Morning Update: Panic! At The Disc
Trump calls the aftermath of Khashoggi’s death “the worst cover-up," and the details of a giant digital fraud scheme. Your BuzzFeed News newsletter, Oct. 24.
Trump said the Saudis committed “the worst cover-up ever” after Jamal Khashoggi’s death
The killing of dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi has been the story for a number of days now, and that’s because its implications are significant.
Here’s what’s at stake: If Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is connected, this undercuts the image he has been trying to build of himself as a modernizing reformer. It also raises moral questions in international relations: Can the US proceed with a multibillion-dollar arms deal with the kingdom? Many US lawmakers, including Republicans, said this saga should mean the termination of the US–Saudi relationship.
Here’s the thing: Saudi Arabia has been trying to put distance between the prince and Khashoggi’s death. After changing its story of what happened multiple times, the kingdom has settled on the “rogue operation” narrative, with the foreign minister saying the individuals responsible “did this outside the scope of their authority.”
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan criticized that claim, saying instead that the death of the Washington Post columnist was a premeditated “political killing.”
From a US perspective: Yesterday, President Donald Trump called the aftermath of Khashoggi’s killing “the worst cover-up ever,” adding that “they had a very bad original concept, it was carried out poorly.” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also announced that the US would cancel the visas of several Saudi officials over their alleged involvement in Khashoggi’s death.
Critics say the government is scrambling to protect Mohammed bin Salman from blame.
Migrants in the caravan have a choice: register with Mexico or fend for yourselves
The majority of the members of the migrant caravan making its way north to the US border come from Honduras. They’re fleeing widespread gang violence and abject poverty that has left 1 in 4 children suffering from chronic malnutrition.
As the caravan moves through Mexico, its members require various humanitarian interventions. Local governments of small towns in the caravan’s path are having to respond, however, as Mexico’s government is limiting the help it offers.
The federal authorities are restricting humanitarian aid to those members of the migrant caravan who have registered with them, leaving the bulk of the migrants to fend for themselves. Many are afraid of registering with the government, because they fear it’s a trap.
As many as 6,000 migrants stumbled or were given rides by strangers to the center of Huixtla, a small town with 40,000 people, on Monday. The federal government was nowhere to be found as 600 municipal employees handed out homemade rice and tamales from trucks, gave people cardboard to sleep on, and provided basic medical assistance to exhausted migrants.
Megyn Kelly doesn’t seem to understand what’s wrong with blackface. During a discussion on her morning show, the NBC host asked her all-white panel, “But what is racist? Because you do get in trouble if you are a white person who puts on blackface on Halloween, or a black person who puts on whiteface for Halloween.” At the end of the discussion, she added, “I can’t keep up with the number of people we’re offending just by being normal people.” After extensive online backlash against her comments, Kelly apologized to her colleagues: “I realize now that such behavior is indeed wrong, and I am sorry. The history of blackface in our culture is abhorrent; the wounds too deep.”
A man arrested for groping a passenger’s breast as she was sleeping on a Southwest flight told police Trump “said it’s OK to grab women.” Bruce Michael Alexander, 49, was charged with abusive sexual contact in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Once arrested, authorities said, he invoked Trump's comments about grabbing women. According to an FBI affidavit, Alexander told authorities that President Donald Trump said “it's OK to grab women by their private parts.” He was likely referring to the infamous Access Hollywood tape released before the 2016 election. Alexander’s attorney says the FBI agent misheard him, and the statement referencing Trump wasn't meant to be an admission of any guilt.
White nationalist Richard Spencer’s wife says in a divorce filing that he physically and emotionally abused her. Nina Kroupiianova, who married Spencer in 2010 and has two young children with him, alleges that Spencer physically abused her, including instances where she was “being hit, being grabbed, being dragged around by her hair, being held down in a manner causing bruising, and being prevented from calling for help.” Kroupiianova said that Spencer would tell her, “The only language women understand is violence.” He denies “each, every, and all allegations.”
A 21-year-old student was killed on campus after ending her relationship with a man who lied to her about his criminal past. University of Utah student Lauren McCluskey was found fatally shot in a parked car on campus. After police located the suspect, he ran into a church. Officers heard a shot and found him dead in the church from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The suspect was identified as Melvin Rowland, a registered sex offender in Utah. Authorities say Rowland was convicted in 2004 on felony charges of enticing a minor and attempted forcible sexual abuse. McCluskey had dated Rowland for about a month, according to her family. “He lied to her about his name, his age, and his criminal history,” her mother said.
Sandra Day O’Connor, the first woman on the Supreme Court, has dementia and is withdrawing from public life. O’Connor was confirmed in 1981 and served on the court until 2005. The retired justice announced that she has been diagnosed with the “beginning stages of dementia, probably Alzheimer's disease,” and is “no longer able to participate in public life.” In summing up her public life, which included service in the Arizona attorney general's office, legislature, and courts before her US Supreme Court appointment, O'Connor expressed gratitude.
How a massive fraud scheme exploited Android phones to steal millions of dollars
The universe of digital fraud has become more sophisticated than you could possibly imagine.
This story begins with an Android app creator getting a lucrative offer to buy his app. But the people buying it had much more nefarious ends in mind than just a new audience.
We’ve discovered a massive scheme connected to 125 apps and websites. In a nutshell, Android apps that were installed more than 100 million times secretly tracked user behavior.
Why would anyone want to secretly track user behavior? Well, using that tracking, fraudsters were able to mimic actual user behavior in the apps, and use that to generate fake traffic that bypassed major fraud detection systems.
Fake traffic means money. Using the fraudulent data to generate what looked like real traffic, those apps could then claim they’d generated a number of users way higher than the actual number of people using those apps and viewing the ads within them.
If this all sounds like a wild web of deceit, it’s because it is. Read Craig Silverman’s fantastic report on this giant scheme.
A Gen Z teen accidentally sent millennials into an existential panic after asking how CDs work
I don’t have to tell you that you’re not young anymore — you can probably tell by your increasing distance from the memes of the day. Sorry for the reminder, though.
But let’s just sit for a moment in the utter panic of a generational gap. A teen tweeted that she has no idea how people burned CDs: “Like how did you just get a blank CD and put songs on it?”
The tweet went viral. I, being firmly in the age bracket of people who got blank CDs and burned songs onto them, went into a tailspin. Thankfully, I am not alone. While a handful of people took the time to explain how CD burners worked (!!), the majority of responses have been millennials dreading the inevitable march of time.