Google, Trump, Tiger Woods: Your Monday Briefing Express News
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We start today with Google data used by law enforcement, the Trump administration’s plan for when the Mueller report drops and an elite runner for whom running is not everything.
U.S. police draw on location data collected by Google
The technology giant tracks the locations of hundreds of millions of phones worldwide, The Times found.
The police in the U.S. have started using warrants to tap into Google’s location database, known as Sensorvault, not only for information about suspects but also for “geofence” information about an area where a crime occurred. The dragnet can include data from dozens or hundreds of devices — and can sometimes ensnare innocent people.
How we know: Reporters interviewed Google employees, prosecutors and law enforcement agents, and reviewed warrants and other legal documents.
Response: In a statement, Richard Salgado, Google’s director of law enforcement and information security, said the company tried to “vigorously protect the privacy of our users while supporting the important work of law enforcement.” He said identifying information was provided only “where legally required.”
Explainer: Here’s more about Sensorvault, and how you can disable Google’s data collection.
An emboldened Trump confronts the Mueller report
The president, according to aides, considers the special counsel’s inquiry a closed case.
Although he has not seen the full report, people close to him told The Times, he has shown increased confidence after the release of Attorney General William Barr’s summary last month.
The president has tested bounds, poking fun at Joe Biden regarding accusations that the former vice president touched women inappropriately and floating the idea of pardoning the acting homeland security secretary if he were to get in legal trouble by shutting down the border.
Plan of attack: As Mr. Barr prepares to submit a redacted version of the report, Mr. Trump, aides said, will act as if the report itself is extraneous to Mr. Barr’s brief letter.
When the report comes out, aides will focus on two outstanding questions that Mr. Trump wants to ignore: why the special counsel was not able to conclude whether the president obstructed justice, and what the attorney general meant when he wrote in his letter that “much” of the president’s conduct was public — meaning some of it was not.
Timing: The report is expected sometime this week.
Stanford scrutinizes professor’s link to gene editing
Stanford University is investigating the interactions one of its professors, Stephen Quake, had with a Chinese scientist, He Jiankui, as Dr. He was working on creating the world’s first gene-altered babies — an experiment many scientists and ethicists condemned as unethical and unsafe.
Dr. He’s announcement of success last November sent shock waves around the world. The president of his university in China later wrote to Stanford’s president, accusing Dr. Quake of having helped in the experiment.
Response: Dr. Quake denied the allegations. In his email exchanges with Dr. He, which he showed to The Times, there are no signs that he was involved with the work itself, but the messages do contain polite encouragement.
Bigger picture: Scrutiny of Dr. Quake reflects the issues that the global scientific community is now grappling with: When and where should scientists report their colleagues’ controversial research ideas?
A victory for the ages for Tiger Woods
The golfer won his first major title in 11 years, capturing the Masters title at Augusta National. It was a monumental comeback from personal and professional setbacks that almost derailed his career.
His pursuit of Jack Nicklaus’s record 18 major championships might be back on.
Background: In 2009, a marital dispute led to a car accident and a succession of lurid tabloid headlines.
On the golf course, back injuries led to an addiction to painkillers and raised questions about whether he could ever play professionally again. The Times profiled him last year.
If you’re following the Indian elections
It’s the year of the woman
In 1962, less than half of India’s women voted. By 2014, that figure had shot up to 66 percent. This year, many expect women’s votes to outnumber men’s.
That could be a political game changer.
“Women are getting more educated, they’re more emancipated, they’re more independent,” said Prannoy Roy, a co-founder of India’s NDTV news channel and a veteran poll analyst.
Women have generally shown less support for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party. In 2014, if only women had voted, the B.J.P wouldn’t have won the historic majority it did in the lower house of Parliament, according to Mr. Roy, who analyzed the data for his new book, “The Verdict: Decoding India’s Elections.”
What do women care about in this election? Jobs, Mr. Roy said.
Record unemployment has hit women particularly hard. According to the Center for Monitoring Indian Economy, an independent think tank, of the 11 million jobs India lost in 2018, 8.8 million had been held by women.
It’s little surprise, then, that several political parties, including the B.J.P. and the Congress Party, have proposed policies specifically intended to improve the job picture for women.
Send us your feedback and questions about this series here.
Here’s what else is happening
Brazil: President Jair Bolsonaro’s first 100 days in office have been turbulent. He has the lowest popularity rating of any first-term president at this point in a tenure since democracy was restored in the mid-1980s. Many in Brazil believe Mr. Bolsonaro has been his own worst enemy.
Syria: For years, the Red Cross shielded the identity of a New Zealand nurse, Louisa Akavi, who was abducted by ISIS in 2013. But now that ISIS’ caliphate has collapsed, the aid group has broken its silence in the hope that the public can help find her.
Julian Assange: The extradition of the WikiLeaks founder to the U.S. will be a long and complex process of legal filings, hearings and administrative decisions that could take at least a year, experts said. (We wrote about how Mr. Assange’s cat, who lived with him in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, was a made-for-social-media star.)
Seychelles: The president of the archipelago made an impassioned plea to save the world’s oceans, from inside a submersible craft 400 feet below the surface of the Indian Ocean.
Climate change: Rising temperatures and extreme weather cycles in Mexico and Central America are disrupting crops and harvests. That’s proving to be a tipping point for many farmers, who are increasingly abandoning their land and heading north toward the U.S.
Sudan: The new ruling military council announced on Sunday that it would name a civilian prime minister and cabinet, but not a president, to help govern the country after the coup that removed the longtime leader, Omar Hassan al-Bashir. Protesters have demanded full civilian rule.
‘Game of Thrones’: The final season of the hit series premiered on Sunday. Meet Bernadette Caulfield, the producer who is the “best thing that ever happened to the show,” according to its creators. (Find our recap of the new episode here.)
What we’re reading: This article in Science News. “‘Dumbo’ is a delightful movie, but an elephant is never going to fly by flapping its ears,” says Michael Roston, a science editor. “This fun article by Bethany Brookshire examines the anatomical obstacles.”
Now, a break from the news
Smarter Living: There are scientifically proven, somewhat surprising ways to increase your memory power. Give your mind a chance to consolidate information by retreating to a dark, quiet room for 10 minutes of inactivity (but not sleep). And you can increase your brain’s ability to retrieve memories by quizzing yourself on them, or sharing them out loud.
And we look at the benefits of sharing — whether triumphs, photos or difficulties — in person rather than on social media.
And now for the Back Story on …
The ‘Wiki’ in ‘WikiLeaks’
With the arrest last week of its founder, Julian Assange, WikiLeaks is back in the headlines.
“Leaks” is obvious for the name of the anti-secrecy organization, which started in 2006, but where does “wiki” come from?
In 1995, the computer programmer Ward Cunningham introduced the first wiki, a website that’s collaboratively produced by users. He called it WikiWikiWeb, after the Hawaiian word for “quick,” which he had picked up from the name of an airport shuttle in the islands.
The wiki isn’t Mr. Cunningham’s only contribution to modern online life. He also gave his name to Cunningham’s Law, the idea that the best way to find the correct answer on the internet isn’t to ask a question, but to post the wrong answer.
That’s it for this briefing. See you next time.
To Mark Josephson, Eleanor Stanford and James K. Williamson for the break from the news. Chris Stanford, on the briefings team, wrote today’s Back Story. You can reach the team at email@example.com.
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