Tech Thinks It Has a Fix for the Problems It Created: Blockchain

Tech Thinks It Has a Fix for the Problems It Created: Blockchain SAN FRANCISCO — Worried about someone hacking the next election? Bothered by the way Facebook and Equifax coughed up your personal information?
The technology industry has an answer called the blockchain — even for the problems the industry helped to create.
The first blockchain was created in 2009 as a new kind of database for the virtual currency Bitcoin, where all transactions could be stored without any banks or governments involved.
Now, countless entrepreneurs, companies and governments are looking to use similar databases — often independent of Bitcoin — to solve some of the most intractable issues facing society.
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Continue reading the main story “People feel the need to move away from something like Facebook and toward something that allows them to have ownership of their own data,” said Ryan Shea, a co-founder of Blockstack, a New York company working with blockchain technology.
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Poisoned Door Handle Hints at High-Level Plot to Kill Spy, U.K. Officials Say

Poisoned Door Handle Hints at High-Level Plot to Kill Spy, U.K. Officials Say Photo Police officers searched the home of Sergei Skripal, a former spy, in Salisbury, Britain. He and his daughter were poisoned last month. Credit Jack Taylor/Getty Images LONDON — British officials investigating the poisoning of Sergei V. Skripal, a former Russian double agent, believe it is likely that an assassin smeared a nerve agent on the door handle at his home. This operation is seen as so risky and sensitive that it is unlikely to have been undertaken without approval from the Kremlin, according to officials who have been briefed on the early findings of the inquiry.
This theory suggests that an assassin, who Britain believes was working on behalf of the Russian government, walked up to the door of Mr. Skripal’s brick home on a quiet street in Salisbury on March 4, the day that he and his daughter, Yulia, were sickened.
Mr. Skripal, who was freed in a spy swap with the United States in 2010, is sti..

Advertising: Gothic or Helvetica? For Brands, Fonts Help Tell a Story

Supported by Media Gothic or Helvetica? For Brands, Fonts Help Tell a Story Photo The font used for the title of the Netflix hit “Stranger Things” has become a online phenomenon of its own. Credit When ads for the Netflix show “Stranger Things” first appeared in 2016, the glowing, blood-red, unevenly shaded font that spelled out the title told viewers exactly what they could expect. The retro typeface — and a haunting, one-minute title video — became synonymous with the supernatural thriller series and, as the show gained in popularity, memes centered largely around its instantly recognizable title have become plentiful.
“You’re dealing with text and how people respond to the font,” said Peter Frankfurt, executive creative director on the “Stranger Things” project and founding partner of Imaginary Forces, a visual storytelling and brand strategy company. “None of us ever conceived this would ever be the phenomena that it is.”
Hollywood has long known this marketing trick, with mov..

Fire in Mexican Prison Kills at Least 6 Police Officers

Fire in Mexican Prison Kills at Least 6 Police Officers
VERACRUZ, Mexico — Six police officers died on Sunday from smoke inhalation after prisoners started a fire while resisting an effort to transfer dangerous inmates out of a prison in Mexico’s Gulf Coast state of Veracruz, the authorities said.
Gov. Miguel Ángel Yunes of Veracruz said a seventh person had died, but it was unclear whether that person was an inmate or a prison guard.
Mr. Yunes said four “highly dangerous” inmates had been helping run criminal networks in the area around La Toma prison in the town of Amatlán de los Reyes, so officials had decided to transfer them to a maximum-security federal prison.
The governor did not name the criminal gang involved, but the area was long dominated by the Zetas cartel.

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When local police officers, in support of the state police, entered the prison to get the four inmates for transfer, they were apparently ambushed by prisoners, who b..

They Tried to Boycott Facebook, Apple and Google. They Failed.

Supported by Business Day They Tried to Boycott Facebook, Apple and Google. They Failed. SAN FRANCISCO — Ryan Knight, a Democratic activist in Los Angeles, called for a boycott of Apple in February because it hadn’t responded to calls to delete a channel from the National Rifle Association from its streaming-video service after the Parkland, Fla., school shooting.
“Dear @Apple,” Mr. Knight wrote on Twitter. “Your silence is deafening. #BoycottApple.” More than 330 accounts retweeted the message.
How did Mr. Knight post the message? He used an iPhone.
As the reach and influence of Silicon Valley’s tech giants have increased, so have the calls to boycott their products and services. The problem is that pulling off a boycott is not exactly easy: The tech companies’ products are so pervasive that they are difficult to avoid.
That issue was crystallized in recent weeks with Facebook. Hundreds of people deleted their accounts after revelations that the political-data firm Cambridge Anal..

