Brazil Records More Than 500,000 COVID-19 Deaths

Brazil has become the second country, behind the United States, to record more than a half-million COVID-19 deaths, a Health Ministry official said Saturday.”500,000 lives lost due to the pandemic that affects our Brazil and the world,” Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga tweeted, according to an Agence France-Presse report.Ethel Maciel, an epidemiologist from Espirito Santo University, told AFP, “The third wave is arriving, there’s already in a change in the case and death curves. … Our vaccination [program], which could make a difference, is slow and there are no signs of restrictive measures, quite the contrary.”The United States surpassed 600,000 deaths related to the coronavirus earlier this week.Earlier Saturday, the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center said the world had recorded more than 178 million confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, and more than 3.8 million deaths.The U.S. leads in confirmed cases of the virus, with more than 33.5 million cases, followed by India, with 29.8 million cases.A festivalgoer crowdsurfs on the first day of the Download Festival at Castle Donington, England, June 18, 2021. The three-day music and arts festival was being held as a test event to examine how COVID-19 transmission takes place in crowds.Britain held its first full music festival since all mass events were canceled in March 2020, the start of the pandemic.About 10,000 fans attended a three-day Download Festival held at Donington Park in central England. The event featured 40 U.K.-based bands. It ends Sunday.All of those who attended, which was only about a tenth of the festival’s pre-pandemic audience, were required to take COVID-19 tests before the event. Neither masks nor social distancing protocols were required, event organizers said.Britain has recorded nearly 128,000 COVID-19-related deaths, the fourth most in the world and the worst in Europe. It also ranks seventh in the number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus, with 4.6 million.Earlier this week, Prime Minister Boris Johnson delayed by four weeks a lifting of coronavirus-related restrictions that had been planned for June 21. Britain is battling the highly contagious delta variant of the virus, which was first identified in India.


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Biden Abroad: G7, NATO, Putin Summits

Ian Lesser, Vice President at the German Marshall Fund of the United States and director of GMF Brussels office, and Andrea Kendall-Taylor, Senior Fellow and Director of the Transatlantic Security Program at the Center for a New American Security, discuss with host Carol Castiel the ramifications of US President Joe Biden’s first overseas trip as president and the outcome of summits with the G7, NATO, and Russian President Vladimir Putin. 


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Canada Vows to Nearly Double Intake of ‘Protected Persons’ as Refugee Family Backlog Grows

Canada will admit more refugees and their families this year as part of its effort to tackle a global crisis, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister Marco Mendicino said Friday.He said Canada will take nearly double the number of protected persons, defined as people who have applied for and been granted refugee status after arriving in the country, as well as their immediate families abroad. The new target is 45,000, up from 23,500.Mendicino also said the government plans to spend an additional $2.4 million over two years for refugee sponsorship and modestly expand a program blending refugee resettlement with economic immigration. His announcement comes ahead of ahead of World Refugee Day on Sunday.”We hope to be able to facilitate their travel, obviously taking into consideration ongoing travel restrictions,” Mendicino said, referring to refugees’ family members.Canada aims to resettle 36,000 refugees this year — distinct from protected persons in that resettled refugees are referred directly to Canada by an agency like the UNHCR and have refugee status on arrival.Mendicino has said Canada may accept Central American migrants to help the United States, which is struggling to deal with an increase.The backlog of immigration applications for the family members of protected persons had been increasing before the pandemic and nearly doubled to 21,372 in January 2021 from 11,177 in January 2018, according to government data obtained by Reuters.Reuters spoke with refugees waiting months or years to be reunited with family members subject to abuses in their countries of origin.Even as Canada prepares to accept more refugees, it has sought to prevent asylum-seekers from coming into the country via its land border — either through its Safe Third Country Agreement with the United States or through a COVID-19 policy being contested in court.


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Biden/Putin Meeting Ends With Some Agreements

Issues in the News moderator Kim Lewis talks with Shayna Estulin, Political and Foreign Affairs Correspondent and Steve Redisch, VOA Executive Editor about highlights of the highly anticipated meeting between President Joe Biden and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, President Biden’s assurance to NATO members that they have the support of the US, the first-ever US national plan to combat domestic terrorism and much more.


