is launching an organization called Onward Together which seeks to fund resistance groups that are opposed to President Trump.  The website for the organization has the quote, “Resist, insist, persist, enlist.” on its homepage. The website: The Pew Research Center reports that 44% of adults think that the protests, marches, and demonstrations for science and climate in recent months will boost public support for science and an equal number (44%) believe that the protests will make no difference.  Results were divided among political and generational lines.  61% of Democrats believe that the marches will increase public support and 22% of Republicans believe the marches will help.  60% of Republicans think the marches will make no difference.    A new Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll widely reported in the media reveals that 59% of adults agree that Congress should launch an independent investigation into communications between the Russian government and the Trump campaign.  Broken down further, 41% of Republicans and 79% of Democrats want the independent investigation.     Interestingly, the poll includes respondents that are 45% Democrat versus only 33% Republican.        In Business News The Standard and Poor’s 500 reached a record high on Monday while rising half a percent closing at 2402.  The Nasdaq also hit a new high while gaining 28 points to close at 6150.   In Tech News It is being reported that Netflix may become unavailable on Android devices that have been rooted or unlocked.  Since its last update, the Netflix app now relies on the Widevine digital rights management provided by Google and may stop working on devices that are not Google certified. In International News On Monday, the U.S. State Department stated that the Syrian government committed atrocities at a military prison outside of Damascus.  The acting assistant secretary for Near East Affairs for the State Department stated, “Beginning in 2013, the Syrian regime modified a building within the Saydnaya complex to support what we believe is a crematorium...we believe that the building of a crematorium is an effort to cover up the extent of mass murders taking place in Saydnaya prison." For detailed information regarding Syria and the events that led up to the current crisis, be sure to check out episodes from May 8th and 9th with Professor Brian Glyn Williams, former CIA Officer. Meanwhile in France, Emmanuel Macron officially took office as President which makes him the youngest, at age 39, since Napoleon. 
May 15, 2017
Matthew Archibald, Phd in International Relations and scholar on Afghanistan, is today’s guest.  He will help us learn about the U.S. involvement in Afghanistan and some of the current challenges facing that nation. In the News Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer stated on Sunday that the Senate should refuse to confirm any new FBI director until a special counsel is appointed to take over the investigation into Russia meddling in the U.S. election. U.S. Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, issued a memo on Friday that directs the U.S. Attorneys to, “charge and pursue the most serious, readily provable offense.”  The direction is a reversal from the Obama administration that instructed prosecutors to avoid pursuing the toughest charges in certain cases.   Brooks Brothers warned customers on Friday that payment card information of some of its customers may be compromised.  Customers who purchased items at Brooks Brothers’ stores between April 2017 and March 2017 should monitor their credit and debit cards.  The company explained that somebody gained access to some of their payment processing systems and installed malicious code.   In Tech News A massive ransomware attack began on Friday and still continues.  Over 100,000 organizations in more than 150 countries are affected so far.  Malware was distributed which locks important files for organizations and businesses while a pop-up window states that the files can be unlocked for a few hundred dollars to be paid in Bitcoin.  If users do not pay within a certain time frame, the files will be lost.   Be sure to check out our episode about cyber security with Dave Bittner of the CyberWire podcast Waymo, which is the self-driving car unit of parent company Alphabet (aka Google) reached a deal with Lyft, the ride hailing company.  The goal is to bring autonomous vehicles into the mainstream, but details of the agreement between the two companies were not available. In International News North Korea, also known as the Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Korea, launched a medium range ballistic missile on Sunday with the North Korea’s official news agency claiming that the missile has the capability to carry a nuclear weapon. The launch comes at a time when President Trump has stated he may be open to dialog with North Korea’s dictator, Kim Jong Un and when South Korea’s new President, Moon Jae-in is favor out renewed outreach to the North. The White House national security advisor, H.R. McMaster said on Friday that President Trump has not yet made a decision on whether to increase U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan and instead would like to hear from U.S. allies first and will have that chance at the upcoming NATO summit on May 25th.
