The Chicago Journal

Meta will charge users for its subscription service

MetaAnother upcoming huge tweak Mark Zuckerberg made to Facebook and Instagram on Sunday has already angered users.

The CEO of Meta reportedly stated that the business is exploring a paid membership service that validates Facebook and Instagram users.

The unexpected Meta news surfaced just after Twitter said that it will start charging users for SMS two-factor authentication.

The news

In his introduction, Zuckerberg said that the subscription service will be dubbed “Meta Verified.”

Everyone who wants to utilize this service must pay $11.99 each month.

Those who use iOS, however, will have to pay $14.99 a month.

Australia and New Zealand will have access to Meta Verified this week before other regions.

Meta Verified

Meta’s subscription service is more than just a status symbol.

Also, it has benefits including enhanced protection against fake accounts.

Furthermore, Meta Verified provides clients with easy access to customer service.

A blue badge that enables account verification is given to users who utilize the subscription service.

Anybody who wants to utilize the subscription must have a government ID that exactly matches the name and photo on their profile.

They must also be at least 18 years old to subscribe to Meta Verified.

Statements

Mark Zuckerberg posted the following in a post on the Instagram broadcast channel Meta Verified:

“This new feature is about increasing authenticity and security across our services.”

The startling revelation shocked everyone, but Meta clarified to let everyone breathe.

The social media behemoth said that the verified accounts, which were previously exclusively accessible to real, well-known people, will not be impacted by the new subscription service.

“We are evolving the meaning of the blue badge to focus on authenticity so we can expand verification access to more people,” said a Meta spokesperson.

“We will display follower count in more places so people can distinguish which accounts are notable public figures among accounts that share the same name.”

A league of their own

Due to the company’s use of subscription services, Meta Verified falls under the same banner of platforms like:

  • Discord
  • Reddit
  • Twitter
  • YouTube

Twitter has generated the hottest discussions out of all the websites with a committed subscription service.

Twitter Blue

In December, Twitter Blue, a premium service for verification, was re-released by Elon Musk and Twitter.

The firm had been utilizing the service up until a flood of fake “verified” accounts forced them to withdraw.

Twitter has also added new colors for a number of checkbox choices to make it simpler to distinguish between distinct accounts, including:

  • Gold checks for companies
  • Gray checks for government organizations and affiliates
  • Blue checks for individuals, celebrities or non-celebrities

Android and iOS users may use Twitter by subscribing to Twitter Blue for $11 per month.

Elon Musk wanted to increase the number of customers when he paid $44 billion to buy the business in late 2022.

Read also: Microsoft AI actually had errors in demo last week

Two-factor authentication 

There was uproar when Twitter said last week that it was reviewing how it handled two-factor authentication.

SMS texts are a two-factor authentication mechanism that is exclusively accessible to Twitter Blue subscribers, according to the press release.

A 2021 survey by Twitter Account Security found that just 2.6% of Twitter users had 2FA activated.

Around 74.4% of customers have so far chosen SMS authentication.

Beginning on March 20, non-Twitter Blue users will have two more, cost-free login options:

  • A security key
  • A mobile authentication app

On February 15, the news was made on Twitter in a blog post that read:

“Instead of only entering a password to log in, 2FA requires you to also enter a code or use a security key. This additional step helps make sure that you, and only you, can access your account.”

“While historically a popular form of 2FA, unfortunately we have seen phone-number based 2FA be used – and abused – by bad actors.”

“So starting today, we will no longer allow accounts to enroll in the text message/SMS method of 2FA unless they are Twitter Blue subscribers.”

“Non-Twitter Blue subscribers that are already enrolled will have 30 days to disable this method and enroll in another.”

“We encourage non-Twitter Blue subscribers to consider using an authentication app or security key method instead.”

“These methods require you to have a physical possession of the authentication method and are a great way to ensure your account is secure.”

Image source: NBC News

Bakhmut a pivotal area in Russian invasion

Bakhmut More than a year later, Russia has still not removed its soldiers from Ukraine.

The Ukrainian army decreased its positions in Bakhmut in the latter weeks of February and early March.

Notwithstanding the redeployment, they have not turned over control of the city to Russian forces.

Instead, the strategy is likely to cut mortality while luring Russian forces.

The conquest

President Vladimir Putin of Russia has declared war on the Donbas area, namely the eastern provinces of Luhansk and Donetsk.

Bakhmut in Donetsk, he claims, is the solution.

“We understand that after Bakhmut, they could go farther,” said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. 

“They could go to Kramatorsk. They could go to Sloviansk. It would be open road for the Russians after Bakhmut to other towns in Ukraine in the Donetsk direction.”

Ukraine has retained Bakhmut for as long as necessary.

Focus on the city

They beefed up their soldiers with special forces on Sunday, while Russian fighters from the Wagner mercenary outfit invaded the northern suburbs.

His top commanders, according to Zelensky, want to continue the defense operation and improve their position in Bakhmut.

Despite his lack of detail, the Center for the Study of War decided that Bakhmut had hampered the Russians by diverting their focus away from other sectors of the front.

“The Ukrainian defense of Bakhmut remains strategically sound as it continues to consume Russian manpower and equipment as long as Ukrainian forces do not suffer excessive casualties,” said the Study of War.

