Justice Department to withdraw legal action against Apple

The Justice Department is expected to withdraw from its legal action against Apple, as soon as today, as an outside method to bypass the locking function of a San Bernardino terrorist’s phone has proved successful, a federal law enforcement official said Monday.

The official, who is not authorized to comment publicly, said the method brought to the FBI earlier this month by an unidentified entity allows investigators to crack the security function without erasing contents of the iPhone used by Syed Farook, who with his wife, Tashfeen Malik, carried out the December mass shooting that left 14 dead.

Monday’s withdrawal would culminate six weeks of building tensions.

The foes were poised to exchange legal body blows in a court room in Riverside, Calif., last week before the Justice Department belatedly asked for — and was granted — a postponement.

Since a federal magistrate in California in mid-February ordered the company to assist the FBI in gaining access to San Bernardino terrorist Syed Farook’s seized iPhone, the legal filings and rhetoric between the world’s most valuable technology company and one of the largest crime-fighting organizations in the world had sharpened into verbal vitriol.

This month, Apple said the “Founding Fathers would be appalled” because the government’s order to unlock the iPhone was based on non-existent authority asserted by the DOJ.


FBI interviews loom for Clinton, aides, says report

The FBI is arranging interviews with some of Hillary Clinton s closest aides over her use of a private email server at the State Department, a new report says.

Prosecutors are also expected to seek an interview with the Democratic presidential front-runner herself, though nothing has been scheduled so far, according to The Los Angeles Times.

No dates have been set for questioning Clinton s advisers either, but a federal prosecutor in recent weeks has notified their lawyers that such meetings are pending, according to the Times report.

It cited two people familiar with the probe, adding that the timing for speaking with Clinton remains unclear.

The email controversy has dogged Clinton’s campaign even as she has moved closer to winning the Democratic nomination. The report on the FBI’s push for interviews suggests its probe will continue for weeks, making it more likely the issue will not be resolved before the end of the primary.

Her rival for the Democratic nod, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), has not used the email issue as an attack line. But in a general election, it will surely be used by the Republican nominee.

Clinton has said it was an error in judgment to have the private server, but has argued she did nothing illegal and that no classified material was sent over the server


Tesla Motors model 3

The announced price point for the Tesla Motors Model 3 is $35,000. That’s way less than the $70,000 you’d shell out for a Model S, and it’s a number that’s key to Tesla’s long-term goal of going mass market. It’s still not what you’d call a budget ride–that’s still more than an Audi A3, BMW 2-series, or Mercedes CLA-class.

However, buyers should be eligible for a $7,500 tax credit, putting the effective price for many buyers closer to a Ford Fusion than a BMW. But that credit only lasts until Tesla sells a total of 200,000 EVs, which, if all goes according to plan, could be as little as a year after the Model 3 arrives in garages.

It’ll go 200 Miles on a Charge

Slightly less than the Model S, but nearly twice the range of the Nissan Leaf. And there are expected to be options for bigger batteries, though not necessarily in the first wave.

It’s a Sedan

The initial Model 3 will be a standard 4-door, though smaller than the Model S. However, we can expect a variety of future versions built on the Model 3 platform, with a lot of speculation focusing on a crossover “mini-SUV.”

The Name is Part of an Elaborate Dirty Joke

Tesla, like other tech companies, apparently loves its Easter eggs. Tesla’s first two scale production cars were the Model S and the Model X. According to Green Car Reports, what we now know as the Model 3 was originally going to be the Model E, but Ford already had a trademark on that name. So now we’ll have the Model S, the Model 3, and the Model X. Close enough.

You’ll Have to Wait

After next week’s pre-order scrum settles down, it’ll still be a couple of years before anyone gets a car–recent statements from Musk and the company have Model 3 production starting in late 2017.

And that’s . . . well, that’s really just about it, folks. We have no leaked blueprints, no promo shots, no detailed specs. So with Tesla competing for Apple’s APPL corporate secrecy crown, we’ll all just have to wait for Thursday.


Wrong man convicted in 1957 murder

An Illinois prosecutor on Friday said that new evidence has persuaded him that a 75-year-old man was wrongly convicted in 2012 for the decades-old murder of a 7-year-old girl in the northern Illinois town of Sycamore.

Jack McCullough, a former cop in Washington state who was convicted in a bench trial for the abduction and killing of Maria Ridulph, had long insisted he wasn’t even in Sycamore, about 65 miles from Chicago, when Maria was abducted in December 1957. Her body was found in the nearby town of Galena five months later.

Newly found phone records and other evidence bolster McCullough’s defense that he was 35 miles from the small farm community at the time of Maria’s abduction, says DeKalb County State’s Attorney Richard Schmack.

McCullough, who was 17 at the time of the incident, had long contended he was at a U.S. Air Force recruitment center in Rockford at the time of the abduction. He said he made a collect call home from a payphone at the Rockford post office asking for a ride home that supported his alibi.

The incident shook the community and captured national attention — even President Dwight Eisenhower took notice of it — as police and the FBI grappled with the case. When McCullough, who was living in the Seattle area, was charged in 2011, it was believed to have been the oldest cold case ever to go to trial.

“I know that there are people who will never believe that he is not responsible for the crime,” said Schmack, who announced his findings after completing a six-month review of the case that was spurred by McCullough’s push for a new trial.

“Many of these people are my neighbors in Sycamore. But I cannot allow that to sway me from my sworn duty to support the Constitution of the United States, the constitution of the state of Illinois, and to perform faithfully the primary duty of my office: ‘To seek justice, not merely to convict.’ ”

Police had interviewed McCullough, who previously went by the name John Tessier, soon after the killing and said his alibi had checked out. But the Illinois State Police reopened the case in 2010 after getting a tip from McCullough’s sister, Janet, who said their mother told her weeks before her death that McCullough had committed the crime.

McCullough is due to appear in court Tuesday in Sycamore, and Schmack said he will not oppose a defense motion to dismiss the conviction. Schmack said he believes that McCullough, who is serving his life sentence at a prison in Pontiac, Illinois, could be released “very soon.”

Schmack said that while the state’s attorney and FBI accepted McCullough’s alibi as they investigated Maria’s murder in 1957 and 1958, the judge in 2012 would not allow defense attorneys to present the evidence because it was derived from FBI documents or police reports that could not be substantiated by agents.

“Because all of the police officers were dead and you couldn’t call them as witnesses, you couldn’t introduce the police reports” under Illinois statute, Schmack said Friday after releasing his findings.

But Schmack, who did not head the state’s attorney’s office at the time of McCullough’s prosecution, said the judge failed to consider an “ancient documents exception” in state law that would have allowed the police reports to be considered.