Apples New Spaceship Campus Has One Flaw and It Hurts

The centerpiece of Apple Inc.’s new headquarters is a massive, ring-shaped office overflowing with panes of glass, a testament to the company’s famed design-obsessed aesthetic. 

There’s been one hiccup since it opened last year: Apple employees keep smacking into the glass.

Surrounding the building, located in Cupertino, California, are 45-foot tall curved panels of safety glass. Inside are work spaces, dubbed “pods,” also made with a lot of glass. Apple staff are often glued to the iPhones they helped popularize. That’s resulted in repeated cases of distracted employees walking into the panes, according to people familiar with the incidents. 

Some staff started to stick Post-It notes on the glass doors to mark their presence. However, the notes were removed because they detracted from the building’s design, the people said. They asked not to be identified discussing anything related to Apple. Another person familiar with the situation said there are other markings to identify the glass. 

Apple’s latest campus has been lauded as an architectural marvel. The building, crafted by famed architect Norman Foster, immortalized a vision that Apple co-founder Steve Jobs had years earlier. In 2011, Jobs reportedly described the building “a little like a spaceship landed.” Jobs has been credited for coming up with the glass pods, designed to mix solo office areas with more social spaces. 

Apple campus in Cupertino.
Photographer: Jim Wilson/New York Times via Redux

The building is designed to house some 13,000 employees. Wired magazine, first to pay a visit at its opening last year, described the structure as a “statement of openness, of free movement,” in contrast to Apple’s typically insular culture. “While it is a technical marvel to make glass at this scale, that’s not the achievement,” Jony Ive, Apple’s design chief, told the magazine in May. “The achievement is to make a building where so many people can connect and collaborate and walk and talk.”

An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment. It’s not clear how many incidents there have been. A Silicon Valley-based spokeswoman for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration referred questions about Apple’s workplace safety record to the government agency’s website. A search on the site based on Apple’s name in California found no reports of injuries at the company’s new campus. 

It’s not the first time Apple’s penchant for glass in buildings has caused problems. In late 2011, 83-year-old Evelyn Paswall walked into the glass wall of an Apple store, breaking her nose. She sued the company, arguing it should have posted a warning on the glass. The suit was settled without any cost to Apple, according to a legal filing in early 2013. 

    Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-02-16/apple-s-new-spaceship-campus-has-one-flaw-and-it-hurts

    As Bitcoin Sinks, Crypto Bros Party Hard on a Blockchain Cruise

    When 600 cryptocurrency enthusiasts set sail from Singapore on Monday night for their second annual Blockchain Cruise, the price of Bitcoin was hovering comfortably above $13,500.

    By the time their 1,020-foot-long ship pulled into Thailand on Wednesday, for an afternoon of bottomless drinks and crypto-focused talks on a sun-soaked private beach, Bitcoin had cratered to $10,000.

    The group of mostly young men, many of whom became wildly rich — at least on paper — as Bitcoin and other digital tokens skyrocketed last year, had in all likelihood just lost millions.

    But if anyone was fazed, they didn’t show it. The party rolled on as the sangria and Red Bull flowed, Bitcoin-themed rap music blared and drones filmed it all from above.

    “Nothing goes up in a straight line,” explained Ronnie Moas, the founder of Miami Beach-based Standpoint Research, who was one of the event’s speakers on Wednesday. In a best-case scenario, he said, Bitcoin could jump to $300,000 in as little as seven years.

    For skeptics of the crypto craze, it’s hard not to see all this as another sign of runaway exuberance — a repeat of the boosterish Las Vegas securitization conference, immortalized in The Big Short, that preceded the subprime mortgage meltdown of 2007. But the steadfast optimism on display at this week’s Blockchain Cruise also carries a warning for anyone betting on a cryptocurrency crash: It’s going to take more than a 50 percent drop in Bitcoin from its Dec. 18 high to drive out the diehards.

    “This is something that you either believe in or not,” said Moas, who has become a crypto-celebrity after issuing stratospheric price forecasts for Bitcoin.

    The cruise’s eclectic list of speakers included Jose Gomez, a former aide to the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez; Kaspar Korjus, the head of Estonia’s e-residency program (which may issue its own cryptocurrency); and Jorg Molt, an early digital currency backer whose claim to hold 250,000 Bitcoins (worth $2.8 billion at the current price) couldn’t be verified.

    But perhaps the biggest draw was John McAfee, the anti-virus software pioneer with a checkered past. In 2012, while living in Belize, McAfee had run-ins with local police for alleged unlicensed drug manufacturing and weapons possession, but was released without charge. At one point, Belize police started a search for him as a person of interest in connection with the murder of his neighbor. McAfee said he was innocent and that he fled Belize because of persecution by corrupt officials.

