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Saturday, May 18, 2024

Rudy Giuliani is served indictment papers at his own birthday party after mocking Arizona attorney general

Rudy Giuliani is served indictment papers at his own birthday party after mocking Arizona attorney general

“Giuliani was indicted in April on charges related to a conspiracy to overturn the 2020 election results in Arizona.

Rudy Giuliani.

PHOENIX — Arizona’s Democratic Attorney General Kris Mayes on Friday announced that Rudy Giuliani had been served with the notice of his indictment on charges related to a conspiracy to overturn the 2020 election results in Arizona. 

The announcement came less than two hours after Giuliani taunted Mayes for failing to deliver his indictment in a social media post. The notice was served to Giuliani during his 80th birthday celebration in Palm Beach, Florida.  

In a now-deleted post on X, Giuliani taunted Arizona authorities. “If Arizona authorities can’t find me by tomorrow morning; 1. They must dismiss the indictment; 2. They must concede they can’t count votes,” Giuliani posted Friday night. Accompanying the message was a photo of Giuliani smiling with six others and balloons floating in the backdrop. 

An hour and fourteen minutes later, Mayes responded to Giuliani’s post writing, “The final defendant was served moments ago. @RudyGiuliani, nobody is above the law.”

Giuliani, 79, turns 80 on May 28th and was enjoying an early birthday celebration in Palm Beach on the night he was served, according to social media activity. By the end of the night, “Happy Birthday To You” wasn’t the only music the former New York City mayor had to face. 

The party was hosted by Caroline Wren, an advisor to Arizona Senate candidate Kari Lake.

Ted Goodman, a spokesperson for Giuliani, said the former was unperturbed by the birthday bash bust-up. “The mayor was unphased by the decision to try and embarrass him during his 80th birthday party. He enjoyed an incredible evening with hundreds of people who love him—from all walks of life—and we look forward to full vindication soon,” Goodman said in a statement to NBC News. 

Others indicted in the “fake electors” case are farther along in their legal proceedings. On Friday morning, Former Trump attorney John Eastman pleaded not guilty to charges related to a conspiracy to overturn the 2020 election results in Arizona. On Tuesday morning, eleven other defendants are slated to be arraigned. 

The Arizona “fake electors” scheme isn’t the only controversy Giuliani has faced in the wake of efforts to overturn the 2020 election. In December 2023, Giuliani was hit with a $148M verdict for defaming two Georgia election workers“

Sunday, May 12, 2024

Yahya Sinwar Helped Start the Gaza War. Now He’s Key to Its Endgame.

Yahya Sinwar Helped Start the Gaza War. Now He’s Key to Its Endgame.

“Hamas’s leader in Gaza is considered an architect of the Oct. 7 attacks that prompted Israel to retaliate. As mediators seek a cease-fire, a deal depends on Mr. Sinwar as well as his Israeli foes.

Yahya Sinwar walking, hand raised, at the center of a group of men.
Yahya Sinwar, center, Hamas’s leader in Gaza, in Gaza City last year. He is now believed to be hiding in a tunnel network in the enclave.Mohammed Abed/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

After Hamas attacked Israel in October, igniting the Gaza war, Israeli leaders described the group’s most senior official in the territory, Yahya Sinwar, as a “dead man walking.” Considering him an architect of the raid, Israel has portrayed Mr. Sinwar’s assassination as a major goal of its devastating counterattack.

Seven months later, Mr. Sinwar’s survival is emblematic of the failures of Israel’s war, which has ravaged much of Gaza but left Hamas’s top leadership largely intact and failed to free most of the captives taken during the October attack.

Even as Israeli officials seek his killing, they have been forced to negotiate with him, albeit indirectly, to free the remaining hostages. Mr. Sinwar has emerged not only as a strong-willed commander but as a shrewd negotiator who has staved off an Israeli battlefield victory while engaging Israeli envoys at the negotiating table, according to officials from Hamas, Israel and the United States. Some spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive intelligence assessments of Mr. Sinwar and diplomatic negotiations.

While the talks are mediated in Egypt and Qatar, it is Mr. Sinwar — believed to be hiding in a tunnel network beneath Gaza — whose consent is required by Hamas’s negotiators before they agree to any concessions, according to some of those officials.

Hamas officials insist that Mr. Sinwar does not have the final say in the group’s decisions. But though Mr. Sinwar does not technically have authority over the entire Hamas movement, his leadership role in Gaza and his forceful personality have given him outsize importance in how Hamas operates, according to allies and foes alike.

