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    False earthquake alerts have gone off on Android smartphones in Iran as the country continues to grapple with nationwide protests. The deputy chief of Iran’s cyber police told Iranian state television on Wednesday that only Android phones received the fake alert. He blamed testing at state-owned service provider Iran Mobile Communications Co. for the alert. Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency meanwhile described the incident as a hack and said: “This message is fake; do not leave your homes.” The two conflicting accounts of the event could not be immediately reconciled.

      Google, Oracle, Microsoft and Amazon will share in the Pentagon’s $9 billion contract to build its cloud computing network. The announcement comes a year after accusations of politicization over the previously announced contract and a protracted legal battle resulted in the military starting over in its award process. The Joint Warfighter Cloud Capability is envisioned to provide access to unclassified, secret and top-secret data to military personnel all over the globe. It is anticipated to serve as a backbone for the Pentagon’s modern war operations, which will rely heavily on unmanned aircraft and space communications satellites, but will still need a way to quickly get the intelligence from those platforms to troops on the ground.

        Democratic Sen. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois will work in isolation through the end of this week after being diagnosed with COVID-19. She said Wednesday that a doctor rercommended the step to keep her “family, colleagues and staff as safe as possible.” Duckworth says her symptoms remain mild and she's thankful that she's fully vaccinated and double boosted. She says she cannot encourage her ”fellow Americans more strongly to get vaccinated and continue getting your boosters as advised by medical professionals." Other members of Congress from Illinois who've also tested positive for COVID-19 include Lauren Underwood, Brad Schneider, Sean Casten and Bobby Rush.

          Indiana’s attorney general on Wednesday sued Chinese-owned social media app TikTok, claiming the video-sharing platform misleads its users, particularly children, about the level of inappropriate content and security of consumer information. Republican Attorney General Todd Rokita said in a complaint filed Wednesday that while the social video app says it is safe for users 13 years and older, the app contains “salacious and inappropriate content” available to young users “for unlimited periods of time, day and night." TikTok is owned by ByteDance, a Chinese company that moved its headquarters to Singapore in 2020. The app has been targeted by Republicans who say the Chinese government could access its user data like browsing history and location.

            A judge has sentenced former Theranos executive Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani to nearly 13 years in prison for his role in the company’s blood-testing hoax — a sentence slightly longer than that given to the CEO, who was his lover and accomplice in one of Silicon Valley’s biggest scandals. Balwani was convicted in July of fraud and conspiracy connected to the company’s bogus medical technology that duped investors and endangered patients. His sentencing came less than three weeks after Elizabeth Holmes, the company’s founder and CEO, received more than 11 years in prison. The scheme has been dissected in a book, HBO documentary and award-winning TV series.

              Apple has embarked on its latest privacy-enhancing move. The tech giant says it will now offer full end-to-encryption for nearly all the data its users store in its cloud system. That will make it more difficult for hackers, spies and law enforcement agencies to access sensitive user information. The world’s most valuable company has long placed customer security and privacy at a premium. Its iMessage and Facetime communications services are fully encrypted end-to-end and it has sometimes locked horns with law enforcement agencies including the FBI over its refusal to unlock devices.

              The FBI says that scammers prefer to prey on vulnerable populations. That's why it's so important to keep yourself informed. Here are some ways to keep your personal information safe and avoid being duped out of cash.

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              Need gift ideas to help with the ladies in your life? This list will surely help you make the grade.

              The coronavirus pandemic interrupted efforts to control malaria, resulting in 63,000 additional deaths and 13 million more infections. That's according to a World Health Organization report released Thursday. Malaria cases went up in 2020 and continued to increase in 2021 — the year covered by the report. About 95% of the world’s 247 million malaria infections and 619,000 deaths last year were in Africa. A top WHO official says the wider rollout of the world's first vaccine against the disease should reduce severe illness and death. Officials are also worried about a new invasive mosquito species that could undo years of progress against malaria.

              People across China are reacting with relief and caution to the dramatic government decision to loosen some of the world’s most severe COVID-19 restrictions. For the first time in months, Jenny Jian hit the gym in the southern metropolis of Guangzhou without being required to scan the “health code” on her smartphone. That's part of a nationwide system that tracks where hundreds of millions of people go. Elsewhere, virus tests no longer were required to enter many public places under changes announced Wednesday. They followed nationwide protests against restrictions that have confined millions of families to their homes. While it’s not clear if the new rules are a direct response to the protests, they address some of the most pressing issues that drove people on the streets.

              China has begun implementing a more relaxed version of its strict “zero COVID” policy amid steps to restore normal life, but also trepidation over a possible broader outbreak once controls are eased. The National Health Commission announced relaxed anti-pandemic regulations on Wednesday, including a loosening of lockdowns and the elimination of a requirement that a recent negative COVID-19 test be shown to enter most public places.  Also among the changes is a renewed commitment to vaccinate vulnerable groups and the elderly, whose levels of immunization are far lower than the population as a whole. China has administered 3.4 billion doses to its 1.4 billion people, or about 2.4 doses per person, indicating that large numbers have not received the recommended three shots.

              In a move that caught many by surprise, China announced a potentially major easing of its rigid “zero-COVID" restrictions. But it didn't abandon the policy altogether. The move follows the widest-spread protests against the ruling Communist Party in more than 30 years. Many protesters were fed up with constant testing, rolling lockdowns and business closures. One major change allows people who test positive for COVID-19, but show no or only mild symptoms, to recuperate at home. The old policy would have required admission to one of the government field hospitals that have become notorious for overcrowding and poor food and hygiene. Considerable ambiguity remains, however, and it's not clear if the new rules entirely override earlier mandates.

              With the holiday season in full swing, you may be planning to travel a long distance to spend the holidays with family and friends. When it comes to taking your pet along, you may wonder if flying is the best option.  Flying is definitely a quick and seemingly simple way to get you and your pet to where you’re going.  Instead of spending hours driving, you and your furry sidekick will spend a lot less actual travel time when you are on a plane.  However, like all travel methods, flying does pose some potential obstacles and risks to take into consideration.

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