May 12, 2017
In the News President Trump signed an Executive Order on Strengthening the Cyber security of Federal networks and Critical Infrastructure.  The order is meant to enhance the government’s cyber security and help protect critical infrastructure from cyber attacks.  The order also seeks to treat federal IT as an enterprise while leaving protection responsibility on the shoulders of agency heads.  Additionally, federal agencies must use the National Institute of Standards and Technology framework to assess and manage cyber risk.   Homeland Security Adviser, Tom Bossert, introduced the executive order and provided some concerns about cyber threat trends. ESTABLISHMENT OF PRESIDENTIAL ADVISORY COMMISSION ON ELECTION INTEGRITY: President Trump also signed an Executive Order on the Establishment of Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity.  The order creates a bipartisan commission of 15 members that are chaired by the Vice President and will study the registration and voting processes used in Federal elections.   Establishment of Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity: Former U.S. Representative Corrine Brown who representing Florida for almost 25 years was convicted Thursday on 18 charges that involve lying on her taxes and taking money from a charity that was supposed to give scholarships to poor students.  The supposed charity named One Door for Education Foundation took in approximately $800,000 but only gave one scholarship of $1200 to an unidentified person.    The Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency announced that it just wrapped up a six week operation that led to 1378 arrests.  1095 of the 1378 arrests were confirmed to be gang members or affiliates; mostly Bloods, Surenos, MS-13, and the Crips.  28% of the people arrested were in the country illegally. Aetna, the insurance provider, announced that it would withdraw from the Nebraska and Delaware markets next year which will effectively end the company's participation in Obamacare.  The company is said to lose more than $200 million this year and has already lost almost $700 million from 2014 to 2016.  Now only one insurance provider remains in the Nebraska exchange and one in the Delaware exchange. Jerry Brown, the Governor of California, proposed to increase funding of the state attorney general’s office to $6.5 million in an effort to combat President Trump’s policies with a series of lawsuits.  Brown stated, “There are unique litigation expenses right now and the attorney general feels that he wants to pursue those and I think he should be given some latitude.”       In Business News Macy’s announced its first quarter earnings yesterday.  They reported the closing of over 60 stores which contributed to a decrease of 7.5% in net sales.  Same store sales also declined by 4.6% and revenue of $5.34 billion was short when compared to the analysts’ estimates of $5.47 billion.  The stock was down as much as 17% in after hours trading. In Tech News Tesla announced earlier in the week that they are now taking orders for their new Solar Roof product. The roof looks like normal tiles, but produce electricity.  In a blog post, Tesla explained that Consumer Reports estimates that a Solar Roof for an average size U.S. home would need to cost less than $24.50 per square foot to be cost competitive with a regular roof.  The typical cost of the new Solar Roof is $21.85.
May 11, 2017
In the News Politicians on both sides of the aisle and much of the U.S. news media spent most of Wednesday speculating about why President Trump dismissed James Comey as the FBI Director.  Much of the speculation and assumptions involved Russia. Meanwhile, the White House deputy press secretary stated that the President lost confidence in Directory Comey and considered letting him go since the day he was elected.  The President then tweeted on Wednesday that, “ Dems have been complaining for months & months about Dir. Comey. Now that he has been fired they PRETEND to be aggrieved. Phony hypocrites!” In International News A Syrian rebel group named the Syrian Democratic Forces took control of the city of Tabqa and a nearby dam from ISIS control.  The rebel group is comprised of mostly Kurdish and Arab fighters.  The spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve stated that the rebel group and coalition forces will continue operations to isolate and seize Raqqah.   Just a reminder to check out Monday’s and Tuesday’s show for some informative context about Syria. In Business News Snap (also knows as SnapChat) reported its first quarterly financials as a public company yesterday.  The stock was down over 20% in after hours trading after it was reported that the company’s net losses increased to $2.2 billion.  Revenue was $150 million versus the $158 million that some analysts expected. Snap Inc.: On Tuesday, Disney reported their quarterly earnings.  Earnings per share was $1.50 versus an analyst's’ expectation of $1.41.  However, Disney missed on revenue slight with $13.34 billion versus the expected $13.45.  Operating income for the Parks and Resorts saw a 20% increase versus the same period last year.  However, Media Networks saw a 3% decrease year over year for the quarter.   The Walt Disney Company: In Tech News Google announced that it is acquiring Owlchemy Labs which is a virtual reality focused studio.  Owlchemy made the Job Simulator and Rick and Morty: Virtual Rick-ality.    