    He now helps run MGT Capital Investments Inc., a small-cap tech company with a Bitcoin mining business. He has become a cryptocurrency evangelist on Twitter, touting the technology and various tokens to his more than 700,000 followers. Coinsbank, the digital currency exchange and wallet operator that organized the cruise, made him a headline speaker.

    On Wednesday, McAfee blamed the recent market slump on unfounded fear of government intervention. He urged cryptocurrency holders — one of whom sported a “Buy The Dip” t-shirt — to stick with their bets.

    Read more: Bitcoin Fall Extends to 25% as Fears of Crypto Crackdown Linger

    “You cannot force a ban on a distributed system,” McAfee said in an interview after his speech. “It’s like how do you ban smoking weed? You can’t ban it. People will come back.”

    Not every conversation on the Blockchain Cruise revolved around cryptocurrencies. Attendees, unsurprisingly, had plenty to say about blockchain — the distributed ledger technology that underpins Bitcoin — and its potential to improve industries from finance to health care.

    Charity was also a topic raised by speakers including Moas, who urged the audience to donate some of their newfound wealth and help reduce global inequality.

    Many attendees have far more than they need.

    Rowan Hill, a former coal miner in Australia, said he retired by 26 after getting in on the crypto boom early. After the cruise, he’s heading to Japan for a four-week snowboarding trip.

    “A lot of people can’t stand the price swings” in digital currencies, Hill said, donning a fedora and sunglasses as he lounged on the beach. “The average person just sells, and they lose out.”

    Joe Stone, an Australian who invests in digital assets, said market declines are easier to bear in the company of fellow enthusiasts. For many on the cruise, the next stop is another cryptocurrency conference in Bangkok.

    “There’s nowhere I’d rather be,” said Stone, after a late night of mingling at the ship’s cigar bar over whiskeys. “Otherwise I’d just be at my computer.”

    For more on cryptocurrencies, check out the   podcast:

      Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-01-19/as-bitcoin-sinks-crypto-bros-party-hard-on-a-blockchain-cruise

      U.S. Probes Apple Over Updates That Slow Older iPhones

      Apple Inc. said it’s responding to government probes into a software update that slowed the performance of older iPhones.

      The U.S. Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission are investigating whether Apple violated securities laws concerning its disclosures about a software update that slowed some handsets, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg News on Tuesday. The U.S. government has requested information from the company, according to the people, who asked not to be named because the probe is private.

      The inquiry is in early stages, they cautioned, and it’s too soon to conclude any enforcement will follow. Investigators are looking into public statements made by Apple on the situation, they added. While the slowdown has frustrated consumers, investigators are concerned the company may have misled investors about the performance of older phones. 

      "We have received questions from some government agencies and we are responding to them," an Apple spokeswoman said. She reiterated an earlier statement that the company "never — and would never — do anything to intentionally shorten the life of any Apple product, or degrade the user experience to drive customer upgrades."

      A spokesman for the SEC declined to comment. A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment. Shares of the company rose less than 1 percent to $167.71 in New York trading Wednesday. Apple’s stock has been under pressure amid reports of weaker-than-expected iPhone X sales ahead of its earnings report Thursday.

      Several weeks ago, Apple said a software update released in early 2017 slowed down the performance of older iPhones models as a way to avoid the phones shutting down at random. When it released the update, the company hadn’t said the software would slow down the devices. In December, Apple apologized for not clearly communicating this information and vowed to release another update to mitigate the concern.

      Earlier in January, Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook told ABC News that when the company put out the software update that caused the performance issues for older iPhones “we did say what it was, but I don’t think a lot of people were paying attention. And maybe we should have been clearer.”

      The slowdowns occur when an older iPhone’s battery reaches a certain, unspecified point of low health and can be fixed if a user replaces the battery. As part of its public apology, Apple cut the prices of battery replacements in its stores to $29, a $50 discount. 

      Apple plans to release an iPhone software update, called iOS 11.3, in the next few months with new features that let users monitor the health of their batteries and protect against slowdowns. If consumers turn off the throttling, older iPhones will be more prone to randomly rebooting, Apple has said. The system affects iPhone 7 models and older, but not the iPhone 8 and iPhone X, according to the company. 

      After apologizing to customers in December, Apple was sued by consumer advocacy groups and individual iPhone users in a global backlash. Government officials, including U.S. Senator John Thune, a Republican from South Dakota, have also questioned Apple about the slowdowns. 

      “Even if Apple’s actions were indeed only intended to avoid unexpected shutdowns in older phones, the large volume of consumer criticism leveled against the company in light of its admission suggests that there should have been better transparency with respect to these practices,” Thune wrote in a January letter to Cook.

      For more on the iPhone, check out the podcast:

      The situation is a self-inflicted black eye on the Cupertino, California-based company. Apple has been wrestling with some other software-related issues, including processor vulnerabilities that have affected other technology companies and a login flaw that allows intruders to access files on Mac computers without a passcode.

