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Hillicon Valley: House Dems push for $4B in state election funds | Amazon suspends over 6,000 sellers for price gouging | Google says 18M malicious coronavirus emails sent daily

Hillicon Valley: House Dems push for $4B in state election funds | Amazon suspends over 6,000 sellers for price gouging | Google says 18M malicious coronavirus emails sent daily
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Welcome! Follow our cyber reporter, Maggie Miller (@magmill95), and tech reporter, Chris Mills Rodrigo (@chrisismills), for more coverage.

 

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DEMS KEEP ON PUSHING: The Democratic chairs of key House committees on Friday called on Congress to send $4 billion to states to allow for mail-in voting and other efforts to conduct elections during the COVID-19 pandemic, saying the right to vote “may be in jeopardy” without action. 

House Administration Committee Chairwoman Zoe LofgrenZoe Ellen LofgrenHillicon Valley: Four major tech issues facing the Biden administration | Pressure grows to reinstate White House cyber czar | Facebook, Google to extend political ad bans House report says lawmakers could securely cast remote votes amid pandemic Why prevailing wage reform matters for H-1B visas MORE (D-Calif.), House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairwoman Carolyn MaloneyCarolyn Bosher MaloneyAnonymous shell companies fund crime and terror; it's time to crack down This week: Congress races to wrap work for the year House Democrats subpoena private prison operator in forced hysterectomy case MORE (D-N.Y.), House Administration subcommittee on Elections Chairwoman Marcia FudgeMarcia Louise FudgeDangerously fast slaughter speeds are putting animals, people at greater risk during COVID-19 crisis Clyburn: Biden falling short on naming Black figures to top posts OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Kerry says Paris climate deal alone 'is not enough' | EPA halts planned Taiwan trip for Wheeler| EPA sued over rule extending life of toxic coal ash ponds MORE (D-Ohio), and Reps. Jamie RaskinJamin (Jamie) Ben RaskinDemocrats debate fate of Trump probes if Biden wins Congress must repeal tax breaks for the wealthy passed in CARES Act COVID-19 and the problem of presidential succession MORE (D-Md.) and Stephen LynchStephen Francis LynchOVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Top general negative for coronavirus, Pentagon chief to get tested after Trump result l Top House lawmakers launch investigation into Pentagon redirecting COVID-19 funds Top House lawmakers launch investigation into Pentagon redirecting COVID-19 funds Overnight Defense: Pentagon redirects pandemic funding to defense contractors | US planning for full Afghanistan withdrawal by May | Anti-Trump GOP group puts ads in military papers MORE (D-Mass.) criticized Congress for not doing enough to prevent barriers to vote this year. 

“Without decisive action by Congress, the coronavirus crisis may exacerbate dangerous impediments for voters, including closed or restricted access to polling places and public health restrictions that deter voter participation — all of which could result in depressed voter turnout that undermines the will of the American people and degrades confidence in our elections,” the House members said in a joint statement. 

Limited funding on the way: The coronavirus stimulus package signed into law by President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump alludes to possible 2024 run in White House remarks Trump threatens to veto defense bill over tech liability shield Tiger King's attorney believes they're close to getting pardon from Trump MORE last month included $400 million to assist states conduct elections during the COVID-19 crisis. 

The amount was far lower than the $4 billion proposed in the House version of that bill rolled out by House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPressure builds for coronavirus relief with no clear path to deal Top GOP senator warns government funding deal unlikely this week Houston will send residents checks of up to ,200 for pandemic relief MORE (D-Calif.) and supported by Lofgren. The House version would also have imposed requirements on states on how to use the funds, including expanding early in-person voting and ensuring every voter had the ability to vote by mail.

The version ultimately signed into law was the Senate version, which did not include any requirements on how the funds could be used, and required states to match the funding by 20 percent. The House Democratic leaders on Friday strongly criticized the funding match requirement.

“These funds must be free from burdensome matching requirements that prevent states from quickly deploying resources where they are urgently needed,” the House Democrats said. “Vote-by-mail and early voting options are commonsense and tested solutions that will both protect public health and the fundamental American right to vote.”

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Read more about their efforts here.

 

SUSPENDED: Amazon has suspended more than 6,000 vendors, totaling more than 500,000 listings, from its website for price gouging during the coronavirus pandemic, CEO and founder Jeff BezosJeffrey (Jeff) Preston BezosElon Musk passes Bill Gates to become world's second-richest person in Bloomberg rankings How space exploration will help to address climate change Bezos makes first donations from billion Earth Fund MORE told investors Thursday.

