TL;DR – TOP 10 STORIES FOR THE WEEK

  1. Fort Lauderdale airport shooting
  2. FBI/CIA/NSA report on allegations of Russian hacking
  3. Protests in Mexico over gas prices
  4. Brazilian prison massacres kill at least 80
  5. Finland starting basic monthly income experiment
  6. Bombing in Iraq kills or injures over 100
  7. Car bomb kills 43 in Syria
  8. Battle for Mosul continues
  9. Turkey questions level of U.S. participation in fighting ISIS
  10. Swiss scientists develop solar prototype to power pacemakers

Further information and more stories:

UNITED STATES

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has made a deal with a utility company to shut down the Indian Point nuclear plant by 2021. There is no plan to replace the plant, which supplies up to 25 percent of the power in New York City and Westchester County.

“SeaWorld San Diego is ending its long-running killer whale show after years of outcry and falling attendance prompted it to renounce theatrical orca displays.” (AP)

A man opened fire at the Fort Lauderdale airport, killing 5 and wounding 8. He was peacefully arrested soon after. The man is said to have visited an FBI office in November, claiming the CIA was forcing him to watch Islamic State propaganda in a mind control experiment. Although this prompted the FBI to turn him over to local police, who brought him to a hospital for a mental health evaluation, it appears the man was cleared and released.

“A software update – not hackers – caused a four-hour Customs computer outage that led to massive lines and frayed tempers at airports…. Changes the agency made Dec. 28 to software used to process travelers caused the glitch that shut down the agency’s systems [for 4 hours]… as many holiday travelers returned to the United States.” (UT)

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) released a declassified public report regarding allegations of recent Russian hacking. The report did not contain any significant new information. It said the FBI, CIA, NSA were at least moderately certain of a Russia-directed attempt to create a wide-ranging “influence campaign.” The report also said the FBI/CIA/NSA would not release the evidence behind the ODNI claims, nor would it assess the alleged impact of the “influence campaign.” Much like the recent FBI-DHS joint analysis, this document is considered inconclusive and poorly-written by various journalists and cybersecurity experts. Congress is supposed to have a classified version of the report which may be superior. We may see portions of it in the future, as government officials leaked top secret information to NBC News. Officials mentioned there was no “smoking gun” to prove Russia was behind everything. BBC Security Correspondent Gordon Corera said “Sources confirm U.K’s GCHQ spotted DNC breach early and passed on details to US counterparts for further investigation,” an interesting tidbit not included in the ODNI report.

A Washington Post article with the headline “Russian hackers penetrated U.S. electricity grid through a utility in Vermont, officials say” was later amended, and then outed as Fake News, as clarifications and evidence were released. The alleged hack was actually a company employee remotely accessing their email account.

“A powerful storm system that moved across the South on Monday killed four people in Alabama and left a trail of damage over several states, officials said.” (AP)

mexico

“Mexicans protested Monday against sharp increases in gasoline and diesel prices at the start of the year, blocking roads, gas stations and fuel facilities in various parts of the country. The government raised the maximum price of regular gasoline by 14% on Jan. 1, while premium fuel rose 20% and diesel 17% as part of the shift toward free prices and greater private participation in the motor fuels market.” (WSJ)

brazil

“Jailed members of Brazil’s most powerful drug gang killed 31 inmates at a penitentiary on Friday, decapitating and cutting out the hearts of most of them, in revenge for a separate prison massacre that left 56 dead this week.” (Reuters)

europe

“Finland has become the first country in Europe to pay its unemployed citizens a basic monthly income, amounting to 560 euros ($587), in a unique social experiment which is hoped to cut government red tape, reduce poverty and boost employment.” (AP)

middle east

At least 5 bombs exploded in Baghdad on Monday, killing or injuring over 100 people.

“Gunmen in Bahrain have attacked a prison, killing a policeman and freeing 10 inmates convicted of terror offences, officials say.” (BBC)

“At least 43 people have been killed in a car bomb blast in the rebel-held Syrian town of Azaz, near the Turkish border, reports say.” (BBC)

“Iraqi forces have made fresh progress in the battle against so-called Islamic State (IS) in Mosul, reportedly taking a key district in the city’s east.” (BBC) Unconfirmed reports say Iraq’s special forces have recaptured more than 5 neighborhoods.

“At least 14 American military personnel have been wounded in combat since the start of October while battling Islamic State fighters in Iraq and Syria, according to Defense Department data reviewed by Military Times.” (MT)

“Turkish officials are questioning the presence of U.S.-led coalition forces at an air base in southern Turkey over what they see as insufficient support for Turkey’s military operations against Islamic State in Syria.” (Reuters)

africa

“A two-day mutiny among soldiers in the Ivory Coast has come to an end, according to the country’s president. Alassane Ouattara announced Saturday that the government has struck a deal with the mutineers.” (NPR)

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

“Scientists in Switzerland have developed a prototype that soaked up enough sun through a skinlike filter to power a cardiac pacemaker with ease.” (WSJ)