You can learn more about Owlchemy in their blog post announcing the Google acquisition. “Owechemy Labs and Google join forces for the future of VR”: The Federal Communications Commission endured several distributed denial of service attacks to its website early in the week as the site’s comment system was bombarded with high traffic, likely bots attempting to overwhelm the system.  The system remained functioning, but the servers were too busy handling the traffic for actual people to leave their real comments regarding proposed changes to the net neutrality rules. To learn about cyber security, listen to yesterday’s show with our guest from the CyberWire podcast. Facebook is reporting that they are beginning to downplay links to posts that are primarily advertisements and not valuable content.  Posts or articles that have ads about losing weight overnight, fighting toenail fungus, or how to be better in bed are just a few examples of the click bait and spam that Facebook wants to rank lower. In Other News    Pew Research just released a report titled, “Americans’ Attitudes About the News Media Deeply Divided Along Partisan Lines.”  One of the most revealing data points in the report is that Democrats are 47 points more likely than Republicans to support news media’s watchdog role. Additionally, only 34% of Democrats and 11% of Republicans think that information from national news organizations is very trustworthy.   Pew Research:
May 10, 2017
Today’s special guest is Dave Bittner, producer and host of The Cyber Wire Podcast.  Thanks for the chat about Cyber Security, Dave. The CyberWire - Your cyber security new connection: CyberWire Website: In the News President Trump informed FBI Director James Comey that he has been terminated and removed from office.  According to a White House Statement, the action was taken based on recommendations from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.  The search for a new permanent FBI Direct will begin immediately. White House Statement: In International News President Trump approved the further arming of Syrian Kurds in an effort to battle the Islamic State in Raqqa the Department of Defense reported.  Turkey has continued to object to arming Kurds for fear that the fighters are linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party which is considered a terror group by Turkey. For a discussion about the events in Syria that lead up to the current crisis, be sure to check out Monday’s and Tuesday’s shows.  It is easy to listen; daily episodes are listed on our website as well as links to our show on iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn, and Google Play South Korea elected Moon Jae-in, a human rights lawyer, as their president on Tuesday. Moon is in favor of more open dialog with North Korea and hopes for reunification on the peninsula. The election follows huge protests and the impeachment of the last South Korean president on corruption charges.          In Tech News The digital currency Bitcoin surged to a new all time high on Tuesday, exceeding a value of $1700.  The currency increased almost 80 percent this year fueled by interest from retailers and governments.   For an understanding of blockchain, the technology behind Bitcoin, listen to our chat with CEO Mark Mueller-Eberstein on our show from last Thursday, May 4th.   Link to show: Amazon’s new Alexa enabled device which is called the Echo Show was announced today.  In addition to the usual voice commands that you can give Alexa, the Echo Show emphasizes video calls with its 7 inch video screen. Amazon has the device priced at $229.99 for pre-order with a release date of June 28th.    Amazon Echo Show: Amazon Echo Pre-Order: According to Pew Research, a majority of internet users can answer fewer than half the questions correctly on a difficult knowledge quiz about cybersecurity issues and concepts. This survey consisted of 13 questions designed to test Americans’ knowledge of a number of cybersecurity issues and terms. The typical (median) respondent answered only five of these 13 knowledge questions correctly (with a mean of 5.5 correct answers). One-in-five (20%) answered more than eight questions accurately, and just 1% received a “perfect score” by correctly answering all 13 questions. Take the short quiz at Pew Research’s site and let us know how you did in the comments section of our website.  You can find the link on today’s post.   Cyber Security Quiz:
May 9, 2017
Today’s Guest Brian Glyn Williams is today’s special guest for our discussion about Syria.  Brian is a professor of Islamic history at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth and a former Counterterrorism Center, Central Intelligence Agency officer.   Brian’s Website: Brian book, “Counter Jihad: America's Military Experience in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria”   In the News Sally Yates, the former acting attorney general, testified before a Senate subcommittee yesterday while stating that, “General Flynn was compromised in regard to the Russians.”  Yates explained she had concerns that Flynn could be blackmailed because he was allegedly lying to the White House regarding conversations with Russian officials.  In response, President Trump tweeted, “Ask Sally Yates, under oath, if she knows how classified information got into the newspapers soon after she explained it to the White House Counsel. James Clapper, the former Director of National Intelligence, also testified today.  He indicated that there were no signs of Russia meddled in the U.S. Presidential election vote tallying and did not know if the Russians influenced the overall outcome of the election. Greg Abbott, the Governor of Texas, signed SB-4 into law late Sunday which was broadcast on a Facebook Live event.  