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  • ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Aleksandr Kogan, the Cambridge University researcher who collected information on millions of Americans through Facebook, said Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's testimony to lawmakers on Capitol Hill was "misleading."In a live interview with ABC's chief anchor George Stephanopoulos on Good Morning America, Kogan responded to Zuckerberg's accusation that he violated Facebook policy by sharing data with a third party, Cambridge Analytica."I think they're being a little misleading," Kogan told Stephanopoulos on Monday. "The idea that this was a hack is flat-out wrong."He continued, "Imagine a warehouse: we didn't break in -- we went on Amazon and ordered the data, and they delivered it to us. This is a key feature of their system."In March, Kogan found himself at the center of a burgeoning scandal after former Cambridge Analytica employee Christopher Wylie told The New York Times that Kogan shared data he had harvested through an app with the controversial political research firm in 2014 without users’ knowledge.In an interview last month with ABC News, Wylie suggested he was suspicious of Kogan's work because of the researcher's Russian roots and connections."I think that it's really concerning that...the head psychologist that we were using, Aleksandr Kogan, was working on a Russian funded project in Russia on psychological profiling of people," Wylie said.Kogan denied allegations that he was acting on behalf of Russia, saying, "I think a lot of that is xenophobic nonsense to me, to be frank. I had a loose affiliation with a university there and went and gave a few talks there, but nothing more.""Most Russians, just like most Americans, are normal, decent folk [and] have nothing to do with spycraft," Kogan added.Kogan, 31, was born in Moldova – then a Soviet state — and immigrated to the U.S. with his family when he was 7 years old, ultimately settling in New Jersey. He graduated with honors from UC Berkley in 2008 with a degree in psychology, the university confirmed to ABC News. Later, he held an honorary associate professorship from the St. Petersburg State University in Russia, which he said entailed two or three trips to the university.When asked if he had anything to do with Russian interference in the U.S. election, he replied, "I think it's honestly a preposterous claim that has no backing and absolutely not."Facebook and Cambridge Analytica both face investigations from federal authorities in the U.S. and U.K. and have been called to appear before both Congress and Parliament to answer questions from government officials.When asked if people have a right to be angry about the breach, Kogan said, "Oh absolutely, but I think it has nothing to do wit this transfer of data idea.""I think it has everything to do with how tech companies have been running for a long time in terms of using data," Kogan argued, "because the fundamental business model here is we're going to take your data and use it for whichever way we want to try to sell you things and that's just the business norm and I think that's what's really upsetting."According to Kogan, Wylie approached him in 2014 about adapting his app -- originally designed for academic research -- to give Cambridge Analytica access to the data from millions of Facebook users. Kogan said Wylie and lawyers for Cambridge Analytica's parent company SCL assured him that the app could be adapted for commercial use without violating Facebook's rules.Cambridge Analytica was retained by the Trump campaign ahead of the 2016 election, and scrutiny of that relationship led to the revelations that have put Kogan and Wylie back in the spotlight.Facebook suspended Cambridge Analytica and Kogan from the platform pending an investigation into the breach of millions of user profiles. Cambridge Analytica has denied any wrongdoing and blamed Kogan for violating Facebook's privacy terms, while Kogan has claimed both companies are treating him “unfairly.”
