Equifax reports cyber breach that may have impacted 143 million customers - Axios
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Equifax reports cyber breach that may have impacted 143 million customers

Mike Stewart / AP

Equifax, one of the United States' largest credit reporting agencies, is reporting a three-month-long cybersecurity incident that may have affected 143 million U.S. customers, per Bloomberg. The information accessed in the potential breach includes names, birth dates, addresses, social security numbers, and driver's license numbers. Close to 209,000 customers' credit card information was accessed.

Why it matters: 143 million is half the U.S. population.

More, from Bloomberg: "Three Equifax Inc. senior executives sold shares worth almost $1.8 million in the days after the company discovered the security breach."

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Trump's misleading tweet on pre-existing conditions

Trump was mostly incorrect about Graham-Cassidy protecting people with pre-existing conditions. Photo: Evan Vucci/AP

President Trump claims the GOP health care bill being considered by the Senate would protect people with pre-existing conditions:

Fact check: The bill doesn't touch the Affordable Care Act's requirement that insurers offer coverage to sick people. But it does allow states to waive the ACA's ban on charging people with pre-existing conditions higher premiums than healthy people. States can also waive the requirement that plans cover certain benefits, which many sick people use and could thus have to pay for out-of-pocket.

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Bloomberg on fake news: Facebook employees should read every post


  • Michael Bloomberg on Facebook's role: in the election: "They have a responsibility. And if they say, 'Well there's no ways to do it other than we're going to have a human being read every message', I'm sorry, you're going to have to do that. That's their problem. It's not society's problem."
  • On Russian hacking: "It's an outrage ... It's as bad as if you attacked the government with weapons for god's sakes. This is killing democracy."
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Pence hits Russia in UN speech

Mike Pence sits with Nikki Haley at the UN Security Council. Photo: Mary Altaffer / AP

Vice President Mike Pence wrapped Russia together with the worst state actors in the world in his speech at the United Nations General Assembly today, naming it among the countries and terror groups "who seek to undermine...sovereignty, prosperity, and security."

Why this matters: What Pence said about Russia is as important as the context in which he said it. He rhetorically grouped Russia with the menaces of Iran, North Korea, and radical Islamic terrorism, making his one of the harshest messages the Trump administration has sent to Russia in nine months.

  • Trump didn't call out Russia by name in his speech to the UN on Tuesday, though he did obliquely criticize the Kremlin's occupation of Crimea, saying: "We must reject threats to sovereignty from the Ukraine to the South China Sea."

Here are the key grabs, from Pence's speech to the UN Security Council Wednesday morning:

"For as President Trump observed yesterday, we are once again confronted, in his words, by 'those who threaten us with chaos, turmoil, and terror,' who seek to undermine the sovereignty, prosperity, and security, all of which the President called the 'pillars of peace.'

"In Eastern Europe, Russia continues to compromise the sovereignty of its neighbors and seeks to redraw international borders by force. Radical Islamic Terrorism continues to beset nations with barbarous attacks – in Barcelona, Paris, London. In the Middle East, the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism continues to flout the spirit of Iran Deal, destabilizing the region and brazenly threatening the security of sovereign nations. And as the world has seen in just the past few days, the depraved regime in North Korea is relentlessly pursuing nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles – and now, as the president said, 'threatens the entire world with unthinkable loss of human life'."
Pence also echoed Trump's attacks on the Human Rights Council — a UN body that conservatives frequently lambast for what they argue is unfair and hypocritical scrutiny of Israel.
  • "The truth is, the Human Rights Council doesn't deserve its name...Today, the United Nations Human Rights Council actually attracts and welcomes many of the worst human rights violators in the world...As to its operation I think of what President John F. Kennedy warned more than 50 years ago. That the United Nations must not become a 'forum for invective' – and yet today, its Human Rights Council has become exactly that – a forum for anti-Semitism and invective against Israel."
  • "It is, as the President said, a 'massive source of embarrassment' – and we call on the Security Council and this entire body to immediately reform the membership and practices of the Human Rights Council – and end the Human Rights Council's blatant bias against our cherished ally, Israel."
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New method solves metal's 3D-printing problem

The nanoparticle-functionalized powder is fed into a 3D printer, which layers the powder and laser-fuses each layer to construct the object. Photo: B. Ferguson

A new method of 3D-printing reported in Nature today could churn out weldable aluminum alloy parts to make lightweight and speedy planes and cars.

  • How it works: In 3D-printing, metal parts can be constructed layer by layer but most metal alloys can't be printed this way because current processes cause them to crack. By coating aluminum powder with nanoparticles of zirconium, the researchers were able to print aluminum alloy without it cracking. The printing process is similar to welding so the researchers think they can turn unweldable alloys into weldable ones.
  • But, but, but: "There is still some way to go ... before this becomes the 'go-to' manufacturing technology for aerospace applications," the researchers wrote. One additional problem to address is making metal parts that are strong but also resilient after repeated use.
  • What's next: Researchers said the technology could eventually be expanded for use in building cars and trucks.