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Takeaways From Biden-Putin ‘Cyber Summit’

Cybersecurity experts have been poring over the transcripts from Wednesday’s news conferences in Geneva to determine whether the U.S.-Russia summit will produce real progress in halting a wave of high-profile ransomware attacks. For most, the answer is: It’s too soon to tell. In the run-up to the meeting between President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin, cyberattacks for ransom emanating from Russia emerged as a critical national security issue for the United States. Concern over Russia’s purported role in these attacks grew after ransomware criminals believed to be based in Russia breached the computer networks of Colonial Pipeline — the largest pipeline system for refined oil products in the U.S. — and beef processing giant JBS last month.FILE – A JBS Processing Plant stands dormant after halting operations on June 1, 2021 in Greeley, Colorado. JBS facilities around the globe were impacted by a ransomware attack, forcing many of their facilities to shut down.Biden vowed to confront Putin over ransomware. But while no breakthrough over cybersecurity emerged from the summit, the two leaders agreed to start consultations over the issue.  Cyber consultations  Experts from the two countries will be tasked to work on “specific understandings of what’s off-limits” and to follow up on cyberattacks that originate in either country, Biden said.   What that will entail remains to be seen, but cybersecurity experts say the talks will likely be conducted by working groups composed of low-level officials from across the Biden administration and their Russian counterparts.   Sixteen exemptions The president said he handed Putin a list of 16 sectors such as energy and water services that the U.S. insists are out of bounds to attacks. These were designated as critical infrastructure sectors under a 2013 presidential directive.   “I talked about the proposition that certain critical infrastructure should be off-limits to attack, period — by cyber or any other means,” Biden told reporters.  FILE – A gasoline station posts signage saying that it has run out of unleaded and mid-grade fuel and has a $20 limit on super, following a ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline, at the pump in Atlanta, May 11, 2021.In addition to energy and water systems, the list includes information technology, health care and public health, and food and agriculture — all of which have been the FILE – John Demers of the National Security Division speaks during a press conference at the Justice Department in Washington, Oct. 7, 2020.John Demers, the outgoing head of the Justice Department’s national security division, said that while the U.S. has in the past asked Russia for information on cybercriminals, it has all but given up on seeking cooperation.    “I think we’ve reached the stage today where there’s very little point in doing so,” Demers said at an event Tuesday sponsored by public sector media company CyberScoop.  Biden said Russia will be judged by its actions.”Of course, the principle is one thing,” the president said. “It has to be backed up by practice. Responsible countries need to take action against criminals who conduct ransomware activities on their territory.”  U.S. cyber offensive capability  Biden said that while he issued no threats during the roughly three-hour meeting, he made it clear there will be consequences for Russian actions, telling Putin, “If you do that, then we’ll do this.”    In recent years, the U.S. has significantly bolstered its offensive cyber capabilities. The United States Cyber Command is tasked with carrying out cyberspace operations against malicious foreign actors. As part of an offensive cyber operation, Cyber Command can block a target’s internet access, destroy its databases or take down the group’s entire computer network. “I pointed out to him we have significant cyber capability, and he knows it,” Biden said of Putin. “He doesn’t know exactly what it is, but it’s significant.”  In 2018, a U.S. cyber operation reportedly blocked Russian troll farm Internet Research Agency’s internet access. Last year, Cyber Command, along with the National Security Agency, reportedly carried out a cyber operation against hackers working for Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps after they sent threatening emails to U.S. voters to undermine confidence in the November presidential elections.


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Facial Recognition Technology Solves Crimes, but at What Cost?