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  • ABCNews.com(PHILADELPHIA) -- Members of the Omega Psi Phi fraternity rallied at a Starbucks in Philadelphia on Sunday after their fraternity brother, Rashon Nelson, was arrested there earlier this month in an incident the city’s mayor called an example of racial profiling.More than 100 fraternity members and supporters attended the “Rally Against Racial Injustice” on Sunday afternoon, held near the downtown Philadelphia Starbucks where Nelson and his friend, Donte Robinson, were arrested on April 12 after the store’s manager asked them to leave because they hadn’t purchased anything.Starbucks apologized to the men in a statement last week, saying it was learning more about what it “did wrong” and was willing to take the necessary steps “to fix it,” according to a statement.The company said it would close all of its U.S. stores and corporate offices on May 29 to train employees against racial bias in the wake of the incident, but city officials at Sunday’s rally said that’s not enough.“The actions of the Starbucks corporation are totally unacceptable,” Philadelphia Councilman Kenyatta Johnson told protesters Sunday. “We know they said they’re going to move forward and specifically focus on a training that deals with unconscious bias, but that’s a one-day training.“We want to see how they’re going to change their culture as it relates to racial insensitivity and also diversity and inclusion as it relates to making sure that everyone who comes to a Starbucks store that lives in the city of Philadelphia should feel welcome,” he added.He said the the men, who were waiting for a third person to arrive for a business meeting, were “in the right place focusing on doing the right things with their lives,” but they were still seen as a threat.They should not have been subjected to "racial profiling," Johnson said. He thanked the Omega Psi Phi fraternity “for stepping up to the plate and making sure the world sees that African-American men are not are not a threat to society.”Grand Basileus Antonio Knox, Omega Psi Phi’s national leader, applauded the company for its apology, but he said it's time for Starbucks, and other major companies, to realize discrimination is wrong.“Now is the time. It’s no longer acceptable to allow and to be comfortable to discriminate against our young men and women,” Knox said. “The strength of this country depends on us being able to work together as one.”Knox, who said the goal of the event was to mobilize supporters, urged minorities and disadvantaged people to use their voting and economic power to affect change.“It must be known that we will not invest in companies that will not treat us as they treat everybody else,” Knox said. “Starbucks has an opportunity, and so far it appears that they are going to do the right thing, but it won’t stop with one-day training. They know that.“But what we’re asking is that Starbucks joins us and allow us to work together to create this change all over because it’s not just that one corporation.”Nelson and Robinson, both 23, told ABC News' "Good Morning America" last week that the white manager of the Starbucks called the police on them two minutes after they arrived at the store and Nelson was denied the access code for the restroom because he hadn't made a purchase. The men said that when police arrived they were told they had to leave the store. When they refused to leave, they were arrested.Starbucks apologized for the ordeal and agreed to engage in mediation with Nelson and Robinson, according to their lawyer, Stewart Cohen."Starbucks holds itself open as a place for people to meet and to have public conversations; those are words from their website," Cohen told ABC News. "The apologies are fine, but what we need to do is have some action by Starbu
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  • iStock/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) -- The city of Atlanta was under attack.Not by terrorists with guns or knives or vehicles as weapons -- but instead by hackers who in March disabled the city's public services with ransomware. The cyber offensive left Atlantans unable to pay bills online, and visitors to the world's busiest airport, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, unable to connect to WiFi.And around the same time yet nearly 700 miles away in Baltimore, in a seemingly unrelated attack, hackers disabled the computer system supporting emergency calls in that city.Both incidents underscored the vulnerability of many public computing networks -- and the damage that hackers in the dark corners of the internet can inflict on vital services.Cyberattacks have typically been carried out by criminals and organized gangs –- but many fear public infrastructure will be an increasing target in traditional warfare.