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What did Donald Trump do today?He said there were no political motives behind re...

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What did Donald Trump do today?

He said there were no political motives behind revoking the security clearances of his political enemies.

Today, Trump announced that he was revoking the security clearance of former CIA director John Brennan. He also said he was "reviewing" the clearances for nine others: former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former FBI director James Comey, former CIA director Michael Hayden, former acting Attorney General Sally Yates, former National Security Advisor Susan Rice, former Deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe, former FBI counterintelligence chief Peter Strzok, former FBI counsel Lisa Page, and former deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr.

None of those targeted by Trump are accused of leaking or mishandling classified information.

Trump's statement explained that his motives weren't political, but that Brennan and others were too "partisan" to continue to hold their clearances. (The reason that former government employees keep their clearances is so that they can continue to assist the government as needed.) 

At a press briefing this afternoon, Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked repeatedly why Trump was only targeting his political enemies. 

Q: Sarah, first, I’ve got a question I wanted to ask you. But first, just to follow up on that, it seems like everybody that you mentioned has been a political critic of the President. Is he going after his political opponents with this? 
In reality, every single person on that list has criticized Trump, using only non-classified information to do so, and every single person on that list has been personally attacked by Trump in turn. Many of them participated in the investigation into Russia's attempts to assist Trump by sabotaging the 2016 election.

More than four million Americans have security clearances, which are common job credentials for government-related work.

Why is this a problem?

  • Government employees who get security clearances swear an oath to defend the Constitution, not the president's political needs.
  • Using the powers of the government to punish your political opposition is what authoritarians do.
  • Refusing to give political enemies a security clearance is the definition of politicizing national security.
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Doesn't being partisan mean much the same thing as being opposed politically?
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AT&T sued by cryptocurrency investor who was ripped off in "SIM swap fraud"

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A few days ago, we told you how a nine-member gang stole hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash and cryptocurrencies by employing the ol' SIM swap routine. This is accomplished when a crook calls a carrier's customer service department and pretends to be a subscriber. The caller claims that his SIM card is damaged, or the one he has doesn't fit a new phone he bought. With the help of a paid off insider, a replacement SIM, tied to the victim's account, is sent to the bad guy. Once the SIM is inserted by the criminal into his phone, he now has complete control of the victim's apps. Even two-party ...
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New sponge for cleaning harbor oil leaks has a successful real-world test

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Enlarge / Seth Darling, Jeff Elam, and Ed Barry conduct research experiments with the Oleo Sponge in Santa Barbara, California. (credit: Argonne National Laboratory)

In March 2017, Ars wrote about a new material that could soak up oil like a sponge. The so-called Oleo Sponge could be wrung out, the oil could be collected, and the sponge could be used again. The material had just been developed at Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) outside of Chicago, so it was still being tested in controlled environments.

Now, Argonne has announced a successful real-world test of the Oleo Sponge at an oil seep in a channel near Goleta, California.

The test, conducted in April, involved immersing the Oleo Sponge in the Coal Oil Point Seep Field in the Santa Barbara Channel. The oil seep field is natural and is one of the largest in the known world (PDF). Not only does it release lots of methane every day, but it also releases oil into the channel water. A press release from ANL notes, "the seeps have been active for at least 500,000 years and release roughly 40 tons of methane, 19 tons of other organic gases, and more than 100 barrels of liquid petroleum daily."

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A Visit to Tuvalu, Surrounded by the Rising Pacific

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Fiona Goodall, a photographer working with Getty Images, recently visited the tiny South Pacific island nation of Tuvalu, a country battling rising sea levels with limited resources. Goodall reports that high tides regularly bring flooding that “inundates taro plantations, floods either side of the airport runway and affects peoples homes.” While a study released in February showed that Tuvalu’s land area had actually increased by 2.9 per cent since 1970, due mostly to wave-driven beach buildup, the elevation of the nation’s nine islands was not growing—while the sea has been rising by approximately 0.2 inches (5mm) every year, above the global average, since 1993. The government of Tuvalu is working with public and private groups from around the Pacific to develop hardy crops, shore up vulnerable beaches, and work toward a goal of becoming 100% renewable energy-dependent by 2025.

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Samsung talks about what it took to make the Note 9 so darn pretty

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It's finally here. After relentless leaks, rumors, and more, Samsung's finally unveiled the Galaxy Note 9.