“Russian forces are unlikely to quickly secure significant territorial gains when conducting urban warfare, which usually favors the defender and can allow Ukrainian forces to inflict high casualties on advancing Russian units – even as Ukrainian forces are actively withdrawing.”

Crunching some figures

Ukraine lost one soldier for every seven Russians in Bakhmut, according to Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council.

According to US White House officials, as of February 17, the Wagner Group, which has centered its operations in the Bakhmut area, has sustained 30,000 casualties, including over 9,000 fatalities.

Russia is anticipated to commit 190,000 soldiers to the February 24, 2022 strike.

They’ve acquired 316,000 since then.

Ukraine is said to have slain about 150,000 Russian servicemen.

But, Ukraine’s military intelligence chief, Kyrlo Budanov, told USA Today that Russia’s fatalities made mounting a big attack after spring difficult.

“Russia has wasted huge amounts of human resources, armaments, and materials,” said Budanov.

“Its economy and productions are not able to cover these losses. If Russia’s military fails in its aims this spring, it will be out of military tools.”

Read also: Lloyd Austin traveled to Baghdad in a show of support

Controlling the withdrawal

Ukraine began its pullout from Bakhmut on February 28.

A tactical withdrawal, according to presidential adviser Alexander Rodnyansky, was not out of the cards.

“So far [our troops] have held the city but if need be, they will strategically back because we’re not going to sacrifice all of our people just for nothing,” he elaborated.

Serhiy Rakhmanin, a Ukrainian Parliamentarian, added along, saying:

“I believe that sooner or later, we will probably have to leave Bakhmut. There is no sense in holding it at any cost.”

“But for the moment, Bakhmut will be defended with several aims,” he added.

“Firstly, to inflict as many Russian losses as possible and make Russia use its ammunition and resources.”

Halting advances

Despite Zelesnky’s assertion that their forces had control of the sector of the front, Ukraine’s army general command claimed on March 1 that Russian troops were still marching towards Bakhmut.

Two days later, Ukrainian soldiers began blowing up bridges near Bakhmut, indicating a limited withdrawal.

One bridge connects the city’s eastern and western halves, while another runs west of Bakhmut to Khromov.

If Bakhmut surrendered, Ukrainian forces planned to obstruct Russian advances in the city and postpone quick deployment.

Russian military problems

Wagner CEO Yevgeny Prigozhin declared in a Telegram video:

“Units of the private military Wagner have practically surrounded Bakhmut. Only one route [out] is left. The pincers are closing.”

Prigozhin is also having issues, stating on social media that the Russian military ministry is not giving him enough ammo to complete the mission.

In a letter, he emphasized the need of providing ammunition to the commander of Russia’s military assault in Ukraine.

“On March 6, at 8 o’clock in the morning, my representative at the headquarters had his pass canceled and was denied access to the group’s headquarters,” he wrote.

The Russian defense ministry, on the other hand, has been wary of Yevgeny Prigozhin, who has boasted about the capabilities of his organization while insinuating that the Russian military is weak.

Prigozhin claimed possession of half of Bakhmut on Wednesday, and geolocated footage corroborated his assertions that Ukraine had been forced to the west side of the river.

Image source: Foreign Policy

Insomnia linked to heart attacks in new studies

Insomnia Although sleep is an essential component of one’s day, some people struggle with falling asleep in bed at times.

Insomnia is defined as difficulty falling, staying, or gaining adequate sleep, and a recent study suggests that insomniacs may be at danger.

Sleep deprivation may have an influence on people’s hearts, in addition to interfering with daily functioning.

The news

Insomnia has been linked to an increased risk of heart attack in studies.

The most prevalent sleep issue, according to their research, affects 10% to 15% of all Americans.

According to the report’s findings, which were published in the journal Clinical Cardiology, the possible association between sleeplessness and heart attack is more likely to impact women.

According to Dr. Martha Gulati, chief of preventive services at Cedars-Sinai Smidt Heart Center, the majority of her patients are women, and sleeplessness is a risk factor for those with ischemic heart disease.

Although not being a participant in the study, Gulati shared her thoughts: “Insomnia is actually quite common.”

“We see it probably in 1 in 10 patients in the United States. It is my impression that almost everyone experiences insomnia at some point in their life.”

“The estimate is that 1 in 2 adults experience it at some point in their life, maybe in the short term because of stressful moments.”

Analysis

The analysis of the study is based on more than 11 decades of information collected from 1,184,256 people in the following countries:

  • China
  • Germany
  • Norway
  • Taiwan
  • The United States
  • The United Kingdom

The study was undertaken by researchers from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and the United States, and it classified insomnia as a sleep disorder with three major diagnoses:

  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Difficulty staying asleep
  • Waking up early but restlessness that makes it hard to sleep again

There were 1,030,375 people who did not suffer from insomnia and 153,881 who did.

Sleep deprivation is 1.69 times more likely to cause a heart attack, according to research.

Despite this, the number of heart attacks was quite modest, occurring in around 1.6% of individuals who had insomnia and 1.2% of those who did not.

Hours of sleep

The researchers observed a link between a higher risk of heart attack and the amount of time participants spent sleeping at night.

Individuals who slept for five hours or less were 1.56 times more likely to suffer a heart attack than those who slept for seven or eight hours.

Getting more sleep, however, does not ensure safety.

