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04.21.17 | 6:00 am

Secure messaging app popular among Trump staffers isn’t so secure, says lawsuit

Confide, the company behind a secret messaging app of the same name reportedly popular among Trump administration officials, was sued Thursday over claims that desktop versions of the app lack advertised privacy features like screenshot prevention and a mode that only shows messages in "slivers" of text at a time.

Confide president Jon Brod called the lawsuit, filed in New York federal court by a Confide user as a potential class action, "unfounded and without merit," according to the Washington Post. The dispute—and previous skepticism about the app's claims of "military-grade encryption"—highlights the challenges consumers can face in evaluating security and privacy claims from high-tech products and ensuring they're using them safely. 

But the new allegations about the app's flaws carry an added symbolism this week amid concerns about the administration's cybersecurity plans, or lack thereofas Politico reports. Trump pledged in January to swiftly develop a program for fighting hackers, but, as of a provisional Thursday deadline, "no one seems to know who's in charge of developing it or where it is." 

04.20.17 | 2:17 pm

The White House’s second shot at health care reform looks even uglier than the first one

The administration's new bill would reportedly cut even deeper into health care subsidies than last month's failed proposal. States could cut coverage requirements in key areas like mental health and prescription drugs. Insurers could charge higher premiums for people with pre-existing conditions.

Maybe that's because the new proposal is meant to dramatically reduce the health care spend and sources tell Fast Company that the administration hopes to roll the savings into its (very expensive) tax reform plan—the real trophy the GOP hopes for in Trump's first term. The tax plan is expected to provide unprecedented tax breaks to the wealthy. In other words, the GOP wants the government to spend less on health care so that it can collect less in taxes.

The new health care bill is expected to circulate Friday night or over the weekend. The White House has reportedly been pressuring GOP house members to support the bill even before they read its actual text. But the White House doesn't set the Congress's schedule, so a vote next week is far from certain.

04.07.17 | 5:20 pm

Sen. Wyden wants customs agency investigated over its demand for unmasking of Twitter user

The Oregon senator sent a letter late on Friday to Kevin McAleenan, acting commissioner of the United States Customs and Border Control (USCBP), requesting that the agency conduct an internal investigation of why it sent a summons to Twitter demanding the unmasking of the user behind a Twitter account critical of the Trump administration. In the letter, Wyden asserts that the summons looks like an attempt to stifle free speech, and appears to far exceed the legal authority of the CBP.

The letter comes after Wyden called the government's action a "witch hunt" in a statement Thursday night. That came in response to news earlier in the day that Twitter had filed a lawsuit in a San Francisco federal court Thursday to block the CBP summons, which was originally transmitted March 14. 

The Twitter account in question is @ALT_uscis, which apes the name of a real government agency, describes itself as "immigration resistance," and tweets anti-Trump messages. The Trump administration believes the account could be owned by at least one government employee, which would make the CBP's summons look like a measure to prevent leaks.

04.04.17 | 7:45 am

Foreigners’ phones may soon be searched at U.S. airports

The Trump administration is considering "extreme vetting" for foreigners entering the U.S.—even for foreign nationals from traditional allies like France and Germany, reports the Wall Street Journal:

Foreigners who want to visit the U.S., even for a short trip, could be forced to disclose contacts on their mobile phones, social-media passwords, and financial records, and to answer probing questions about their ideology, according to Trump administration officials conducting a review of vetting procedures.

03.15.17 | 5:37 pm

Trump’s first attempt at a federal budget includes drastic cuts to the EPA

The agency tasked with such responsibilities as making sure we don't choke on the air would see its funds slashed by 31% under the fiscal budget being proposed by President Trump. A budget blueprint set to be released tomorrow morning includes similar cuts for the State Department. Read more from the New York Times here.

