January 28, 2021

Day: November 23, 2020

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a close up of a flag: Hillicon Valley: Leadership changes at top cyber agency raise national security concerns | Snapchat launches in-app video platform 'Spotlight' | Uber, Lyft awarded federal transportation contract

© The Hill illustration/Madeline Monroe
Hillicon Valley: Leadership changes at top cyber agency raise national security concerns | Snapchat launches in-app video platform ‘Spotlight’ | Uber, Lyft awarded federal transportation contract

Welcome! Follow our cyber reporter, Maggie Miller (@magmill95), and tech team, Chris Mills Rodrigo (@chrisismills) and Rebecca Klar (@rebeccaklar_), for more coverage.

LEADERSHIP CHANGES RAISE SECURITY CONCERNS: The departure of the three of the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) top cybersecurity officials over the past week is leading experts and officials to voice concerns that the United States has been left vulnerable to attacks in cyberspace, with national security potentially compromised.

The concerns come after President Trump fired Christopher Krebs, the director of DHS’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), and after both CISA Deputy Director Matthew Travis and top cybersecurity official Bryan Ware resigned following pressure from the White House.

These changes left the nation’s key cybersecurity agency without Senate-confirmed leadership in the last months of Trump’s presidency, amid a shakeup of major government officials following a contentious election.

“Today, cybersecurity and disinformation threats are among the most significant risks our nation confronts,” Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told The Hill in a statement. “For that reason, it’s enormously disturbing that the president has paired an unwillingness to begin an orderly transition with a zeal to gut key national security agencies of their senior-most leadership.”

CISA, established by legislation signed into law by Trump in 2018, describes itself as “the nation’s risk advisor,” and leads efforts to secure critical infrastructure against foreign and domestic cyber threats.

The agency was heavily involved in coordinating with state and local officials to shore up election security ahead of this year’s general election, and has spearheaded efforts to defend all sectors against attacks.

Read more here.

HOPPING ON THE BANDWAGON: Snapchat is launching a new feature to highlight user-created videos called Spotlight, signaling another competitor for the highly popular video sharing app TikTok.

While Snapchat, unlike other social media platforms, has largely focused on peer-to-peer features, the new Spotlight announced on Monday will showcase user-generated content within the app and offer users a chance to be paid for top content.

The content on Spotlight will also “become tailored to each” user over time, based on their “preferences and favorites,” Snapchat said.

Spotlight was “designed to entertain the Snapchat community while living up to Snapchat’s values, with their well-being as a top priority,” the company said in the announcement.

Snapchat’s Spotlight rollout comes as TikTok’s popularity has risen.

TikTok allows users to create 60-second videos. The platform’s main “For You Page” features content for users tailored to them based on posts with which they’ve engaged.

Read more here.



A solar-powered bicycle has been designed by M. Danush Kumar, a third-year Physics student of The American College.

A solar-powered bicycle has been designed by M. Danush Kumar, a third-year Physics student of The American College.

A press release from the college said the bicycle had two batteries which could be charged by electricity as well as energy generated through a solar panel. The bicycle could run continuously for 50 km with the help of the solar panel. It could run for a maximum speed of 30 km per hour. When the solar power was low, one couldpedal the bicycle.

Congratulating the student, Principal M. Davamani Christober said more students must come forward with such innovative ideas.

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — It’s the end of the road for Mayor Bill de Blasio‘s transportation commissioner.

Polly Trottenberg is quitting, perhaps to take a job with President-elect Joe Biden.

She is the latest key player to leave City Hall in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported Monday.

For more than seven years Trottenberg was one of the mayor’s highest-profile commissioners.

Trottenberg had a huge portfolio, covering all things related to city streets.

Now, she’s hitting the road with 13 months left in the de Blasio administration.

“We all owe Polly Trottenberg a debt of gratitude for her incredible service to New York City,” said de Blasio. “She is a tireless and talented public servant who has made our city safer, fairer, and more accessible. I’m proud to have worked so closely with her, and I wish her all the best in whatever comes next.”

“I will always be grateful to Mayor de Blasio for the incredible opportunity to serve the city I love so much, and especially for the chance to lead the 5,800 dedicated public servants at DOT,” Trottenberg said. “I have been honored to work with them and see the passion, creativity and dedication they bring every day to serving New Yorkers, especially during the pandemic of the last eight months. For now, I just say thank you, one and all.”