Even as big tech companies such as Amazon limit their sale of facial recognition software to law enforcement, one company has not: Clearview AI, a facial recognition search engine that contains three billion images scraped from the internet.    More than 3,000 U.S. law enforcement agencies employ the software, which uses an advanced algorithm to identify and match faces, the company says.   “The way it works is very similar to Google, but instead of putting in words, you’re putting in photos of faces, and it will find anything publicly available on the internet that looks like that face,” said Hoan Ton-That, chief executive and co-founder of the company.   Police argue that facial recognition software is an important tool in fighting and solving crimes. But its increasing use has raised concerns that there are too few rules in place for when and how police can use it.    Limiting the scope of software Police typically have image search engines at their disposal that pull drivers’ license pictures or other photos among police records.  Clearview AI, in contrast, has gathered billions of images from social media sites and other websites, which internet firms say were obtained by breaking their rules.  Clearview AI’s Ton-That says that the company only pulls publicly available information.   In one case, federal agents were able to identify a man suspected of sexual abuse of a girl using a single image from the “dark web,” an area of the internet only accessible by special software and matching it through Clearview AI.   “He was in the background of someone else’s photo at the gym, in the mirror,” said Ton-That. “They were able to identify where the gym was, identify the person, he ended up doing 35 years in jail and they saved a seven-year-old.”   A tool for law enforcement The software was also instrumental in helping federal as well as state and local law enforcement identify suspects that stormed the U.S. Capitol in January, according to Ton-That.  In one way, Clearview AI, which has created its database from people’s social media accounts and other public parts of the internet, was well suited to help with this massive investigation of people whose mugshots wouldn’t necessarily be in police databases, he said.   Police were able to use Clearview AI, which runs about a second per search, he said, and find matching photos online of some suspects.   “So they were able to quickly identify them, and reduce a lot of false-positives, and also speed up the investigative process,” he said.     What about privacy? When police violence protests swept the U.S. last year, Amazon and other tech firms suspended sales of their facial recognition technology to law enforcement, a suspension they have said is indefinite.   Clearview AI continues to sell to law enforcement, and internet firms such as Facebook, Google and Twitter as well as civil rights advocates are raising the alarm about its power and potential abuse of people’s privacy.   The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has sued the company in Chicago and California.   Kate Ruane, senior legislative counsel for the ACLU, said that facial recognition technology raises the specter of the government “being able to surveil us throughout every single aspect of our lives.”   Federal, state and local governments, she says, “do admit that they use it, but they don’t tell us how, when or how often.”   There needs to be oversight and regulation, she said, but until then, she is calling for a total moratorium on law enforcement use of facial recognition technology.   Legislation & regulation In recent months, congressional leaders have introduced bills that would limit police use of purchased data that was “illegally obtained” via deception or breach of contract.  Clearview’s Ton-That agrees that there needs to be more transparency and even regulation around the technology’s use. But as for banning police use of Clearview?   “Given the success of our technology in solving crimes, especially crimes against children, it would be counterproductive and inappropriate to enact a moratorium or ban of facial recognition or Clearview AI’s product,” he said.   Ton-That has a code of conduct for customers and has built-in prompts in its software to help law enforcement customers prevent the software’s misuse.   Repressive governments’ use of facial recognition tech The ACLU and other civil rights groups are also concerned about the implications of this technology in the hands of repressive governments like China. “Because the implications are terrifying,” said the ACLU’s Kate Ruane, “especially what is going on in China, where it is trying to track citizens across every single aspect of their lives.” Ton-That says his company does not sell its software to foreign governments and is focusing for now on law enforcement in the U.S. “We’ve worked occasionally with some other private entities for investigative purposes, but we’ve decided just to focus on law enforcement,” he said. “It’s the easiest, most explainable and best use case of our technology.” 


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Facial Recognition Technology Plays Important Law Enforcement Role, but at What Cost?

Facial recognition technology is playing an increasingly important role in helping law enforcement with criminal investigations, police say. But civil rights advocates are raising the alarm about its power and potential abuse of people’s privacy. VOA’s Julie Taboh has more


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Biden’s New FTC Head Could Make Big Tech Sweat 