      Apple is delaying some key iPhone and Mac software features planned for release this year to focus on quality improvements, Bloomberg News reported earlier Tuesday.

      This isn’t the first time the Justice Department has investigated Apple. In 2012, the department filed an antitrust suit against Apple and book publishers over the pricing of digital book downloads. In 2010 the department settled with the iPhone maker regarding anti-poaching agreements between the company and other major technology firms such as Alphabet Inc.’s Google.

      In 2016, the Justice Department investigated, and then dropped a lawsuit against Apple seeking data from an iPhone connected to a mass shooting in San Bernardino, California.

        Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-01-30/u-s-said-to-probe-apple-over-updates-that-slow-older-iphones-jd1yahj7

        Phone-addicted teens arent as happy as those who play sports and hang out IRL, new study suggests

        To no parent’s surprise, too much smartphone use makes teens unhappy.

        So says a new study from San Diego State University, which pulled data from over one million 8th-, 10th-, and 12th-graders in the U.S. showing teens who spent more time on social media, gaming, texting and video-chatting on their phones were not as happy as those who played sports, went outside and interacted with real human beings.

        But is it the screen time bringing them down or are sadder teens more likely to insulate themselves in a virtual world? Lead author of the study and professor of psychology Jean M. Twenge believes it’s the phone that contributes to making them unhappy, not the other way around.

        “Although this study can’t show causation, several other studies have shown that more social media use leads to unhappiness, but unhappiness does not lead to more social media use,” Twenge said.

        Though abstinence doesn’t seem to fix the problem, either, as noted in the study, there’s something to Twenge’s theory. Another recent study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and also lead by Twenge, found a spike in depression and suicide among teen girls increased the more time they spent on their phones.

        That’s alarming, especially considering the age in which kids get smartphones has continued to climb lower — dropping from 12 in 2012 to 10.3 years in 2016.

        Twenge has been studying teen behavior since the early 90’s and has been on the forefront of research suggesting an abrupt change in behavior and emotional states of teenagers due to smartphone use. She says there’s been a dramatic shift starting in 2012 when younger and younger kids starting getting more screen time.

        Researchers found more of the same while sifting through the data for this study. Teenagers’ life satisfaction, self-esteem and happiness plummeted after 2012.

        To back up that work, Twenge’s previous studies suggest kids who spend at least four or five hours on their phone increase their risk factor for suicide by a whopping 71 percent, regardless of whether it was cat videos or something else. It was the time spent on the device, not the content, that mattered most.

        “By far the largest change in teens’ lives between 2012 and 2016 was the increase in the amount of time they spent on digital media, and the subsequent decline in in-person social activities and sleep,” Twenge said. “The key to digital media use and happiness is limited use.”

        She suggests teens aim to spend no more than two hours a day on digital media, exercise more and try to hang out with friends face-to-face to increase happiness — all things adults could probably use more of as well.

        Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2018/01/23/phone-addicted-teens-arent-as-happy-as-those-who-play-sports-and-hang-out-irl-new-study-suggests/

        Spinal-Cord Implants to Numb Pain Emerge as Alternative to Pills

        For millions of Americans suffering from debilitating nerve pain, a once-overlooked option has emerged as an alternative to high doses of opioids: implanted medical devices using electricity to counteract pain signals the same way noise-canceling headphones work against sound. 

        The approach, called neuromodulation, has been a godsend for Linda Landy, who was a 42-year-old runner when a foot surgery went awry in 2008. She was diagnosed with complex regional pain syndrome, a condition dubbed the suicide disease by doctors: The pain is so unrelenting that many people take their own lives.

        Linda Landy and family

        Last November, Landy underwent surgery to get an Abbott Laboratories device that stimulates the dorsal root ganglion, a spot in the spine that was the pain conduit for her damaged nerves. A year after getting her implant, called DRG, she’s cut back drastically on pain pills.

        “The DRG doesn’t take the pain completely away, but it changes it into something I can live with,” said Landy, a mother of three in Fort Worth, Texas. She’s now now able to walk again and travel by plane without using a wheelchair. “It sounds minor, but it’s really huge.”

        Crackdown on Opioids

        Recent innovations from global device makers like Abbott to smaller specialists such as Nevro Corp. made the implants more powerful and effective. Combined with a national crackdown on narcotics and wanton pain pill prescriptions, they are spurring demand for implants.

        The market may double to $4 billion in 10 years, up from about $1.8 billion in the U.S. and $500 million in Europe today, according to health-care research firm Decisions Resources Group.

        “There was a big stigma around this when it first came out,” said Paul Desormeaux, a Decisions Resources analyst in Toronto. “The idea of sending an electrical signal through your nervous system was a little daunting, but as clinical data has come out and physicians have been able to prove its safety, there has been a big change in the general attitude.”