Trottenberg told the New York Times she was not particularly close to de Blasio, and they didn’t speak that often, but together they pushed through major projects, including “Vision Zero,” with its speed cameras and pedestrian plazas, and the lowering of the speed limit to 25 mph.

There was also the reconfiguration of city streets, including the 14th Street busway and a tripling of bike lane mileage.

During the pandemic, she was successful in devoting more street space to restaurants and recreation.

“The real issue here is why is she leaving now? And why are so many de Blasio people leaving before we get close to the end of his term?” political consultant Hank Sheinkopf said.

Sheinkopf pointed to the mid-pandemic departures of Health Commissioner Oxiris Barbot and Department of Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia, who also served as food czar.

“You’re in a pandemic, a fiscal crisis, and, frankly, a city management emergency. It’s just not looking very good and de Blasio’s future and his legacy will be judged by what happens now, not what’s happened in the past,” Sheinkopf said.

De Blasio said every departed commissioner leaves behind a capable team.

“We already have the best talent. We have a very deep bench,” the mayor said.

As his time in office heads to the ninth inning, more are expected to leave Team de Blasio.

Advocacy groups such as Transportation Alternatives and Riders Alliance praised Trottenberg as a savvy commissioner who made a real difference.

“New Yorkers owe Polly Trottenberg a sincere debt of gratitude. During her tenure, the Department of Transportation rolled out more bus


The US government awarded a big transportation contract to Uber and Lyft this week, authorizing the ride-hailing companies to provide transportation to up to 4 million federal employees and their families.

graphical user interface

© Photo by ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images

The General Services Administration, the procurement arm for the federal government, granted the five-year contract to Uber and Lyft, the companies confirmed. The contract is worth up to $810 million, though it’s unclear how much each company will receive.


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While individual federal employees have previously been able to use ride-hail services for travel, the new contract allows the companies to formally launch their services within agencies and directly work with officials to promote the service.

“a natural next step for us”

The contract was awarded to Uber for Business, the ride-hailing company’s business-to-business division. “The expansion of our customer base to include government is a natural next step for us, and we’re proud to help federal agencies tackle some of the biggest administrative challenges they face,” Ronnie Gurion, global head of Uber for Business, said in a statement.

Lyft also hailed the contract as a good sign for the growth of its business. “Lyft already works closely with select agencies, but with this award under our belt, we see an opportunity to be the preferred rideshare partner for many other top federal agencies,” a spokesperson said.

A spokesperson for GSA did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but in a blog post back in April, the agency said it was able to negotiate a 2–4 percent discount with the companies, compared with large commercial customers. Uber and Lyft also agreed to waive technology fees charged to use back-office vendor data and reporting capabilities, the agency said.

The contract with Uber and Lyft “modernizes official travel and will make it easier, and cheaper, to use rideshare services for official travel,” Federal Acquisition Service Assistant Commissioner for Travel, Transportation and Logistics Charlotte Phelan wrote. “No new apps to download – and no paper receipts to lose.”

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Two people in a vehicle that fled from a deputy were injured Monday after the vehicle struck a tree, according to the Ramsey County sheriff’s office.

a close up of a man who is smiling and looking at the camera: The Ramsey County Sheriff's Office identified Austin Edgar Peterson, 28, as the driver of a vehicle that fled from deputies in St. Paul and was injured when he crashed in Minneapolis on Monday, Nov. 23, 2020. He is pictured in an Aug. 4, 2020, mug shot. (Courtesy of the Ramsey County Sheriff's Office)

© Provided by Twin Cities Pioneer Press
The Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office identified Austin Edgar Peterson, 28, as the driver of a vehicle that fled from deputies in St. Paul and was injured when he crashed in Minneapolis on Monday, Nov. 23, 2020. He is pictured in an Aug. 4, 2020, mug shot. (Courtesy of the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office)

The sheriff’s office was conducting an overnight burglary prevention detail late Sunday into early Monday in response to an increase in burglaries in St. Paul’s Highland Park and Macalester-Groveland areas. During the detail, a deputy saw a truck speeding in the area of Snelling and Stanford avenues about 2:40 a.m.

a man smiling for the camera: Austin Edgar Peterson (Courtesy of the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office)

© Provided by Twin Cities Pioneer Press
Austin Edgar Peterson (Courtesy of the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office)

The driver, identified as Austin Edgar Peterson, 28, of Minneapolis, briefly stopped when the deputy activated the squad’s emergency lights and then he fled. The deputy, with lights and siren on, pursued the vehicle west on Marshall Avenue and saw Peterson commit multiple traffic violations, the sheriff’s office said.

