McDonald’s Always ‘Broken’ McFlurry Machines Now Under FTC Investigations

After being spotlighted at the middle of a legal battle between manufacturer and external company, McDonald’s infamous McFlurry machines are once again caught up in a flurry of investigations.

Over this summer, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reportedly sent letters to various McDonald’s franchisees questioning them about the ice cream machines, which appear to be always somehow broken. It’s such a prevalent occurrence that it’s even become a meme.

But jokes aside, it has been reported by the Wall Street Journal that after franchise owners have expressed difficulties in repairing the machines in their stores, the FTC took the matter into its own hands.

According to the report, it wants to know more about the review process for the fast-food giant’s suppliers and equipment. There’s also the matter of whether restaurant owners are allowed to even work on the machines in their individual stores in the first place.

It was highlighted in a previous report that the manufacturer of these frosty machines, Taylor, wanted the restaurants to rely solely on Taylor technicians to fix the machines when they went down.

This comes after more legislation regarding Right to Repair—for electronics and heavy equipment in particular—was introduced earlier this year in July, seeing the law crack down on manufacturers who may otherwise take advantage of consumers.

Maybe McFlurries won’t be such an elusive treat in time to come, thanks to the FTC.

Source: WOOD TV8

WhatsApp Gets Fined Record-High $267M In Ireland Over Privacy Breaches

On Thursday, it was revealed that messaging platform WhatsApp had been fined a whopping €225 million (US$267,337,400) by an Irish data protection regulator due to the platform’s privacy breaches.

Operating as an EU privacy watchdog, the Data Protection Commission (DPC) shared that the inquiry was made into whether WhatsApp conformed to EU data transparency rules in 2018, otherwise known as the GDPR.

This covered information “about the processing of information between WhatsApp and other Facebook companies,” the regulator states in its press announcement.

The European Data Protection Board stepped in at the end of July. This came after the Irish agency received criticism for allegedly delaying its decision in cases involving tech giants and letting them off with lighter fines than what was deserved.

After a “clear instruction” was issued by the board, the DPC was prompted to “reassess and increase” the proposed fine, which led to the final amount of €225 million.

It’s the highest fine issued by Ireland related to GDPR privacy regulations, and the EU’s second-highest.

Apart from paying up, the texting platform will also need to “bring its processing into compliance by taking a range of specified remedial actions.”

“We disagree with the decision today regarding the transparency we provided to people in 2018 and the penalties are entirely disproportionate,” a spokesperson for WhatsApp is reported to have said in a statement to Reuters.

It’s stated that the company is filing for an appeal, but it appears to be watched very closely by regulatory firms and it’s doubtful that a lesser fine will be granted.

The Irish regulator DPC, according to Reuters, had 14 major inquiries into Facebook, including WhatsApp and Instagram, open at the end of last year.

Source: DesignTAXI

Dogecoin Mining Scam In Turkey Costs 1,500 People $119M As Alleged Perpetrator Vanishes Into Thin Air

An alleged scammer has gone missing in Turkey with 350 million Dogecoin valued at nearly $119.14 million, as per local media reports.

What Happened: Turgut V. organized one-on-one meetings and promoted “Dogecoin mining” at luxurious venues in order to lure investors and build relationships with them, reported Interesting Engineering, citing Turkey’s TV100.

Post the meetings, Turgut V. gathered the investors on a Telegram channel and got them to transfer DOGE to the allegedly fraudulent scheme.

An investor told TV100 that they were promised 100% returns in 40 days.

At press time, DOGE traded 0.71% higher at $0.29 over 24 hours.

Why It Matters: Reportedly 1,500 people made transfers to Turgut V.’s operations in the course of three months on the promise of regular dividends before they were abruptly shut down.

Istanbul’s Küçükçekmece Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office has launched an investigation into the incident and banned Turgut V. from leaving Turkey.

As per TV 100, 11 other suspects are also under investigation, which includes the romantic partner of Turgut V. 

Dogecoin, often discussed by Tesla Inc CEO Elon Musk, has captured the imaginations of many retail investors, a fact not unnoticed by scam artists.

Source: Benzinga

NYC Robbery Crew Used Apple Watch To Track And Rob Drug Dealers For Over $500K

Feds capture NYC robbery crew, who robbed drug dealers for upwards of $500,000 using a hidden Apple Watch.

New York has seen its fair share of smart criminals and masterminds who’ve gone undetected for years until they slipped up and caused their own downfall. From white collar crime to straight up armed robbery, anything can go down in NYC, but every criminal has a plan and plots like a scene out of a heist movie.

Hollywood has made billions taking these stories and turning them into big screen blockbusters, and according to The New York Post, there is a new story that could be a contender for the big screen. The scenario involves 7 men robbing drug dealers instead of regular citizens, making for an interesting situation.