According to the study, those who slept for six hours or more each night had a lower risk of having a heart attack.

“A lot of studies have pointed somewhere between seven and eight hours of sleep being the magic number for us,” said Gulati.

“There is obviously variability for everyone, but too much sleep is rarely the issue.”

The study discovered that insomniacs of any age or gender had the same risk of having a heart attack.

Read also: Teenagers using social media should be older than 13

How insomnia affects the body

A lack of sleep, according to Dr. Martha Gulati, increases the risk of a heart attack in a variety of ways, with a focus on cortisol control.

Cortisol is a stress hormone that regulates how the body reacts to stress.

The higher a person’s blood pressure, the more stressed he or she is.

People’s blood pressure drops when they receive enough sleep.

“What really happens when you’re not getting enough sleep is that your cortisol gets out of whack,” Gulati explained.

“If you are having sleep problems, we know that your blood pressure is more elevated at night.”

Gulati observed that having high nighttime blood pressure might be a risk factor for heart disease induced by cortisol imbalance.

Meanwhile, the study’s authors suggested that sleep deprivation be included as a risk factor in cardiovascular disease preventive recommendations.

Dr. Hani Aiash, a cardiologist and associate dean of interprofessional research at Upstate Medical University’s College of Health Professions, is one of the study’s senior authors.

Sleep, he argues, is more useful than most people realize: “Now we have evidence that sleep is medicine. So good sleep is prevention.”

“If you don’t sleep well… below five hours or six hours, you’re exposing yourself to a higher risk of myocardial infarction. The pattern of sleep is very important.”

Aiash also feels that nine hours is too long: “Above nine hours is harmful also.”

Mitigation

After the release of the report, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States recommended five methods for minimizing insomnia:

  • Keep consistent sleeping and waking hours, including on weekends.
  • Make your bedroom a relaxing, dark, and comfortable retreat.
  • Remove any electrical devices from the room (smartphones, TVs, computers)
  • To enhance your chances of getting a good night’s sleep, avoid big meals, coffee, and alcohol.
  • Keep an active lifestyle throughout the day.

If your sleeplessness persists, the CDC advises you to contact a doctor.

Image source: Vecteezy

DraftKing to bag a win with Super Bowl’s betting scene

DraftKings Nowadays, gambling is legal in many places, especially when it includes sports.

Super Bowl LVII is conceivably the biggest event now occurring in the gambling industry.

High stakes

The American Gaming Association predicts that more than 50 million wagers totalling more than $16 billion will be placed before the Philadelphia Eagles vs. Kansas City Chiefs NFL game.

Because of the importance of the game, the following giants of the gambling industry had the possibility to bring in more customers:

  • DraftKings
  • FanDuel owner Flutter Entertainment (PDYPF)
  • MGM
  • Caesars (CZR)
  • Wynn (WYNN)

The event also had an impact on various sports betting businesses’ stock valuations, with some of their shares improving in 2023 as the market as a whole rallied.

However, a few of the shares are still recouping some of their big losses.

Stock progress

Over the past year and the previous, DraftKings experienced declines of 30% and 75%, respectively.

Barstool Sports is still owned by Caesars and Penn Entertainment (PENN), despite a 40% value decline from the prior year.

Rush Street Interactive, the parent firm of BetRivers, had a decline of more than 65% over that time.

Each business invested significantly in pricey advertising initiatives.

While Jamie Foxx has been in MGM advertising, Kevin Hart has been seen endorsing DraftKings.

Caesars has received endorsements from JB Smoove and the Manning family in television commercials.

Sportsbooks have also started to spend money on promotional initiatives like “free bets.”

Two birds and one stone

Providers of sports betting now have to use strategies that achieve two objectives at once:

  • Gain new customers
  • Restore investors’ confidence

But MGM presently has the upper hand over its competitors.

Only one physical sportsbook is staffed at its BetMGM location for the NFL game. BetMGM is a 50/50 joint venture between the major Las Vegas casino and UK gambling provider Entain.

The Phoenix Stadium relocated there in 2022, taking over the area next to State Farm Stadium, the previous home of the Chiefs and Eagles.

There is no denying that gamblers have placed wagers using mobile devices.

The CEO of BetMGM, Adam Greenblatt, emphasized that activity at the sportsbook should move quickly both before and during the game.

“We have prepared for this Super Bowl like never before, said Greenblatt.

“We are staffing up for a lot of demand.”

Read also: United Airlines among many set for a good year

Marketing opportunity

In the 17,000 square foot sportsbook next to the stadium, according to Greenblatt, there are 38 HD TVs and a sizable display wall where bettors can watch the game.

To encourage fans to wager on the game, there are 25 betting incentives.

According to Adam Greenblatt, having a real presence at the Super Bowl presents a significant marketing opportunity in a market where websites like DraftKings, FanDuel, and other bookmakers compete.

He wants people to download the BetMGM app, create an account, and place bets at the sportsbook on Sunday.

By reminding participants that MGM is a respected casino brand rather than a start-up like DraftKings, FanDuel, or Barsteel, Greenblatt emphasized the significance of marketing.

“We’re fun and sophisticated. Ocean’s Eleven. That was an MGM experience,” he said, reminding people it was the MGM Grand in the 2001 film.

“We want to be both aspirational but also accessible.”

