Taken down by tech. A massive FBI operation managed to catch hundreds of criminals around the globe by secretly distributing a messaging app that users thought was secret, but was in fact monitored by law enforcement. The app, ANOM, aided arrests including those of organized crime groups in 18 countries. The FBI coordinated the joint three-year sting with Australia, whose Prime Minister Scott Morrison today called it a “watershed” operation. Australian police said being able to monitor the criminals’ messages in real time had saved lives and prevented incidents like mass shootings. The FBI is set to present more details later today.
A 20-year-old man has been arrested after he ran over a Muslim family in London, Ontario, killing four people including a 15-year-old girl. The grandmother, father, mother and daughter of the Afzaal family were all killed, while the 9-year-old son was also seriously injured, police said. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has called it “an act of hatred” and Islamophobia. The truck driver, Nathaniel Veltman, who plowed into the family standing on a curb on Sunday, has been charged with four counts of first-degree murder. The National Council of Canadian Muslims is urging authorities to also pursue terrorism charges against him.
The Butcher of Bosnia. That’s what former Bosnian Serb Commander Ratko Mladić is dubbed for his role in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre. Given a life sentence in 2017 for charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, Mladić is back in the dock today for his appeal judgement. The 78-year-old will have no recourse for further appeal after this ruling but the outcome of the hearing remains uncertain, though he is unlikely to be acquitted. The mothers of some of the 8,000 Muslim men and boys killed at Srebrenica are expected to gather outside the court to hear the verdict delivered.
4. US Recovers Bitcoin Ransom Paid by Colonial Pipeline
They followed the money. The U.S. Justice Department has seized most of the ransom paid to Russian hackers following the Colonial Pipeline attack last month. The gas company paid 75 Bitcoin, worth more than $4 million, to DarkSide, the group that shut down its operations creating chaos and causing fuel prices to surge. Investigators have now got back 63.7 Bitcoin, worth some $2.3 million, by tracking it through about 23 different electronic accounts. U.S. President Joe Biden is set to meet Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin next week and is expected to raise Moscow’s perceived protection of hackers.
U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris has sought to dissuade migrants from making the journey from Latin America to the U.S., warning on a trip to Guatemala that they will be turned back. Mexican PresidentAndrés Manuel López Obrador has failed to win a super-majority in midterm elections, though his party has kept its majority in the lower house. And leftist teacher Pedro Castillo is leading Peru’s election by a razor-slim 0.2% with 96% of the vote now counted.
Coronavirus Update: The World Health Organization says Africa is in desperate need of more vaccines as eight countries reported a 30% rise in cases in a week. India, the second-worst-hit country by the coronavirus, has announced adults can get free COVID shots from June 21.
In many sci-fi films the hero gets cryogenically frozen to wake up in the distant future. It turns out there’s a worm-like creature, a rotifer, that managed exactly that, after spending 24,000 years in Siberian permafrost — the layer in question dating some 12,500 years before the most recent ice age. But it’s not the oldest microorganism to be revived; Nematode worms dating back 32,000 years were resurrected in 2018. Still, it’s not yet possible for more complex organisms to be preserved alive frozen — despite the dreams of fiction writers. The rotifer can hopefully now give scientists clues on cryopreserving human cells.
2. Burger King Takes on Chick-fil-A This Pride Month
Burger King is getting political or, if you’re more cynical, vying for the pink dollar. The chain is taking on Chick-fil-A in the chicken sandwich wars by promising to donate 40 cents for every Ch’King sandwich sold in June to the LQBTQ rights group, the Human Rights Campaign. Chick-fil-A has a bad reputation with the community after donating to anti-LQBTQ causes, and its CEO’s comments opposing gay marriage in 2012. Owned by devout Christians, Chick-fil-A doesn’t open on Sundays, something Burger King took a swipe at in its Pride Month promotional tweet, saying its donation would happen “even on Sundays.”
3. Physicists Solve Mystery Behind the Northern Lights
“A surfer catching a wave.” That’s how the co-author of a new study on the Northern Lights describes the phenomenon. University of Iowa physicists have finally proved what before had only been speculation: The aurora borealis is “produced by powerful electromagnetic waves during geomagnetic storms.” The study shows the waves push electrons towards earth, which causes the particles to produce the vivid light show. While scientists have thought this might be the case since the 1940s, they can now simulate it in a lab, and it could help NASA scientists understand space weather better.
4. Malaysian Rapper Under Attack by K-Pop ‘Blinks’
South Korean K-pop group BTS has a legion of super fans known as the A.R.M.Y. Now K-pop girl band Blackpink has its own gang of devoted followers, known as Blinks and they are furious with a Malaysian rapper. Namewee, as the Chinese-Malaysian singer is known, made a tongue-in-cheek reference to Blackpink in his latest parody rap, only to find himself under fire from Blinks who flooded the comments section of the video accusing him of sexism and demanding he respect the girl group. However Namewee, who is no stranger to controversy, simply thanked the K-pop stans for boosting the video’s views.
5. Osaka Withdraws From Berlin, Casting Doubt on Wimbledon
The tennis world is worried about whether four-time Grand Slam winner Naomi Osaka will take part in Wimbledon later this month. The 23-year-old Japanese star pulled out of the French Open last week, citing mental health concerns, and yesterday announced she wouldn’t be playing at next week’s Berlin WTA grass-court tournament. “After consulting her management, she will take a break,” the Berlin organizers said. Since Osaka’s recent refusal to speak at press conferences, saying it affects her mental health, the International Tennis Federation and Women’s Tennis Association have both promised to review the matter.
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