“I believe we are on the cusp of a fundamental change in the character of war,” said Gen. Mark Milley, the U.S. Army Chief of Staff to the AUSA in 2016. “The significantly increased speed and global reach of information (and misinformation) likewise will have unprecedented effects of forces and how they fight.”In the attacks on Atlanta and Baltimore, for which no one has been arrested, ransomware seemed to be the weapon of choice. An increasingly prevalent form of cybercrime, ransomware penetrates and disables systems and data to users, and essentially hijacks their personal information. Hackers literally demand a ransom to release the victim's files back to them.Ransomware is not limited to the United States, of course. Hackers have struck banks, hospitals, businesses and schools around the world, including the United Kingdom's National Health Service.Beyond ransomware and the vulnerabilities of online infrastructure at the municipal level, experts fear cyberattacks on national security. Suzanne Spaulding, the former undersecretary for cyber protection at the Department of Homeland Security, told ABC News there is a "coming wave" of cyber incidents that will affect databases. And those networks include data on individuals of interest to national security that are integral to the country's security network.The rules of engagement in cyber warfare are ever-changing and have yet to be defined."We do not have a strategy for dealing with that war," Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, said at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing last month.Weaponizing everyday technologyWhen the fitness app Strava released data in November on more than 1 billion activities -- through GPS exercise devices like Fitbit -- keen observers noticed unusual activities in sensitive locations around the world. The 13 trillion data points seemed to reveal locations of military bases where soldiers or Marines were wearing devices to measure their running.As sophisticated devices become increasingly accessible to everyday consumers, our lifestyles are adapting to live with more in tandem with them. Experts say we are becoming increasingly comfortable in surrendering more of our personal data to increasingly powerful corporate firms -- in exchange for convenience.That, experts say, is a perfect example of how the seemingly mundane use of technology could pose national security risks.“We are going to start seeing a lot more of this,” says Robert Schifreen, a cybersecurity analyst for ABC News. “As we move more and more online and live more of our lives connected to the internet out of ease and convenience, we are going to come across vulnerabilities we hadn’t even considered to be sensitive."People will be ready to exploit them where they can,” Schifreen added.Brian Lord, the former deputy director for the Intelligence and Cyber Operations at the Government Communications Headquarters in Britain, said security will be difficult to negotiate in an age where the general public is almost entirely reliant o
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  • Starbucks(PHILADELPHIA) -- Hoping to quell calls for a national boycott, Starbucks stands to lose millions of dollars by shutting down thousands of stores for one afternoon in May to train employees on how to avoid racial bias after two black men were arrested at a Philadelphia shop for doing nothing more than sitting at a table.While the coffee giant has just started working to create a curriculum for the mass training of more than 170,000 employees, one of the advisers Starbucks has brought in to help said the coffee giant must swiftly show the world it's serious."I can tell you that it is a very consequential decision to call all of those stores and provide all of those employees with training. There's expense both in terms of the lost revenue and the resources required to train everyone," Jonathan Greenblatt, director and CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, told ABC News.Kevin Johnson, Starbucks' CEO, announced last week that the company will close more than 8,000 company-owned stores across the nation for several hours on the afternoon of May 29 to train 170,000 employees on how to prevent discrimination.Given that Starbucks' company-owned U.S. stores earned $17.6 billion in 2017, shutting down stores down for several hours in one afternoon will cost the company millions of dollars in lost revenue. But the company, which boasts of being one of the most progressive in the United States, stood to lose much more had it not acted so quickly.In the wake the April 12 arrests of Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson at a downtown Philadelphia Starbucks, protesters called for a national boycott of the company, which quickly spread across social media.Nelson and Robinson told ABC News' Good Morning America that the white manager of the Starbucks called the police on them two minutes after they arrived at the store and Nelson was denied the access code for the restroom because he hadn't made a purchase. The men said that, when police arrived, they were told they had to leave the store. When they refused to leave, they were arrested.The unidentified manager who called police in the first place is no longer with the company.Robinson and Nelson said they had gone to the Starbucks for a meeting on a real estate deal they had been working on for months.Since Johnson's announcement and his apology to Nelson and Robinson, talk of the boycott has calmed down. Starbucks also agreed to engage in mediation with Nelson and Robinson."Starbucks holds itself open as a place for people to meet and to have public conversations; those are words from their website," Stewart Cohen, a lawyer for Nelson and Robinson, told ABC News. "The apologies are fine, but what we need to do is have some action by Starbucks with respect to this situation. There has to be real and meaningful discussions."Meanwhile, Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross apologized Thursday for initially defending the officers who arrested the men. He said he "failed