Even though we already knew a lot about the phone prior to its official announcement, there's still plenty to talk about. What colors does it come in? What are the final specs? Were we impressed during our hands-on preview?

All those questions and more are answered right here, so without further ado, here's everything you need to know about the Samsung Galaxy Note 9.

The latest Galaxy Note 9 news

August 15, 2018 — Samsung talks about what it took to make the Note 9 so darn pretty 😍

It's no secret that Samsung makes stunning phones, and with the Galaxy Note 9, the company put all of its design prowess on full display. However, as much fun as it is to look at and hold the Note 9, it's even more exciting to take a closer look at just what goes into crafting a device of its caliber.

Samsung's Infinity Display is once again being used on the Note 9, and measuring in at 6.4-inches, is the biggest the company's created to-date. Samsung also says that the Note 9's screen is an ever deeper black compared to past handsets, which "allows it to blend in with the bezels when the device is off and enhances the overall aesthetic."

A process called Die-cutting was used to craft the Note 9's frame, and as a result of this laborious process, the frame of the Note 9 " features an interplay of glossy and matte finishes that complements the Galaxy Note9's premium design cues."

To read more about the Note 9's design and the time/attention that went into its S Pen, check out Samsung's full deep dive below.

Beautiful From Every Angle: The Design of the Galaxy Note 9

All the big details

Check out our hands-on preview

Before you do anything else, be sure to check out our initial hands-on preview of the Galaxy Note 9!

This is Samsung's biggest and most powerful phone of the year, and during our early look, we got a chance to check out the Note 9's design, new S Pen features, cameras, and more.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 hands-on preview: $1000 well spent

Here are the specs

Like past Notes before it, the Galaxy Note 9 is packed to the gills with all of the latest available tech. That means it has the latest processor, a massive battery, an insane amount of RAM, and much more.

Here are all the specs you can look forward to.

Category Spec
Operating system Android 8.1 Oreo
Samsung Experience 9.5
Display 6.4-inch Super AMOLED, 2960x1440 (18.5:9)
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 845
Storage 128/512GB
Expandable MicroSD up to 2TB
Primary rear camera 12MP Super Speed Dual Pixel, OIS, f/1.5 or f/2.4
Secondary rear camera 12MP, OIS, f/2.4, telephoto lens
Front camera 8MP, f/1.7, auto focus
Connectivity Wi-Fi 802.11ac MIMO, 1.2Gbps (Cat-18) LTE, Bluetooth 5.0 LE
ANT+, NFC, GPS, Glonass
Audio Stereo speakers
Dolby Atmos
3.5mm headphone
Battery 4000mAh
Water resistance IP68
Security One-touch fingerprint sensor
Iris scanner
Samsung KNOX
Colors Ocean Blue, Lavender Purple (U.S.)
Midnight Black, Metallic Copper (intl)

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 specifications

The 4,000 mAh battery is huge

Samsung's Galaxy Note phones have typically been known for packing huge batteries, but following the disaster that was the Note 7, Samsung decided to play it safe with the Note 8 by including a fairly modest 3,300 mAh battery.

With the Note 9, Samsung's going all the way with a seriously huge 4,000 mAh pack.

It's being touted that the Note 9 will offer XX hours of use on a single charge, and while we'll certainly need to put the phone through its paces to see how accurate that claim is, we've got high hopes considering the battery's size and power efficiency of the Snapdragon 845.

When you do finally drain the Note 9, you'll be able to top it up via wired and wireless fast charging.

Should you upgrade from the Note 8?

As exciting as the Galaxy Note 9 is shaping up to be, last year's Note 8 is still one heck of a smartphone.

The Note 9 offers the expected improvements in regards to RAM, camera performance, etc., but really gets a strong edge over its predecessor thanks to its improved S Pen and a massive battery.

Then again, if you already have the Note 8 and don't feel like throwing down $900 (?) on a new phone, maybe upgrading isn't the right move for you?

Let Andrew break everything down for you in his comparison of the Note 8 and Note 9

How's it compare to other phones?

That's fine and dandy, but how's the Note 9 hold up against other non-Note devices?

Without a doubt, one of the Note 9's biggest competitors comes from Samsung itself with the Galaxy S9+. A lot of features are shared between the two phones, including a large Super AMOLED display, Snapdragon 845, Samsung's custom software, excellent dual cameras, and more.

The Note 9 is obviously the only one of the two that uses the S Pen, but is that reason enough to make the pricey upgrade?

