Apple versus the FBI, story of Stuxnet, best brain workouts

Concerns raised that compliance with court order could open up iPhones to hacking and other vulnerabilities

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The chief executive of Google and the founder of WhatsApp, the Facebook-owned messaging service, have voiced their support for Apple in its fight with the FBI over encryption. Apple says it will challenge a federal court order to unblock an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters, as the FBI tries to investigate their links to Isis militants. Q&A: What the FBI wants and why Apple says No. (FT)

Apple’s noble stand is great business: some of its most important international consumers may be put off if it complies with the FBI’s request. Michael Chertoff, former secretary of Homeland Security, also notes that there’s a difference between unlocking an individual device, which he said Apple has done before, and creating a vulnerability that would be present in multiple devices. If Apple gave way in this case it could open up a class of iPhones to hacking and other vulnerabilities via what Mr Chertoff called a “phantom operating system”. (Wired, BuzzFeed)

In the news

Obama to visit Cuba The US president will travel to Cuba within weeks, a senior administration official said, making a historic visit as part of an effort to end more than a half-century of estrangement and forge normalised relations with a cold war adversary. The opening to Cuba has prompted fierce reaction from some Republicans, but opinion polls suggest it is much less controversial among the public. (NYT, FT)

Ankara blames Kurds for deadly car bomb Turkey has blamed Kurdish militants and a US-backed rebel group in northern Syria for orchestrating Wednesday’s deadly car bombing in the heart of the capital’s government and security district that killed 28 people. Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu named the Ankara bomber as Salih Necar, a Syrian national. Turkey has been shelling Kurdish rebels inside Syria, near its south-west border, in a bid to prevent them connecting their two cantons in the east and west of the country. (FT)

Iraq’s missing radioactive material raises Isis fears The country is searching for “highly dangerous” radioactive material stolen last year, according to officials who fear it could be used as a weapon if acquired by the jihadi group. (Reuters)

China deals collapse A pair of Chinese mega-takeovers were scrapped amid concerns over regulatory matters, in a sharp blow to the country’s flourishing appetite for acquiring overseas companies. (FT)

It’s a big day for

David Cameron and his bid to win backing for his EU reforms. The UK prime minister heads for a Brussels summit hoping to agree a deal on changes that will pave the way for the UK’s In-Out referendum.

The referendum, slated most probably for June 23, is a big step. Few single-issue plebiscites have been as consequential for Britain, Europe or transatlantic relations. Here is everything you need to know about how the UK got here and why the EU reform deal is important. (BBC, FT)

Food for thought

Central banks: negative thinking A concept once only subject to small talk among economists is now an uncomfortable reality. With quantitative easing seemingly losing its power to dazzle markets, and many governments either unable or unwilling to countenance raising spending, central banks have felt compelled to try new tools, including negative rates. (FT)

The story of Stuxnet A new documentary on Stuxnet, the joint US-Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear programme, reveals that the cyber attack was just a small part of a much bigger operation against Iran’s military and civilian infrastructure under the code name “NITRO ZEUS”. This came to light only after Israel released a modified version of Stuxnet into the wild, where it infected hundreds of thousands of computers and was analysed in detail by security researchers. (BuzzFeed)

Destroyed artefacts given new life Last year, members of Isis tore through the Nineveh Museum in Mosul, Iraq, and destroyed precious millennia-old artefacts stored inside the museum. Now, anyone with an internet connection and a 3D printer can print out replicas of the statues, thanks to Iranian artist and activist Morehshin Allahyari. Over the past year, she has been working to model the statues that Isis trashed and 3D print miniature plastic figurines in their image. (Motherboard)

India’s multibillion dollar health industry At Medanta Medicity hospital in Gurgaon, attractive prices, coupled with a reputation for quality, have drawn patients from all over the world for treatments ranging from non-essential procedures to life-saving operations. It is not uncommon for tourists to pop into hospitals simply for health checks. India already nets $3bn from treating foreign patients every year, and this is expected to grow to $8bn by 2020. (NAR)

The best brain workouts A new study from researchers in Finland has found that some forms of exercise may be much more effective than others at bulking up the brain. The scientists looked at running, weight training and high-intensity interval training in rats and found that the occasional jog is probably the best way to keep the brain running at optimal levels. (NYT)

‘Hairy panic’ in Australia Residents in the state of Victoria are at their wit’s end: a rapid-growing tumbleweed — known as “hairy panic” — is clogging up homes, with piles at times reaching roof height. “It’s physically draining and mentally more draining,” said one resident. (BBC)

Video of the day

Big bank break-up debate What are the justifications for the call from Federal Reserve of Minneapolis president Neel Kashkari that the major banks should be broken up, and are his motivations political or in the best interests of society and investors? Lex US editor Sujeet Indap and US banking editor Ben McLannahan discuss. (FT)

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