The law seeks to end sanctuary city policies in Texas and also gives law enforcement officers the right to ask the immigration status of people they stop. Officers who fail to cooperate with federal immigration agents could face jail time and fines up to $25,000 per day.     In Business News Coach, the handbag and accessory company plan to acquire Kate Spade which is another handbag company for $2.4 billion.  The CEO of coach intends to operate the two companies separately and envisions Coach as turning into a multi-brand luxury company.   The deal is priced at 27.5 percent over the value of Kate Spade’s stock price prior to the deal becoming public knowledge.   In International News The U.S. Department of Defense confirms that the leader of ISIS in Afghanistan was killed in a joint U.S.-Afghan raid last month.  The operation took place on April 27th in Nangarhar province in eastern Afghanistan. The foreign minister of Syria stated yesterday that the four de-escalation zones as declared by Russia, Iran, and Turkey could not be monitored by outside parties to include the United Nations.  The minister continued by saying, “the Syrian Army will be prepared to respond in a decisive manner.” In Tech News Rumors are afloat that Amazon will reveal a new Echo as soon as today. The new Echo speaker which is an internet connected device that uses voice commands may come with a 7 inch touchscreen to assist with video telephone capacities and displaying results for user queries. The U.S. Air Force landed the X-37B yesterday after it spent two years in orbit.  The details of the unmanned space vehicle mission were not clear and are likely classified in nature.  
May 8, 2017
Today’s Guest Brian Glyn Williams is today’s special guest for our discussion about Syria. Brian is a professor of Islamic history at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth and a former Counterterrorism Center, Central Intelligence Agency officer.   Brian’s Website: Brian book, “Counter Jihad: America's Military Experience in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria”   In the News The new jobs numbers are out. Unemployment falls slightly to 4.4% after the economy adds 211,000 new jobs. The labor force participation rate, at 62.9 percent, changed little in April and hasshown little movement over the past year. The employment-population ratio, at 60.2percent, was also little changed over the month but was up by 0.5 percentage point sinceDecember. Don’t rely on social media memes. Bureau of Labor Statistic:   After 3 years in captivity, 82 girls kidnapped by the terrorist group Boko Haram were released in Nigeria.  Over 100 girls are believed to remain in captivity by the group.  It is unclear at this time if the Nigerian government or any other organization negotiated for the release.  You may remember the Bring Back Our Girls campaign in 2014.  Here are some remarks during that time from former First Lady Michelle Obama.     The Department of Defense announced today the death of a U.S. Navy sailor who was serving  in support of a Somali National Army-led operation with the U.S. Africa Command.Senior Chief Special Warfare Operator Kyle Milliken, 38, of Falmouth, Maine, was killed during an operation against al-Shabaab on May 5 in a remote area approximately 40 miles west of Mogadishu.He was assigned to an East Coast based special warfare unit. In International News Three unexploded bombs from World War II were discovered in Hannover, Germany on Sunday and 50,000 people had to be evacuated from their homes as a precaution while the bombs were defused.  There are at least four other times in the last seven years in which unexploded ordnance from World War II were discovered in Europe.   Emmanuel Macron won the French election on Sunday, beating Marine Le Pen whose platform was anti-EU in nature and called for tougher policies to combat terrorism in France.  Macron is 39 years old and will be the youngest leader in France since Napoleon.      Dialog continues between the U.S. and Russia regarding the conflict in Syria.  U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson spoke with the russian Foreign Minister Lavrov on Saturday about efforts to de-escalate the ongoing conflict with an eye toward further dialog during talks in Geneva.   To learn about the events in the MIddle East over the last several years that led to the current situation in Syria, be sure to keep listening as our guest today is Professor of Islamic History, Brian Williams who is going to explain it all.   In Tech News The newest version of the Raspberry Pi is now able to integrate Google’s voice application which essentially can turn the small computer into an inexpensive Google Home type device.  A little background information:  the Raspberry Pi is a small single-board computer frequently used by tech enthusiasts to build anything from lighting systems to small robots.  The device was originally developed by the Raspberry Pi Foundation in order to promote the teaching of basic computer science.     Check out the Raspberry Pi website for more details:     Samsung Galaxy S8 owners have the option to buy a physical keyboard accessory.  The keyboard might resemble the physical tactile feel that some of us used to know on our BlackBerry devices.  The accessory slips over the bottom part of the phone where you would normally find your virtual keyboard and is priced at $59.99.   ZDNet has a good write-up on the keyboard:   Also, be sure to listen to Michael Fisher’s review of the Samsung Galaxy S8 on last Monday’s show.  