“There’s no decision that can be made without consulting Sinwar,” said Salah al-Din al-Awawdeh, a Hamas member and political analyst who befriended Mr. Sinwar while they were both jailed in Israel during the 1990s and 2000s. “Sinwar isn’t an ordinary leader, he’s a powerful person and an architect of events. He’s not some sort of manager or director, he’s a leader,” Mr. al-Awawdeh added.

Mr. Sinwar has rarely been heard from since the start of the war, unlike Hamas officials based outside Gaza, including Ismail Haniyeh, the movement’s most senior civilian official. Though he is nominally junior to Mr. Haniyeh, Mr. Sinwar has been central to Hamas’s behind-the-scenes decision to hold out for a permanent cease-fire, American and Israeli officials say.

Waiting for Mr. Sinwar’s approval has often slowed the negotiations, according to officials and analysts. Israeli strikes have damaged much of Gaza’s communications infrastructure, and it has sometimes taken a day to get a message to Mr. Sinwar and a day to receive a response, according to U.S. officials and Hamas members. 

For Israeli and Western officials, Mr. Sinwar has over the course of these negotiations, which stalled again in Cairo this past week, emerged as both a brutal adversary and a deft political operator, capable of analyzing Israeli society and appearing to adapt his policies accordingly.

As an architect of the Oct. 7 attacks, Mr. Sinwar masterminded a strategy that he knew would provoke a ferocious Israeli response. But in Hamas’s calculus, the deaths of many Palestinian civilians — who do not have access to Hamas’s subterranean tunnels — were the necessary cost of upending the status quo with Israel.

American and Israeli intelligence agencies have spent months assessing Mr. Sinwar’s motivations, according to people briefed on the intelligence. Analysts in both the United States and Israel believe that Mr. Sinwar is primarily motivated by a desire to take revenge on Israel and weaken it. The well-being of the Palestinian people or the establishment of a Palestinian state, the intelligence analysts say, appears to be secondary.

An Understanding of Israeli Society

Mr. Sinwar was born in Gaza in 1962 to a family that had fled its home, along with several hundred thousand other Palestinian Arabs who fled or were forced to flee during the wars surrounding the creation of the state of Israel.

Mr. Sinwar joined Hamas in the 1980s. He was later imprisoned for murdering Palestinians whom he accused of apostasy or collaborating with Israel, according to Israeli court records from 1989. Mr. Sinwar spent more than two decades in Israeli detention before being released in 2011, along with more than 1,000 other Palestinians, in exchange for one Israeli soldier captured by Hamas. Six years later, Mr. Sinwar was elected leader of Hamas in Gaza.

While in prison, Mr. Sinwar learned Hebrew and developed an understanding of Israeli culture and society, according to fellow former inmates and Israeli officials who monitored him in prison. Mr. Sinwar now appears to be using that knowledge to sow divisions in Israeli society and heighten pressure on Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, according to Israeli and U.S. officials.

They believe that Mr. Sinwar has timed the release of videos of some Israeli hostages in order to spur public outrage at Mr. Netanyahu during crucial phases of the cease-fire talks.

Some Israelis want the remaining hostages released even if it means agreeing to Hamas’s demands for a permanent truce that would keep the group — and Mr. Sinwar — in power. But Mr. Netanyahu has been reluctant to agree to end the war, partly because of pressure from some of his right-wing allies, who have threatened to resign if the war concludes with Hamas unbroken.

If Mr. Netanyahu has been accused of dragging out the fighting for personal benefit, so, too, has his archenemy, Mr. Sinwar.

Israeli and U.S. intelligence officers say that Mr. Sinwar’s strategy is to keep the war going for as long as it takes to shred Israel’s international reputation and to damage its relationship with its primary ally, the United States. As Israel faced intense pressure to avoid launching an operation in Rafah, Hamas fired rockets last Sunday from Rafah toward a nearby border crossing, killing four Israeli soldiers.

If this was a gambit by Hamas, it appeared to pay off: Israel began an operation this past week on the fringes of Rafah, and against that backdrop President Biden made his strongest criticism of Israeli policy since the war began. Mr. Biden said he would halt some future arms shipments if the Israeli military began a full-scale invasion of the city’s urban core.

Projecting an Image of Unity

Hamas and its allies deny that either Mr. Sinwar or the movement is trying to leverage further Palestinian suffering.