Sports betting companies vs. casino companies

Even if there is competition, people who are new to the sector are not excessively concerned about casino operators.

Amy Howe, CEO of FanDuel, asserts that with sports betting being permitted in Ohio, Maryland, and Kansas in 2022, there will be lots of room for expansion.

“This should be the single biggest day in FanDuel’s history,” Howe said.

She said that for Super Bowl LVII, FanDuel expected 17 million bets, or more than twice as much as those made on the Super Bowl in 2022.

Howe claims that FanDuel expects the betting to attract over 500,000 new clients who will gamble on the game, particularly as more women do so.

Jason Robins, the CEO of DraftKings, thinks that bookmakers have realized they cannot continue to invest in expensive promos.

“If anything, the competition now is less intense than last year,” said Robins.

“Last year was the peak. It was somewhat irrational.”

Businesses like DraftKings used to face sanctions from Wall Street for striving to increase their market share at any costs.

“Investor tolerance for the types of undisciplined spending during the NFL season last year has waned,” said Robins. “Investors want to see a path to profitability.”

“That’s different from 2021 when customer growth was being rewarded.”

More Super Bowl LVII advertising is still anticipated from FanDuel and DraftKings.

NFL player Rob Gronkowski’s field goal for the FanDuel ad was touted the “kick of destiny,” while Kevin Hart is the subject of another DraftKings commercial.

Image source: Financial Times

Simu Liu teases a Shang-Chi appearance sooner than fans expected

Simu LiuThe MCU has officially entered Phase 5 with the release of Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.

While the six Phase 5 films have already been announced, they may pave the way for characters from Phase 4 to return, such as Shang-Chi.

Simu Liu, the first Asian superhero, has suggested that his comeback is closer than most people believe.

The film’s success

Shang-Chi had his MCU debut in 2021 as the second film of the Phase 4 lineup.

Simu Liu took on the role of Shang-Chi, demonstrating his power and right to exist in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

When the globe started to recover from the impacts of the pandemic, the film was a huge hit, earning Marvel millions of dollars throughout the world.

The critical response was similarly positive, and Marvel Studios moved fast to satisfy fans who wanted to see more of Simu Liu as Shang-Chi.

The sequel is currently in the works.

In addition to his own series, Shang-Chi will feature with the Avengers in Avengers: The Kang Dynasty.

The only trouble is that both films are virtually likely going to be released in the coming years.

Hints

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings premiered approximately two years ago in September 2021.

As the film’s anniversary approaches, Simu Liu has guaranteed fans that Shang-return Chi’s will be sooner than expected.

He recently spoke with People about his ideas for the role, including how he intends to connect with other MCU characters.

Simu Liu stated his enthusiasm for the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s performers and characters and voiced his desire to work with them.

“And who knows, [fans] might see something sooner than you think,” he teased. “We’ll see.”

Read also: Red Death debuts as Flash’s primary villain

What could it mean?

According to Simu Liu, Shang-MCU Chi’s homecoming would be surprising.

It also implies that he will appear before Shang-Chi 2, Avengers: The Kang Dynasty, or Avengers: Secret Wars.

Shang-Chi will very probably feature in one of the three MCU movies.

Nonetheless, none will be accessible for at least two years.

Shang-Chi may instead feature in one of the upcoming MCU films:

  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3
  • The Marvels
  • Captain America: New World Order
  • Thunderbolts
  • Blade

In addition to the big films, he might appear in any of the Marvel Cinematic Universe series:

  • Secret Invasion
  • Loki
  • What If…?
  • Ironheart
  • Echo
  • Agatha: Coven of Chaos
  • Daredevil: Born Again

The most likely suspect

Simu Liu might appear in one or more of the around 12 future projects.

Fans are hopeful that Shang-Chi would join Sam Wilson’s new Avengers lineup (Anthony Mackie).

Shang-Chi has already been cast in What If…second ?’s season as Disney+ had the news confirmed months before.

This is possibly what Liu was referring to.

Kang and the Ten Rings

Shang-Chi will very probably play a significant part in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as the ten rings he received from his father are crucial to Phase 4 and the start of Phase 5.

Viewers saw similarities between Phastos’ weapon and the ten rings in 2021’s The Eternals, prompting the question: did he create them?

Nevertheless, the Quantum Realm in the latest Ant-Man film highlighted how the multiversal power core resembled Shang-ten Chi’s rings, prompting many to believe that Kang was involved in its creation.

One Ant-Man scene corresponded with the 10 rings serving as a beacon in the Shang-Chi mid-credits sequence.

In addition, there might be links to the Ms. Marvel bracelet, which has a similar design to Shang-Chi’s rings.

Whatever the links are, one thing is certain: Shang-Chi will play an important part in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Image source: Hollywood Reporter

Super Bowl sees two Black QB make history

Super BowlSports finals each have an unique background since they include more than just a contest between two teams.

Despite the ups and downs the NFL has experienced this season, the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs game is sure to be thrilling.

Two Black quarterbacks, Jalen Hurts and Patrick Mahomes, will face off for the Lombardi Trophy in Super Bowl LVII.

Buildup

For a game of this level, the majority of players concentrate on tactics, game strategy, and training.

However, Mahomes and Hurts are conscious of how serious the situation is because they want to spark a dramatic change in the next generation of NFL players.

