Russia behind DNC’s cyber attack

Is Vladimir V. Putin trying to meddle in the American presidential election?

US officials said the suspected Russian hack of the Democratic National Committee last month was part of Russian cyber attacks aimed at political organizations and academic think tanks in Washington.

Until Friday, the Russians being behind the hack were only whispered but the release of some 20,000 stolen emails from DNC’s computer servers has intensified discussion of the role of Russian intelligence agencies in disrupting the 2016 campaign.

That hack dominated the news space on the eve of the Democratic convention. The emails disclosed by WikiLeaks show DNC chairwoman, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, plotting to undermine the campaign of Senator Bernie Sanders, confirming the worst suspicions of the left flank of the party. She resigned from her post after the revelation on Sunday.

The FBI is investigating the DNC hack and has sent experts to meet with the Republican National Committee, as well as the major campaigns, to discuss their security measures. The bureau has been working with political organizations and think tanks to put more resources into the security of DNC’s computer networks.

“The software code seen from the hack had all the telltale signs of being Russian, including code re-used from attacks,” said Bob Gourley, a former chief technology officer for the Defense Intelligence Agency and now the co-founder and partner Cognitio, a cyber security consultancy.

When the hack of the DNC was first disclosed in June, the security firm Crowdstrike also pointed to the Russians. Crowdstrike investigated the incident for the Democratic party and concluded it was the same actor that penetrated the State Department, White House and Pentagon unclassified systems in 2015.

Trump told The New York Times in an interview last week that if he's elected the US President, he wouldn't defend NATO allies against Russian aggression if they haven't "fulfilled their obligation to us." Until Trump, no Republican presidential nominee has questioned the U.S. mutual-defense commitment enshrined in NATO.

Over the weekend, the Trump and Clinton campaigns traded accusations on the issue.

Trump's son, Donald Trump Jr., denied that his father's campaign had anything to do with encouraging Russians to hack the DNC. The party officials have also denied any involvement in the case.

The question is of who benefits. While Clinton implemented a reset in relations with Russia when she was secretary of state, she has since soured on Moscow. When Russian irregulars invaded Ukraine in 2014, she compared Putin to Hitler.

Whether the thefts were ordered by Putin or just carried out by apparatchiks, who thought they might please him, is just a guess till now. It may take months, or years, to figure out the motives of those who stole the emails and the commanding force behind the actions but the theft from the national committee would be among the most important state-sponsored hacks yet of an American organization, rivaled only by the attacks on the Office of Personnel Management by state-sponsored Chinese hackers, and the attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment, which President Barack Obama blamed on North Korea.

A Harvard geneticist thinks this unlikely food could end one of the most long-raging food wars once and for all

mushrooms burger

The next genetically modified food you eat probably won't be a GMO.

At least not in the conventional sense of the term.

It'll probably be made using CRISPR, a new technique that lets scientists precisely tweak the DNA of produce so that it can do things like survive drought or avoid turning brown.

Harvard geneticist George Church thinks crops like these might be our best hope for ending the war against GMOs, which he and dozens of other experts call misguided, once and for all.

"It's a beautiful thing," Church told Business Insider.

The US Department of Agriculture seems to agree. It's already moved two crops made with CRISPR — a type of mushroom and a type of corn — closer to grocery store shelves by opting not to regulate them like conventional GMOs. DuPont, the company making the corn, says it plans to see the crop in farmers' fields in the next five years.

When a GMO is not a GMO

What makes these crops not GMOs, you might ask? It all comes down to the type of method that scientists are using to tweak their genes. And CRISPR is a far more precise method of modifying genes than scientists have had access to before.

Instead of relying on the genetic engineering people are referring to when they talk about GMOs, which involves swapping out a plant's genes with chunks of DNA from another organism such as a bacteria, CRISPR allows scientists to simply swap out a letter or two of its genetic code (composed from the letters A, G, C, and T) and replace it with another one that, say, prevents it from turning brown.

"Changing a G to an A is very different from bringing a gene from a bacteria into a plant," said Church.

Grilled Corn

At the center of the agency's decision not to subject the new crop to its rules is the fact that the CRISPR-edited mushroom doesn't contain any "introduced genetic material" or foreign DNA, which is how most GMOs are made.

This could mean that everything we know about genetically modified food is about to change.

"DuPont views the USDA's confirmation as an important first step toward clarifying the U.S. regulatory landscape and the development of seed products with CRISPR technology," Neal Gutterson, DuPont Pioneer's vice president, of research and development told Business Insider by email.

A world of CRISPR crops?

Teams of researchers across the globe are working on developing more crops made with CRISPR, and in the US, experts say the USDA's recent decision is promising development.

"If USDA decides the first product does not require regulation, that would definitely be encouraging for the many people already using CRISPR," Joyce Van Eck, an assistant professor at the Boyce Thompson Institute, told the Genetic Expert News Service shortly before the USDA made its decision.

CRISPR was first introduced as a genome-editing tool in 2013 in a couple of common laboratory plants, including a weed called Arabidopsis and in a tobacco plant. Since then, researchers have been experimenting with it in a range of crops, from oranges and potatoes to wheat, rice, and tomatoes. "By the end of 2014, a flood of research into agricultural uses for CRISPR included a spectrum of applications, from boosting crop resistance to pests to reducing the toll of livestock disease," Maywa Montenegro wrote in January in the science magazine Ensia.