        Read More: Millions Face Pain, Withdrawal as Opioid Prescriptions Plummet

        At least 50 million adults in the U.S. suffer from chronic pain, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Only a fraction of them would benefit from spinal-cord stimulation — about 3.6 million, according to Decisions Resources — but those are patients who are often given the highest doses of narcotics. They include people with nerve damage stemming from conditions like diabetic neuropathy and shingles, as well as surgeries.

        “There is no question we are reducing the risk of opioid dependence by implanting these devices,” said Timothy Deer, president of the Spine and Nerve Centers of the Virginias in Charleston, West Virginia, a hotbed of the opioid epidemic. “If we get someone before they are placed on opioids, 95 percent of the time we can reduce their need to ever go on them.”

        Studies show spinal-cord stimulators can reduce use of powerful pain drugs by 60 percent or more, said Deer, a clinical professor of anesthesiology.

        Read More: Tangled Incentives Push Drugmakers Away From an Opioid Solution

        Technology breakthroughs that are just now reaching patients came from a better understanding of how pain signals are transmitted within the spinal cord, the main thoroughfare between the command center in the brain and the body.

        For some chronic pain patients, the spinal cord runs too efficiently, speeding signs of distress. Stimulators send their own pulses of electrical activity to offset or interrupt the pain zinging along the nerve fibers. They have been available for more than three decades, but until recently their invasive nature, potential safety risks and cost limited demand.

        Market Leader Abbott

        Illinois-based Abbott, with its $29 billion acquisition of St. Jude Medical this year, took the market lead with advances that allow it to target specific nerves and tailor the treatment. Nevro, of Redwood City, California, has rolled out improvement to its Senza system, a best-in-class approach that is safe while getting an MRI and operates without the tingling that often accompanies spinal-cord stimulation.

        In the latest devices, which cost $30,000 or more, codes that are running the electrical pulses are more sophisticated. The frequency, rate and amplitude can be adjusted, often by the patients, which allows personalized therapy. 

        The new implants are also smaller: The surgery is generally an outpatient procedure with minimal post-operative pain and a short recovery. They have longer battery life, reducing the need for replacement. And patients can try out a non-invasive version of the equipment before getting a permanent implant.

        “This is really a defining moment in what we can do to impact the lives of people who suffer from chronic pain,” said Allen Burton, Abbott’s medical director of neuromodulation. “We can dampen the chronic pain signal and give patients their lives back.”

        Medtronic Plc, which pioneered the technique but ceded the lead in recent years, is now working on next-generation devices. The company recently gained approval for the smallest pain-management implant, Intellis. In development are devices that can detect pain waves and adjust automatically, said Geoff Martha, executive vice president of Medtronic’s restorative therapies group.

        “A self-correcting central nervous system — that’s the panacea. That’s the ultimate goal,” Martha said. “It could take a huge bite out of the opioid problem.”

          Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-12-26/spinal-cord-implants-to-numb-pain-emerge-as-alternative-to-pills

          Back At The Helm: Steve Jobs Returned To Work At Apple Today After The Holistic Medicine He Was Taking Kicked In

          It was a sad day in Silicon Valley when Steve Jobs stepped down as Apple CEO in 2009 for health reasons. His road to recovery has been long and bumpy, but luckily this story now has a happy ending: Steve Jobs returned to work at Apple today when the holistic medicine he was taking finally kicked in and cured his cancer.

          The visionary genius behind the MacBook and iPhone is back where he belongs!

          When Jobs stepped down to concentrate full time on fighting pancreatic cancer, many questioned his decision to focus mainly on alternative medicine treatments. Well, the critics are eating their words now, because even though it took eight years for his vegan diet, acupuncture treatments, and meditation to take effect, they have clearly paid off. Today Steve Jobs is looking more spry than ever, and it’s all thanks to the careful regimen of special juices, bowel cleanses, and being legally dead for six years that gradually brought him back to health. In a world dominated by hospitals and the promise of the quick fix, Jobs deserves credit for sticking with his spiritualistic treatments that have him back at the helm of his company.

          Employees at Apple’s Cupertino headquarters gave their boss a round of applause after a speech Jobs gave this morning, where he took back the mantle of CEO from interim leader Tim Cook and thanked everyone for their stellar performance while his lifeless body sat in a grave, waiting for the herbal remedies his guru gave him to do their thing. During one especially inspiring moment, Jobs reminded his employees to always tune out the naysayers, because he is living proof that even though it took nearly a decade to fully realize the effects, enlisting a psychic for medical advice ultimately worked out for him.

          Wow! What an amazing personal journey! Welcome back, Mr. Jobs. We can’t wait to see what ideas you’ll dream up for Apple next.

          Read more: http://www.clickhole.com/article/back-helm-steve-jobs-returned-work-apple-today-aft-7050

          Russia used hundreds of fake accounts to tweet about Brexit, data shows

          Researchers discover that accounts run from troll farm in St Petersburg tried to sow discord between Britons

          Concern about Russian influence in British politics has intensified as it emerged that more than 400 fake Twitter accounts believed to be run from St Petersburg published posts about Brexit.

