Numlock News: January 28, 2021 • Emotet, Necropolis, Rocket Car
By Walt Hickey
Archaeologists intend to open up a 3,000-year-old burial shaft at the Saqqara Necropolis in Egypt this week, one of 52 shafts near an older pyramid. The site as a whole includes tombs of military leaders, ancient board games and a copy of the Book of the Dead, and the entrance to this shaft in particular was found earlier this week. The site has also produced the name of a heretofore unknown queen, who was called either Narat or Naert. The tombs are dated to the New Kingdom, which ruled from 1570 BCE through 1069 BCE. The hope is that a structure currently being excavated contains a burial chamber that has eluded looters over the millennia.
For Sale, Rocket Car, Never Won
A rocket-powered car that was designed to break the land speed record — now 763 miles per hour — is up for sale for $11 million. The Bloodhound Land Speed Record Project has attempted to break the sticky record, but has been beset with financial difficulties, as there isn’t a ton of financial utility to be made these days from rockets that go sideways instead of up. The car is designed to hit a goal of 1,000 miles per hour with a bona fide rocket, but the current power system — a jet engine — took it to 628 miles per hour in late 2019. Anyway, if you’ve got the scratch and want to become the Chuck Yeager of the Instagram era, bids are open!
The American Petroleum Institute is the Washington trade group that has served as the political face of the oil and gas business for over a century. Earlier this month, French oil major Total left the group, an unusual step, with the company citing a number of pro-petroleum stances — opposition to electric vehicles, the Paris Agreement, and curbs on methane emissions — as the reason for leaving. While one company leaving one lobby isn’t the end of the lobbyist or the sign that all of a sudden oil majors care about the environment, as some companies pursue investments in newer energy tech the broad coalition that’s defined carbon-based energy production may be showing some cracks. For instance, Shell is in 36 global trade associations, but last year exited American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers, and is reportedly assessing its membership in the 36 other groups. BP has left both the Western States Petroleum Association and the Western Energy Alliance, and while we’re not exactly dealing with the top brass here, it’s a sign that the way these companies take pride in their oil work publicly is shifting.
This Land Is Your Land
A recent set of studies found that when people were invited to feel a sense of ownership over public lands, they were more likely than those who hadn’t been primed to pick up garbage unbidden and take care of it. One of the studies took place at a lake in Wisconsin, where they asked half of the kayakers present to come up with a personal nickname for the lake. Those who thought of a name picked up a planted piece of floating trash in the lake 41 percent of the time, vastly higher than the 7 percent rate in the control group who didn’t have a pet name for the lake.
European law enforcement announced Tuesday that they had seized control of Emotet, which operates pernicious malware and a platform that offers affected computers to other criminals as a service. Other cybercrime groups pay Emotet by the install to get their malware on to computers by sending malware links out through compromised email accounts. Dutch police said two of the three primary servers were located in the Netherlands, German police seized 17 servers on their end and an operation that Ukrainian police said caused at least $2 billion in losses globally appears to have been brought down in a synchronized strike. Of the 98 Emotet control servers active prior to Monday, by Wednesday just 20 were online, but it’s unclear if they’re actually operating or were taken control of by authorities.
Florida Grasshopper Sparrow
Three years ago the Florida grasshopper sparrow was the most endangered bird in America, with 2018 seeing just 80 birds alive in the wild and merely 20 breeding pairs. They were as close to the brink of extinction as can be, but following a captive breeding program that began in May 2016, the population is now on the mend. The captive-bred birds began to be released in May 2019, and 250 have been set free in Florida at the rate of a new batch every couple of weeks. As of last September, about 65 percent of the young wild grasshopper sparrows in Florida had at least one captive-bred parent.
Epsilon Data Management, which is now a subsidiary of data juggernaut Publicis Group SA, agreed to pay $150 million to resolve a criminal matter where personal information from 30 million people was sold to criminals who used it in fraud schemes. Epsilon uses data modeling to identify customers who are likely to respond to marketing promotions, information that was incidentally very useful to criminals attempting elder fraud involving mass-mail about false sweepstakes and astrology solicitations. According to the deferred prosecution agreement Epsilon entered into with the Department of Justice, Epsilon will pay $127.5 million of the total amount to compensate victims of the frauds perpetrated with data Epsilon sold over the nine-year period. By entering into the agreement, Epsilon avoids charges of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud.
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