May 5, 2017
In the News House resolution 1628, The American Health Care Act, passed  with a 217 to 213 vote on   Thursday. The President remains convinced that insurance premiums will come down and the bill will pass the Senate. Democrats continue to be concerned that some Americans will lose any type of health coverage. HR 1628: President Trump signed the Promoting Free Speech and Religious LIberty  executive order today which aims to remove the threat of action by the Internal Revenue Service if religious leaders were to speak out on behalf of political candidates.   Opponents of the bill worry that the bill will encourage discrimination against certain groups.  Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi stated, “While the President’s executive order claims to serve religious liberty, in practice, it is a license for a few to violate the rights and freedoms of everyone else.” According to Pew Research, the public’s trust in government remains at historic lows.  The research that was conducted last April found that Republicans were more likely to trust government than Democrats (28% of Republicans trusted government versus 15% of Democrats).  However, the overall trust in government for the last decade has remained consistently low with only 2 in 10 Americans saying that they trust Washington to do what is right.   Public Trust in Government Remains Near Historic Lows as Partisan Attitudes Shift: On Thursday, Bitcoin, the digital currency, rose over 4% in value to reach above the $1500 value mark.  That beat the value of an ounce of gold which was trading a little over $1200 per ounce yesterday.  Many traders indicated that Japan’s new interest in Bitcoin helped drive up the prices.   For an understanding of blockchain, the technology behind Bitcoin, be sure to check out yesterday’s episode as Mark Mueller-Eberstein, CEO of Adgetec, explains the technology. Delta Airlines is now under scrutiny after it surfaced that a family of four was asked to get off a Delta plane last month.  The issue began when the family was asked to give up the seat they purchased for one of their children who did not take the flight.  The parents wanted to use the seat for one of their younger children. In International News Russia, Iran, and Turkey signed a deal that is supposed to create four de-escalation zones in Syria.  The zones are meant to reduce violence in those areas, however, the Syrian rebels and the government did not sign the agreement.  
May 4, 2017
Today’s Guest with a Discussion on Blockchain Special thanks to Professor Mark Mueller-Eberstein, CEO and Founder of the Adgetec Corporation Mark’s Website: Adgetec’s Website:   Be sure to check out Mark’s TED Talk, :Lad and be the change”   In the News The U.S. House of Representatives may vote on a bill to replace and repeal Obamacare on Thursday.  There is still talk of having a high risk pool with additional funding that will help to insure Americans will pre-existing conditions.  Details regarding the bill are still emerging. FBI Director, James Comey defended his actions as director in front of a Senate panel on Wednesday for nearly 4 hours.  Director Comey stated that he felt mildly nauseous” at the idea that his decisions regarding investigations into Hillary Clinton could have swayed the U.S. presidential election.  However, he stated that he had no regrets and continued, “...I think I’ve done the right thing at each turn.” Two people were found dead at North Lake College near Dallas, Texas on Wednesday.  The Irving, Texas police department stated that the incident appeared to include one victim and the shooter who committed suicide.  The police continued to investigate while ensuring that the campus was safe.     According to the Federal Reserve:  Information received since the Federal Open Market Committee met in March indicates that the labor market has continued to strengthen even as growth in economic activity slowed. Job gains were solid, on average, in recent months, and the unemployment rate declined. Household spending rose only modestly.  The Fed also decided to leave the target rate range at ¾ percent to 1 percent.   FOMC Statement:   The Pew Research Center released a report today regarding the future of jobs and jobs training.  “As robots, automation and artificial intelligence perform more tasks and there is massive disruption of jobs, experts say a wider array of education and skills-building programs will be created to meet new demands.” But there are uncertainties that include the question of whether  well-prepared workers be able to keep up in the race with AI tools? Pew Research Center, “The Future of Jobs and Jobs Training”: In Tech News Google is investigating a sophisticated phishing email that appears as Google Docs and as of late Wednesday, Google claims to have disabled the offending accounts.  Users of Google Docs are encouraged not to click the links and report the phishing attempt within Gmail.  You can visit the Gmail Twitter account for updates.   Gmail Twitter Account:    Facebook reported its quarterly earnings which revealed that revenue rose from 49 percent to $8.03 billion compared to the same period last year.  Solid gains are partly attributed to significant increases in ad revenue which saw a 51% year over year increase.   Facebook Quarterly Earning Report:
