Hackers using the name “Mr. Smith” posted a fresh cache of stolen HBO files online Monday, and demanded that HBO pay a ransom of several million dollars to prevent further such releases.
The data dump included what appear to be scripts from five “Game of Thrones” episodes, including one upcoming episode, and a month’s worth of email from the account of Leslie Cohen, HBO’s vice president for film programming. There were also internal documents, including a report of legal claims against the network and job offer letters to top executives.
HBO, which previously acknowledged the theft of “proprietary information,” said it’s continuing to investigate and is working with police and cybersecurity experts. The network said Monday that it still doesn’t believe that its email system as a whole has been compromised.
This is the second data dump from the purported hacker. So far the HBO leaks have been limited, falling well short of the chaos inflicted on Sony in 2014. In that attack, hackers unearthed thousands of embarrassing emails and released personal information, including salaries and social security numbers, of nearly 50,000 current and former Sony employees.
Those behind the HBO hack claim to have more data, including scripts, upcoming episodes of HBO shows and movies, and information damaging to HBO.
In a video directed to HBO CEO Richard Plepler, “Mr. Smith” used white text on a black background to threaten further disclosures if HBO doesn’t pay up. To stop the leaks, the purported hackers demanded “our 6 month salary in bitcoin,” which they implied is at least $6 million.
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A fossil found in northeastern Nevada shows a newly discovered fish species that scientists believe looked, and ate, like a shark.
The fossil is what remains of a bony, sharp-toothed fish that would have been about six-feet-long (1.83 meters) with long jaws and layers of sharp teeth.
The type of jaw and teeth on the fish suggest it would have chomped down on its prey before swallowing it whole, like a shark, the Reno Gazette-Journal reported.
“The surprising find from Elko County in northeastern Nevada is one of the most completely preserved vertebrate remains from this time-period ever discovered in the United States,” said Carlo Romano of the University of Zurich, lead author of a Journal of Paleontology article about the find.
The fish, which researchers called Birgeria americana, predates Nevada’s most famous fossil, the Ichthyosaur, by more than 30 million years. The Ichthyosaur was a 55-foot-long (16.76 meters) reptile. One of the largest concentrations of Ichthyosaur fossils was found near Berlin, Nevada. The find led to the Ichthyosaur becoming Nevada’s state fossil.
Possible look of the newly discovered predatory fish species Birgeria americana with the fossil oft he skull shown at bottom right.
The Birgeria americana fossil finding is important because it sheds light on how quickly large, predator species evolved following the Earth’s third mass extinction that preceded the Triassic period about 250 million years ago.
The evidence shows the fish was alive and well about 1 million years after mass extinction 66 million years ago wiped out an estimated 90 percent of marine species.
It also shows a large fish was surviving in water previously thought to be too warm to support such life.
At the time, water near the equator, which is where land that became Nevada was positioned about 250 million years ago, could have been warmer than 96 degrees. “The eggs of today’s bony fish can no longer develop normally” at such a high temperature, researcher said.
Researchers learned of the fossil about five years ago after fossil collector Jim Jenks of West Jordan, Utah, stumbled upon it near Winecup Ranch north of Wells.
“It was just a very lucky find,” said Jenks, who was credited among the paper’s authors. “I happen to notice the teeth glinting in the sun. That is what caught my attention.”
Jenks turned the fish over to the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, which has a large collection of fossils and connections with leading researchers.
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Apple’s iPhone may be ready for its next big act — as a springboard into “augmented reality,” a technology that projects life-like images into real-world settings viewed through a screen.
If you’ve heard about AR at all, it’s most likely because you’ve encountered “Pokemon Go,” in which players wander around neighborhoods trying to capture monsters only they can see on their phones. AR is also making its way into education and some industrial applications, such as product assembly and warehouse inventory management.
Now Apple is hoping to transform the technology from a geeky sideshow into a mass-market phenomenon. It’s embedding AR-ready technology into its iPhones later this year, potentially setting the stage for a rush of new apps that blur the line between reality and digital representation in new and imaginative ways.
“This is one of those huge things that we’ll look back at and marvel on the start of it,” Apple CEO Tim Cook told analysts during a Tuesday conference call. Many analysts agree. “This is the most important platform that Apple has created since the app store in 2008,” said Jan Dawson of Jackdaw Research.
