• Thousands of Google employees have signed an open letter against the tech giant’s participation in Project Maven, a cooperation with the United States government seeking to improve the accuracy of drone strikes through artificial intelligence.  A spokesperson for the company has stated, “Maven is a well-publicized Department of Defense project and Google is working on one part of it — specifically scoped to be for non-offensive purposes and using open-source object recognition software available to any Google Cloud customer.” [BBC]
  • Nguyen Van Dai, a prominent human rights attorney, was jailed this week in Vietnam on charges that he engaged in activities “aimed at overthrowing the people’s administration.” In 2013, Dai and others formed an organization seeking to “build multi-party democracy” in Communist Vietnam.  Dai was sentenced to 15 years in prison along with 5 other activists sentenced to similar terms. [Al Jazeera]
  • Following Facebook’s deactivation of over 200 pages and accounts associated with the Russian-based “Internet Research Agency,” the Kremlin has denounced the company for censoring Russian mass media.  The Internet Research Agency is the “troll factory” under indictment for interfering in the 2016 United States Presidential election. [NPR]
  • In response to President Trump’s tariffs on foreign steel and aluminum earlier this year, China imposed tariffs on 128 American products Monday, including wine and fruit (15%), and pork (25%).  China’s response appeared to escalate a broader trade dispute between the two nations: this week, the White House imposed a further 25% tariff on more than 1,300 Chinese imports.  [New York Times; New York Times]
  • Nearly two years after the mass shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, conclusive evidence indicates that the murderer did not intend to target LGBTQ individuals.  Instead, the individual had searched “Orlando nightclubs” after abandoning his original plan to attack a shopping and entertainment complex.  The shooting was intended by the terrorist, who had pledged allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, to serve as revenge for US anti-terror policies abroad. [Vox]

FACT OF THE WEEK: Allegedly originally stemming from the ceremonial breastplate worn by the brother of Moses, which was adorned with twelve stones to represent the twelve tribes of Israel, the concept of birth stones were first connected to the twelve signs of the Zodiac in the first century A.D.  While they were a symbol of wealth and mystical power in the 15th century, it was not until 1870, when Tiffany & Co. published a pamphlet laying out the birthstone for each month, that they became a retail sensation. [Curiosity]