Skimm for February 19th
Got hackedTHE STORY: A new report ties most of those scary cyberattacks against US corporations to a more sophisticated source than previously thought. Turns out a Chinese military unit is likely behind them. This should turn out well.
THE WHY (DO I NEED TO SKIMM?): A US cyber security firm, called Mandiant, has put together a very lengthy study on some of the most intense hack jobs targeting American companies and infrastructure. Turns out their roots lie at a base outside of Shanghai. And wouldn't you know, the People's Liberation Army has a unit located in a building outside of Shanghai. Coincidence? Not likely, says Mandiant. A decade's worth of data has convinced Mandiant that hacking efforts are originating either in or around the building and run by army officers or contract workers. And cue the next "Mission Impossible" movie...
Got organizedTHE STORY: The office supply obsessed better brace themselves--Office Depot Inc. and OfficeMax Inc. are said to be getting hitched in a merger full of highlighters and binders the faint of heart can only dream of.
THE WHY (DO I NEED TO SKIMM?): You're not the only one overwhelmed by a trip to Staples. Competition, especially in the digital space, is fierce, and the merger, worth anywhere between $400-$700 million, is a sign that the companies are responding to tough economic conditions. In 1997, Staples and Office Depot tried to merge but were blocked by the Federal Trade Commission out of fear the market would be deprived of competition. The times, they have changed. Even if the merger goes through this time, the combined company still wouldn't eclipse Staples.
Got schooledTHE STORY: The parent company of Reader's Digest filed for bankruptcy. Again. Second time's a charm?
THE WHY (DO I NEED TO SKIMM?): Breaking news -- Reader's Digest isn't as popular as your doctor's waiting room would like you to believe. The magazine's parent company has about $1.2 billion in debt and would like to convert nearly half of that into equity to be held by its creditors. Reader's Digest first filed for bankruptcy in 2009, but never quite recovered and this time it's hoping it will get the chance to transform its business.
REPEAT AFTER ME...What to say while working on a team project... I was all for the trust falls but just in case you guys screw things up, I'm prepping my own Plan B. USA Today got its hands on leaked White House documents that show the administration is working on its own immigration proposal. Oh, and so is Congress. At the same time. Both House and Senate Republicans are not too happy that the White House is working on its own "draft," especially one that comes out right around Senate held immigration hearings and a bipartisan "Gang of Eight" laid out Senate framework (two words you don't often hear together: bipartisan and gang). The leaked White House draft shows a way for the 11 million illegal immigrants currently in the US of A to become legal permanent residents within eight years. The plan also calls for increased border security and for employers to verify whether or not their employees are legit. So not entirely different from the congressional proposals. Way to work together, guys.
What to say when you have a hunch... I've gotta feeling and they involve my humps. Well, not my humps, but Fergalicious's. Fergie and her hubby, actor Josh Duhamel, are expecting a little one. Another one getting into the baby spirit? Alec Baldwin, who celebrated by reportedly having a lil chit-chat with a New York Post photog and reporter. The New York Post says Baldwin was asked about a lawsuit involving his yoga instructor wife and Baldwin called the black photographer a racial slur. Oh, he also reportedly threw in "crackhead" and "drug dealer" for good measure and allegedly threatened to choke the reporter. So glad he's worked through that temper. Baldwin Tweeted that it's all ridic and the guy assaulted him.
What to say while ordering lunch... Just so you know, I'm allergic to horse meat. Double check your supply. Nestle, one of the world's largest food companies, is suspending deliveries of all of its products that include beef from a particular German supplier because horse DNA was found in the meat. Neigh. Certain chilled pastas with meat have been taken off the shelves in Italy and Spain. Unauthorized Mr. Ed meat have been found in a variety of products labeled as beef that were sold to unsuspecting grocery goers in parts of Europe. Last month, Irish investigators found horse and pig DNA in their beef, particularly of concern for Jews and Muslims who can't eat pork. Maybe it's time to go on that juice cleanse.
What to say when you ask what time it is... Action o'clock. UN investigators agree that it is time to hold both sides in the Syrian civil war accountable for violations that include murder and torture. Syrian President Assad's military forces have gone up against rebel forces in a brutal war. UN investigators want identified suspected war criminals to face the International Criminal Court. Justice sounds good, right? There's a catch. The UN can't really make them face the court; Syria isn't part of the statute that founded the court so it can only investigate the situation if it gets a referral from its trusted friend, the Security Council. And Russia, who is Syria's ally, does not want to be listed as a reference. The civil war has gone on for almost two years and has resulted in around 70,000 deaths.
What to say while prepping for the Oscars... "Lincoln" may not win best picture but it should win best something. Turns out Mississippi made a mistake, an oversight of sorts -- it never formally ratified the 13th Amendment. You know, the one that bans slavery. Now, 148 years after the end of the Civil War, slavery is officially banned in Mississippi. The state, the final 13th Amendment holdout, stopped dragging its heels and voted to ratify it -- in 1995. Good job. But the paperwork slipped through the cracks. A "Lincoln" moviegoer did some digging and noticed his state wasn't officially outlawing slavery, so he got it fixed. Seriously, that happened.
BIRTHDAYS: Ilana Parmer (San Mateo, CA); Laurie Tisch (New York, NY); Alix DeGraff (Chicago, IL); Maria Dixon (Boston, MA); Chris Levchuk (Ponte Vedra Beach, FL); Maura Topper (New York, NY)
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