Similarly, there are still plenty of other phones that are scheduled to come out before 2018 is over — most importantly the Google Pixel 3 XL. Rumors and leaks are hinting at a phone with considerably slimmer bezels, an even better camera package, and an all-glass back (not to mention the ginormous notch).

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 vs. Galaxy S9+

Should you buy the Galaxy Note 9 or wait for the Google Pixel 3 XL?

A lot is new with the S Pen

The S Pen is easily the biggest reason so many people flock to the Note series year after year, and this time around, Samsung's giving the S Pen one of its biggest upgrades in years.

For the first time, Samsung's adding Bluetooth Low Energy to the S Pen. With this new connectivity, the S Pen picks up a heap of new features that allow you to control the Note 9 from a distance.

Some use cases include being able to use the S Pen and its button as a camera shutter, navigating through presentations, and more. The presence of Bluetooth also means this is the first S Pen to have a battery, and as with all things that have a battery, the S Pen will need to be charged.

Thankfully, seeing as how the S Pen seamlessly charges in the background when stored inside the Note 9, this shouldn't ever prove to be an issue of any sort.

Get the official wallpapers right here!

New Samsung phones always come with striking wallpapers to help jazz up your home screen, and even if you don't have the funds/interest to get a Note 9 right now, you can still bring its look to your exisitng handset with its official wallpapers.

We've got all 12 listed above for your viewing pleasure, and if you want to throw one (or all) of them on your phone, feel free to download 'em as you see fit.

These are all the colors

Samsung's typically one of the better OEMs when it comes to offering a good variety of colors, and with the Note 9, that's no different.

In the United States, buyers will be able to choose from Ocean Blue and Lavender Purple. In other parts of the world, Samsung's releasing Midnight Black and Metallic Copper.

Here's where you can buy the Note 9

There are a lot of reasons you may want to pick up the Note 9, and whatever those reasons may be, you've got a lot of options for deciding where to get it.

In the United States, pricing starts at $999.99 for the 128GB model and goes up to $1249.99 for the 512GB one.

You'll be able to get the phone at Best Buy, Amazon, Samsung's website, all of the major carriers, and more.

Where to buy the Galaxy Note 9: Best deals for your new phone

Updated August 10, 2018: Added the Note 9's official wallpapers!

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Pretty? Really?
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Researchers develop device to aid in hunt for stealthy ATM card skimmers

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Enlarge / The SkimReaper, shown here with a sample card skimming device, can help law enforcement find and shut down card skimming operations. (credit: Sean Gallagher)

BALTIMORE—At the USENIX Security Symposium here today, University of Florida researcher Nolen Scaife presented the results of a research project he undertook with Christian Peeters and Patrick Traynor to effectively detect some types of "skimmers"—maliciously placed devices designed to surreptitiously capture the magnetic stripe data and PIN codes of debit and credit cards as they are inserted into automated teller machines and point-of-sale systems. The researchers developed SkimReaper, a device that can sense when multiple read heads are present—a telltale sign of the presence of a skimmer.

Nolen and his fellow researchers worked with data provided by the New York City Police Department (NYPD) to assess the types of credit-card-skimming gear currently in the wild. They uncovered four broad categories of skimming gear:

  • Overlays—devices that get placed on top of the slot for the ATM or point-of-sale system. They can be modeled to match a specific ATM type's card slot or, in some cases, overlay an entire device such as a credit card reader at a retail point of sale. Overlays on ATM machines are sometimes accompanied by a keypad that is placed atop the actual keypad to collect PIN data.
  • Deep inserts—skimmers engineered to be jammed deep into the card reader slots themselves. They're thin enough to fit under the card as it is inserted or drawn in to be read. An emerging version of this is a "smart chip" skimmer that reads EMV transactions passively, squeezed between the card slot and the EMV sensor.
  • Wiretap skimmers—devices that get installed between a terminal and the network they connect to. This suggests there's a fundamental security problem to begin with.
  • Internal skimmers—devices installed in-line between the card reader of a terminal and the rest of its hardware. These, Scaife said, are more common in gas-pump card readers, where the attacker has a greater chance of being able to gain access to the internals without being discovered.

Overlays and deep inserts are by far the most common types of skimmers—and are increasingly difficult to detect. Police, Scaife noted, often find them only by looking for the cameras used by skimmers to capture PIN numbers, because most of the common detection tips—including trying to shake the card slot to see if it dislodges—are ineffective.

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