A New York robbery crew that targeted drug runners hit the jackpot late last year, netting $500,000 in cash after tracking a targeted criminal’s car — with a hidden Apple Watch, new court documents show.

The seven-person crew based in the Hudson Valley pulled off the major score in January 2020 after their alleged leader, 30-year-old Darren Lindsay, bought an Apple Watch and linked it to his AT&T account, according to federal prosecutors in papers filed Tuesday.

The thieves put the watch underneath the bumper of a car that belonged to a drug-runner they suspected was flush with cash, the documents say.

The group was taken into custody in July for a string of robberies over the past three years. Authorities say the group made away with over $500,000 in their efforts and even posted with the cash on social media.

This may seem harmless due to the fact they were robbing drug and cash runners, but it’s far from a Robinhood story. Keep in mind, if you’re robbing big time dealers, the feds are already probably investigating them and now you’re on their radar which never ends well. While the plan was smart, as always, the clout and posting on social media was their ultimate downfall. Just imagine how far they could have gotten if they kept it to themselves.

Source: Bossip

Pregnant Man And Multiracial Handshake Emojis Unveiled Before Launch

A pregnant man, a multiracial handshake and a face that cannot bear to watch are some of the emojis that will hit devices over the next year, according to a draft list published by the Unicode Consortium, which approves icons for use.

The new emojis, illustrated by Emojipedia to celebrate World Emoji Day on Saturday, all but complete the consortium’s drive to offer masculine, feminine and gender-neutral versions of every available emoji, as well as a selection of skintones.

Trans and non-binary pregnancies will now be represented in the emoji set, thanks to two new gender options for the “pregnant woman” emoji, while “person with crown” joins “prince” and “princess” for gender-neutral royalty.

The additions, which follow a similar update to the “bearded person” emoji that allowed users to choose between a masculine and feminine bearded face, “will mean that nearly all emojis can have default a gender-neutral option, with choice to use a woman or man where relevant”. said Jeremy Burge, the chief emoji officer of the reference site Emojipedia.

A few emojis remain without a gender-neutral option, largely in cases where it is unclear what an appropriate gender-neutral approach entails. The two dancer emojis, for instance, depict a male disco dancer and a female flamenco dancer: options under discussion include offering identically attired versions of each for other genders (allowing men to depict themselves dazzling in a red dress, for instance); offering gender-appropriate alternatives (with a new male flamenco dancer); or, the preferred option, deciding on a dancing style to offer in a gender-neutral version. Emojipedia has suggested breakdancing.

Elsewhere, the draft list contains support for handshakes between two hands with different skintones, hands making a heart-shape, and additional faces, such as “peeking eye”, “holding back tears” and “saluting”. There are also 20 new icons, including coral, a playground slide, a crutch, an X-ray and an empty battery.

Source: The Guardian

Scientists Produce Embryos In Race To Save Northern White Rhino From Extinction

Scientists working to save the northern white rhino from extinction have produced two more embryos of the world’s most endangered mammal, increasing the number of viable embryos produced so far to five.

There are no known living males and neither of the two remaining northern white rhinos on Earth – a mother and her daughter living in Kenya – can carry a calf to term.

Scientists hope to implant embryos made from the rhinos’ egg cells and frozen sperm from deceased males into surrogate mothers from a more abundant rhino species.

The work of the BioRescue research team has been hampered by the coronavirus pandemic as international travel restrictions delayed some of its procedures.

“2020 was really a hard test for all of us, but giving up is not the mentality of any true scientist,” BioRescue leader Thomas Hildebrandt from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research in Germany told Reuters.

“Christmas gave us a present: two embryos. And we are extremely happy about that.”

The five embryos are stored in liquid nitrogen at a laboratory in Cremona, in Italy’s Lombardy region, waiting to be transferred into a surrogate mother.

The team hopes to be able to deliver its first northern white rhino calf in three years and a wider population in the next two decades.

“We are under time constraint because we want really a transfer of the social knowledge from the last existing northern white rhinos to a calf,” Hildebrandt said.

The northern white rhino used to live in several countries in east and central Africa, but its numbers fell sharply due to poaching.

Source: Reuters

5 Ways Your Credit Card Info Might Be Stolen And How To Prevent It

While the introduction of chip-and-pin technology made it more difficult for someone to use a stolen credit card for fraudulent transactions in person, hackers tend to be endlessly creative when it comes to theft. The reality is, there are plenty of ways thieves can get their hands on your credit card account numbers, which they can easily use to make purchases or wreak other types of havoc using your name.

A stolen credit card or account number could also be one of the first signs of identity theft, so keep an eye out for credit card fraud and take steps to mitigate the damage if you find any.