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Afghan president: Trump's war plan better than Obama's

Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai addresses the United Nations General Assembly Tuesday. Photo: Frank Franklin II / AP

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said Wednesday that Trump's strategy for the war in Afghanistan is better than Barack Obama's was, per Reuters. The winning points, per Ghani:

  • Trump wants a regional approach
  • Trump wants a harder line with Pakistan
  • Ghani also pointed out Obama didn't have former Afghan President Hamid Karzai on board with U.S. plans

Trump's 4 year plan: Ghani also told NPR in an interview set to air Thursday that the goal with Trump's plan is to bring "80% of the territory of the country under" government control within 4 years, the AP reports. The Taliban currently holds about 50% of territory.

Earlier this week U.S. Defense Secretary Mattis announced the U.S. would be sending more than 3,000 additional troops to Afghanistan.

Go deeper: Trump lays out plan to continue Afghanistan War

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Erdogan suggests Russia getting more results in Syria than U.S.


Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told Bloomberg's John Micklethwait Wednesday that he has had several conversations with both the U.S. and Russia regarding how to handle the crisis in Syria. Erdogan said nothing came of repeated talks with the U.S. under the Obama administration, but with Russia there have been tangible results.

Why it matters: The U.S. and Russia, which is allied with the Assad regime, have different visions for a post-war Syria.

Who has done more to help with Syria, Obama or President Trump? Erdogan dodged, stating that he "will not invest myself in an effort to measure them both." However, he said he has expressed his thought to Trump and hopefully they can "unite on these facts and take future steps accordingly" at their meeting in NYC Thursday.

On Assad

  • "The conflict in Syria has been going on for the last several years, and unfortunately the person leading Syria, Assad, has killed many of his own people... it's state-sponsored terror... I have repeatedly warned Assad about this conflict and I have used our friendship as a vessel to warn him but nothing has changed."

On Turkey's weapons deal with Russia, and why it bothers Western allies

  • Erdogan said that while Turkey is a member of NATO, it doesn't have the same access to powerful weapons and systems as other member nations do. And with the violence raging in Syria, the weapons deal with Russia was necessary to protect his country.
  • Erdogan said Turkey has requested drones and missiles for many years from other countries, but has been repeatedly rejected, so "we were forced to take these matters upon ourselves."

Is Russia an ally?

  • Leaders should "increase the number of allies," said Erdogan, adding that this is what he is trying to do in regards to Russia.
  • Relations with Putin: On Monday he will have a phone call with Putin, and next Thursday they will meet for dinner to discuss the problems in Syria.

On EU membership

  • "For the last 54 years we have been lingering at the doorstep of the EU... they say 'there have been countries before you and we still haven't admitted them.' NO! This is a political embargo on Turkey... No country ever suffered from such an approach."
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Top quotes from Bloomberg Global Business Forum

From left: Mike Bloomberg, Bill Clinton, Tim Cook, and Justin Trudeau. Photos: Bloomberg Global Business Forum and AP

Top world leaders and CEOs from the most influential global corporations gathered at the Plaza Hotel in NYC Wednesday for the first-ever Bloomberg Global Business Forum, intentionally hosted the same week as the UN General Assembly, to address some of the most pressing issues impacting cross-border societies today.

Mike Bloomberg kicked off the event, explaining how "Too often governments and businesses don't talk to each other. This forum aims to fix that, and it's especially important when isolationism is rearing its head... including here in the U.S."

  • Former President Bill Clinton: "I want you to look to the future, but I believe underneath all these debates that are going on today lingers one simple question... whether you believe social strength, economic reform and political reform flow from division or multiplication."
  • French President Emmanuel Macron's main priority for France and Europe: To be the leader of climate change, new finance, artificial intelligence and transformation of the new industrial world.
  • Founder and CEO of Alibaba, Jack Ma: "[I]n the past 30 years we made people like machines. In the next 30 years we'll make the machines like people." But people shouldn't worry, because although machines will be faster and stronger than humans, "human beings have the heart, soul, beliefs, and value."
  • Apple CEO Tim Cook: "I think [deciding what to do with Dreamers] is the biggest issue of our time because this goes to our values of being American... If I were a leader of a country... I'd want every smart person coming into my country...[because] smart people create jobs... I'd have a very aggressive plan not to just let a few people in. I would be recruiting."
  • Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: "[T]rade leads to growth... and we made a deal with citizens that we would pursue pro-growth policies and that everyone would benefit... So we've seen growth, but it hasn't necessarily reached everyone... and that's where we fall into the politics of fear and envy... so now we need to make a turn into a new progressive trade agenda."
  • World Bank President Dr. Jim Kim: Announced a new initiative, along with Mike Bloomberg and Patricia Espinosa, titled "Invest for climate," which will be a continuation of the Paris Agreement. His bottom line: "There needs to be much more cooperation between the multilateral system, corporations, and governments" in combatting climate change.
  • Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on whether he considers Russia an ally: He thinks leaders should "decrease the number of your adversaries and increase the number of allies."
  • Bill Gates: "I had an early career in the digital revolution, and that's still the fastest moving thing... but today my focus is more on the latest health breakthroughs... [that's what] I'm most excited about."
  • CEO of Softbank, Masayoshi Son (while sitting next to Gates): "For three days I became richer than Bill Gates. Twelve months later, I became almost broke."
  • CEO of Pepsi, Indra Nooyi: "Every aspect of our lives is changing, but the single best thing I feel good about is gender inclusion... 20 or 30 years ago when I first started working, there weren't many women."