miserably.""I should have said the officers acted within the scope of the law and not that they didn’t do anything wrong," Ross said during a press conference Thursday. "Words are very important."Greenblatt, a former White House adviser to President Barack Obama on social innovation and civic participation, said Starbucks has taken significant measures to address the controversy."No. 1, the company turned on a dime. This happened, and within 24 hours, the CEO was onsite in Philadelphia," said Greenblatt, who once worked for Starbucks as a vice president of global consumer products after he and his partners sold a company called Ethos Water to Starbucks in 2005."Within 72 hours, they'd announced this very ambitious program, where again they're doing something very consequential from a revenue perspective and a resource perspective -- about as consequential as you can get if you are in the retail business," he said.Along with former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel
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  • Kelli Shultz(AUSTIN) -- When Kelli Schultz discovered that she'd be on the same flight as her newlywed sister en route to her honeymoon in New Zealand, she couldn't resist the opportunity to give her an extra special wedding gift.With help from United Airlines' flight attendants, Schultz got the passengers on the 130-seat plane from Austin, Texas, to San Francisco to write well wishes to her sister, Briana DuPriest, and her now-husband, Robert, en route to New Zealand through a connecting flight.When the two sisters discovered they were on the same flight leaving the DuPriest's wedding on April 14, Schultz, 28, took it as a sign."The universe gives you gifts," the maid of honor, who also officiated the ceremony, told ABC News. "And I thought, 'OK, this is clearly like a smoke signal from God or the universe or whatever it is. I knew I wanted to do something a little extra, but I thought, 'What can I do?'"After consulting a friend who's also a flight attendant, Schultz decided to bring goodie bags onto the flight filled with a single card and chocolates. The goodie bags included a note that read in part: "Hello fellow passenger, my sister Bri and her new husband Robert are on this flight on their way to their honeymoon in New Zealand. If you can write a piece of marriage advice or life advice and pass it up to Bri & Robert DuPriest in seats 8A and 8B."With help from flight attendants, who passed out the goodie bags and Sharpie pens for passengers to write messages, the surprise began to unfold.A representative for United Airlines told ABC News in a statement that they were happy to aid in the heartwarming surprise."We know there is a special reason behind everyone’s journey with us, and we are happy to have done our part to make this trip that much more special for this couple," a statement read.Alisha Johnson, who was on board that United flight last week, was leaving a work trip in Austin when she received the card in her seat."I was listening to music and tuning out as I do when I noticed everyone around me was smiling," Johnson told ABC News.Johnson, 33, later caught on that there were newlyweds on the flight and was soon handed one of the goodie bags.She said she is usually in a "bad mood and tired" when traveling, so it was "a nice moment of levity when everyone became human, writing and smiling and pensively thinking through what to write to the couple. Johnson said she advised the couple to let their New Zealand honeymoon be the first of a "lifelong series of adventures."Briana DuPriest told ABC News she and her husband were caught "totally off-guard" by the surprise."It's so Kelli to find an incredibly personal and meaningful way to make us feel special," the bride continued."People were coming up and handing us their cards with well-wishes. A flight attendant brought us glasses of champagne," Briana DuPriest added. "Being in the middle of traveling, we were slightly overwhelmed by the attention, but so honored that so many people chose to contribute touching advice to us."The couple is now completing their honeymoon in New Zealand after, thanks to Schultz, getting off to a festive start."I am so lucky to have her as my sister. Her quick wit and entertaining personality eliminate the possibility of there ever being a dull moment," Briana DuPriest said.Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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  • Rachel Scott/ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Weddings and events often have the most beautiful floral arrangements, but after the event is over, the arrangements can end up in the trash.Former event planner Jennifer Grove is working to end that with her company Repeat Roses, which gives event and wedding flowers a second chance by donating them to local nonprofits."We get handwritten cards from all of our organizations across the country that say, 'You know what, we were taking flowers to someone who was getting ready for their cancer treatment. We brought flowers to a gentleman who hasn't had a visitor in three weeks,' and just knowing we made a small difference in someone's life, that's meaningful to us," Grove said.Repeat Roses doesn't just donate floral arrangements to those in need, the company also makes sure the flowers are properly recycled. The company recollects the donated flowers and composts them locally.
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