Today's Intel

Dec. 15, 2017

BLOOMBERG

Vice President Mike Pence is set to receive a cooler reception from Arab leaders on a Middle East trip next week than he once expected, after pushing President Donald Trump earlier this month to declare Jerusalem the capital of Israel.

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission swept aside rules barring broadband providers from favoring the internet traffic of websites willing to pay for speedier service, sending the future of net neutrality on to a likely court challenge. The Republican-led commission voted 3-to-2 on Thursday to remove Obama-era prohibitions on blocking web traffic, slowing it or demanding payment for faster passage via their networks.

Facebook is projected to boost sales by 46 percent and double net income, but make no mistake: It had a terrible year. Despite its financial performance, the social media giant is facing a reckoning in 2018 as regulators close in on several fronts. The main issue cuts to the core of the company itself: Rather than "building global community," as founder Mark Zuckerberg sees Facebook's mission, it is "ripping apart the social fabric."

Blockchain is upending the world's financial markets with the rise of bitcoin, and now the digital-ledger system is poised to do the same next year for raw materials like food and energy.

It's not just the orange groves that were hit hard by Hurricane Irma -- Florida's grapefruit harvest is now projected to fall to the lowest in nearly a century.

AP Top Stories

A firefighter died Thursday while working a colossal wildfire burning in coastal mountains northwest of Los Angeles that has become the fourth largest in California history. Cory Iverson, 32, was an engineer with a state fire engine strike team based in San Diego and is survived by his pregnant wife and a 2-year-old daughter.

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, stood before missile remnants that she claimed were covered in Iranian "fingerprints" on Thursday while laying out what she called "irrefutable evidence" that Tehran has violated its international obligations by militarily supporting rebels in Yemen.

Nearly 745,000 men, women and children in Syria are trapped inside the war-torn country's 33 besieged communities, living in desolate conditions at the mercy of President Bashar Assad's authoritarian regime and its armed opponents.

Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump discussed the crisis over North Korea's nuclear program in a phone call Thursday, in which the US president took the unusual step of thanking his Russian counterpart for praising America's economy.

Syrian opposition forces backed by a US-led coalition killed more than 20 Islamic State fighters and took several others prisoner, military officials said Thursday.

European Union nations, now unfettered by Britain's decision to quit, achieved a 70-year-old ambition on Thursday to integrate their defenses, launching a pact between 25 EU governments to fund, develop and deploy armed forces together. European Council President Donald Tusk deemed the move "bad news for our enemies".

In a rare rebuke, an Indian minister on Thursday warned the country's Bollywood film industry to comply with strict measures to combat sexual harassment, following the Harvey Weinstein scandal.

A capsule carrying U.S., Russian and Italian astronauts from the International Space Station landed in Kazakhstan on Thursday after a five-month mission, a NASA TV live broadcast showed. The trio's departure has reduced to just three the crew of the ISS, a $100 billion lab that flies about 250 miles (400 km) above Earth.

U.S. industrial production rose 0.2 percent in November due to a rebound in extracting oil and natural gas after a stoppage due to Hurricane Nate.

China's top smartphone makers are ready to challenge Apple Inc. on its home turf after trouncing the iPhone maker in their own market. Huawei Technologies Co. and Xiaomi Corp. are in talks with U.S. wireless operators about selling flagship smartphones to American consumers as soon as next year.

BBC

The UK's most senior military officer has warned of a new threat posed by Russia to communications and internet cables that run under the sea. He said it would "immediately and potentially catastrophically" hit the economy if they were cut or disrupted. The cables crisscross the seabed, connecting up countries and continents.

Four intact child burials made more than 3,000 years ago are among a series of recent discoveries near the Egyptian city of Aswan, officials said. One of the burials found by a Swedish-Egyptian team still had the linen used to mummify it.

A New York woman has been accused of laundering bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies and wiring the money to help the so-called Islamic State.

US teenagers are using marijuana and vaporizers more than they smoke cigarettes, a government study shows.

Starbucks has acknowledged that visitors to one of its branches were unwittingly recruited into a crypto-currency mining operation. The wi-fi service provided by one of the coffee chain's Buenos Aires outlets surreptitiously hijacked connected computers to use their processing power to create digital cash.

The Indian cabinet has backed a bill that will make the Islamic practice of instant divorce a criminal offence. The bill proposes jail of up to three years for a Muslim man who indulges in the controversial practice.

Iraq says it has hanged, in a mass execution, 38 jihadist militants convicted of terrorism offences.

WND

A new Rand Corp. study warns the U.S. military is inadequately structured to combat threats from China, Russia and Islamic terrorism, according to the Washington Times.

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