After Peterson crossed the Lake Street-Marshall Bridge into Minneapolis at about 45 mph, a deputy used a pursuit-intervention technique. Deputies receive training in the technique, which involves turning a squad into a fleeing vehicle, causing it to spin to end the pursuit, said Sheriff Bob Fletcher.

There wasn’t traffic or other people present, he said.

Peterson appeared to try to steer away and struck a tree. Emergency medical personnel took Peterson and a 24-year-old woman in the truck to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries, Fletcher said.

Peterson had active arrest warrants from Dakota County for felony drugs and Hennepin County for receiving stolen property, according to the sheriff’s office. The vehicle he was driving had been stolen from a construction site in Minneapolis.

The sheriff’s office said the incident is under investigation.

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  • Antony Blinken, Joe Biden’s reported pick for Secretary of State, last year said Brexit was a “total mess” and likened it to “the dog that caught the car and the car goes into reverse and runs over the dog.”
  • Blinken, who served as Deputy Secretary of State from 2013 to 2015, also said it “clearly” would have been in the United States’ interest to keep the UK in the EU.
  • President-elect Biden is also firmly opposed Brexit, and in October warned Boris Johnson not to let Brexit undermine the Good Friday Agreement on the island of Ireland.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Joe Biden’s pick for Secretary of State Antony Blinken last year described Brexit as a “total mess” and said that the process resembled a dog being run over by a car, in comments that further underline the stark policy differences between the incoming White House administration and the UK government.

Biden has reportedly chosen his long-time adviser Antony Blinken, who served as Deputy Secretary of State under President Obama, as his Secretary of State when he enters office in January.

Speaking on the “Pod Save America” podcast in March last year, Blinken — who served as Biden’s chief foreign policy adviser during the presidential campaign — said that Brexit was a “total mess,” adding: “This is not just the dog that caught the car, this is the dog that caught the car and the car goes into reverse and runs over the dog.”

Blinken’s comments came when former Prime Minister Theresa May was struggling to secure approval for her proposed Brexit deal in parliament, but he also emphasised that he was ideologically opposed to the UK’s departure from the EU.

He went on to suggest that “our interests clearly would have been in keeping Britain in” and said that the Irish peace process would be”a heck of a lot tougher” after Brexit, in comments which were first reported by the Times of London newspaper.

Blinken added that Ben Rhodes, co-host of Pod Save America and an Obama-era White House staffer, was “exactly right” in his characterization of Brexit as having “shitty consequences” for the British economy and said that it was “clearly” in US interests for the UK to remain in the EU.

Blinken’s comments underline the stark ideological differences between Boris Johnson’s government and the incoming White House administration. President-elect Biden was firmly opposed to Brexit and in October publicly warned Boris Johnson not to undermine the Good Friday Agreement in his pursuit of a favorable trade deal with the EU.

The president-elect took a congratulatory phone call with Johnson on the phone the week before last and was reported to have warned Johnson twice to pressure Johnson over his Brexit plans.

Biden is also said by campaign staffers to harbour a degree of personal animosity towards the prime minister, who he last year described as “kind of a physical and emotional clone” of President Trump. 

Johnson’s tweet congratulating


SAN FRANCISCO, Nov. 23, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Automotive Grade Linux (AGL), an open source project developing a shared software platform for in-vehicle technology, today announced the latest code release of the AGL platform, UCB 10, also known under the codename “Jumping Jellyfish.”

Developed through a joint effort by dozens of member companies, the AGL Unified Code Base (UCB) is an open source software platform that can serve as the de facto industry standard for infotainment, telematics and instrument cluster applications.

“The AGL platform is Yocto-based, and for Jumping Jellyfish, we updated to Yocto’s first Long Term Support (LTS) release named Dunfell,” said Dan Cauchy, Executive Director of Automotive Grade Linux at the Linux Foundation. “This is significant as it means the Yocto Project will provide patches, fixes, and updates for an extended period of time, something that is essential for automotive systems, which have a longer life cycle than many other embedded Linux applications.”