          Researchers at the University of Edinburgh identified 419 accounts operating from the Russian Internet Research Agency (IRA) attempting to influence UK politics out of 2,752 accounts suspended by Twitter in the US.

          One of the accounts run from the Kremlin-linked operation attempted to stir anti-Islamic sentiment during the Westminster Bridge terror attack in March in a bogus post claiming a Muslim woman ignored victims a claim that was highlighted by mainstream media outlets including Mail Online and the Sun.

          For days after, the tweeter was gleefully sharing press clippings. Wow Im on the Daily Mail front page! Thank you British libs! Youre making me famous, he said, referring to an article that appeared on Mail Online and which still bore the tweet at the time of writing.

          @SouthLoneStar
          @SouthLoneStar tweet – which appears to have been generated by a Russian. Photograph: Twitter

          A day later, he tweeted: Im on The Sun! Thank you again, British libs! Now Im even more famous!

          Damian Collins, the chairman of the Commons culture, media and sport select committee, which is investigating fake news, said the Russian agency appeared to be attempting to divide society and destabilise politics.

          The Conservative MP wants Twitter to tell the committee how it believes Russia has been attempting to influence UK politics.

          What is at stake is whether Russia has constructed an architecture which means they have thousands of accounts with which they can bombard [us] with fake news and hyper-partisan content, he said.

          We need to understand how widespread it is and what the impact is on the democratic process.

          Collins has demanded that Twitters chief executive, Jack Dorsey, supply examples of posts from the Internet Research Agency about British politics citing concern at possible interference by foreign actors in the democratic process of the UK.

          This is information they hold and I cant see any reason they should be delaying supplying it, he said.

          The developments come after the US Congress intelligence committee investigated Russian troll campaigning in the US election of November 2016.

          Twitter told the House committee that it had suspended 2,752 accounts which were tweeting about the US election because it believed they were controlled from Russia. The committee said it may well be just the tip of the iceberg.

          Hundreds of paid bloggers work round the clock at the IRA to flood Russian internet forums, social networks and the comments sections of western publications sowing disinformation, praising the countrys president, Vladimir Putin, and raging at the west.

          The agency has been linked to a businessman who was once Putins favourite chef.

          Prof Laura Cram, director of neuropolitics research at the University of Edinburgh, told the Guardian that at least 419 of those accounts tweeted about Brexit a total of 3,468 times mostly after the referendum had taken place.

          Archives of the now deleted Russian accounts show they included people purporting to be a US Navy veteran, a Tennessee Republican and a Texan patriot all tweeting in favour of Brexit.

          Play Video
          1:12

          ‘We know what youre doing,’ Theresa May tells Russia video

          Labour deputy leader Tom Watson urged Theresa May to bring political pressure to bear on tech giants to reveal the extent to which their platforms have been hijacked, and to take action against agents of the Russian state who use their platforms to disseminate misinformation and untruths.

          He said tech companies including Twitter and Facebook havent done enough to identify and weed out the fake profiles and automated content that pose a direct threat to our democracy.

          On Monday, May gave a speech in which she said Russias actions were threatening the international order on which we all depend.

          She accused Russia of meddling in elections and planting fake stories in the media to weaponise information and sow discord in the west.

          Concerns about Russias cyber-operations have also been raised elsewhere in Europe.

          Spains prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, claimed on Monday that half of the Twitter accounts that amplified the issue of Catalan independence were registered in Russia and 30% in Venezuela.

          Others have voiced concerns that Russian social media accounts also sought to influence this years French and German elections.

          A spokesperson for Twitter said the company recognises that the integrity of the election process itself is integral to the health of a democracy. As such, we will continue to support formal investigations by government authorities into election interference as required.

          The Russian tweets identified by Twitter as coming from the IRA included one by an account holder using the name @SouthLoneStar.

          He reportedly said: I hope UK after #BrexitVote will start to clean their land from muslim invasion! and UK voted to leave future European Caliphate! #BrexitVote.

          The same account posted a widely shared tweet at the time of the March terror attack on Westminster Bridge in London.

          It posted a photograph of a woman in a headscarf passing the scene of the attack with the caption: Muslim woman pays no mind to the terror attack, casually walks by a dying man while checking phone #PrayForLondon #Westminster #BanIslam.

          The woman said later: Not only have I been devastated by witnessing the aftermath of a shocking and numbing terror attack, Ive also had to deal with the shock of finding my picture plastered all over social media by those who could not look beyond my attire, who draw conclusions based on hate and xenophobia.

          Another suspended account appeared to be a Republican from Tennessee. @TEN_GOP quoted Nigel Farage telling Fox News about Brexit and Donald Trump: What youve seen this year is just ordinary, decent people, the little people, whove said Weve had enough. We want change.