“It’s special,” said Patrick Mahomes, who makes his third Super Bowl appearance in Arizona this Sunday.

“There’s so many great ones that haven’t been recognized because of the stereotype of the Black quarterback not being able to have sustained success.”

“I’m glad that I’m able to be on this world stage with another quarterback in Jalen that’s able to play at a high level and prove that we’ve been able to do this the whole time.”

The 24-year-old Jalen Hurts will play in his first Super Bowl.

“It’s a historic moment,” said Hurts.

“To be on this platform and to give so many others so much inspiration moving forward, telling them that they can do it too. It’s a proud moment.”

NFL history made

Doug Williams entered the game in 1988 and went on to become the first Black quarterback to play in and win the Super Bowl.

Six further Black quarterbacks have entered the game since that time.

Only Russell Wilson and Patrick Mahomes have won the Lombardi Trophy, however.

With Mahomes on the other side of the field, Jalen Hurts will become the seventh Black quarterback to compete on such a prestigious platform.

The competition serves as an inspiration for younger generations.

“I’ve learned more and more about the history of the Black quarterback since I’ve been in this league and the guys that came before me and Jalen set the stage for this,” said Majomes.

“I’m glad that we can set the stage for kids that are coming up now.”

“If we can continue to show that we can consistently be great, I think it’ll just continue to open doors for other kids growing up to follow their dreams and to be a quarterback of an NFL team.”

Read also: Riqui Puig has high hopes for 2023 LA Galaxy campaign

The quarterback myth

The lack of diversity among owners and head coaches is one of the reasons why Black quarterbacks struggle in the NFL.

A lack of trust has led to the idea that a Black quarterback could struggle in the position because of a lack of leadership skills.

Doug Williams spoke about it in an interview with National Public Radio, saying:

“You know, as a Black quarterback, it was never about my ability to play the position. That wasn’t the question.”

“The question has always been leadership. Could you lead the team?”

It would appear that discrimination has been eradicated since four of the top five highest-paying contracts in football were awarded to black quarterbacks.

Jalen Hurts and Patrick Mahomes are two examples.

Mahomes never had any doubts about his ability to lead the club to a run of victories.

He played through an ankle injury and assisted the Chiefs in winning their third Super Bowl in four years.

Contrarily, Hurt won his contract by physical dominance and persuaded skeptics with his accurate throwing and 22 passing touchdowns.

The prototypes

Mahomes and Hurts are not only making history, but they are also redefining what an NFL quarterback ought to be.

They both have high sports IQs, strong sprinting and throwing abilities, and will succeed because of these attributes.

“These guys are the new prototypical quarterback in the NFL,” said Robert Griffin III, summing up the two Super Bowl quarterbacks.

“A triple threat. As they beat you with their arms, they beat you with their legs and they beat you with their minds.”

“And the fact that they’re the first two Black quarterbacks to be going up against each other in the Super Bowl makes this even more sweeter for all the generations that are coming up after them.”

Play styles

Despite the fact that Jalen Hurts and Patrick Mahomes are both outstanding football players, their playing styles are different.

Jalen Hurts is well known for his dexterity, drive to score touchdowns, and ability to deliver precise passes.

Hurts has distinguished himself for his great work ethic and exhibited remarkable growth in his early seasons.

Many believe Patrick Mahomes to be the NFL’s most exciting quarterback right now.

He is considered a magician and has a wide variety of throws.

By making it to the AFC Championship game in his first season as the starting quarterback, Mahomes has also shown that he can win.

At the age of 27, he has already taken part in three Super Bowls, displaying his NFL talent and opening doors for future Black quarterbacks.

Image source: Windy City GridIron

Apple aware of thieves eyeing iPhone passcodes

Apple When it comes to quality products, no other company comes close to Apple’s reputation.

Apple iPhones have been among the market’s most popular items.

As a result, if left unsecured, it may become the target of a swarm of bandits seeking to grab one from its owners.

Yet, thieves have adopted a new technique in their illegal operations.

iPhone thieves, according to studies, are increasingly seeking for a victim’s passcode before making their move.

The news

The Wall Street Journal reports that iPhone thieves are paying attention to their victims’ passcodes before snatching the Apple device.

They will then reset the settings, denying the owners access.

Victims have reported having their Apple iPhones taken from their hands in public areas such as pubs, only to discover that they had been locked out.

Passcode-savvy thieves can rapidly reset the victim’s Apple ID password.

They may also turn off the Locate My iPhone feature, leaving consumers in the dark and unable to track their iPhones.

Customers are also unable to delete additional devices associated with their Apple ID.

Criminals can also add a recovery key, denying the victim access to account recovery.

More than an isolated case

There were several reports, all alleging the same issue.

One victim, for example, said that a thief obtained an Apple Card by using the last four digits of their Social Security number in photographs.

Meanwhile, another woman had all of her family pictures destroyed.

The great majority of victims have previously reported to the authorities.

In one case, a victim reported identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission, alleging their loss.

Apple acknowledges the situation

With so many people experiencing the same problem, Apple is scrambling to come up with backup solutions.

The iPhone, according to a spokeswoman, is the most secure consumer mobile device on the market.

They went on to stress that the corporation is “tirelessly” striving to safeguard against new and emerging threats.

“We sympathize with users who have had this experience, and we take all attacks on our users very seriously, no matter how rare,” said the spokeswoman.

