xoNEWS: Another Journalist Killed, iCloud Hacked, And A Mom Sues The DMV

Some of the headlines you may have missed, neatly summarized.
Amanda Lauren
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Some of the headlines you may have missed, neatly summarized.


I feel like writing xoNews is an important responsibility. I try to scour all of my favorite -- and honestly, some of my not-so-favorite -- websites to determine what news is the most important. When I read the comments (and yes, I read all of them, even the critical ones), it never fails to surprise me which stories have the most response. 

I try to get the story from more than one perspective, especially internationally. American sites unfortunately do not always tell the whole story, particularly when it comes to foreign conflict. Striving to be accurate, I even tracked down and watched the James Foley tape before I wrote about it, but I couldn’t bear to watch the whole thing and had to turn it off at a certain point. I tried to watch another tape of different beheading, but also had to shut it off after a few seconds. These videos gave me a whole new perspective on how terrifying the terrorists really are.

Which brings me to the question, how does everyone else get their news? Does anyone still read newspapers? What are your favorite television news shows? What are some of your go-to websites to get news and information from? Let me know in the comments or tweet me @AmandaLauren.

Steven Sotloff Beheaded By ISIS

On Tuesday, a video titled “A Second Message to America,” was released by ISIS. Following a similar formula to last month's video of the killing of James Foley, the video shows Steven Sotloff being beheaded. Sotloff was a 31-year-old freelance journalist from Miami who contributed to a number of publications including Time Magazine, National Interest, World Affairs and the Christian Science Monitor. It is believed he was kidnapped last August crossing the border from Turkey into Syria.

In the video, Sotloff, dressed in an orange jumpsuit, sitting with his hands behind his back, makes a final statement before his death:

Obama, your foreign policy of intervention in Iraq was supposed to be the preservation of American lives and interests, so why is that I am paying the price of your interference with my life? Am I not an American citizen? We’ve spent billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars and we’ve lost thousands of our troops in our previous fighting against the Islamic State, so what are the peoples' interests in reigniting war?

From what little I know about foreign policy, I remember a time when you could not win an election without promising to bring our troops back from Iraq and Afghanistan and to close down Guantanamo. Here you are now, Obama, nearing the end of your term, and having achieved none of the above and deceivingly marching us the American people in the blazing fire.

Last week, Sotloff’s mother, Shirley, released a video begging ISIS to free her son, but she was taunted on social media for her tragically unsuccessful effort. ISIS is also currently threatening the life of British Aid worker and security expert, David Haines.

Joan Rivers Ailing

On Friday, legendary comedian Joan Rivers, 81, was having an endoscopy on her throat at her doctor’s in New York when she stopped breathing and went into cardiac arrest. She was immediately taken to Mt. Sinai Medical Center. Doctors put her into a medically induced coma. Rivers has since been taken out of the coma, but according to a statement her daughter, Melissa Rivers, made to the press Tuesday morning, she is currently on life support. However, an unnamed source also says Rivers is making “small but positive steps.” 

Why Naked Pictures of Celebrities Are So Important

Over the weekend, nude pictures belonging to a laundry list of over 100 celebrities, including Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton, Lea Michelle, Amber Heard and Hillary Duff, were leaked on Twitter. The images were first uploaded to 4chan and have reportedly been circulating there for weeks. The people who posted the photos on Twitter have since had their accounts deleted. 

Some of the pictures are believed to be authentic and others are believed to be fake. Olympic gymnast McKayla Maroney has said the pictures from her account were taken when she was underage and thus considered child pornography. 

While this is unfortunate and a clear violation of privacy, this leak is of particular interest because all of these photos were retrieved from Apple iCloud. There has also been speculation that the hacker responsible for this simply guessed passwords, using the Find My iPhone App, which allows you to guess a password an unlimited number of times without being locked out of the system.

Apple issued a statement that said:

We have discovered that certain celebrity accounts were compromised by a very targeted attack on user names, passwords and security questions, a practice that has become all too common on the Internet. None of the cases resulted from any breach in any of Apple’s systems including iCloud or Find my iPhone.

The FBI has even become involved in the investigation. So, what does this mean for regular, non-celebrity folks? Your data probably isn’t as secure as may have previously believed. And if you have naked pictures on your iCloud and someone might be able to guess your password, you might want to look into changing that. 

If You Thought Your Local DMV Was Bad

Teresa Culpepper is suing the South Carolina DMV on behalf of her son, Chase Culpepper, 16, who identifies as “gender non-conforming,” (but uses masculine pronouns) because the DMV refused to take his picture until he removed his makeup. 

The DMV argued that Chase should remove his makeup because the law forbids altered appearances or disguises on identification photos. But Chase wasn’t trying to disguise himself or misrepresent himself in any way. In a statement to the press, Culpepper said, "This is how I am every day [wearing makeup and women’s clothing]. And if a police officer wanted to recognize how I am, then, he would want to see who I am in my picture as well"

Culpepper is suing because he feels his right to free speech and expression, as stated in the Constitution, are being violated and that he is being discriminated against based on his sex. 

Michael Silverman, who is the Executive Director of the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund also made a statement regarding the case: "Chase is entitled to be himself and to express his gender non-conformity without interference from the South Carolina DMV. It is not the role of the DMV or any government agency or employee to decide how men and women should look."


• Michael Sam, the first openly gay NFL player, was released by the St. Louis Rams, but was offered a spot on the Dallas Cowboys’ practice squad and is expected to sign with them.

• If you want you to use Uber in Germany, you’re out of luck -- the country has placed a nationwide ban on the app, claiming the drivers aren’t carrying the correct permits. 

• The US military launched airstrikes on Somalia, killing three targets on Monday. The strikes were aimed at the top leader of Al Shabab, which is a terrorist group in Somalia. If the name Al Shabab sounds familiar, it’s because they were responsible for the deadly massacre that occurred at a mall in Kenya last September.