While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, Sept 17

US charges 5 Chinese, 2 Malaysians in wide-ranging hacking effort

The US Justice Department said on Wednesday it has charged five Chinese residents and two Malaysian businessmen in a wide-ranging hacking effort that encompassed targets from videogames to pro-democracy activists.

Federal prosecutors said the Chinese nationals had been charged with hacking more than 100 companies in the United States and abroad, including software development companies, computer manufacturers, telecommunications providers, social media companies, gaming firms, nonprofits, universities, and think-tanks, as well as foreign governments and politicians and civil society figures in Hong Kong.

US officials stopped short of alleging the hackers were working on behalf of Beijing, but in a statement Deputy Attorney-General Jeffrey Rosen expressed exasperation with Chinese authorities, saying they were – at the very least – turning a blind eye to cyber-espionage.

“We know the Chinese authorities to be at least as able as the law enforcement authorities here and in likeminded states to enforce laws against computer intrusions,” Rosen said. “But they choose not to.”


Fires continue to rage in US as smoke reaches Europe

Devastating wildfires that have ravaged the US West Coast continued to rage on Wednesday as smoke from the deadly blazes spread across the country and even reached Europe.

“The scale and magnitude of these fires are at a level much higher than any of the 18 years that our monitoring data covers” since 2003, said Mark Parrington, senior scientist and wildfire expert at Europe’s Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service.

He add that the fires are emitting so much pollution that thick smoke was visible over 8,000 kilometres away in northern Europe, showing how devastating the blazes have been in their magnitude and duration.


Coronavirus: As some US college students party, others blow the whistle

Some US college students are doing the once-improbable: blowing the whistle on classmates who break rules aimed at stemming the spread of the coronavirus.

At the University of Missouri, one senior is posting photos and videos on a “University of Misery” Twitter account that shows students gathered in large groups at pools, outside bars and other places – few of them wearing masks.

The university has a form on its website where violations of the school’s Covid-19 guidelines can be anonymously reported, but posting on Twitter “adds a different level of accountability,” said the student.


Cycling: Record performances raise Tour de France doubts

Record performances in the Tour de France have raised eyebrows given the chequered history of cycling, and race leader Primoz Roglic was forced to defend himself declaring he had “nothing to hide” when asked about his credibility.

“I’d like it to be like before when we could attack and have fun for the fans, but the level is very high,” said Colombia’s fourth-placed rider Miguel Angel Lopez, an adept climber who has found the speeds set by the leading Jumbo pack tough to maintain.

On the Peyresourde and the Grand Colombier mountains second-placed Tadej Pogacar set records on the ascent, but that in itself is not necessarily suspicious.


Don’t call it the ‘Zoomies’! TV’s Emmy Awards swap high-fives for virtual show

Television’s Emmy Awards usually provide a night of hugs, high-fives and glamorous stars posing on the red carpet, but the coronavirus pandemic will make for a very different virtual-only ceremony on Sunday.

Jimmy Kimmel will host from a stage in the Staples Centre in downtown Los Angeles, telling jokes without the usual packed audience of celebrities.

Only production staff and a handful of stars will be allowed in. The red carpet was cancelled.


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