“We will continue to advance the protections to help keep user accounts secure.”

According to an Apple spokesperson, the new round of thefts is uncommon in that it includes both the device and the password or passcode.

Read also: Nvidia stands with the Microsoft deal

Preventing theft

Most systems recommend using a strong, unique password when creating passwords for devices and accounts.

The passcode, on the other hand, is a clear weak link, particularly when users select a short string of numbers for convenience.

Despite recent Apple improvements, the issue remains.

Apple has unveiled new ways to safeguard the Apple ID, such as physical security keys.

Apple suggests using Face ID and placing your palm over the screen when entering a passcode.

When Face ID (or Touch ID on prior versions) fails, the phone prompts the user for a password.

Upon unlocking the smartphone, enabling Apple Pay, and activating the iCloud Keychain password manager, the passcode shows.

Course of actions

It’s impossible to avoid theft, but Apple device users may make it more difficult for those who do.

Screen cover

Criminals routinely devise methods to get people’s passcodes, according to police authorities.

Some will even record their targets from a safe distance.

In public, users should use Face ID or Touch ID to prevent thieves from adding them to their list.

When a password or passcode is required, it is recommended that they input them like ATM pins.

Passcode strength

According to Adam Aviv, an associate professor of computer science at George Washington University, using six digits is a good practice.

Passcodes that are longer and more sophisticated will be more difficult to “shoulder surf,” according to Aviv.

Owners of Apple devices should use alphanumeric passcodes.

It is also advised to include a quick auto-lock to make it more difficult for thieves to change anything.

Additional protection

Most online banking applications require passcodes, and experts recommend generating one that is unique to the iPhone.

Users may also activate account limitations by setting up a Screen Time passcode, similar to how parents do with their children’s devices.

Third-party password manager

Although Apple’s built-in iCloud Keychain password manager is beneficial, passcode-protected passwords may also be read.

As a consequence, scammers can acquire access to bank accounts on their victims’ iPhones.

Nevertheless, users can use a third-party password manager that enables biometric authentication, like 1Password or Dashlane.

Delete traces of sensitive information

Some people are forgetful and may use photos of sensitive information, such as forms including their Social Security number, to help them remember.

As a result, it is wise to destroy duplicates of such documents.

As an alternative, users can use safe file storage in third-party password managers.

Act quickly if phone is stolen

If an iPhone is stolen, the owner must act quickly by checking in to iCloud from another device to locate and wipe the device clean.

Victims may easily call their carrier or go to a retail shop and have the sim deactivated to prevent them from receiving verification codes.

Image source: Wall Street Journal

Lloyd Austin traveled to Baghdad in a show of support

Lloyd AustinThe American press made a surprising statement on Tuesday, revealing that a senior White House official had arrived in Baghdad.

They followed US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin on an unannounced visit to Iraq, when he stated that US forces stationed there were ” ready to remain in Iraq.”

The news

Lloyd Austin is the highest-ranking Cabinet official to visit Baghdad since the commencement of the Biden administration in 2020.

Austin, according to the press pool, issued a statement confirming his presence in Iraq.

Austin’s presence is intended to reinforce the US-Iraq strategic alliance as it works to build “a more secure, stable, and sovereign Iraq.”

The visit

Lloyd Austin’s visit to Baghdad comes only days before the 20th anniversary of the United States’ invasion of Iraq to depose tyrant Saddam Hussein.

“We’re deeply committed to ensuring that the Iraqi people can live in peace and dignity, with safety and security and with economic opportunity for all,” said Austin.

“We’ll continue to harness the professionalism of the coalition’s diplomats and assistance experts and warfighters, as well as the incredible professionals in the NATO mission here.”

“We’ll continue to increase interoperability among our allies and partners, and we’ll continue working to accomplish this mission together.”

“Now, looking forward, US forces are ready to remain in Iraq at the invitation of the Government of Iraq,” continued Austin.

“And these forces are operating in a non combat, advise, assist, and enable role to support the Iraqi-led fight against terrorism.”

“This is a critical mission. And we’re proud to support our Iraqi partners.”

“We’re focused on the mission of defeating Daesh, and we are here for no other purpose, and threats or attacks on our forces only undermine that mission.”

The fight against ISIS

Iraq is a critical ally in the United States’ continuing fight to demolish ISIS.

The present campaign, on the other hand, is one-of-a-kind.

In Syria, American soldiers collaborated with the Syrian Democratic Forces and other allies.

Following the formal end of the combat operation in Iraq in 2021, the US military will provide advice and assistance.

“The United States will continue to strengthen and broaden our partnerships in support of Iraqi security, stability, and sovereignty,” said Austin.

Read also: Gender equality seems further than the UN wanted

Meetings

Lloyd Austin sat down with Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani for a discussion.

On his visit to Baghdad, Austin is anticipated to speak with other top authorities.

According to Lloyd Austin’s press pool, his encounter with Iraq’s prime minister was not recorded on video.

Meanwhile, al-Sudani welcomed Austin’s visit, marking the continuation of collaboration with the US.

The creation of Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani’s administration ended months of political gridlock and occasionally violent demonstrations.

During their discussion, al-Sudani told Lloyd Austin that Iraq is keen to develop and cement its relations with the US, according to the prime minister’s office.