There’s just one catch: No one can yet point to a killer app for AR, at least beyond the year-old (and fading) fad of “Pokemon Go.” Instead, analysts argue more generally that AR creates enormous potential for new games, home-remodeling apps that let you visualize new furnishings and decor in an existing room, education, health care and more.
For the moment, though, we’re basically stuck with demos created by developers, including a “Star Wars”-like droid rolling past a dog that doesn’t realize it’s there; a digital replica of Houston on a table ; and a virtual tour of Vincent Van Gogh’s bedroom.
At Apple, the introduction of AR gets underway in September with the release of iOS 11, the next version of the operating system that powers hundreds of millions of iPhones and iPads around the world
Tucked away in that release is an AR toolkit intended to help software developers create new AR apps.
Those apps, however, won’t work on just any Apple device — only the iPhone 6S and later models, including the hotly anticipated next-generation iPhone that Apple will release this fall. The 2017 iPad and iPad Pro will run AR apps as well.
Apple isn’t the only company betting big on AR. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg talked up the technology at a company presentation in April, calling it a “really important technology that changes how we use our phones.” Apple rivals such as Google and Microsoft are also starting to deploy AR systems .
Apple has been looking for something to lessen its dependence on the iPhone since the 2011 death of its co-founder CEO Steve Jobs, the driving force behind the company’s innovation factory.
Cook thought he had come up with a revolutionary product when Apple began selling its smartwatch in 2015, but the Apple Watch remains a niche product.
For now, the iPhone remains Apple’s dominant product, accounting for 55 percent of Apple’s $45.4 billion in revenue during the three months ended in June. The total revenue represented a 7 percent increase from the same time last year. Apple earned $8.7 billion, up 12 percent from last year.
Tim Merel, managing director of technology consulting firm Digi-Capital, believes Apple’s entry into AR will catalyze the field. His firm expects AR to mushroom into an $83 billion market by 2021, up from $1.2 billion last year.
That estimate assumes that Apple and its rivals will expand beyond AR software to high-tech glasses and other devices, such as Microsoft’s HoloLens headset.
Craig Federighi, Senior Vice President Software Engineering speaks about “Augmented Reality” during Apple’s annual world wide developer conference (WWDC) in San Jose, California, June 5, 2017.
For now, though, nothing appears better suited for interacting with AR than the smartphone. Google already makes AR software called Tango that debuted on one Lenovo smartphone last year and will be part of another high-end device from Asus this month.
But it will be years before Tango phones are as widely used as iPhones, or for that matter, iPads. Most of those devices are expected to become AR-ready when the free iOS 11 update hits next month.
Nearly 90 percent of Apple devices powered by iOS typically install the new software version when it comes out. Assuming that pattern holds true this fall, that will bring AR to about 300 million Apple devices that are already in people’s hands.
If the new software wins over more AR fans as Apple hopes, analysts figure that Apple will begin building AR-specific devices, too.
One obvious possibility might be some kind of AR glasses tethered to the iPhone, which would allow people to observe digital reality without having to look “through” a phone. Once technology allows, a standalone headset could render the iPhone unnecessary, at least for many applications.
Such a device could ultimately supplant the iPhone, although that isn’t likely to happen for five to 10 years, even by the most optimistic estimates.
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Models endured waits of up to six hours in their quest to become elaborate human canvases in an Austrian town this weekend, as the 2017 World Bodypainting Festival and world championships got under way.
The event sees participants decorated not just in paint, but in elaborate latex makeup, creating appearances that would not be out of place in a science fiction film.
An artist touches up makeup on a model during the “World Bodypainting Festival 2017” in Klagenfurt, Austria, July 28, 2017.
On Friday, some of the human exhibits included a scaly-skinned woman with an animal skeleton headdress, another with multiple sets of horns, while the more reserved were semi-naked, painted with butterflies, apes and flowers.
A model performs on stage during the “World Bodypainting Festival 2017” in Klagenfurt, Austria, July 28, 2017.
“My painting is called ‘Utopia’ and stands for a world in which all dreams come true,” said artist and third-time participant Karen Dinger from Germany.
Her painting and costume, which took six hours to create, features heart-shaped red and white wings that stretch from the model’s head to knee-level and a painted moon on the leg.
The three-day festival, which is in its 19th year, sees 60 artists from over 50 countries take part, and competitions in 13 separate categories including special effects bodypainting, brush and sponge painting and ultraviolet effects.
A model performs on stage during the “World Bodypainting Festival 2017” in Klagenfurt, Austria, July 28, 2017.