U.S. President Joe Biden’s unexpected decision to name a staunch antitrust advocate to lead the Federal Trade Commission has thrilled supporters of stronger regulation of the tech industry and has prompted predictions of regulatory overreach from representatives of some of the country’s largest internet companies.Lina Khan, 32, a professor at Columbia Law School prior to her nomination, is known for advocating a hard-nosed approach to the regulation of large technology firms like Amazon, Facebook, Google and Apple. She was nominated to fill an open seat on the FTC in March, and on Tuesday she was confirmed in a bipartisan 69-28 vote in the Senate.Shortly afterward, the news that she would be not just a commission member but its leader was announced by Minnesota Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar at a Senate hearing.Her confirmation may signal an unexpectedly aggressive stance toward big tech firms from a presidential administration that had not seemed to make reining in the giants of Silicon Valley a major priority.Early run-in with big techKhan was born in London to Pakistani immigrant parents. The family moved to the United States when she was 11 and settled in New York City. Khan went to Williams College in Massachusetts, where she edited the school newspaper and completed her thesis on the political theorist Hannah Arendt.Khan’s first run-in with the might of big tech firms came when she was barely out of college and working for the Open Markets Program at the New America Foundation, a left-of-center think tank. The program’s focus was on the anti-competitive behavior of big businesses, such as Google, which happened to be a major financial supporter of the New America Foundation.FILE – This March 19, 2018, photo shows a Google app.In 2017, after the Open Markets Program expressed its approval of the European Union’s decision to slap Google with a $2.7 billion fine for the way it ranked its own shopping services in internet search results, the company’s chief executive reached out to the head of New America to express his displeasure.What happened afterward is disputed by the various parties involved, but within about two months, the Open Markets team was formally separated from the foundation.Going after big tech companiesKhan made a name for herself in the world of antitrust law with a 2017 article in The Yale Law Journal called “Amazon’s Anti-Trust Paradox.” The piece argued that typical antitrust doctrine in the U.S., which considers “consumer welfare” when determining whether a company is engaging in anti-competitive behavior, is inadequate in today’s world. A consumer products giant like Amazon can keep prices low — the biggest determinant of consumer welfare — even as it uses its dominance of a technology platform to disadvantage its competitors.Two years later, Khan followed up with an article in the Columbia Law Review advocating the application of “structural separations” to tech firms. The idea is that a system in which a company operates a platform on which goods and services are sold while simultaneously selling goods and services on that platform creates “a conflict of interest that platforms can exploit to further entrench their dominance, thwart competition and stifle innovation.”A prime example, offered in the paper, was Apple’s decision to block the popular music streaming service Spotify from its app store at the same time that it was trying to roll out a competing service called Apple Music.House reportKhan went on to help lead a major investigation into competition in digital markets by the majority staff of the House Judiciary Committee, which was issued in October of last year. The report included sweeping proposals for the application of antitrust law to the tech industry — including Khan’s favored concept of structural separation — and infuriated advocates for the tech industry.FILE – This combination of photos shows logos for social media platforms Facebook and Twitter.Khan’s participation in the House Judiciary report figured strongly in the negative reaction that news of her appointment as FTC chair generated from the industry. NetChoice, a group that represents giant companies like Google, Facebook, Amazon, Twitter and more, quickly released a statement indicating its dismay with the decision.”Lina Khan’s antitrust activism detracts from the Federal Trade Commission’s reputation as an impartial body that enforces the law in a nondiscriminatory fashion,” said Carl Szabo, the group’s vice president and general counsel.Khan’s work on the House Judiciary report “casts doubt on her ability to fairly and neutrally apply our antitrust laws as they stand today,” Szabo said.Cheers from the leftDuring his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, Biden competed against other candidates, like Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, who specifically called on the government to “break up” large technology firms. During the  campaign, Biden never went as far as Warren, which made the elevation of Khan to lead the FTC all the more surprising.”Lina brings deep knowledge and expertise to this role and will be a fearless champion for consumers,” Warren said in a statement Tuesday. “Giant tech companies like Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon deserve the growing scrutiny they are facing, and consolidation is choking off competition across American industries. With Chair Khan at the helm, we have a huge opportunity to make big, structural change by reviving antitrust enforcement and fighting monopolies that threaten our economy, our society and our democracy.”Even the New America Foundation — now New America — which separated with Khan and the Open Markets team under questionable circumstances in 2017, applauded her nomination to run the FTC.In a statement Tuesday, Joshua Stager, deputy director of broadband and competition policy at the foundation’s Open Technology Institute, called Khan a “proven thought leader who has helped jolt antitrust enforcement out of stagnant 1970s thinking. After years of sluggish enforcement — particularly in digital markets — the FTC needs a fresh perspective. We look forward to working with Commissioner Khan.”


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Internet Outages Briefly Disrupt Access to Websites, Apps

A wave of brief internet outages hit the websites and apps of dozens of financial institutions, airlines and other companies across the globe Thursday.The Hong Kong Stock Exchange said in a tweet Thursday afternoon Hong Kong time that its site was facing technical issues and that it was investigating. It said in another post 17 minutes later that its websites were back to normal.Internet monitoring websites including ThousandEyes, Downdetector.com and fing.com showed dozens of disruptions, including to U.S.-based airlines.Many of the outages were reported by people in Australia trying to do banking, book flights and access postal services.Australia Post, the country’s postal service, said on Twitter that an “external outage” had impacted a number of its services, and that while most services had come back online, they are continuing to monitor and investigate.Many services were up and running after an hour or so, but the affected companies said they were working overtime to prevent further problems.Banking services were severely disrupted, with Westpac, the Commonwealth, ANZ and St George all down, along with the website of the Reserve Bank of Australia.Services have mostly been restored.Virgin Australia said flights were largely operating as scheduled after it restored access to its website and guest contact center.“Virgin Australia was one of many organizations to experience an outage with the Akamai content delivery system today,” it said. “We are working with them to ensure that necessary measures are taken to prevent these outages from reoccurring.”Akamai counts some of the world’s biggest companies and banks as customers.Calls to Akamai, which is headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, but has global services, went unanswered.The disruptions came just days after many of the world’s top websites went offline briefly due to a problem with software at Fastly, another major web services company. The company blamed the problem on a software bug that was triggered when a customer changed a setting.Brief internet service outages are not uncommon and are only rarely the result of hacking or other mischief. But the outages have underscored how vital a small number of behind-the-scenes companies have become to running the internet. 