03.13.17 | 10:45 am

For a fee, Trump’s former campaign manager will protect you from “tweet risk”

Corey Lewandowski, who recently started his own lobbying firm, Avenue Strategies, will charge companies to protect them from the stock slump and reputational damage that happens when President Trump "tells his 26 million Twitter followers that you're killing factory jobs or refusing to sell Ivanka Trump handbags," reports the New York Times' Elizabeth Williamson. Also, Lewandowski, who stirred up plenty of scandal with his aggressive promotion of Trump during the campaign, still visits his old boss in the Oval Office.

Read the full story here.

03.07.17 | 10:21 am

This morning’s meme: Mocking Jason Chaffetz for telling Americans to forego a new iPhone to afford healthcare

Almost as soon as the Republican congressman from Utah told CNN's "New Day" that Americans may have to choose between buying a new iPhone or paying for health insurance, Twitter exploded with outrage. 

Chaffetz said: "And so maybe, rather than getting that new iPhone that they just love and they want to spend hundreds of dollars on, maybe they should invest in their own health care."

Within minutes, Americans posted photos of their medical bills and compared the thousands of dollars they spend on health care with the hundreds of dollars they spend on smartphones. 

03.01.17 | 9:13 pm

Alec Baldwin joins the parade of comical Trump-related books with “sharp, fantastic” parody

Fake Trump Alec Baldwin and longtime Trump watcher Kurt Anderson will pen a parody book channeling the president's inner monologue. Titled You Can't Spell America Without Me, the book is scheduled for publication by Penguin in November. Anderson, a novelist and the host of the public radio program Studio 360, will do most of the writing—"we have that arrangement whereby he doesn't put on the wig, I don't open up a Word document," Baldwin told the Times, while Baldwin will channel his SNL character for the audiobook version. Anderson, who said the book would be "fantastic" and "sharp," will also likely draw upon his experience as a founding editor of the satirical Spy magazine, which in the '80s now famously referred to the then-real estate mogul as a "short-fingered vulgarian."

It's part of a tremendous wave of new books inspired by the Trump administration. 

This month, Scott Dikkers, founding editor of the Onion, published Trump's America: Buy This Book and Mexico Will Pay for It. Andrew Shaffer's The Day of the Donald, published last summer, was a slapstick vision of the first two years of a Trump White House. Booker Prize winners have also incorporated Trump into their work: Howard Jacobson's novella Pussy, forthcoming in Britain in April, is a fairy tale about an egoist who falls into a leadership position, and Salman Rushdie's The Golden House, to be published in September, is said to include a character resembling the 45th president.

Last year, comedian Michael Ian Black and illustrator Marc Rosenthal published A Child's First Book of Trump, a picture book that attempted to explain the man and the phenomenon. And last summer, Yuge! anthologized 30 years of Gary Trudeau's Doonesbury comic strips lampooning Trump. Back in the '80s, Trump blasted Doonesberry as "mediocre at best."

02.26.17 | 10:46 pm

Oscar winner Asghar Farhadi delivers powerful anti-Trump speech in absentia

The Iranian filmmaker won Best Foreign Language film, and made it clear why he wasn't at the show. Read his remarks on Co.Create. 

02.23.17 | 10:08 am

The New York Times touts “The Truth” in their first-ever Oscar ad

The stylish spot is a confident middle finger to anyone accusing the Gray Lady of "failing" (and you know who you are). See the spot over on Co.Create

02.13.17 | 12:53 pm

Are you social media savvy? The president is hiring staffers to help him tweet

Until now, it's just been President Trump's former golf caddie Dan Scavino. Usually, the president dictates his posts to Scavino, who worked his way up from the golf course to the White House, where he works as Trump's social media director, who then tweets them to Trump's 40 million followers (on both his personal and official @POTUS accounts). But the White House will soon hire new staffers to help Trump post on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, a senior official tells CNN.

Read the full story here.

02.08.17 | 11:30 am

The President of the United States just slammed Nordstrom for dropping his daughter’s business

Donald Trump's latest tweet has us on the phones with legal experts. More soon.