May 3, 2017
In the News   President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke yesterday regarding the crisis in Syria.  Both agree that “suffering in Syria has gone on for far too long and that all parties must do all they can to end the violence.”  Discussion included the need for safe zones within Syria that might help achieve a lasting peace for humanitarian reasons.  The U.S. will also be sending a representative to the cease-fire talking in Astana, Kazakhstan on May 3rd and 4th.   Be sure to check out our podcast next week and our interview with Brian Williams, professor of Islamic history at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth who will explain the events in Syria that lead to the current situation.     The Russian also met with German Chancellor Merkel and held a joint news conference.  Merkel revealed the possibility of lifting European sanctions against Russia and exploring cultural exchanges.   In light of recent, high profile, instances of customers being allegedly mistreated by U.S. airlines and by police, Congress held a four hour session in which they threatened the airline carriers with legislation.  Bill Shuster, Transportation Committee chairman said, “If airlines don't get their act together, we are going to act; it is going to be one size fits all. Seize this opportunity because if you don't, we're going to come, and you're not going to like it."   Some remarks by Mr. Shuster:   In Tech News   Microsoft revealed a new Surface Laptop powered by Windows 10S and began taking pre-orders.  The new laptop is marketed toward college students, has a 13.5 inch screen and weighs just 2.76 pounds.  Prices start at $1000 and the new laptop will officially be available on June 15th.   Apple released its 2nd quarter earning report yesterday.  Earnings per share were $2.10 on revenue of $52.9 billion during the quarter which beat analysts’ expectations of $2.02 per share.  However, iPhone sales were down with Apple selling 50.76 million units during the quarter versus analysts’ estimates of 52 million.  Apple shares were down nearly 2% in after hours trading. The company is increasing the dividend it pays to stock holders to 63 cents per share up from 57 cents a share.   Apple Q2 Earning Report:         BMW announced that it will producing their next generation of all electric vehicles, named the BMW iNEXT in 2021.  The new vehicle will include long range and autonomous driving capability.   Multiply Labs, a California based company just raised $2.7 million in venture capital funding.  The company, a former Y Combinator participant, uses 3D printing technology to produce nutraceuticals which are pharmaceutical grade dietary supplements and food additives.      Today’s Guest   Nick Moran, host of The Full Ratchet and General Partner at New Stack Ventures.   The Full Ratchet Podcast: Twitter:    
May 2, 2017
U.S. News   Yesterday was May Day,  May 1st, a public holiday with its roots in an ancient festival that celebrates Spring in many cultures.  In the late 19th century, the same day, May 1st became known as the International Workers’ Day.  In cities around the world yesterday, celebrations, labor rallies, and protests were seen.  Several protests occurred in major cities across the U.S. with protesters’ messages varying.  Some protesters called for universal healthcare and others chanted for the abolishment of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency in addition to calls for workers’ rights.  A common theme of the protests appeared to be opposition to President Trump as many effigies of the President were seen at several rallies.  Although many rallies were mostly peaceful, the Portland Police Department reported that rocks, lead balls, and full cans of pepsi were being thrown at police officers.  Also, in New York City, police eventually dispersed a crowd in order to clear the streets and sidewalks.     Meanwhile in France, rallies turned into riots as buses were set ablaze and police officers were attacked with molotov cocktails.   President Trump officially declared May 1st as Law Day in an official proclamation.  “I urge all Americans, including government officials, to observe this day by reflecting upon the importance of the rule of law in our Nation and displaying the flag of the United States in support of this national observance.”           Link to Presidential Proclamation (Law Day):   In other news, the Department of Defense released a military sexual assault report that stated 14,900 military service members were sexually assaulted last year which is 5,400 fewer than the 20,300 sexual assault victim reports estimated in 2014.  The departed also said that it will align with the advice of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in trying to build safer military communities.   DOD Report on Latest Military Sexual Assault:   Late Sunday night, Congress reached a deal on a $1.2 trillion spending bill that will keep the U.S. government operating.  Funds for building additional borders walls were not included in the deal. The bill can be found on our website under today’s show.   Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2017:       FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency continues to be concerned about the storm on the lower U.S. that lead to the death of several people and caused severe flooding and destruction.  