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NASA, ESA Astronauts Take Space Walk to Install Solar Panels on ISS

Astronauts from both the U.S. space agency, NASA, and the European Space Agency ((ESA)) left the International Space Station ((ISS)) Wednesday to begin a project to upgrade the floating laboratory’s solar panel power supply system.
 
NASA flight engineer Shane Kimbrough and ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet worked for several hours to install the first two of six ISS Roll-Out Solar Arrays (iROSAs)) to ultimately upgrade six of the station’s eight power channels.
 
NASA says the current solar arrays are functioning well but were designed for a 15-year service life and are in their 21st year of service. The new solar arrays will be positioned in front of six of the current arrays, increasing the station’s total available power from 160 kilowatts to a maximum of 215 kilowatts.  
 
The electrical boost will be needed to accommodate paying passengers and film crews expected to visit the ISS later this year.
 
Pesquet and Kimbrough will install two more of the new solar arrays Sunday. 


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Biden, Putin Brace for Possible Fight Over Ransomware

As President Joe Biden prepares for his first meeting with Russia’s Vladimir Putin on Wednesday in Geneva, the White House says the threat of ransomware will be a “significant topic” of conversation between the two leaders.Until just a couple of years ago, ransomware was viewed largely as a financial crime, hardly an issue that would dominate the first face-to-face meeting between the Russian and American leaders.But the issue was catapulted to the forefront of geopolitics last month after cybercriminals believed to be operating in Russia breached the networks of a major U.S. pipeline operator and a meat processor, demanding and receiving millions of dollars in ransom.Although U.S. officials have not accused the Russian government of direct involvement in the latest attacks, some lawmakers say Russia-based cybercriminals often work with the knowledge, if not the complicity, of the Kremlin. They are demanding that Biden deliver a tough message to Putin to end the practice.In a ransomware attack, cybercriminals encrypt a company’s or institution’s data and then demand a ransom in exchange for a decryption key and a promise not to release the data. Ransomware groups often offer their services to other hackers in exchange for a share of the ransom. Experts say this has helped lure a growing number of otherwise novice cybercriminals into the lucrative ransomware business.Following are the answers to three key questions about Russia’s role in ransomware attacks:What do we know about Russian-speaking ransomware groups?Cybersecurity firms track several dozen ransomware groups around the world. Most are believed to operate in Russia and former Soviet republics such as Belarus, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Latvia, according to the cybersecurity firm Recorded Future.Their precise number is unknown, though it has steadily grown in the past couple of years. Recorded Future tracks about 15 Russian-speaking ransomware groups. Check Point, an American-Israeli security firm, monitors seven, including several responsible for major ransomware attacks in recent years.Among them are DarkSide and REvil, the two groups behind the attacks on Colonial Pipeline and JBS, a major beef producer, respectively. REvil was behind some of the biggest ransomware attacks in the U.S. in 2020, according to Lotem Finkelstein, Check Point’s threat intelligence group manager.”Maybe there are more, but we can only speculate,” Finkelstein said in an interview with VOA.Babuk, another Russian-speaking ransomware family discovered early this year, has attacked at least five big entities, with one victim already paying the attackers $85,000 in ransom, according to the cybersecurity firm McAfee.  The Metropolitan Police Department of Washington, D.C., reportedly was another victim. The Russian-speaking ransomware groups follow an unwritten rule: As long as they avoid targets in Russia and other former Soviet republics, “they’re left to operate in peace by local authorities,” Recorded Future says.Another rule of the game: Ransomware gangs work only with Russian-speaking partners.What is known about ties between ransomware gangs and the Kremlin?The Russian government has denied any involvement in the recent ransomware attacks on the U.S., and the precise ties between the ransomware groups and the Kremlin remain uncertain. While U.S. officials have accused Russian spy services of co-opting criminal hackers, they’ve been careful not to directly blame the Russian government for the recent attacks on Colonial Pipeline and JBS.In the wake of the attack on the Colonial Pipeline, which sparked panic purchasing of gasoline and traffic congestion along the East Coast, President Biden has said that so far, there has been “no evidence based on, from our intelligence people, that Russia is involved, though there is evidence that the actors, ransomware, is in Russia.”During a recent congressional hearing, FBI Director Christopher Wray said he could not publicly discuss the nexus between cybercriminals and the Russian actors. Nevertheless, he noted that the “most recent” ransomware attackers “are individuals who, perhaps not coincidentally, specifically target English-speaking victims.”U.S. lawmakers go further, however, insisting that the attacks emanating from Russia could not take place without at least the Russian government’s tactic approval. Senator Mark Warner, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee and co-chair of the bipartisan Senate Cybersecurity Caucus, said the cybercriminals operate “with the indirect acquiescence of the Russian government.””And don’t think for a moment that the Russia spy services, the Russian government isn’t watching and learning from the techniques of these cybercriminals,” Warner said during an interview on Washington Post Live on Monday.The line between cybercriminals and state actors has blurred. Many Russia-based cybercriminals may be working for Russian spy services during the day and “moonlighting” as cybercriminals in the evening, Warner said.How is the U.S. responding to the threat of ransomware?With ransomware emerging as a national security threat, some lawmakers and cybersecurity experts are calling for a more aggressive U.S. response. The Justice Department’s recently formed ransomware task force recovered most of the $5 million of cryptocurrency paid by Colonial Pipeline. The effort to recover the ransom is important, experts say, but lawmakers warn it’s not enough to halt the larger problem.”I believe we need to start thinking about going on the offense and hitting them back,” Republican Representative Michael McCaul said during a House Homeland Security hearing on the Colonial Pipeline cyberattack. “There should be consequences.”Cybersecurity experts agree that a more vigorous government response is needed.”I certainly think that there is a way and an opportunity to disrupt the aggressive threat actors that continue to cause havoc in the United States,” said Charles Carmakal, chief technology officer at the cybersecurity firm FireEye.Ahead of Wednesday’s summit, Putin has suggested that one approach might be a mutual agreement to extradite cybercriminals between the U.S. and Russia. Biden said at the G-7 meeting that he was “open” to Putin’s idea, calling the offer “potentially a good sign of progress.”National security adviser Jake Sullivan later clarified Biden’s statement, saying the president is “not saying he’s going to exchange cybercriminals with Russia” but that he agrees cybercriminals should be held accountable in both countries. 