“Hamas’s strategy is to stop the war right now,” said Ahmed Yousef, a Hamas veteran based in Rafah. “To stop the genocide and the killing of the Palestinian people.”

U.S. officials say that Mr. Sinwar has shown disdain for his colleagues outside Gaza, who were not informed about the precise plans for Hamas’s attack on Oct. 7. American officials also believe that Mr. Sinwar approves military operations conducted by Hamas, though Israeli intelligence officers say they are unsure of the extent of his involvement.

A senior Western official familiar with the cease-fire negotiations believes that Mr. Sinwar appears to makes decisions in concert with his brother, Muhammad, a senior Hamas military leader, and that throughout the war he had sometimes disagreed with Hamas leaders outside Gaza. While the outside leadership has at times been more willing to compromise, Mr. Sinwar is less ready to concede ground to the Israeli negotiators, in part, because he knows that he is likely to be killed whether or not the war ends, the official said.

Even if negotiators seal a cease-fire deal, Israel is likely to pursue Mr. Sinwar for the rest of his life, the official said.

Hamas members have projected an image of unity, downplaying Mr. Sinwar’s personal role in decision-making and maintaining that Hamas’s elected leadership collectively determines the movement’s trajectory.

Some say that if Mr. Sinwar has played a bigger role during this war, it is mostly because of his position: As the leader of Hamas in Gaza, Mr. Sinwar has greater say, though not the final call, according to Mousa Abu Marzouk, a senior Hamas official based in Qatar.

“Sinwar’s opinion is very important because he’s on the ground and he’s leading the movement on the inside,” said Mr. Abu Marzouk, the first leader of Hamas’s political office in the 1990s.

But Mr. Haniyeh has the “final say” on key decisions, Mr. Abu Marzouk said, adding that all of Hamas’s political leaders were of “one opinion.” Mr. Haniyeh could not immediately be reached for comment.

Still, there is something unusual about Mr. Sinwar’s force of personality, according to Mr. al-Awawdeh, his friend from prison. Other leaders might not have instigated the Oct. 7 attack, preferring to focus on technocratic matters of governance, Mr. al-Awawdeh said.

“If someone else had been in his position, things might have gone in a calmer way,” he said.

Mr. Sinwar himself could not be reached for comment and has rarely been heard from since October. U.S. and Israeli officials have said Mr. Sinwar is hiding near hostages, using them as human shields. An Israeli hostage who was released during a truce in November said she met Mr. Sinwar during her captivity.

In February, the Israeli military published a video that it said soldiers had taken from a security camera they found in a Hamas tunnel beneath Gaza. The video showed a man hurrying down the tunnel, accompanied by a woman and children.

The military said the man was Mr. Sinwar, fleeing with his family.

The claim was impossible to verify: The man’s face was turned away from the camera.“

Saturday, May 11, 2024

New iPad Pro with beautiful OLED display and M4 chip is ‘thinnest Apple product ever’

New iPad Pro with beautiful OLED display and M4 chip is ‘thinnest Apple product ever’

2024 OLED iPad Pro
2024 iPad Pro breaks ground with OLED screen and Apple M4 processor. 
Photo: Apple/Cult of Mac

Apple Let Loose Event:“Apple just took the wraps off the 2024 iPad Pro, the first with an OLED screen rather than a traditional LCD. If that wasn’t enough, a brand-new Apple M4 processor powers the tablet, which Cupertino says is the “thinnest Apple product ever.”

“We’ve always envisioned iPad as a magical sheet of glass,” said John Ternus, Apple’s senior vice president of hardware engineering, during Tuesday’s prerecorded “Let Loose” event. “And with this new design, that vision is brought to life more than ever.”

2024 iPad Pro goes OLED

The LCDs in previous iPad screens look great but Apple wasn’t content. The 2024 iPad Pro has an OLED display. With an organic light-emitting diodescreen, each pixel glows on its own. This leads to a bright, even image with strong contrast.

And if one is good, two are better. The screen of the 2024 iPad Pro utilizes what Apple calls “tandem OLED” technology that stacks two OLED panels to provide greater full-screen brightness. That translates into 1,000 nits of full-screen brightness for SDR and HDR content, and 1,600 nits peak for HDR.

“Specular highlights in photos and video appear even brighter, and there’s more detail in shadows and low light than ever before on iPad — all while delivering even more responsiveness to content in motion,” Apple says.

