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Vox Sentences: Leviathan, or Mudcarp

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A Chinese hack amid Canada’s Huawei trial; North Korea shows no signs of slowing down nuclear developments.

Chinese hackers target universities as Huawei trial starts

David Ramos/Getty Images
  • Chinese cyberattacks targeted more than 24 universities around the world, looking for information on US maritime military technology, according to the Wall Street Journal, which obtained the report from iDefense, a cybersecurity group that identified the targets. [WSJ / Dustin Volz]
  • Experts think the traces of the incident link to a Chinese hacker group known by various names, including Leviathan and Mudcarp. The hackers sent phishing emails that appeared to be from trusted sources but gave hackers access to universities’ internal data. No connection between the hack and the Chinese government has been proven yet. Beijing has denied any involvement. [The Verge / Shannon Liao]
  • The mission sought out maritime military technology research, particularly about submarine missiles. In most cases, the institutions hackers accessed via the phishing emails were tied to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, which is connected to the US Navy. They weren’t necessarily seeking out classified material. [BBC]
  • Among the hacking victims were MIT, the University of Hawaii, and the University of Washington. The reported attack is also renewing conversations about security for universities, which are vulnerable treasure troves of knowledge by renowned academics. [Bloomberg / Tim Culpan]
  • The reported attacks come amid another fight between the US and China: The Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei is getting ready to sue the US, according to reports this week, over laws that prevent US agencies from purchasing Huawei products. [NYT / Raymond Zhong and Paul Mozur]

North Korea is still building up nuclear

  • North Korea has started rebuilding the Sohae Satellite Launching Station after it was partially dismantled last summer, according to reports that surfaced just after the Trump-Kim denuclearization talks fell apart in Hanoi, Vietnam, last week. [NYT / Choe Sang-Hun]
  • Satellite images of the station in Tongchang-ri show work on the missile launch pad and test engine stand. Experts say the same technology created to launch satellites can be used to run long-range missiles. North Korea may be developing the site as a strategic move against Trump, too, who refused to lessen sanctions against the country in return for closing nuclear facilities. [CNN / Joshua Berlinger]
  • After Hanoi, there is no agreement keeping Kim Jong Un from growing his country’s nuclear program. President Trump walking away from the summit may actually lead North Korea to increase production of materials such as plutonium. But it’s hard to tell what the North is signaling: The reconstruction of the site reportedly began even before Hanoi. [WSJ / Timothy W. Martin and Andrew Jeong]
  • New roofs and doors on buildings were spotted in the photos ... but why? North Korea’s unusual press conference following Hanoi didn’t hint that it was pulling out of negotiations with the US, despite the construction. The rebuilding could just be a negotiating tool for Kim, who was not willing to reach a nuclear agreement without Trump lifting economic sanctions on his country. [Associated Press]
  • These sanctions are starting to really hurt North Korea. Food production in the country is the lowest in years, a new report by the United Nations said on Wednesday. Millions of its citizens don’t have enough to eat, and the UN has called for $120 million in aid. Kim has been criticized for spending money on nuclear programs instead of his own people. [CNN / Joshua Berlinger]


  • The White House has refused to provide documents requested by Congress regarding senior adviser Jared Kushner’s security clearance. The Trump administration has reacted negatively to House Democrats’ investigations, claiming threats to individual privacy and national security. [Politico / Andrew Desiderio]
  • Esketamine is a new FDA-approved antidepressant containing ketamine. The rapid-response nasal spray doesn’t work like other antidepressants; the drug targets receptors of glutamate rather than serotonin. [The Verge / Angela Chen and Elizabeth Lopatto]
  • “The female brain” is a sexist myth, according to one professor’s new book, The Gendered Brain. Debunking the idea that women’s brains are different — and less capable — than men’s puts neuroscience at the center of gender equality discussions. [Guardian / Rachel Cooke]
  • The National Association of Black Journalists announced it will put CNN on a monitoring list due to low numbers of black representation in the network’s leadership. CNN denied NABJ’s claims it had no black vice presidents of news, but did not provide any other information. [The Hill / Michael Burke and Joe Concha]
  • A statue, a pendant necklace, a sword: These are some of the gifts President Trump has received from foreign leaders in 2017. The State Department released the annual list of gifts from abroad on Wednesday. [Axios]


“Our capacity is already severely strained, but these increases will overwhelm the system entirely. This is not a manufactured crisis. This is truly an emergency.” [Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen to the members of the House Homeland Security Committee on Wednesday]

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You don’t have to go vegan to fight climate change. Research shows that small changes to our diets can make big differences. [YouTube / Larissa Branin, Jess Wheelock, Zak Long, and Nicolette Bethea]

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