          @WadeHarriot, purporting to be a former member of the US Navy, retweeted criticisms of leftists for trying to subvert #Brexit and predictions of #Brexit #Frexit #Grexit.

          Cram said the content of the Brexit tweets overall was quite chaotic and it seems to be aimed at wider disruption. Theres not an absolutely clear thrust. We pick up a lot on refugees and immigration.

          She stressed that more research is needed to establish the extent of the tweets influence, and urged caution about drawing conclusions from the relatively small number of troll accounts so far identified. About 78% of the tweets came after the Brexit vote on 23 June 2016, she added.

          Russia has been adamant it did not interfere in any way in the EU referendum. We closely followed the voting but never interfered or sought to influence it, Putin said the day after the poll.

          However, there is no doubt that many in Moscow welcomed the outcome. An EU without Britain would be less united on sanctions against Russia, many Russian officials hoped, because it would lose one of its stronger foreign policy voices and would be too consumed with its own internal problems to prioritise Russia policy.

          At the time, the former US ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul, said the vote to leave the EU was a giant victory for Putins foreign policy objectives.

          The US Congressional investigation into Russian meddling through social media also gathered evidence from Facebook that between June 2015-August 2017 there were 470 accounts on the platform associated with the IRA and that 126 million Americans are likely to have seen content from an IRA page.

          Additional reporting by Stacee Smith

          Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/nov/14/how-400-russia-run-fake-accounts-posted-bogus-brexit-tweets

          GE’s $100 Billion Wipeout Heralds Reckoning for an American Icon

          Few under the age of 30 might remember, but General Electric Co. was once a model of corporate greatness.

          Back in 1999, when Steve Jobs was still fiddling with iMacs, Fortune magazine proclaimed Jack Welch, then GE’s chief executive officer, the best manager of the 20th Century.

          Few people — of whatever age — would lavish such praise on the manufacturer these days.

          GE, that paragon of modern management, has fallen so far that it’s scarcely recognizable. The old GE is dead, undone by an unfortunate mix of missteps and bad luck. The new one now confronts some of the most daunting challenges in the company’s 125-year history.

          The numbers tell the story: This year alone, roughly $100 billion has been wiped off GE’s stock market value. With mounting cash-flow problems at the once-mighty company, even the dividend is at risk of being cut. The last time GE chopped the payout was in the Great Recession — and before that, the Great Depression.

          Read more: Bloomberg Gadfly on GE dividend

          And yet the hit to the collective psyche of generations of investors and managers is incalculable. For decades, GE-think infiltrated boardrooms around the world. Six Sigma quality control, strict performance metrics, management boot camps — all that and more informed the MBAs of the 1970s, ’80s, ’90s and into this century. GE, in turn, seeded corporate America with its executives.

          Anxious Investors

          Now, John Flannery, GE’s new CEO, is struggling to win back the trust of anxious investors. He’s set to detail his turnaround plans on Monday — and has said he’ll consider every option.

          “There’s nothing less than the fate of a once great, great company on the line,” said Thomas O’Boyle, the author of “At Any Cost: Jack Welch, General Electric, and the Pursuit of Profit.” “Some of the fundamental notions about its status as a conglomerate and whether it can succeed in a world of increasing complexity are really being challenged right now.”

          In hindsight, the seeds of this struggle were planted decades ago. Welch expanded and reshaped GE with hundreds of acquisitions and demanded every GE unit be No. 1 or No. 2 in its industry. He also culled low-performers ruthlessly, earning the nickname Neutron Jack. By the time he retired, in 2001, GE’s market value had soared from less than $20 billion to almost $400 billion.

          But all that maneuvering, plus GE’s increasingly complex financial operations, obscured the underlying performance and put the company in peril during the 2008 financial crisis. Welch’s successor, Jeffrey Immelt, soon embarked on a plan to undo much of the House that Jack Built. He would sell NBC and most of the finance operations — two of the businesses that defined Welch’s tenure — along with units such as plastics and home-appliances.

          The moves narrowed GE’s focus, yet it remains a collection of somewhat disparate manufacturing businesses, ranging from jet engines to oilfield equipment.

          Out of Favor

          Unfortunately for GE, that industrial conglomerate model has fallen sharply out of favor on Wall Street. And the rise of activist investors like Nelson Peltz has encouraged companies to try to boost their stock prices however they can, rather than focus on the long term. GE recently welcomed one of Peltz’s partners at Trian Fund Management to the board.

          “The reckoning had to come,” said Jack De Gan, chief investment officer of Harbor Advisory, which has been a GE shareholder for more than 20 years before selling most of the shares in the past few weeks.