The new display type comes to both sizes of the iPad Pro: 11 inches and 13 inches (up slightly from the previous model). And, for the first time, Apple is offering a nano-texture display glass option ($100) on 1TB and 2TB models.Ezoic

Apple’s thinnest product ever

The change to OLED let designers significantly slim down the tablets. The 11-inch version measures just 5.3 mm thick while the 13-inch model is even thinner at 5.1 mm.

“The new iPad Pro is even thinner than the iPod nano,” Ternus said, “which makes it the thinnest Apple product ever.”

The OLED iPad Pros are lighter than previous models, too.

“The 11-inch model weighs less than a pound, and the 13-inch model is nearly a quarter pound lighter than its predecessor,” bragged Apple. They weigh 0.98 pounds and 1.28 pounds, respectively. (The actual iPad Pro dimensions are 11.1 inches by 8.5 inches by 0.2 inches for the larger model, and 9.8 inches by 7 inches by 0.21 inches for the smaller one.)

Apple M4 processor is a surprise in 2024 iPad Pro

It has long been thought the 2024 iPad Pro would run on the Apple M3 processor in the latest MacBooks. But no — the OLED iPad Pros brought the debut of the Apple M4 chip instead.

“The new CPU offers up to four performance cores and now six efficiency cores, with next-generation machine learning (ML) accelerators, to deliver up to 1.5x faster CPU performance over M2 in the previous-generation iPad,” promises Apple.

The M4 is undoubtedly a surprise — and a shock to those who bought one of the M3-powered MacBook Pro and MacBook Air models that have only been on the market for a few months.

The base model 2024 iPad Pro offers double the storage of its predecessor: 256GB. And storage tops out at 2 terabytes. Most versions come with 8GB of RAM, but the 1TB and 2TB models bump that up to 16GB.

Landscape camera means better video conferencing

The OLED iPad Pro makes a change tablet users have wanted for years: Apple moved the front-facing camera for better horizontal use.

In previous models, when the tablet is held horizontally — the way most people use it — the front-facing camera is way off to the left so users seem to be staring off to one side during video calls. For the 2024 iPad Pro, Apple relocated the front-facing camera to the long edge of the tablet. (Now you’ll know that those iPad Pro users really are paying attention during video calls.)

New Magic Keyboard and Apple Pencil Pro, too

Those who want to use their iPad Pro as a convertible notebook have a new option: a redesigned Magic Keyboard. It’s thinner and lighter, and has an all-aluminum exterior. Other changes include a row of function keys and a glass trackpad with haptic feedback.

Apple also added the Apple Pencil Pro to its iPad stylus lineup. It comes with a gyroscope, and users can squeeze the Apple Pencil Pro to open an on-screen menu. The stylus also adds Find My support for the first time.

On the software front, Apple also showcased new versions of Logic Pro and Final Cut Pro for iPad that take advantage of the M4 processor’s capabilities.Ezoic

Order the 2024 iPad Pro now

Apple introduced the last iPad Pro in October 2022 — about 18 months ago. The new version offers a better-quality screen and a faster processor, and clearly Apple didn’t want to make users wait.

“With the breakthrough Ultra Retina XDR display, the next-level performance of M4, incredible AI capabilities, and support for the all-new Apple Pencil Pro and Magic Keyboard, there’s no device like the new iPad Pro,” said Ternus, Apple’s hardware SVP.

There’s no delay between today’s announcement and the 2024 iPad Pro going on sale: The tablet is available for pre-order now. It will reach customers next week on May 15.

The 11-inch OLED iPad Pro starts at $999, while the 13-inch model starts at $1,299. Both tablets come in either silver or space black.

Buy from: Apple

The redesigned Magic Keyboard and Apple Pencil Pro are also available for preorder, and will reach customers May 15.

And there’s more!

Don’t miss the 2024 iPad Air that Apple also just launched. It’s the first in that product line with a 13-inch screen.  Ezoic

Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Why is US threatening to ban TikTok and will other countries follow suit? | TikTok | The Guardian

Why is US threatening to ban TikTok and will other countries follow suit?

"Senate has voted to pass bill over Chinese-owned video-sharing app that Joe Biden is set to sign into law

TikTok logo on a phone in pocket of pair of jeans
The bill gives TikTok’s Beijing-based parent, ByteDance, 270 days to sell the app’s US operations. Photograph: Chesnot/Getty Images

President Biden is set to sign into law a bill that requires TikTok’s Chinese owner to sell the social media app’s US operations or face a ban, after the Senate passed the legislation.

Biden has previously said he would sign the legislation, passed as part of a foreign aid package for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan.