Iraq will be crucial in the United States’ efforts to limit Iranian influence in the region.

Iran has already sought to assert authority over Iraq through proxy troops and Tehran’s influence in Baghdad Shia political organizations.

Al-Sudani’s ascent

Prior to al-Sudani’s recent ascension to the position of Prime Minister, Shia Muslim cleric Muqtada al-Sadr was a front-runner to take over the government following the recent elections.

Al-Sadr was outspoken in his opposition to both Iran and the United States.

Nevertheless, resistance from competing parties contributed to his inability to build a government.

Finally, al-Sadr’s failure presented an opening for al-Sudani, who has demonstrated a desire to strengthen Baghdad’s ties with the United States, notably Washington.

US support

After his visit to Baghdad, Lloyd Austin flew to Erbil, the northern Kurdish regional capital of Iraq.

He met with Nechirvan Barzani, the President of the Kurdistan Region and the Commander in Chief of the Region’s Military Forces.

Nechirvan Barzani and Lloyd Austin stressed the importance of American assistance for Iraq and the Kurdish region during a joint news conference.

Barzan underlined similar interests and ideals, drawing the two closer.

Lloyd Austin emphasized the US-Kurdish Peshmerga collaboration to improve counterterrorism in the fight against ISIS.

“Through the Global Coalition to Defeat Daash (ISIS), we liberated more than 50,000 square kilometers from Daash (ISIS) and we freed more than 4.5 million Iraqis from their cruel grip,” said Austin.

Image source: The Hill

Fungal infection rate grows in 2023, concerns experts

Fungal infectionsThe Ophiocordyceps fungus has long been associated with internet theories that predict the coming of the zombie apocalypse.

It had a significant impact on the blockbuster HBO adaptation of the similarly well-liked video game “The Last of Us.”

The fungus mostly affects insects; people are unharmed and won’t turn into mindless predators as a result.

Despite the fiction, specialists caution that there is a greater danger of developing a fungal infection, particularly in light of how the globe has been sicker, warmer, and wetter.

The news

At Imperial College London’s School of Public Health, Dr. Matthew Fisher teaches medicine.

His most recent studies concentrate on harmful new fungus.

“We’re always surrounded by fungal spores,” said Fisher. “We’ve lived with them ever since we made beds in the Savanna 500,000 years ago, before we even evolved into modern humans.”

“And we’ve had to adapt this exquisite immune system that we have to defend against spores, because many of them are potentially pathogenic.”

“Fungi are just seeking sources of food, and in the eyes of many soptropic fungi, we are just food,” he said, describing an organism that feeds on dead organic matter.

Although the majority of fungi are helpful to the environment, some of them are harmful and can make people sick.

Infections

Every year, new fungi are found by scientists, although not all of them are dangerous.

Only 400 of the more than 4 million could cause disease, according to experts, are human pathogens.

According to the Microbiology Society, the “superficial illnesses” that affect more than a billion people are as follows:

  • Athletes foot
  • Thrush
  • Dandruff

Even if they are irritating, they can be remedied.

However, some diseases endanger your life.

Around 1.5 million people die each year worldwide from fatal fungal infections, according to the Microbiology Society.

The World Health Organization clearly declared in 2022 that it views fungi-related disorders as a serious public health risk.

They came up with a list of the 19 different fungal infections to watch out for.

Who is at risk?

The human body is naturally immune to fungal infections, claims Dr. Matthew Fisher.

The immune system, however, could have a few minor flaws.

“Then we can have fatal consequences,” said Fisher.

He says that those with a high risk of getting fungal infections also typically have pre-existing diseases like diabetes, cancer, or HIV.

People whose immune systems have been harmed by aging, illness, or medicine are also at a greater risk.

However, some people may be more susceptible to more severe fungal infections because they lack access to Western-style therapies.

Due to a lack of access to therapies, studies have shown that cryptococcal meningitis is a major cause of death for people in sub-Saharan Africa, particularly those who have HIV.

Read also: Hospitals still filled despite a dropping number of patients

An increase in fungal threats

Studies show that the rise in immune-suppressed individuals is a factor in the spread of dangerous fungal infections.

“What’s changing is that more people that are exposed have those high risk factors,” Fisher explained.

“We have aging populations, and we were using a lot of chemicals in the environment which are forcing fungi to adapt, and our clinical antifungals are being degraded by antimicrobial resistance.”

Meanwhile, the Covid-19 pandemic increased the likelihood of fungal infections, according to Dr. Matthew Kasson, a mycologist at West Virginia University.

“Viruses have this way of suppressing the immune response,” he explained.

“Some of the drugs we’re using to combat the viruses are also having an effect where they’re making it easier for fungi to invade.”

In 2021, a black fungus in India resulted in hundreds of fatalities.

About 85% of the fatalities were attributed with Covid-19 patients.

According to Fisher, certain fungi cause epidemics like Candida auris by quietly dispersing throughout the globe after appearing out of nowhere.

The spread of fungal infections has also been accelerated by the climate crisis.

“The world is becoming warmer and wetter,” explained Fisher.

“That’s just going to mean that there’s a higher burden of mold spores.”

Possible actions

The World Health Organization urges countries to improve monitoring and their ability to recognize fungal infections.

They also support boosting spending for research, medications, and infection monitoring.