          GE’s leaders have long defended the multi-business strategy by pointing to the benefits of sharing technology across product lines — jet engines, for instance, have a lot in common with gas turbines. In an interview with Bloomberg in June, Flannery dismissed concerns about conglomerates, saying investors care more about outcomes.

          “They want growth, they want visibility, they want predictability, they want margin rate,” Flannery said. “And there are a multitude of models to produce that.”

          $20 Billion

          The new CEO has already said he’ll divest at least $20 billion of assets. He’s coming under pressure to do even more.

          “Anything less than a sweeping plan to ‘de-conglomerate’ the portfolio would be viewed as disappointing,” Deane Dray, an analyst with RBC Capital Markets, said this week in a note to clients. The potential moves include unloading its transportation, oil, health-care and lighting operations.

          Read more: Bloomberg Gadfly on a GE Breakup

          To be sure, GE’s issues run deeper than the composition of the company. One of its biggest divisions, power-generation, is in the early stages of a deep market slump — just two years after bulking up with the $10 billion acquisition of Alstom SA’s energy business. GE’s cash flow is light, potentially putting the dividend in jeopardy and driving investors away from the stock.

          Flannery has spoken of the need to change GE’s culture and instill a sense of accountability. He’s reined in excessive spending — on corporate cars and planes, on the new Boston headquarters — and replaced top executives.

          But the sudden changes, combined with Flannery’s relative lack of public reassurances, have spooked investors. In the days after Flannery’s first quarterly earnings as CEO, when he called GE’s performance “completely unacceptable,” the stock fell and fell. And fell some more, closing at the lowest level in five years on Nov. 2.

          The shares slid less than 1 percent to $19.99 on Thursday, bringing the 2017 loss to 37 percent.

          “You think about a company like Kodak. Will GE become that?” said Vijay Govindarajan, a professor at Dartmouth University’s Tuck School of Business who served as GE’s professor-in-residence in 2008 and 2009.

          Some investors may be throwing in the towel, but Govindarajan isn’t giving up. “I will put my bet that GE will weather this and come back,” he said.

            Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-11-10/ge-s-100-billion-wipeout-heralds-reckoning-for-an-american-icon

            Deloitte hit by cyber-attack revealing clients secret emails

            Exclusive: hackers may have accessed usernames, passwords and personal details of top accountancy firms blue-chip clients

            One of the worlds big four accountancy firms has been targeted by a sophisticated hack that compromised the confidential emails and plans of some of its blue-chip clients, the Guardian can reveal.

            Deloitte, which is registered in London and has its global headquarters in New York, was the victim of a cybersecurity attack that went unnoticed for months.

            One of the largest private firms in the US, which reported a record $37bn (27.3bn) revenue last year, Deloitte provides auditing, tax consultancy and high-end cybersecurity advice to some of the worlds biggest banks, multinational companies, media enterprises, pharmaceutical firms and government agencies.

            The Guardian understands Deloitte clients across all of these sectors had material in the company email system that was breached. The companies include household names as well as US government departments.

            So far, six of Deloittes clients have been told their information was impacted by the hack. Deloittes internal review into the incident is ongoing.

            The Guardian understands Deloitte discovered the hack in March this year, but it is believed the attackers may have had access to its systems since October or November 2016.

            The hacker compromised the firms global email server through an administrators account that, in theory, gave them privileged, unrestricted access to all areas.

            The account required only a single password and did not have two-step verification, sources said.

            Emails to and from Deloittes 244,000 staff were stored in the Azure cloud service, which was provided by Microsoft. This is Microsofts equivalent to Amazon Web Service and Googles Cloud Platform.

            Microsoft's
            Microsofts Azure cloud service. Photograph: Microsoft

            In addition to emails, the Guardian understands the hackers had potential access to usernames, passwords, IP addresses, architectural diagrams for businesses and health information. Some emails had attachments with sensitive security and design details.

            The breach is believed to have been US-focused and was regarded as so sensitive that only a handful of Deloittes most senior partners and lawyers were informed.

            The Guardian has been told the internal inquiry into how this happened has been codenamed Windham. It has involved specialists trying to map out exactly where the hackers went by analysing the electronic trail of the searches that were made.

            The team investigating the hack is understood to have been working out of the firms offices in Rosslyn, Virginia, where analysts have been reviewing potentially compromised documents for six months.

            It has yet to establish whether a lone wolf, business rivals or state-sponsored hackers were responsible.

            Sources said if the hackers had been unable to cover their tracks, it should be possible to see where they went and what they compromised by regenerating their queries. This kind of reverse-engineering is not foolproof, however.

            A measure of Deloittes concern came on 27 April when it hired the US law firm Hogan Lovells on special assignment to review what it called a possible cybersecurity incident.

            The Washington-based firm has been retained to provide legal advice and assistance to Deloitte LLP, the Deloitte Central Entities and other Deloitte Entities about the potential fallout from the hack.