UCB 10/Jumping Jellyfish includes an operating system, board support package, middleware, application framework and application APIs. Notable updates to the AGL platform include:

  • Updated to Yocto Project’s first Long Term Support (LTS) release, 3.1 “Dunfell”
  • New WindowManager ‘agl-compositor’ replacing agl-service-windowmanager
  • Reworked autobuild scripts (update in services/apps required)
  • Board Support Package updates including i.MX8 support

The full list of additions and enhancements to UCB 10 can be found here.

Automotive Linux Summit
Automotive Linux Summit (ALS)  (ALS) will take place virtually on December 2-4, 2020, co-located with Open Source Summit Japan. Join thousands of open source developers, technologists and automotive industry leaders for 75+ sessions discussing new open source developments, best practices and insights across automotive security, virtualization, infotainment, instrument cluster, connectivity, Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2X), and more. All sessions are taking place in the Japan Standard Time Zone, with captioning & translation available in 16 different languages including Japanese, Chinese, Korean and more for every session. View the full schedule here: http://bit.ly/ALS_schedule and register for US$50 at http://bit.ly/ALS_register.

About Automotive Grade Linux (AGL)
Automotive Grade Linux is a collaborative open source project that is bringing together automakers, suppliers and technology companies to accelerate the development and adoption of a fully open software stack for the connected car. With Linux at its core, AGL is developing an open platform from the ground up that can serve as the de facto industry standard to enable rapid development of new features and technologies. Although initially focused on In-Vehicle-Infotainment (IVI), AGL is the only organization planning to address all software in the vehicle, including instrument cluster, heads up display, telematics, advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and autonomous driving. The AGL platform is available to all, and anyone can participate in its development. Automotive Grade Linux is hosted at the Linux Foundation. Learn more at automotivelinux.org.

About the Linux Foundation
Founded in 2000, the Linux Foundation is supported by more than 1,000 members and is the world’s leading home for collaboration on open source software, open standards, open data, and open hardware. Linux Foundation’s projects are critical


Uber and Lyft have been awarded a five-year federal contract, estimated to be worth up to $810 million, according to various reports.

The contract was awarded Monday by the General Services Administration, according to both companies.

Although federal employees could use Uber and Lyft in the past, the contract will allow the ride-sharing companies to formally work with federal agencies to launch and promote their services to their roughly 4 million employees.

“The expansion of our customer base to include government is a natural next step for us, and we’re proud to help federal agencies tackle some of the biggest administrative challenges they face,” Ronnie Gurion, global head of Uber for Business, said in a statement to The Hill.

The contracts were tentatively awarded to Uber and Lyft in April, following a multi-year negotiation process. At the time, according to reports, the GSA said they were able to negotiate discounts between two and four percent.

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TWIN FALLS, Idaho (AP) — Officials from Jerome and Twin Falls counties in Idaho have announced plans to build a third rim-to-rim bridge over the Snake River connecting Twin Falls to the northern part of the state as the city continues to grow.

Currently, the I.B. Perrine Bridge and the Hansen Bridge are the only two bridges spanning the river within a 30-minute drive of Twin Falls, which has caused congestion and traffic delays, The Times-News reported.

The Idaho Transportation Department recently completed a study to determine traffic flow in the area and identified multiple options to reroute traffic around Twin Falls, including three possible river crossing options or rebuilding or widening the 44-year-old Perrine Bridge, which was built to last up to another 55 years.

Department District Manager Jesse Barrus in Shoshone told the Times-News that it could take up to 20 years to build a bridge over Snake River Canyon and would require environmental impact statements, cost-benefit studies and traffic analysis.

“Another river crossing is not only necessary,” Barrus said, “but feasible with federal grants and other partnerships.”

Twin Falls County Commissioner Charlie Howell said the commission put together an agreement on Friday to form a joint-powers commission with the Jerome County Commission.

Jerome County Prosecutor Mike Seib said an agreement would be presented to the commission before heading to the highway districts that would be involved in the project.

“This will be beneficial for everyone involved,” Howell said. “I don’t know why we wouldn’t sign it.”

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