According to WHO estimates, fungal infections receive less than 1.5% of funding for medical research.

It is difficult to develop antifungal therapies because of the association between animals and fungus, according to Dr. Matt Nelsen, a researcher at the Chicago Field Museum.

“We share a lot of biochemical similarities,” he said.

“So when we are trying to kill off the fungus, we need to be careful that we’re not also killing ourselves.”

A robust immune system is advised as a barrier against fungus infection.

Dr. Matthew Fisher advises parents to let their kids play outside more regularly so that they can be exposed to a variety of fungi and develop a robust immune system.

He advises households to increase ventilation and remove moisture.

Image source: CNBC

Norfolk Southern still won’t take accountability through compensation

Norfolk SouthernA tragic incident occurred to the inhabitants of East Palestine, Ohio, in early February.

When a Norfolk Southern train derailed, toxic chemicals were spilled into the air and neighboring water.

Residents returned with apprehension after being evacuated, but the harm had already been done.

While Norfolk Southern has helped to restore normalcy in East Palestine, many people have expressed their displeasure and unhappiness.

Jim Stewart

Jim Stewart is one of several East Palestine residents that are dissatisfied with the rail transit firm.

He was about to sell his property and retire when the Norfolk Southern train derailed and dumped hazardous materials.

Stewart is now concerned about the worth of his property.

He and his wife planned to put the house on the market in the spring, when prices were still rising and inventory was tight.

They also talked about his son’s family buying a house across the street from them.

“Since the derailment, I lost all those options,” said Stewart. “Who is going to buy contaminated land?”

“The older people are willing to stay and live it out. The younger bunch, they are smarter. They’re thinking of their families.”

“I wouldn’t want my grandchildren here. We don’t know if the ground is going to be good enough to grow grass. There are too many unknowns.”

James Stewart expressed his displeasure with the derailment during a Town Hall meeting on February 22.

“You burned me,” he told Norfolk Southern CEO, Alan Shaw.

“We were going to sell our house. Our value went phoom.”

When asked if Norfolk Southern intended to buy Stewart’s house, Shaw stated: “We’re going to do what’s right for this community.”

Jim Stewart is a manager of a commercial baking company.

“I worked hard. I’m still working,” he reportedly told Shaw. “I’m in the 44th year at my job. I wanted to get out. Now I’m just stuck.”

The home was valued $85,000 when Stewart acquired it in 2016.

He feels the event has cost him a substantial sum of money.

According to Zillow, the property was evaluated for $135,000 in February, but a current assessment is tough to come up with owing to a scarcity of transactions.

“I’ll never get that. I’ll be lucky to get what I paid for it, if that,” Stewart said regarding the estimate.

He also feels that the renovations and testing required to assure the safety of the house would be too expensive.

Read also: East Palestine is GOP’s next investigation

Senate hearing

Several individuals, including Jim Stewart, have been let down by Alan Shaw and Norfolk Southern.

Neither the CEO nor the company has agreed to make up the difference in the value of the property.

Sen. Ed Markey asked Shaw four times during last Thursday’s Senate session to commit to compensating homeowners.

Shaw, on the other hand, just expressed his dissatisfaction by saying: “Senator, I’m committed to do what’s right.”

Markey dismissed his response, saying:

“Will you commit to ensuring that these families, these innocent families do not lose their life savings in their homes and small businesses? The right thing to do is to say, ‘Yes, we will.'”

“These families want to know long term, are they just going to be left behind. Once the cameras move on, once the national attention dies down, where will these families be?”

“I think they’re going to be in the crosshairs of the accountants of Norfolk Southern saying ‘We’re not going to pay full compensation.'”

Compensation

A firm the scale of Norfolk Southern finds it easy to compensate homes and businesses.

East Palestine is home to around 5,000 people and 2,600 residential buildings.

According to Attom, the average property value in January 2023 will be $146,000.

The entire value of all residential real estate in town, including single-family homes and multi-family structures, is estimated to be over $380 million.

The figures reflect a minor fraction of Norfolk Southern’s revenue.

In 2022, the corporation earned $4.8 billion in operational income and $3.3 billion in net income, a 9% increase over the previous year.

Norfolk Southern has $456 million in cash on hand as of December 31.

In 2022, the company intended to repurchase $3.1 billion in shares and pay $1.2 billion in dividends to redistribute earnings to shareholders.

Norfolk Southern declared a 9% dividend increase several days before the catastrophe.

In 2022, the company’s board of directors authorized a $10 billion share repurchase plan, with the ability to acquire $7.5 billion of the remaining funds as of December 31.

At the hearing on Thursday, Senator Jeff Merkley questioned the company:

“Will you pledge to no more stock buybacks until a raft of safety measures have been completed to reduce the risk of derailments and crashes in the future?”

Alan Shaw, on the other hand, avoided the topic entirely by replying, “I will commit to continuing to invest in safety.”

Norfolk Southern also spends a lot of money on lobbying, spending $1.8 million last year, according to OpenSecrets.org.

Senators raised concerns about the lobbying expenses throughout the session, especially because Shaw refused to commit to supporting the Senate’s bipartisan plan to improve railway safety in the aftermath of the disaster.

Alan Shaw declined to support the bill’s provisions when questioned.

Instead, he answered: “We are committed to the legislative intent to make rail safer.”

Image source: Railway Age