            Responding to questions from the Guardian, Deloitte confirmed it had been the victim of a hack but insisted only a small number of its clients had been impacted. It would not be drawn on how many of its clients had data made potentially vulnerable by the breach.

            The Guardian was told an estimated 5m emails were in the cloud and could have been been accessed by the hackers. Deloitte said the number of emails that were at risk was a fraction of this number but declined to elaborate.

            In response to a cyber incident, Deloitte implemented its comprehensive security protocol and began an intensive and thorough review including mobilising a team of cybersecurity and confidentiality experts inside and outside of Deloitte, a spokesman said.

            As part of the review, Deloitte has been in contact with the very few clients impacted and notified governmental authorities and regulators.

            The review has enabled us to understand what information was at risk and what the hacker actually did, and demonstrated that no disruption has occurred to client businesses, to Deloittes ability to continue to serve clients, or to consumers.

            We remain deeply committed to ensuring that our cybersecurity defences are best in class, to investing heavily in protecting confidential information and to continually reviewing and enhancing cybersecurity. We will continue to evaluate this matter and take additional steps as required.

            Our review enabled us to determine what the hacker did and what information was at risk as a result. That amount is a very small fraction of the amount that has been suggested.

            Deloitte declined to say which government authorities and regulators it had informed, or when, or whether it had contacted law enforcement agencies.

            Though all major companies are targeted by hackers, the breach is a deep embarrassment for Deloitte, which offers potential clients advice on how to manage the risks posed by sophisticated cybersecurity attacks.

            Cyber risk is more than a technology or security issue, it is a business risk, Deloitte tells potential customers on its website.

            While todays fast-paced innovation enables strategic advantage, it also exposes businesses to potential cyber-attack. Embedding best practice cyber behaviours help our clients to minimise the impact on business.

            Deloitte has a CyberIntelligence Centre to provide clients with round-the-clock business focussed operational security.

            We monitor and assess the threats specific to your organisation, enabling you to swiftly and effectively mitigate risk and strengthen your cyber resilience, its website says. Going beyond the technical feeds, our professionals are able to contextualise the relevant threats, helping determine the risk to your business, your customers and your stakeholders.

            In 2012, Deloitte, which has offices all over the world, was ranked the best cybersecurity consultant in the world.

            Earlier this month, Equifax, the US credit monitoring agency, admitted the personal data of 143 million US customers had been accessed or stolen in a massive hack in May. It has also revealed it was also the victim of an earlier breach in March.

            About 400,000 people in the UK may have had their information stolen following the cybersecurity breach. The US company said an investigation had revealed that a file containing UK consumer information may potentially have been accessed.

            The data includes names, dates of birth, email addresses and telephone numbers, but does not contain postal addresses, passwords or financial information. Equifax, which is based in Atlanta, discovered the hack in July but only informed consumers last week.

            Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/sep/25/deloitte-hit-by-cyber-attack-revealing-clients-secret-emails

            Apple Debuts a Watch That Can Make Calls Without an iPhone

            Apple Inc. unveiled a new Watch on Tuesday that can make calls and access the internet without an iPhone nearby, freeing the device from a limitation that had given some potential buyers pause.

            The new version, called Apple Watch Series 3, will use an existing iPhone phone number when making calls, Apple said. It supports the LTE high-speed mobile wireless data standard so users can stream music and check digital maps on their wrist. Previous Apple Watches needed to be tethered wirelessly to an iPhone. 

            Read More: Everything You Need to Know About Apple's New Products

            The LTE Watch starts at $399 and will be available Sept. 22. It has a new processor that is 70 percent faster than last year’s chip, Apple executive Jeff Williams said at the product’s introduction. Apple shares rose 1.1 percent to $163.30 after the company discussed the Watch.

            Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook unveiled the Apple Watch in September 2014, banking on the product being the company’s next big category. So far, though, it’s mostly been an accessory to the iPhone. The company’s Other Products unit, which includes the Watch, represented 6 percent of Apple’s sales in its most recent quarter. However, the new LTE models may spur new sales as some consumers were turned off by the previous model’s inability to free the Watch from their iPhones.

            Apple initially marketed the Watch as a luxury item, but it has focused more on health and fitness recently. That’s even as established luxury watch makers release smartwatches that cost thousands of dollars. Cook said on Tuesday that the Apple Watch is now the largest watch brand by revenue, overtaking Rolex, and touted new health uses.

            Cook said recently that the Watch was the best-selling smartwatch "by a very wide margin," while noting sales of the device grew more than 50 percent in the third quarter. In the larger wearables category, which includes cheaper fitness bands, Apple ranks third behind Xiaomi Corp. and Fitbit Inc., according to research firm Strategy Analytics.

            Bloomberg News reported in August that the new Apple Watch would include an option for connecting to LTE networks.

              Read more: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-09-12/apple-debuts-a-watch-that-can-make-calls-without-an-iphone