It Seemed Like a Popular Chat App. It’s Secretly a Spy Tool.

TX Prison Suicide Attempt Figures Drop on Technicality ; Australian PM Apologizes ; and More Picks

ToTok app, spyware
The author writes, “It is billed as an easy and secure way to chat by video or text message with friends and family, even in a country that has restricted popular messaging services like WhatsApp and Skype. But the service, ToTok, is actually a spying tool, according to American officials familiar with a classified intelligence assessment and a New York Times investigation into the app and its developers. It is used by the government of the United Arab Emirates to try to track every conversation, movement, relationship, appointment, sound and image of those who install it on their phones.” Photo credit: Pxhere
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UNC Campus Police Used Geofencing Tech to Monitor Antiracism Protesters (Chris)

The author writes, “State investigators and college police used a controversial tracking technology called ‘geofencing’ to collect personal information from the cellphones of antiracism protestors at the University of North Carolina after being tipped off by the FBI, according to documents obtained by NBC News via a freedom of information request.”

Australian PM Apologizes for Vacationing During Deadly Bushfire (Chris)

The author writes, “Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison apologized Sunday for taking a family vacation in Hawaii as deadly bushfires raged across several states, destroying homes and claiming the lives of two volunteer firefighters. Morrison cut short a vacation with his wife and adult children amid public anger at his absence during a national crisis, and arrived home Saturday night.

Texas Prison Suicide Attempt Figures Drop on a Technicality (Reader Steve)

From the Houston Chronicle: “The number of Texas prisoners who tried killing themselves fell sharply this fall — but only because the state more narrowly redefined what counts as a suicide attempt. Last year, an average of 167 inmates tried killing themselves each month, according to prison reports. But in September, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice only recorded 23 attempted suicides and by October that number fell to 12.”

Study: Air Pollution Affects Human and Marine Health in Similar Ways (Mili) 

The author writes, “Research published today in The Journal of Physiology by researchers at The University of Manchester shows that the knowledge we have about how pollution harms the hearts of marine species can be applied to humans, as the underlying mechanisms are similar. In other words, knowledge gained from the marine ecosystem might help protect the climate and health of our planet, whilst also helping human health.”

Court Rules in Favor of Son of Russian Spies Whose Case Inspired ‘The Americans’ (Russ)

From the Washington Examiner: “Canada’s Supreme Court granted citizenship to the son of Russian spies who inspired the television series The Americans. The parents, Andrey Bezrukov and Elena Vavilova, arrived in Canada in the final years of the Cold War and assumed the identities of Donald Heathfield and Tracey Foley — Canadians who had died as infants decades before. The couple began developing their cover stories and had two sons, in 1990 and 1994, before moving from Canada in 1995.”

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