Shabab Says It Killed Ugandan Peacekeepers in Somalia

Shabab Says It Killed Ugandan Peacekeepers in Somalia
NAIROBI, Kenya — Islamist militants in Somalia carried out multiple coordinated attacks against African Union peacekeeping forces on Sunday, and claimed to have killed at least 59 Ugandan soldiers.
Ceaser Olweny, a spokesman for the Ugandan peacekeepers, said four soldiers had been killed, and six wounded.
The Shabab, a Somali terrorist group affiliated with Al Qaeda, made the attacks on three military bases and two Somali government outposts in the Lower Shabelle region, a Shabab stronghold near Mogadishu, the country’s capital.
Mr. Olweny said the attacks were coordinated.
Somali officials confirmed the attacks to the local news media.

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“The number of casualties, and whether or not the dead were combatants, is used by all sides for propaganda and political objectives,” Abukar Arman, an analyst and former Somalia special envoy to the United States, said from Columbus, Ohio.
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Retailers Race Against Amazon to Automate Stores

Supported by Technology Retailers Race Against Amazon to Automate Stores SEATTLE — To see what it’s like inside stores where sensors and artificial intelligence have replaced cashiers, shoppers have to trek to Amazon Go, the internet retailer’s experimental convenience shop in downtown Seattle.
Soon, though, more technology-driven businesses like Amazon Go may be coming to them.
A global race to automate stores is underway among several of the world’s top retailers and small tech start-ups, which are motivated to shave labor costs and minimize shoppers’ frustrations, like waiting for cashiers. They are also trying to prevent Amazon from dominating the physical retail world as it does online shopping.
Companies are testing robots that help keep shelves stocked, as well as apps that let shoppers ring up items with a smartphone. High-tech systems like the one used by Amazon Go completely automate the checkout process. China, which has its own ambitious e-commerce companies, is emergi..

After Gaza Clash, Israel and Palestinians Fight With Videos and Words

After Gaza Clash, Israel and Palestinians Fight With Videos and Words Photo Israeli sharpshooters taking position on Friday as they were deployed at the border between Israel and Gaza, next to the Gaza town of Beit Hanun. Credit Atef Safadi/EPA, via Shutterstock JERUSALEM — Days after the deadly flare-up along Israel’s border with Gaza, during which Israeli troops killed 15 Palestinians, a new war — of videos and strong statements — has erupted over what happened, and why.
The violence has waned in what was the bloodiest day in Gaza since the war of 2014, but both sides have been pressing their cases to defend their actions.
Palestinians, supported by human rights groups, view the events as a legitimate protest that was met with disproportionate force by trigger-happy Israeli soldiers.
Israel says it acted judiciously to prevent a dangerous breach of its borders and sovereignty led by Hamas, the Islamic group that controls Gaza, and to protect nearby communities. The toll would have be..

Hollywood’s Ambassador, Schooled in Diplomacy and the Muppets

Supported by Media Hollywood’s Ambassador, Schooled in Diplomacy and the Muppets LOS ANGELES — Charles H. Rivkin began his Hollywood career in 1988, when Jim Henson hired him to plot a business future for Kermit the Frog.
Mr. Henson’s unexpected death two years later threw the Muppets into crisis. But Mr. Rivkin pushed the little puppet studio toward the booming cable and DVD businesses, ultimately engineering its sale for $680 million in 2000 — $1 billion in today’s dollars.
A hairpin turn into politics awaited. Mr. Rivkin — polished, almost preternaturally so — became a mega-fund-raiser for the soon-to-be-president, Barack Obama, who named him ambassador to France in 2009. After a celebrated run in Paris, where he was the youngest American envoy since the Eisenhower administration, Mr. Rivkin became an assistant secretary of state.
And now Mr. Rivkin, 55, finds himself trying to meld both of those lives — Hollywood insider and Washington influencer — as chairman of the musty Mot..