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MacKenzie Scott Donates $2.7 Billion to ‘Underfunded and Overlooked’ Causes

Billionaire philanthropist MacKenzie Scott announced Tuesday that she has donated $2.7 billion to communities “that have been historically underfunded and overlooked.” “Because community-centered service is such a powerful catalyst and multiplier, we spent the first quarter of 2021 identifying and evaluating equity-oriented nonprofit teams working in areas that have been neglected,” Scott wrote in a blog post. But Scott emphasized in the post that she struggled with headlines centering on her instead of the organizations and causes she hopes to uplift.  “Putting large donors at the center of stories on social progress is a distortion of their role,” Scott wrote. She said that the headline she would wish for her post was “286 Teams Empowering Voices the World Needs to Hear.” Among the “teams” Scott listed as the recipients of her donations were higher education institutions “successfully educating students who come from communities that have been chronically underserved.” Scott also listed interfaith organizations working to bridge racial divides, and arts and cultural institutions working with “culturally rich regions and identity groups that donors often overlook.” Scott committed to donating half her fortune to charity upon divorcing Amazon founder Jeff Bezos in 2019.MacKenzie Bezos Pledges to Give Away Half Her Fortune

        MacKenzie Bezos, who just months ago divorced the world's richest man, has pledged to give away half her fortune to charity. The former wife of Amazon founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos is one of the 19 new signatories to the Giving Pledge who have promised to donate more than 50% of their wealth, the organization said. "I have a disproportionate amount of money to share,'' MacKenzie Bezos said in a letter released Tuesday. "My approach to philanthropy will continue to be thoughtful. It will take…

“My approach to philanthropy will continue to be thoughtful. It will take time and effort and care. But I won’t wait. And I will keep at it until the safe is empty,” she wrote at the time. Scott has donated an estimated $8.5 billion in the past year. 
 


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