  1. Phishing emails

Phishing emails may look official, but these fraudulent messages are crafted with a nefarious purpose. Most phishing emails try to get you to click a button or link that takes you to a familiar-looking fraudulent site to enter your account information.

Another common phishing tactic is to provide an urgent (and entirely bogus) reason that you need to call a company, like your credit card company or Social Security office, list a fraudulent phone number and when you call, request your personal information, and even your card details, to “confirm your identity.”

2. Spyware

Downloading, or even opening, the wrong file from an email or website can add spyware to your computer, which is put there with the goal of exporting your card details and other information hackers can use to steal your money or your identity. Be careful what you download and prevent spyware by purchasing your own antivirus software. 3.

3. Public Wi-Fi networks

Public internet networks, like the ones you find in hotels and airports, can easily put you at risk if you enter your account information or open sensitive documents and someone is monitoring the network. Make sure to install a VPN on your computer if you need to use the internet away from home fairly often.

4. Your trash

Finally, don’t forget that some thieves still try to steal your credit card data the old-fashioned way. Your trash can be a treasure trove when it comes to finding credit card and account numbers or for figuring out which companies you use for your savings or investment accounts.

5. Major data breach

Large institutions, including banks and retail businesses, may be the victim of a data breach that puts your credit card information and other personal details at risk. Some of the biggest data breaches of the last decade, including the Capital One data breach of 2019, led to tens of millions of consumers having their information stolen.

What to do if your credit card number is stolen

If your credit card number has been stolen, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) outlines the steps you should take right away:

• Report the loss of your credit card or card number to your issuer immediately, which you can usually do using its toll-free number or 24-hour emergency phone number.

• Follow up with a letter or email that includes your account number, the date and time the card was noticed missing and when you reported the loss.

• Check your credit card statement carefully for purchases you didn’t make, and let your card issuer know of any fraudulent transactions immediately.

• Carefully monitor your credit reports to make sure nobody has more of your information and that the theft of your card hasn’t led to other instances of identity theft.

• You can check your credit reports for free once a year from all three credit bureaus—Experian, Equifax and TransUnion—using the website AnnualCreditReport.com.

How to protect your credit card information

When it comes to protecting your credit card information and identity, there are plenty of steps you can take right away. Most of them are also easy to implement, including the following:

Only use secure websites

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), it’s crucial to avoid entering your credit card numbers and personal information on unsecured websites. “Sometimes a tiny icon of a padlock appears to symbolize a higher level of security to transmit data,” according to the bureau’s site. “This icon is not a guarantee of a secure site but provides some assurance.”

Don’t give your account number over the phone

The FTC warns that you should proceed cautiously with anyone who wants your credit card number over the phone. This is especially true if they called you to initiate the transaction.

Check your credit card statements regularly

The best way to protect against credit card fraud is by keeping a close eye on your accounts. Check your statements at least once a month to make sure each charge on your credit card is actually yours. If you find suspicious charges or purchases on your accounts, inform your credit card issuer right away.

Keep an eye on your card during in-person transactions

If you’re using a credit card in a restaurant or a retail store, try to avoid situations where the employee processing your card walks away from you and takes your card out of your view. If they are able to take your card into another area away from you, they might have the chance to write down your card number, expiration date and security code.

Source: Bankrate

Lab-Grown Embryos Mix Human And Monkey Cells For The First Time

By slipping human stem cells into the embryos of other animals, we might someday grow new organs for people with faltering hearts or kidneys. In a step toward that goal, researchers have created the first embryos with a mixture of human and monkey cells. These chimeras could help scientists hone techniques for growing human tissue in species better suited for transplants, such as pigs.

“The paper is a landmark in the stem cell and interspecies chimera fields,” says stem cell biologist Alejandro De Los Angeles of Yale University. The findings hint at mechanisms by which cells of one species can adjust to survive in the embryo of another, adds Daniel Garry, a stem cell biologist at the University of Minnesota (UM), Twin Cities.

In 2017, researchers reported growing pancreases from mouse stem cells inserted into rat embryos. Transplanting the organs into mice with diabetes eliminated the disease. But cells from more distantly related species, such as pigs and humans, haven’t gotten along as well. That same year, developmental biologist Juan Carlos Izpisúa Belmonte of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies and colleagues reported injecting human stem cells into pig embryos. After the embryos had developed in surrogate mother pigs for 3 to 4 weeks, only about one in 100,000 of their cells were human.

The pig study used human skin cells that had been reprogrammed into stem cells. But so-called extended pluripotent stem (EPS) cells, made by exposing stem cells to a certain molecular cocktail, can spawn a greater variety of tissues. In the new study, Izpisúa Belmonte, reproductive biologist Weizhi Ji of Kunming University of Science and Technology, and colleagues tested those more capable cells in a closer human relative—cynomolgus monkeys. They inserted 25 human EPS cells into each of 132 monkey embryos and reared the chimeras in culture dishes for up to 20 days.

