Category: Spotlight

IRS reportedly pulled ‘entire investigative team’ from Hunter Biden tax fraud probe at behest of DOJ

In October, reports indicated that the FBI believed it had enough evidence to charge Hunter Biden with tax crimes. The Justice Department reportedly ordered the team’s removal, according to the New York Post. An IRS criminal supervisory special agent came forward to Congress in April seeking whistleblower protection to share with lawmakers information that allegedly showed the investigation into potential…

US pharmacy giant PharMerica says hackers accessed personal data of almost 6 million patients

  One of the largest pharmacy service providers in the United States has confirmed that hackers accessed the personal data of almost six million patients. PharMerica operates over 2,500 facilities across the U.S. and offers more than 3,100 pharmacy and healthcare programs. In a data breach notification filed with Maine’s attorney general, PharMerica said it learned of suspicious activity on…

Wells Fargo to pay $1.3 billion in class-action lawsuit

SAN FRANCISCO – Wells Fargo & Co agreed to pay US$1 billion (S$1.3 billion) to settle a shareholder lawsuit that accused it of making misleading statements about its compliance with United States consent orders, following the 2016 scandal involving the opening of unauthorised customer accounts. The settlement is one of the top six largest securities class-action settlements of the past…

Twitter reveals Turkish court orders

The platform’s Global Government Affairs account issued a statement on Monday outlining its recent decisions in light of the Turkish court orders, saying it was forced to take action against four accounts and 409 individual tweets.  “We received what we believed to be a final threat to throttle the service – after several such warnings,” it said, adding that it deleted the accounts and posts “in order to keep Twitter available over the election weekend.”

US airlines are sitting out China’s reopening

  WASHINGTON – After three years of largely self-imposed isolation because of Covid‑19, China is finally reopening. But US airlines are not lining up to reinstate the once-abundant services between the world’s two largest economies. In pre-pandemic 2019, direct flights between the United States and China by carriers from both countries averaged 340 per week. Today there are a maximum…

US special counsel faults FBI’s handling of 2016 Trump-Russia probe

WASHINGTON – The FBI lacked “actual evidence” to investigate Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and relied too heavily on tips provided by Trump’s political opponents to fuel the probe, US Special Counsel John Durham concluded in a report released on Monday.

The report marks the end of a four-year probe launched in May 2019 when then-Attorney General William Barr appointed Durham, a veteran prosecutor, to probe potential missteps by the FBI when it launched its early stage “Crossfire Hurricane” inquiry into potential contacts between Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and Russia.

That Crossfire Hurricane investigation would later be handed over to Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who in March 2019 concluded there was no evidence of a criminal conspiracy between Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russia.

In his new 306-page report, Durham concluded that US intelligence and law enforcement did not possess any “actual evidence” of collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia prior to launching Crossfire Hurricane.

He also accused the bureau of treating the 2016 Trump probe differently from other politically sensitive investigations, including several involving Trump’s Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.

Ransomware gang steals data of 5.8 million PharMerica patients

Pharmacy services provider PharMerica has disclosed a massive data breach impacting over 5.8 million patients, exposing their medical data to hackers.

PharMerica is a pharmacy services provider in 50 U.S. states, operating 180 local and 70,000 backup pharmacies, and serving 3,100 medical facilities nationwide.

According to a data breach notification submitted to the Office of the Maine Attorney General, hackers breached PharMerica’s system on March 12th, 2023, stealing the full names, addresses, dates of birth, social security numbers (SSNs), medications, and health insurance information of 5,815,591 people.

The firm discovered the intrusion on March 14th, 2023, and its investigation determined on March 21st that client data had been stolen. However, notices of a data breach were sent to impacted individuals only last Friday, May 12th, 2023.

Exec fired from ByteDance says Beijing had access to TikTok data in termination suit

A former executive fired from TikTok’s parent company ByteDance made a raft of accusations against the tech giant Friday, including that it stole content from competitors like Instagram and Snapchat, and served as a “propaganda tool” for the Chinese government by “suppressing or promoting content favorable to the country’s interests.”

The allegations were made in a complaint last week by Yintao Yu, the head of engineering for ByteDance’s U.S. operations from August 2017 to November 2018, as part of a wrongful termination lawsuit filed earlier this month in San Francisco Superior Court. Yu claims he was fired for disclosing “wrongful conduct” he saw at the company.

In the complaint, Yu alleges the Chinese government monitored ByteDance’s work from within its Beijing headquarters and “provided guidance on advancing core communist values.”