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Netflix is pulling in new viewers and award nominations in droves, but the online video service still faces a long-term problem: Its acclaimed programming line-up is costing far more money than what subscribers pay for it.
That hasn’t been a big issue so far, thanks to investors’ willingness to accept scant profits in exchange for robust subscriber growth.
Netflix delivered on that front again Monday, announcing that it added 5.2 million subscribers in the second quarter covering April to June. That’s the largest increase ever during the period, which has always been the company’s slowest time of year.
Wall Street rewarded Netflix by driving up its stock by more than 10 percent to $178.30 in extended trading, putting the shares on track to hit a new high in Tuesday’s regular trading.
The Los Gatos, California, company now has 104 million subscribers worldwide. For the first time in its history, most of those subscribers (slightly more than 52 million) are outside the U.S.
That milestone could further complicate Netflix’s cost issues, since the company will need to keep creating more shows that appeal to the unique interests of viewers in countries such as Japan, India and Indonesia.
“It is going to be imperative for them to have more locally produced content,” says CFRA Research analyst Tuna Amobi. “They can’t afford to pursue a ‘one-size-fits-all’ strategy.”
As part of its efforts to boost its profits, Netflix is becoming more aggressive about dumping shows that aren’t drawing enough viewers to justify their costs. In the second quarter, Netflix jettisoned both the high-concept science fiction show “Sense 8” and the musical drama “The Get Down.”
In a Monday letter to shareholders, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings made it clear that the company plans to exert more discipline in the future. “They are becoming more like any other Hollywood studio and paying more attention to the economics of their shows,” Amobi said.
The subscriber growth further validates Netflix’s decision to expand into original programming five years ago. Two of its longest running shows — “House of Cards” and “Orange Is The New Black” — recently launched their latest seasons.
Those two series, along with new hits like “Master of None” and “13 Reasons Why,” helped Netflix easily surpass the average 1.8 million subscribers it has added in the second quarter over the past five years.
This fall, new seasons of two other hits, “Stranger Things” and “The Crown,” are due. Those two series accounted for about a third of the 91 Emmy nominations that 27 different Netflix programs received last week — more than any other TV network except its role model, HBO, which landed 111 nominations.
But the success hasn’t come cheaply.
Netflix is locked into contracts requiring it to pay more than $13 billion for programming during the next three years, a burden that has forced the company to borrow to pay its bills.
After burning through $1.7 billion in cash last year, Netflix expects that figure to rise to as much as $2.5 billion this year. It’s continuing to invest in more original programming amid increasing competition from the likes of Amazon, Hulu and YouTube.
Netflix expects to be spending more money than it brings in for several more years. It posted a more detailed explanation about its negative cash flow to give investors a better grasp of its programming expenses.
The company is still profitable under corporate accounting rules, although its earnings remain puny by Wall Street standards. It earned $66 million on revenue of $2.8 billion in revenue during its latest quarter.
Funding international operations remains Netflix’s biggest financial drag, although the overseas losses are narrowing. The company now expects its international operation to produce a small operating profit for the full year.
Netflix also could make more money by raising its prices closer to the $15 per month that HBO charges for its streaming service, but the company has said no increases are planned in the near future. Netflix’s U.S. rates currently range from $8 to $12 per month.
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“Sir, my father was an Islamic State militant, but he divorced my mother in 2013,” said Jassem Mohammad, 21, pulling out his identification card and presenting it to the camp manager. “He now has two other wives.”
In a tiny patch of shade on the edge of a blistering desert camp outside of Mosul, the manager listened as Mohammad made his case. He wanted to leave the camp and go back to college. He had good scores, he said, and was never involved with IS.
Militant rule in Mosul has collapsed and IS fighters here are dead, fled, arrested or in hiding. But as their relatives try to re-integrate into society, Iraqi authorities face impossible questions with only bad answers.
If someone loved or even tolerated an IS militant, is that person guilty? How do the relatives of the perpetrators make peace with the relatives of the victims?
Medics at this collection point for fleeing families treat a baby for malnutrition, which they say is widespread among children in Mosul, Iraq, on July 12, 2017
Officially in Iraq, the answer to the first question is “no,” especially when speaking of small children. Women and children fleeing areas IS occupied are checked for bombs, and when cleared, they are considered civilians.