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Graham-Cassidy could delay tax reform rollout

Sen. Lindsey Graham speaks at the Capitol last week. Photo: Andrew Harnik / AP

Administration officials have been debating whether to delay the tax rollout until the first week of October to clear space for the Graham-Cassidy health care bill. Sources with direct knowledge tell me no final decisions have been made as of Wednesday afternoon, but Trump has been impatient for tax reform to begin so he may not tolerate any more delays.

Why it matters: Sources involved say the plan is still to roll out tax reform next week, but some officials are wringing their hands about the health care bill — the Senate could vote as early as Wednesday — ruining tax reform's launch week by sucking all of the attention away from tax.

Why it's happening: Trump wants tax reform on schedule, but the Senate is running out of days to use reconciliation to change elements of the Affordable Care Act. Meanwhile, there is concern of potential leaks from the upcoming House Ways and Means Committee retreat, and the "Big Six" that's negotiating the plan has yet to decide what to put in the document that will guide tax reform.

  • An administration official told me the White House invited Big Six communications and coalitions teams to the Roosevelt Room on Wednesday afternoon to discuss what a rollout of tax reform would look like.
  • The group is still operating under the assumption that the rollout will happen next week as originally planned.
The "Big Six": House Ways and Means Committee chairman Kevin Brady, House Speaker Paul Ryan, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Finance Committee chairman Orrin Hatch, Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House economic adviser Gary Cohn.
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Mueller's probe shifts to Trump's presidency

Robert Mueller testifies on Capitol Hill in 2013. Photo: J. Scott Applewhite / AP

Special Counsel Robert Mueller has sent the White House a request for documents pertaining to some of President Trump's most controversial moves in office, per a report from The New York Times. The news suggests that at least part of the Russia probe is focused directly on Trump's time as president.

What Mueller wants: Trump's meeting with high-ranking Russian officials in the Oval Office the day after Comey's firing; the events leading to the firing of Michael Flynn; and the White House's response to questions from NYT about Donald Trump Jr.'s Trump Tower meeting with Russian officials.

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Artificial intelligence pioneer calls for the breakup of Big Tech

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio / Axios

Yoshua Bengio, the artificial intelligence pioneer, says the centralization of wealth, power and capability in Big Tech is "dangerous for democracy" and that the companies should be broken up.

Why it matters: Bengio is a professor at the University of Montreal and a member of the three-man "Canadian Mafia" that pioneered machine learning, the leading method used in AI. His remarks are notable because of his influence in the AI community and because he or his peers all either directly lead or consult for Big Tech's AI programs. Says Bengio: "Concentration of wealth leads to concentration of power. That's one reason why monopoly is dangerous. It's dangerous for democracy."

The AI pioneers: Bengio consults for IBM and his colleagues Geoffrey Hinton consults for Google and Yann LeCun for Facebook. Ruslan Salakhutdinov, a protege of Hinton's, runs Apple's AI research effort.

Benigo said the concentration of resources, talent and knowledge among giant tech companies is only increasing and governments must act. "We need to create a more level playing field for people and companies," Bengio told Axios at an AI conference in Toronto last week.

In recent years, Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft have amassed a towering lead in AI research. But now, they are subject to growing scrutiny because of their outsized influence on society, politics and the economy. I asked Bengio if the companies should be broken up. He harrumphed and responded that anti-trust laws should be enforced. "Governments have become so meek in front of companies," he said.

"AI is a technology that naturally lends itself to a winner take all," Bengio said. "The country and company that dominates the technology will gain more power with time. More data and a larger customer base gives you an advantage that is hard to dislodge. Scientists want to go to the best places. The company with the best research labs will attract the best talent. It becomes a concentration of wealth and power."

When some of the young people gathered around him looked a bit dejected, Bengio responded, "Don't despair — fight."