Of course, Church would prefer that people embrace GMO foods as they are now, since numerous scientists have determined they are safe. After all, he said, Americans have embraced GMOs in other things, like clothing (94% of the cotton that goes into things like T-shirts is GM).

"I hope people wake up one day and realize, 'Hey almost everything is GM — it's in the air, on our bodies, in our medicine — maybe we can get over the GM foods controversy," said Church.

Until then, we have CRISPR.

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Famed ‘Watchmen’ author is using a 9-year-old’s fan letter as a book blurb

jerusalem book

Back in 2013, a 9-year-old named Joshua Chamberlain, from Northamptonshire, England, had an assignment to write a letter to the author of a book. And so, he sent a letter to Alan Moore, the famed author of "Watchmen," "V for Vendetta," and "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen."

"All in all you are the best author in human history," Joshua wrote. "Please write back."

Moore wrote back, with a long, kind letter talking about his work and sending Joshua a few more of his books. The exchange is published in Letters of Note. "Thanks again for a great letter," Moore writes in closing.

and thanks for calling me the best author in human history, which I don’t necessarily agree is completely true but which I may well end up using as a quote on the back of one of my books someday. Oh, and please give my regards to Naseby. It gets more than a couple of mentions in my forthcoming novel Jerusalem, which I’m about two chapters away from the end of at present.

Take care of yourself, Joshua. You’re obviously a young man of extraordinary good taste and intelligence, and you confirm my suspicion that Northamptonshire is a county touched by the gods.

All the best, your pal —

[Signed ‘Alan Moore’]
(Best Author in Human History. In your face, Shakespeare, Joyce and Cervantes!)

Now it looks like Moore, in fact, will use Joshua's note on the back of his book, according to The Guardian. Moore's newest novel, "Jerusalem," comes out in September, and a part of the letter is on the back.

Jerusalem blurb alan moore

Great job, Joshua.

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These brave parents traveled to 30 countries with their 11-month-old baby

baby Morocco

Rae has more stamps in her passport than teeth in her mouth. At 11 months old, she’s been to over 30 countries on 4 continents, thanks to her globe-trotting parents.

“It's just the most amazing experience to be traveling with her,” said her mother, Erica Levine Weber. “And she's loving it! Who knows what she's really thinking, she's probably like 'My parents are crazy!' But who knows how much she'll absorb.”

Levine Weber chronicles her and her husband Chris’ adventures with Rae on The Worldwide Webers, offering survival tips for flying with a baby and helpful hints for planning a range of trips.

Levine Weber’s passion for travel began after high school, when she participated in a National Outdoor Leadership School camping and hiking program. She went on to study abroad in Madrid, Spain while a student at Syracuse University.

“I just fell in love with the excitement of travel - getting on a plane and being in a completely different culture in a matter of hours,” she told INSIDER.

After college, she took a job at a global translations company so that she could continue seeing the world. When she met Chris at an NYC bar on a Sunday afternoon (earning him the nickname “Sunday Funday” in her phone and now on the blog), they immediately bonded over their shared love of travel.

“It went from an epic Sunday Funday to a lifelong journey,” she said. “So we're basically on one long Sunday Funday now.”

Both working global jobs, they relocated to Singapore and South Africa before settling in Switzerland, traveling together almost every weekend.

When baby Rae came along, the couple didn’t miss a step, investing in baby carriers, changing pads, and car seats to embrace the experience of taking her along.

“So many people say, 'You're traveling all these places with your daughter and she's not going to remember any of it,’” said Weber. “And I'm like, I don't care if she remembers any of it. It is the most special experience ever to Chris and I...We just want to soak it up. We don't want to stop. It's so much fun.”

Rae doesn’t just ride around in strollers. To date, she’s been on planes, trains, helicopters, catamaran and canal boats, cars, and horse-drawn carriages.

Other travelers are often surprised to encounter a baby, like when Weber carried Rae up and down 1,000 monastery steps in Jordan’s ancient city of Petra.

“This group of US military guys were walking past us as we walked down, and they started clapping because they were sweating so much,” she said. “They were like 'We could not imagine carrying a child up this thing!'”

See the rest of the story at Tech Insider

Meet Oscar winner Brie Larson, who’s starring in Marvel’s first female-led superhero movie

brie larson

Brie Larson is now officially super.

The 26-year-old actress has been working in the industry since she was in diapers, but has more recently become a well-known name thanks to her Oscar-winning role in "Room." 

Now she's set to have a major film franchise under her belt after it was announced at San Diego Comic-Con that she will star as Captain Marvel, the title character in Marvel Studios' first female-led superhero film. 

The role of Carol Danvers might also lead to a cameo in "Avengers: Infinity War - Part 1."

With her incredible acting talent and cheerful personality, she is on the fast track to the kind of stardom that graced Jennifer Lawrence before her.

Get to know more about this rising actress here.

Brianne Sidonie Desaulniers was born in Sacramento, California, in 1989 and has a younger sister.

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She moved with her mother to Los Angeles during her childhood after her parents separated.

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Brie began acting and changed her last name to "Larson" as her surname was too difficult to pronounce.

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