World in Brief


According to “The Washington Post,” 22 journalists from El Faro, an independent Salvadoran news outlet, have been hacked since approximately July of 2020. Pegasus, a technology software that can track and record messages, calls, photos, internet browsing history, and toggle the camera without the knowledge of the phone owner, infiltrated the journalists’ phones. Although the Salvadoran government claimed no involvement with the incident, there is speculation among El Salvador’s citizens.

Washington Post – Report: 22 journalists at Salvadoran news site hit with Pegasus hack

The Guardian – What is Pegasus spyware and how does it hack phones?

The Guardian – Revealed: leak uncovers global abuse of cyber-surveillance weapon

War and Conflict

Tensions between North Korea and the United States are escalating due to North Korea’s response against the U.S.’s recent call for sanctions. The U.S. sanctioned five North Koreans, four located in China and one located in Russia, who were accused of donating funds and goods to the North Korean Second Academy of Natural Sciences, which works with the nation’s military defense program. According to “The LA Times,” North Korea warned the U.S. that they will proceed to take more serious actions against their “confrontational approach” if it continues. 

LA Times – North Korea fires missiles in response to U.S. sanctions

CBS – U.S. sanctions North Korean officials in response to missile test

Russia-Ukraine relations are tensing as Russia launched a cyberattack on Ukraine. According to CNBC, one of the outcomes of this attack was all official Ukrainian government websites being shut down and replaced with a message that included the threat: “Be afraid and expect the worst. This is for your past, present, and future.” U.S. intelligence agencies believe that this attack is only preceding an invasion of Ukraine by Russia within the next month, and the White House is currently urging the nations to work out a peace deal. 

NYT – U.S. Says Russia Sent Saboteurs Into Ukraine to Create Pretext for Invasion

CNBC – U.S. intelligence agencies point to potential Russian invasion of Ukraine within a month’s time

Animal Life

Whale sharks, a species commonly hunted for their fins that are served in a culinary delicacy, are now endangered. However, marine biologist Brad Norman created a database called “The Wildbook for Whale Sharks” in 2003 that people could add to, allowing NASA scientists to track the sharks using their own technology. According to Norman, if this technology can be used to track migration and then reveal where the sharks breed, it could help him and other scientists revitalize the species. 

CNN – How NASA Technology Can Help Save Whale Sharks– the World’s Largest Fish


According to CNN, the emergence of rockfish is countering fish fraud: when a person orders a seafood dish, only to find that the seafood is actually not the type they wanted. By giving customers a QR code with their order, rockfish attempts to negate this tactic used to maximize profit for the sellers. The code takes them to a website that tells them the exact details of the fish, such as where and when it was caught in hopes of promoting freshness and traceability. 

CNN – This Dubai Restaurant is Using Tech to Stop Seafood Fraud


The U.S Commerce Department reported on Friday that during December, retail sales fell 1.9 percent, marking the first drop after four consecutive months of increases in sales. However, the sales this October through December were up 17.1 percent compared to last year, and December sales alone rose 16.9 percent. Beth Ann Bovino, the chief U.S. economist at S&P Global assured that retail sales falling does not indicate “consumer weakness.”

NYT – Retail Sales Fell in December, a Slow Down in a Robust Holiday Shopping Season


A recently developed treatment is helping to relieve people from symptoms associated with post-traumatic stress disorder. Known as “neurofeedback,” the treatment is said to improve one’s attention, moods, sleeping habits, and athletic ability through measuring brain activity and displaying it either visually or auditorily to the participant in real-time. According to “The New York Times,” certain studies indicate that neurofeedback can act as a placebo. 

NYT – Can Monitoring Brain Waves Boost Mental Health