The team reports today in Cell that the human cells showed staying power: After 13 days, they were still present in about one-third of the chimeras. The human cells seemed to integrate with the monkey cells and had begun to specialize into cell types that would develop into different organs.

By analyzing gene activity, the researchers identified molecular pathways that were switched on or turned up in the chimeras, possibly promoting integration between human and monkey cells. Izpisúa Belmonte says manipulating some of those pathways may help human cells survive in embryos of species “more appropriate for regenerative medicine.”

Still, the human and monkey cells didn’t quite mesh, notes UM stem cell biologist Andrew Crane. The human cells often stuck together, making him wonder whether there’s “another barrier that we aren’t seeing” that could prevent human cells from thriving if the embryos were to develop further.

In the United States, federal funding cannot be used to create certain types of chimeras, including early nonhuman primate embryos containing human stem cells. The new study was performed in China and funded by Chinese government sources, a Spanish university, and a U.S. foundation. Bioethicist Karen Maschke of the Hastings Center in New York says she is satisfied that the work, which passed layers of institutional review and drew on advice from two independent bioethicists, was performed responsibly.

Human-monkey chimeras do raise a worry, addressed in a report released last week by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (p. 218): that human nerve cells might enter animals’ brains and alter their mental capabilities. But that concern is moot for the chimeras in this study because they don’t have a nervous system. They “can’t experience pain and aren’t conscious,” says bioethicist Katrien Devolder of the University of Oxford. “If the human-monkey chimeras were allowed to develop further,” she says, “that would be a very different story.”

Source: Science Magazine

Wuhan Doctor Speaks Out Against China For Censoring Her Coronavirus Warnings In December 2019

After the passing of many of her colleagues from coronavirus (COVID-19), a doctor in Wuhan is now openly criticizing Chinese health authorities for keeping the early warnings of the outbreak from the public.

Wuhan Central hospital emergency department head Ai Fen spoke out about state censors have reportedly been trying to scrub the internet. 

Speaking with Chinese magazine Renwu, Ai Fen revealed that she was reprimanded December for trying to alert her superiors of a “SARS-like virus” seen in patients.

The novel coronavirus has since killed over 3,000 people in China, including four of her colleagues at her hospital.

At the risk of losing her job and landing in jail, Ai has joined other critics in putting the Chinese government to task for its handling of the outbreak.

“If I had known what was to happen, I would not have cared about the reprimand. I would have fucking talked about it to whoever, where ever I could,” she said in the interview released on Tuesday.

Immediately after Ai’s interview was posted and shared online, it was removed from Chinese social media sites. Even the online magazine that hosted the interview has removed the article.

But as the censors worked to do the cleanup, some Chinese social media users were able to save the article, and now screenshots of the article are being shared in creative ways.

In their bid to evade censors, some users posted versions written in emojis and even Morse codes. There’s also a version done in pinyin, the Romanization system for Mandarin.

Based on the article, Ai received the lab results of a case containing the word “SARS coronavirus” on December 30. She felt nervous after reviewing the report as she has previously seen several patients with flu-like symptoms and resistant to usual treatment methods.

She took a photo of the report with the word “SARS” circled and sent it to a doctor at another hospital in Wuhan. 

The image immediately spread within the medical community in Wuhan overnight. Among those who saw it was Li Wenliang, the doctor who eventually became a whistleblower when his warnings were later shared publicly on WeChat.

According to Ai, she received a message from her hospital that night warning her against sharing information about the disease to the public as it would cause panic. 

She was then summoned and reprimanded for “spreading rumors” and “harming stability” by the head of the hospital’s disciplinary inspection committee two days later.

As even the hospital staff were prohibited from discussing anything related to the virus, Ai asked her staff to wear protective clothing and masks despite hospital authorities telling them not to. She also instructed staff in her department to wear protective jackets under their doctor coats.

“We watched more and more patients come in as the radius of the spread of infection became larger,” she was quoted as saying.

They soon noticed the influx of patients without any connection to the seafood market, which was thought to be the source of the original cases.

While Ai already observed at the time that there must be human to human transmission, Chinese authorities maintain that there was no reason to believe the virus was being passed between people. 

It was not until January 21 when the Chinese officials finally confirmed that there was human to human transmission of the virus. The number of patients coming to the emergency room was already over 1,500 per day, which was three times the normal number of cases.

Ai said that over the last few months, she saw many of her colleagues fall sick and four die from the virus, including Li Wenliang.

Source: NextShark