China still conducting police activities in Germany: German ministries

BERLIN – The German security authorities believe that China is still conducting police activities on German soil even though Beijing assured Berlin in February that it had ceased to do so, the German foreign and interior ministries said on Monday.

“The security authorities continue to assume that there are two so-called overseas police stations in Germany,” a spokesman for the Interior Ministry said at a regular press conference.

Berlin called on Beijing in November to shut down extraterritorial police stations in the country.

France not ready to send jets to Ukraine – Politico

In an article on Sunday, Politico quoted an anonymous official from Macron’s office as saying that “what Ukraine needs is combat equipment, armored vehicles, tanks, artillery.” In addition, Paris will heed Kiev’s calls to supply more air defense systems, the source stated.

When asked whether France was considering sending fighter jets to Ukraine, the official dismissed the issue as “a bit premature,” stressing that the focus should currently be on land operations and air defense.

UK pledges long range drones to Ukraine

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will pledge to send more weapons to Ukraine including attack drones and air defence systems, as the country’s president, Mr Volodymyr Zelensky, made a surprise visit to Britain. 

Mr Sunak will host Mr Zelensky on Monday at the prime minister’s countryside retreat Chequers north of London on the heels of similar visits by the Ukrainian leader to France, Germany and Italy. The pledge of additional military support from Britain comes as Kyiv’s forces prepare for a counter-offensive to take back territory occupied by Russian forces. 

Britain will confirm the transfer of hundreds of air defence missiles and further unmanned aerial systems, including hundreds of new attack drones with a range in excess of 200km.

There may be more ‘Chinese police stations’ in Canada, minister says

There may be more “Chinese police stations” operating in Canada, the Public Safety Minister told a Canadian TV station on Sunday, months after police said they were investigating whether two community centers in Montreal were being used to intimidate or harass Canadians of Chinese origin.

“I am confident that the [Royal Canadian Mounted Police] have taken concrete action to disrupt any foreign interference in relationship to those so-called police stations, and that if new police stations are popping up and so on, that they will continue to take decisive action going forward,” Marco Mendicino told CTV’s Question Period in an interview.

Japanese protesters call to evict US military outposts amid growing tensions

Demonstrators demanded the closure of the US’ Okinawa bases. The island’s inhabitants are weary of the pollution – both chemical and aural – produced by Washington’s military outposts, as well as the high number of crimes committed by American servicemembers, from petty theft and drunk driving to rape and murder.  Governor Denny Tamaki has urged the Japanese and US governments to reduce the Pentagon’s footprint on the island, which hosts 70% of all US military facilities in Japan despite comprising just 1% of the country’s total land area. 

Legal fund for man charged in New York subway death tops US$1.6 m

NEW YORK – A crowdfunding effort supporting the man charged over the chokehold death of a homeless person in New York has raised more than US$1.6 million (S$2.14 million) on a platform known for facilitating funding of far-right figures.

The death earlier this month of Jordan Neely, a Michael Jackson impersonator who often performed on the subway, sparked outrage after it was caught on camera.

Daniel Penny, a 24-year-old US Marine veteran, was charged with manslaughter in the second degree and released on bail. The charge accuses Penny of “recklessly” causing the death of 30-year-old Neely, but it stops short of saying he had intent to kill.

The online fund supporting him was set up by the law firm Raiser & Kenniff, P.C., which is representing Penny.

U.S. boosts military presence in the Middle East after Iran seizes tankers

The U.S. military is working with allies to send more ships and aircraft to the Middle East as Iran escalates its seizures of merchant tankers, the National Security Council announced Friday.

“Today, the Department of Defense will be making a series of moves to bolster our defensive posture in the Arabian Gulf,” NSC spokesperson John Kirby told reporters.

The announcement comes after Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps seized a Panama-flagged oil tanker called Niovi on May 3, as the ship was traveling through the Strait of Hormuz. The tanker left Dubai, and moved toward a UAE port when a dozen boats from the IRGC navy forced the tanker to head into Iranian waters.

Another incident occurred April 27, when the Advantage Sweet tanker ship belonging to the Marshall Islands was also seized after colliding with an Iranian boat, which injured several crewmembers, according to Iran’s state media.

Virginia hid execution files from the public. Here’s what they don’t want you to see

A former Virginia Department of Corrections employee donated hundreds of execution documents, including these photographs, to the Library of Virginia more than a decade ago. NPR is now exclusively publishing a selection of the documents. Library of Virginia, Chiara Eisner and Monika Evstatieva/NPR Library of Virginia, Chiara Eisner and Monika Evstatieva/NPR   In January, NPR aired excerpts from four tapes…