Unofficially, families of militants are shunned, feared and often separated from the “regular” people, all traumatized by violence and extreme poverty under IS. Many IS families now live in camps, like Mohammad, where they are not quite sure if they are being detained or protected. And both, in fact, are true.
“We’d need to see the divorce papers,” the camp manager explained to Mohammad. If Mohammad offered evidence that his father was not in his life during IS rule in Mosul, it might be possible for him to go back to school.
“I want to study and do humanitarian work,” Mohammad continued, pleading his case to a nearby journalist.
As Mohammad and the reporter chatted, the camp manager looked nonplused and strolled away. A security officer, in contrast, was visibly annoyed and abruptly ended the conversation.
“You cannot talk to him without official permission,” he said, ushering all journalists out of the camp. Other Iraqi officers said they worry that news about camps set aside for IS families will make them look like monsters, locking up women and children.
“What can we do as the Iraqi government?” said a member of a community police force who didn’t want to be named because he was not authorized to speak to the media. “We are exposed to danger. They are families, but we can’t loose them without rehabilitation.”
Distrust on all sides
Inside the city, at the base of a long-dormant Ferris wheel, a short row of tents served as a collection point for families fleeing Mosul in the final days of battle.
Women and children filed into the tents, some collapsing where they sat. Medics treated injuries and food and water alleviated some of the most pressing pains. Many of the people had been hiding in basements for weeks, after months of water shortages. The smell of unwashed bodies was pungent and the heat in the stagnant tents was overwhelming.
“We were imprisoned,” said Khalifa, 46, a mother of three. Unlike the rest of the women in the tent, she wore no veil and her curly hair was tousled. “We tried to run away and militants locked us in a basement. For the past three days we’ve had no food or water.”
“Once they brought us food in the basement,” adds Hoda, 25, her daughter. “He came down wearing a suicide vest.”
Their story echoed tales from families all over Mosul and, even if their husbands or fathers were IS fighters, it could still be true. However, local authorities worried they were lying, casting themselves as victims, rather than somehow complicit.
In Old Mosul, dead IS militants are scattered in houses and on the streets and the smell is overwhelming in 45-plus degree Celsius weather on July 13, 2017 in Mosul.
One man peppered Hoda with questions about the neighborhood she said she was from. IS militants in Mosul were often not stationed near their original homes. Hoda failed to identify the most famous church, mosque and graveyard in the area.
“See, they are an IS family,” the man said. “They are lying.”
Another woman, Fatima, a mother of eight, said for relatives of IS omitting certain truths is a matter of survival. Sitting with an intelligence official, Fatima admitted she had two brothers that fought with IS. Both, she said, are now dead and she never supported their decision to join IS.
But when the officer walked away, she said at least one of her brothers is alive and now in Tal Afar, an Iraqi city still held by IS.
“We are afraid to tell them when we talk to family members who are with IS,” she whispered. “We don’t want to be blamed for what they did.”
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A government-run laboratory in India announced Monday that is has developed a portable kit which can determine whether a sample contains beef in 30 minutes.
The technology will be used in a number of police departments to minimize arrests and detentions of people suspected of selling or eating beef, which is banned in several states as cows are considered sacred by many members of India’s Hindu majority.
Currently, it can take days for laboratory results to determine the presence of beef in a sample, often leaving innocent people in jail awaiting results.
The new portable devices developed by the Directorate of Forensic Science Laboratories, are priced at roughly $120 each.
The announcement comes as vigilante murders of suspected beef traders has risen sharply in India.
“Not in My Name” demonstrations denouncing rising intolerance and calling on the Prime Minister Narendra Modi to condemn increased attacks against Muslims and low-caste Hindus for trading or eating beef were held across India last month.
Prime Minister Modi has since condemned the violence, saying that killing people on the pretext of protecting cows is illegal. But many fear that vigilantes have been empowered by his right-wing Hindu nationalist party since its election in 2014.
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A remote Iranian desert city, Ice Age-era caves in Germany and a stone wharf in Brazil built for arriving African slave ships are three new additions to UNESCO’s list of World Heritage sites.
The World Heritage Committee spent a week meeting in Kraków, Poland, to consider 34 significant historical and cultural sites to add to the list.
This year’s selections include the Iranian city of Yazd, which UNESCO describes as a “living testimony to the use of limited resources for survival in the desert.”
The city has managed to avoid so-called modernization that destroyed many similar Iranian towns, and has preserved its traditional homes, bazaars, mosques and synagogues.
