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Facebook blocks Chinese hackers who used platform to target Uyghurs abroad

Facebook said Wednesday it has blocked a group of hackers in China who have used the platform to target Uyghur activists, journalists and dissidents living abroad with links to surveillance malware.

Why it matters: The Chinese government is actively committing genocide against the Uyghurs, a largely Muslim ethnic group, inside the country, while harassing those who have left, according to Amnesty International.


  • Chinese authorities deny any rights abuses have been committed.

Context: Facebook said the "well-resourced" hacking groups, known as Earth Empusa or Evil Eye, targeted the devices of Uyghurs living abroad in Turkey, Kazakhstan, the United States, Syria, Australia, Canada and other countries.

  • The social media company said they infected the devices with malware to enable surveillance by sharing links to malicious websites with the targets rather than directly sharing the malware itself on the platform.
  • The hackers impersonated journalists, students, human rights advocates or members of the Uighur community in order to gain the trust of their targets and deceive them into clicking the links.
  • Facebook said there were less than 500 targets and less than 100 accounts tied to the hacking groups, according to Reuters.

What they're saying: "This activity had the hallmarks of a well-resourced and persistent operation while obfuscating who’s behind it," Facebook said.

  • "To disrupt this operation, we blocked malicious domains from being shared on our platform, took down the group’s accounts and notified people who we believe were targeted by this threat actor."

Go deeper: "Clear evidence" China is committing genocide against Uyghurs, report finds

Israel to continue Gaza operation, officials rule out cease-fire for now

The Israeli security cabinet on Sunday decided to continue the Gaza operation, according to military plans. Israeli officials said a cease-fire is not on the table right now.

Why it matters: There was a growing feeling within the military and senior defense establishment ahead of the cabinet meeting that Israel should start moving toward ending the operation.

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Liz Cheney says she regrets voting for Trump in 2020

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), who was ousted Wednesday as the third-highest ranking House Republican, told ABC's "This Week" that she regrets voting for former President Trump in 2020, although she could never have supported Biden.

Why it matters: Cheney, voted out of House Republican leadership over her repeated condemnation of Trump and his unfounded claims of election fraud, plans to challenge the former president for ideological dominance of the GOP.

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Blinken speaks with Associated Press CEO after Israeli airstrike destroys Gaza office

Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Associated Press CEO Gary Pruitt on Saturday after an Israeli airstrike destroyed the outlet's local media office in the Gaza Strip, which also housed the Al Jazeera office.

Why it matters: "The world will know less about what is happening in Gaza because of what transpired today" Pruitt said in a statement — as fighting between Israel and Hamas continues to bring more casualties.

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Fashion

Consumers and retailers alike are still trying to figure out what Americans will want to wear as they head back out into the world after a year at home, in sweatpants.

Why it matters: The choices people make about their post-pandemic wardrobes will help define what, exactly, our “new normal” is. They'll indicate how both work and socializing have changed, and will tell the story of how people expressed themselves in the aftermath of a year of massive transformation.

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UN Security Council meeting on Israel-Gaza as Netanyahu vows to continue strikes

The United Nations Security Council was preparing to meet Sunday, as the aerial bombardment between Israel and Hamas between entered a seventh day.

The latest: Four Palestinians died in airstrikes early Sunday, as Israeli forces bombed the home of Gaza's Hamas chief, Yehya al-Sinwar, per Reuters.

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In photos: Protesters rally across U.S. and the world over Israeli–Palestinian conflict

Thousands of people rallied across the U.S. and the world Saturday following days of violence in Gaza and Israel that's killed at least 145 Palestinians, including 41 children, and eight Israelis, per AP.

The big picture: Most demonstrations were in support of Palestinians. There were tense scenes between pro-Israeli government protesters and pro-Palestinian demonstrators in Winnipeg, Canada, and Leipzig, Germany, but no arrests were made, CBS News and DW.com report.

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Biden in call with Netanyahu raises concerns about civilian casualties in Gaza

President Biden spoke to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Saturday and raised concerns about civilian casualties in Gaza and the bombing of the building that housed AP and other media offices, according to Israeli officials.

The big picture: At least 140 Palestinians, including dozens of children have been killed in Gaza since fighting between Israel and Hamas began Monday, according to Palestinian health officials. Nine people, including two children, have been killed by Hamas rockets in Israel.

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The COVID lab-leak theory goes mainstream

A group of high-profile scientists published a letter calling for renewed investigation into the origins of COVID-19 — including the theory that it spilled out of a virology lab.

Why it matters: The possibility that SARS-CoV-2 was created in a Chinese lab and accidentally escaped — rather than emerging naturally from an animal — was initially dismissed as a conspiracy theory. But the letter shows a potential lab leak is increasingly being taken seriously.

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