The U.S. government announced Wednesday that it is phasing out federal agencies' use of security software made by the Russian brand, Kaspersky Lab. The directive was given "months" after the General Service Administration took Kaspersky off of the list of approved vendors because of a possible "vulnerability" in Kaspersky "that could give the Kremlin backdoor access to the systems the company protects," The Washington Post reported. At least six federal agencies use Kaspersky software.
"The department is concerned about the ties between certain Kaspersky officials and Russian intelligence and other government agencies, and requirements under Russian law that allow Russian intelligence agencies to request or compel assistance from Kaspersky and to intercept communications transiting Russian networks," the Department of Homeland Security said in a statement. "The risk that the Russian government, whether acting on its own or in collaboration with Kaspersky, could capitalize on access provided by Kaspersky products to compromise federal information and information systems directly implicates U.S. national security."
In a statement to the Post, Kaspersky denied claims it had "inappropriate ties with any government," noting that "no credible evidence has been presented publicly by anyone or any organization." "The only conclusion seems to be that Kaspersky Lab, a private company, is caught in the middle of a geopolitical fight, and it's being treated unfairly even though the company has never helped, nor will help, any government in the world with its cyberespionage or offensive cyber efforts," the company said.
Federal agencies must discontinue use of Kaspersky software within 90 days. Becca Stanek
At least 11 people were killed Thursday near Branson, Missouri, when the duck boat they were on capsized, fire officials said.
There were 31 people on the tourist boat, which investigators said ended up sinking in the lake. "We did have a severe thunderstorm, not sure if that is the contributing factor," Southern Stone County Fire Protection spokesman Eric Nielsen said. "There is a lot of storm debris." Divers are in Table Rock Lake now searching for other possible victims. The boat was operated by Ride the Ducks Branson, and had recently been acquired by the company, CNN reports. Catherine Garcia
On Thursday, the Trump administration said it has reunited 364 of more than 2,500 migrant children ages five and older with their families, after they were separated from their parents along the U.S.-Mexico border.
The government has a court-ordered deadline of July 26 to reunite the children with their parents, and in a court filing, the Trump administration said of the 1,607 parents eligible for reunification, 719 have final orders of deportation. "That's a pretty horrifying statistic," Lindsay Toczylowski, executive director of Immigrant Defenders Law Center, told NBC News. "We have had such limited communication with parents it was difficult to know where they were in their case."
The parents will need to decide if they will take their children back with them to their native countries, or leave them in the care of the government or relatives in the United States so they can seek asylum. Catherine Garcia
When Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats laughed during an interview at the Aspen Security Forum on Thursday, staffers back at the White House groaned.
Coats was onstage with Andrea Mitchell of NBC News, when she broke the news to him that the White House had announced the Trump administration invited Russian President Vladimir Putin to Washington this fall. He chuckled, and revealed he knew nothing about this, adding, "That's going to be special." He also told Mitchell he would have advised President Trump not to meet with Putin in Helsinki on Monday, especially with only two interpreters in the room with them.
Trump advisers were "in an uproar," staffers told The Washington Post, with one senior official saying, "Coats has gone rogue." They are concerned that Trump will view the incident as Coats laughing at him in a public arena, and he'll feel betrayed, since he flattered Coats during an interview Wednesday with CBS Evening News anchor Jeff Glor.
One White House staffer told the Post Coats' comments could bother Trump more than the scandals that swirled around former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, but a senior intelligence official said Coats gets along fine with Trump, and they are in regular communication. "For someone in the White House to criticize Dan Coats for speaking truth to power is unfair," the official said. Catherine Garcia
Starbucks announced on Thursday it is opening its first cafe in the U.S. with employees who are partially or fully deaf and can communicate using American Sign Language.
The company is converting an existing Starbucks in Washington, D.C., into a Signing Store, set to open in October. Employees will wear aprons embroidered by deaf suppliers, and pins that say "I sign," USA Today reports. "The store will create a distinctive retail experience for all customers, while offering a unique store format that promotes accessibility and offers employment and career advancement opportunities for deaf and hard of hearing people," Starbucks said in a statement.
Starbucks will hire 20 to 25 people who know ASL to staff the Signing Store. The company's first Signing Store opened in Malaysia in 2016. Catherine Garcia
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said on Thursday that as soon as the Department of Justice learns that an American company, private organization, or person has been hacked or otherwise covertly attacked by a foreign entity trying to influence an election, they will be notified.
"Exposing schemes to the public is an important way to neutralize them," Rosenstein said at the Aspen Security Forum. "The American people have a right to know if foreign governments are targeting them with propaganda." Microsoft executive Tom Burt told forum attendees that his team has already determined that the Russian military agency GRU has targeted at least three candidates running for office in the November midterm elections.
This new policy comes in the wake of the disinformation campaign waged by Russia during the 2016 presidential election, and it's a good start, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) told The Washington Post. "If this disclosure requirement had been around in 2016, I firmly believe that it would have served as a meaningful deterrent after Russia's interference was first discovered, and it would have informed voters more quickly and more forcefully that a foreign government was trying to effect their vote," he said. Catherine Garcia
Bristol Palin hasn't been a teen mom in years, but that's not a dealbreaker for MTV.
Variety and TMZ report that Palin, the 27-year-old daughter of former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, is joining the cast of Teen Mom OG this fall. Not long after presidential candidate John McCain announced in 2008 that her mom was his running mate on the Republican ticket, Palin revealed a bombshell of her own: she was pregnant at 17. Palin gave birth to her son, Tripp, in December, and has gone on to have two more children — daughters Sailor Grace, 2, and Atlee Bay, 1. She's also been on several reality shows, including Dancing with the Stars (she came in third) and Bristol Palin: Life's a Tripp (it got canceled after one season).
The other stars of Teen Mom OG appeared on episodes of the show 16 and Pregnant, which chronicled their lives as high school students dealing with pregnancy, childbirth, and the early days of motherhood. Palin has parlayed her experience as a teen mom into job opportunities for years now, including as the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Ambassador for the Candie's Foundation. Catherine Garcia
Olympic figure skater Denis Ten was stabbed to death in Kazakhstan on Thursday, following an altercation with people who allegedly tried to steal a mirror from his vehicle, Kazakh news agencies report.
Ten, 25, was rushed to a hospital in his hometown of Almaty, where he died. Ten took home the bronze medal from the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, making him Kazakhstan's first medalist in figure skating, and also won the Four Continents championships in 2015. The Associated Press reports that due to injuries over the last few years, he placed 27th in the Pyeongchang Olympics this February.
"Today is truly a dark day for all of us who loved this young figure skater and were inspired by his talent and creativity," Kazakhstan Olympic Committee President Timur Kulibayev said in a statement. "Throughout his sporting career, Denis set an example with his motivation, strength of spirit, and his champion's personality." Catherine Garcia