Another site UNESCO added to the list is in the Swabian Jura in southern Germany, one of the areas in Europe where humans first arrived more than 40,000 years ago, during the last Ice Age. They settled in caves, first discovered in the 1860s, and where they created some of the oldest known figurative art.
The U.N. cultural organization said the ancient musical instruments and prehistoric carved figures of animals and humans found in the caves help shed light on the origins of human artistic development
UNESCO also placed the Valongo Wharf in central Rio de Janeiro on the World Heritage List. The stone wharves were built in the early 1800s for slave ships sailing from Africa to Brazil. UNESCO called the wharves “the most important physical trace of the arrival of African slaves on the American continent.”
UNESCO added the World Heritage designation to more than 22 sites during its weeklong meeting in Poland, including choices that were controversial.
They include the Hoh Xil area in the China’s Qinghai province, a traditionally Tibetan area. By designating this a World Heritage site, the International Camnpaign for Tibet, an advocacy group critical of China’s administration there, said UNESCO endorses the forced relocation of Tibetan nomads by Chinese authorities.
China has promised to preserve the traditions and cultural heritage of the Tibetan region.
UNESCO also designated the Old City and Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron as a Palestinian World Heritage Site, angering Israel.
The city is split between Israeli and Palestinian control with the Old City and tomb in the Israeli sector. The tomb is sacred to Jews, Muslims, and Christians. Israel accuses UNESCO of trying to hide Jewish ties to Hebron, while Palestinians contend Israel is seeking to undermine their history.
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An animal protection group wants tourists to know that the elephant they are thinking about riding during their vacation in Thailand is probably a miserable victim of abuse.
London-based World Animal Protection looked at almost 3,000 elephants working at entertainment venues in six Asian nations and found three out of four of the animals are living in poor, unacceptable conditions. It said they were chained day and night when not working, received inadequate diets and unsatisfactory veterinary care, as well as undergoing harsh initial training, “that breaks their spirits and makes them submissive enough to give rides and perform.”
The group wants tourists to be aware and counsels tour agencies to shun abusive venues, among other measures. It says it has convinced more than 160 travel companies to stop sales and promotion of venues offering elephant rides and shows.
Cruel trend growing
The report the group released Thursday is part of a broader campaign by World Animal Protection, which has also sought to expose the living conditions of other animals used to entertain, including tigers, macaques and bears.
“If you can ride, hug or interact with wild animals, chances are there’s cruelty involved,” said Dr. Jan Schmidt-Burbach, WAP’s global wildlife and veterinary adviser and author of the elephant report.
Wildlife tourist attractions, including wildlife entertainment, have become increasing popular and hence profitable, meaning the industry is likely to expand, the report warned.
“The cruel trend of elephants used for rides and shows is growing,” said Schmidt-Burbach. “We want tourists to know that many of these elephants are taken from their mothers as babies, forced to endure harsh training and suffer poor living conditions throughout their life.”
The group identified venues by looking at travel guidebooks and similar resources and by visiting tourist areas most likely to offer elephant attractions. It then sent researchers to each venue at least once to document the animals’ situations. It found only 194 elephants at 13 venues to be living in acceptable conditions, the major criteria being that the animals do not perform and are not ridden by people.
“The elephants walked free during most of the day, were able to socialize with other elephants and were fed on natural vegetation at most of these venues,” the report said. “Tourists visiting these venues would observe elephants behaving naturally and direct interaction between visitors and elephants was usually prohibited or limited.”
The report surveyed elephants in Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Nepal, Sri Lanka and India, but identified Thailand as the home of three-quarters of all elephants kept in captivity for entertainment purposes.
Thailand’s first animal cruelty law took effect in December 2015, carrying up to two years in prison for torturing animals. But elephants are not covered by that law or by a separate one on wild animals.
“Elephants used in shows are considered a means of transportation” said Thiradech Palasuwan, an officer of the Thai government’s Wildlife Conservative Office. “They belong to elephant camps and are not under the supervision of the department. Elephant camps do not need permission to use elephants for shows. This is an area where there are no regulations yet.” The approach is an apparent legacy of what used to be the main work of elephants in captivity, to haul timber.
Some elephant lovers remain optimistic
Soraida Salwala, founder and secretary general of Friends of the Asian Elephant Foundation, said the known number of cases of mistreated elephants has been declining, particularly this year.
“I want Thais and foreigners to be aware that we (the government and private agencies) are working on improving the welfare of elephants,” she said.