From the White House daily briefing:        Please visit our website for FEMA’s Flood Map Service Center where you can enter location information and obtain a flood map for your area.     FEMA Flood Map Service Center:     A man, armed with a large knife, killed on person and injured three other during an attack at the University of Texas at Austin campus.  Police did not immediately identify a motive.   A separate deadly attack occurred at an apartment complex in San Diego where a man opened fire, killing one person and injuring several others.  Police are investigating the incident.      In Tech News   SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 rocket on Monday that is widely reported to have carried sensitive government equipment.  The launch was conducted at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida and was a success.  The Falcon 9 is 230 feet tall and can carry a payload of 50,000 pounds into low earth orbit.  You can visit for the full specs of this unique rocket.     Falcon 9:   Apple will report its quarterly earnings on Tuesday with iPhone sales expected to have risen slightly.  However, both the consumer market and the financial markets eagerly await the revealing of the next series of iPhones with expectation high that Apple will deliver interesting technology this fall on the 10 year anniversary of the first iPhone.      Today’s Guest   Nick Moran, host of The Full Ratchet and General Partner at New Stack Ventures.   The Full Ratchet Podcast: Twitter:  
May 1, 2017
In U.S. News President Trump signed two executive orders on Saturday that were related to foreign trade. One order directs a review of all existing U.S. trade agreements while the second order establishes an Office of Trade and Manufacturing. Link to U.S. presidential executive orders: At least 7 people were killed and dozens injured as tornadoes struck in Texas over the weekend.  Much of the damage was located in Van Zandy County with a population of over 52,000 according to census data.   Regarding another attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare, President Trump tweeted on Sunday that, “ plan is on its way.  Will have much lower premiums and deductibles while at the same time taking care of pre-existing conditions!” Link to Tweet:   The Climate March was held on Saturday in several cities throughout the U.S.  Some estimates claim that over 200,000 people attended the march in Washington D.C.  Signs held by marchers displayed varying messages with most advocating for protection of the environment.  However, some marchers relayed other messages such as “voting rights for all” and proclamations to “impeach Trump.” In public health news, there are 32 confirmed cases of measles in Minnesota.  Thirty of the cases are reported to be in Hennepin County.  Also, 31 out of the 32 confirmed cases are confirmed  to be unvaccinated.   Minnesota Department of Health site:. In International News North Korea, also called the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, launched a ballistic missile on Friday that is reported to have exploded over land in North Korea.  President Trump responded on Twitter by saying that “North Korea disrespected the wishes of China and its highly respected Present when it launched, though unsuccessfully, a missile today.  Bad!” The government of Japan also protested the missile test. In Tech News The Pew Research Center recently released a study that found many Americans turned to Google to learn about the Flint Water crisis in 2014.  A key finding was that “even before the water crisis had started to unfold, residents of Flint had begun searching for information about their water at increased rates - largely preceding both government notice and heightened regional news coverage.”   Link to the Pew Research Center study:   The Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ was released in the U.S. on April 21st.  Many of you will remember the recall of the Samsung Galaxy S7+ last year due to faulty batteries.  So, what can we expect from S8 this time around?  We interviewed Michael Fisher, also know as The Mr. Mobile on YouTube. Today’s Guest Thanks to our guest Michael Fisher for providing insight into the Samsung Galaxy S8.  You can find Michael at the following:   YouTube:     Facebook:   Twitter:   Snap:  MrMobileSnaps
April 26, 2017
We are excited to introduce FactFruit, a new daily news podcast.  We will bring you the most important news stories Monday through Friday.  We are simply going to deliver you the information without the political noise that we all commonly find in other media outlets.     Many of our daily shows will feature a guest who will dig deeper into a topic so that we can all better understand our world.  Topics range from the crisis in Syria to the latest consumer technology.  Our guests are not political pundits or talking heads; they are invited to the show to inform us and not try to sway our political opinions.   Keep an eye out for our first episode.  We will announce the date on social media and our website,  See you soon!   Facebook: Twitter: Instagram:
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