This comes after Amazon in a blog post last month said it had suspended over 3,900 vendors on its U.S. site.

"Amazon turned over information about sellers we suspect engaged in price gouging of products related to COVID-19 to 42 state attorneys general offices," Bezos wrote in the letter to investors.

"To accelerate our response to price-gouging incidents, we created a special communication channel for state attorneys general to quickly and easily escalate consumer complaints to us," he added.

Comes after previous criticism: The company has received criticism during the pandemic for the lack of availability of essential goods such as hand sanitizer and toilet paper.

Also in the letter, Bezos said that mass global testing would be needed to “get the economy back up and running" after the pandemic.

"If every person could be tested regularly, it would make a huge difference in how we fight this virus," he wrote. "Those who test positive could be quarantined and cared for, and everyone who tests negative could re-enter the economy with confidence."

Read more here.

 

THAT SOUNDS CONCERNING: Google saw more than 18 million malware and phishing emails related to the novel coronavirus on its service per day last week, the company revealed Thursday.

That figure is in addition to the nearly 240 million coronavirus-related daily spam messages it sees.

The malware and phishing attacks on Gmail "use both fear and financial incentives to create urgency to try to prompt users to respond," the company said in a blog post.

Google shared examples of scammers posing as the World Health Organization (WHO) to "solicit fraudulent donations or distribute malware," as administrators targeting employees working from home and as government agents trying to get information to process stimulus checks.

The company says its machine learning software has been able to "block more than 99.9% of spam, phishing, and malware."

Read more here.

 

HOUSTON, WE HAVE LIFT OFF: NASA announced Friday that its historic SpaceX launch will take place May 27 of this year at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. 

The launch marks the first flight of NASA crews from the U.S. since 2011 and the first launch of a rocket owned by a private company: SpaceX, the commercial space company founded by Elon MuskElon Reeve MuskOn the Money: Dow breaks 30,000 for first time as Biden transition ramps up | Consumer confidence falls as COVID-19 rages | Grocery, retail workers urge reinstatement of hazard pay ahead of holiday rush Elon Musk passes Bill Gates to become world's second-richest person in Bloomberg rankings SpaceX capsule arrives at International Space Station MORE.

The news comes as NASA struggles to maintain a consistent presence on the International Space Station, paying Russia $83 million per seat for a ride to the station, as U.S. shuttles have been retired, according to The Washington Post.

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NASA has assigned two of its most experienced astronauts, Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley, to the upcoming SpaceX mission. It’s unclear how long the mission will take.

Read more here.

 

MUSK MESS UP: Tesla CEO and founder Elon Musk last month announced that his company purchased 1,255 FDA-approved ventilators from Chinese oversupply and shipped them to hospitals in Los Angeles to help treat COVID-19 patients. 

However, four of the hospitals on the list told CNN that instead of the sought-after ventilators, they received bilevel positive airway pressure (biPAP) and continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines from the billionaire and his electric car company.

"We received six CPAPs and we are very grateful for the gift," a spokesperson for Sonoma Valley Hospital told the network.

The news comes after California Gov. Gavin NewsomGavin NewsomCalifornia megachurch says it has a 'biblical mandate' to meet after Supreme Court decision San Jose mayor apologizes for Thanksgiving gathering 'contrary to the rules' Families allege California is failing to educate poor, minority students during pandemic MORE's (D) office reported on Thursday that the ventilators Musk promised never made it to their destinations. At the time, Musk responded by tweeting a list of the hospitals that he said he sent the ventilators to and asked Newsom to fix the "misunderstanding."

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Kathleen Piché, director of public information for the L.A. County Department of Health Services, noted that the machines had "been distributed to hospitals in our system and are being used as intended."

"These units are used for breathing and airway support, reducing the need for certain patients to be placed on mechanical ventilation," she said.

Read more here.

 

A lighter click: Thank u Reddit

An op-ed to chew on: Women are essential helpers during crises — but they need access to the internet

 

Notable links around the web: 

In Trump's 'LIBERATE' tweets, extremists see a call to arms (NBC News / Ben Collins and Brandy Zadrozny)

Bill Gates, at Odds With Trump on Virus, Becomes a Right-Wing Target (New York Times / Daisuke Wakabayashi, Davey Alba and Marc Tracy)

Zoom Has a Google Problem (Gizmodo / Shoshana Wodinsky)

Steve Bonnell Made Big Bucks Following a Simple Plan: Play Video Games. Troll Your Fans. Fight the Online Right. (Mother Jones / Ali Breland)