Here is a guide to the legislation and what might happen next.

How does the legislation pave the way for a sale or ban?

The bill gives TikTok’s Beijing-based parent, Dance, 270 days to sell the app’s US operations. If ByteDance appears close to completing a deal as the deadline looms, the president can authorise a 90-day extension. If the bill becomes law this week then the deadline arrives at about the time the next president will be inaugurated, on 20 January. Which means Donald Trump, depending on whether he wins the election, could decide whether the sale process is extended.

If ByteDance fails to carry out a sale at all, then it faces a nationwide ban, by blocking app stores and web hosts from distributing TikTok.

Why is the US threatening to ban TikTok?

US lawmakers and authorities are concerned that data from TikTok’s 170 million US users could be accessed by the Chinese state under national security laws. Christopher Wray, the director of the FBI, the US domestic intelligence and security agency, has said that ByteDance is “controlled by the Chinese government” and has warned that Beijing authorities can influence people by manipulating the algorithm that curates what people view on TikTok, as well as allowing the government to collect user data for “traditional espionage operations”.

TikTok denies that the Chinese government has attempted to access US user data and says it would reject any such request. In an appearance before Congress last year, TikTok’s chief executive, Shou Zi Chew, said: “Let me state this unequivocally: ByteDance is not an agent of China or any other country.”

Will TikTok appeal against the bill?

TikTok has already declared that it will fight the bill in the courts as soon as it is signed, labelling it a breach of the US constitution’s first amendment, which protects free speech.

“At the stage that the bill is signed, we will move to the courts for a legal challenge,” wrote TikTok’s head of public policy for the Americas, Michael Beckerman, in a memo to staff at the weekend. He added: “We’ll continue to fight, as this legislation is a clear violation of the first amendment rights of the 170 million Americans on TikTok.”

The first amendment stance has already worked in TikTok’s favour after a judge in Montana, which had banned the app, blocked the move because it violated users’ free speech rights.

View of Beijing, China
View of Beijing, China. TikTok denies that the Chinese government has attempted to access US user data and says it would reject any such request. Photograph: Sean Pavone/Alamy

The last time the US tried to ban TikTok, in 2020 after an executive order issued by Trump, the company secured a preliminary injunction against the move after a judge in Washington said a prohibition may “likely exceed” the bounds of the law. TikTok is expected to pursue an injunction again, before challenging the constitutionality of the bill in a full case.

Who might be interested in buying TikTok’s US operations?

The former US treasury secretary, Steve Mnuchin, said in March he was putting together a consortium to buy TikTok’s US assets, calling it a “great business”.

If past suitors are any indication of interest, in 2020 Microsoft explored a deal to buy TikTok, at the behest of Trump, who had also encouraged the US tech firm Oracle and the retail corporation Walmart to take a large stake in the business. ByteDance itself has a number of US investors, including the investment firms General Atlantic, Susquehanna and Sequoia Capital.

However, analysts at Wedbush Securities, a US financial services firm, say they do not expect the Chinese government to sanction a sale that includes TikTok’s algorithm – the extremely effective technology that curates what people see on the app.

“The value of TikTok would dramatically change without the algorithms and makes the ultimate sale/divestiture of TikTok a very complex endeavour with many potential strategic/financial bidders waiting anxiously for this process to kick off,” Wedbush said in a note to investors, which valued its UK operations at $100bn (£80.4bn) with the algorithm but between $30bn and $40bn without.

TikTok logo on a smartphone with a ByteDance logo on a laptop in the background.
If ByteDance fails to carry out a sale, then it faces a US-wide ban, by blocking app stores and web hosts from distributing TikTok. Photograph: Sheldon Cooper/SOPA Images/Rex/Shutterstock

What does the Chinese government think?

The Chinese government said last year it would “firmly oppose” the sale of the app, adding it would “seriously undermine the confidence of investors from various countries, including China, to invest in the United States”. China also has export rules that prohibit the sale of certain technologies.

Will other countries follow suit with a divest-or-ban move?

TikTok is already under pressure elsewhere in the west because of shared concerns over data. It has been banned from government-issued phones in the UK, the US, Canada and New Zealand – and staff at the European Commission have also been banned from using it on work-issued devices.

Calls for a UK ban have already been voiced, including by the former Conservative party leader Iain Duncan Smith, who said last month “we should have done it ourselves”.

Why is US threatening to ban TikTok and will other countries follow suit? | TikTok | The Guardian