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Prosecutors accuse Maryland couple of hiding additional classified naval secrets

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The revelation came during a detention hearing for Diana Toebbe, who is charged, along with her husband Jonathan, in an elaborate scheme to sell nuclear submarine details.

As part of its case to keep the couple in jail, prosecutors disclosed that the FBI has not been able to access all of the couple’s encrypted email accounts, and still has not located all of the classified naval secrets it believes the couple possessed.

Special assistant US Attorney Jessica Smolar said 50 of the 51 packets of restricted data the couple held cannot be found, warning the information could cause extreme damage to the Navy if the information got out.

Jonathan and Diana Toebbe appeared separately, each wearing orange jail uniforms, masks, and shackles. Jonathan Toebbe waived his right to a detention hearing, but an FBI special agent revealed new details about the couples’ alleged scheme during a lengthy hearing for his wife. The judge has not yet ruled if Diana Toebbe will be released.

Several photographs and videos were presented in court that the special agent said showed the couple arriving at numerous so-called dead-drop locations throughout the summer of 2021 where they appeared to act as tourists before depositing SD cards filled with classified naval submarine secrets.

They showed “typical tradecraft of espionage subjects,” the special agent testified, describing how FBI surveillance captured the couple parking their BMW Mini Cooper one-and-a-half miles from the initial dead-drop location and then carefully making their way to the previously agreed-upon drop-off spot.

“Diana was right behind him within a meter away,” the agent testified. “Basically keeping a look-out to make sure no one was coming up on them during that operation.”

After Jonathan deposited the SD card, “Diana provided a very distinctive head nod as if they needed to get out of the area, and I observed that,” the agent said.

The couple is accused of acting together to coordinate three separate drop-offs of SD cards containing classified information about nuclear submarines, specifically the Virginia-class submarine. The FBI agent disclosed the depths to which the couple attempted to hide the SD cards at the dead-drop locations, saying one SD card was tucked into a saran-wrapped peanut butter sandwich, while others were hidden inside a packet of gum and a sealed Band-Aid wrapper.

During an anticipated fourth dead-drop on October 9 in West Virginia, the couple was arrested by the FBI.

At the court hearing Wednesday, the testifying special agent said Jonathan Toebbe was getting increasingly concerned about his family’s safety. During the third dead-drop on August 28, Jonathan Toebbe arrived alone while his wife stayed home recovering from ankle surgery.

“Jonathan was extremely nervous,” the agent testified. “More nervous than we’d seen him on the previous ones and just very cautious about what was going on around him….because Diana was not there to act as a lookout.”

Jonathan Toebbe allegedly left a letter with the SD card during that dead-drop which said in part, “I have considered the possible need to leave on short notice. Should that ever become necessary, I will be forever grateful for your help extracting me and my family…. We have passports and cash set aside for this purpose.”

On Tuesday, a grand jury indicted the couple, charging them each with one count of Conspiracy to Communicate Restricted Data and two counts of Communication of Restricted Data. The couple pleaded not guilty to all three counts.

If convicted on any of the three counts, the couple faces up to life in prison.

The couple was arrested October 9, and the initial criminal complaint described how the Toebbes tried to sell sensitive information about nuclear submarines to a foreign country in exchange for millions of dollars in cryptocurrency. The country, which has not been identified in court filings, notified the FBI, which launched a year-long sting operation. The testifying special agent noted that the FBI moved quickly after discovering the couple was trying to sell these secrets in December 2020 because they were concerned the couple might try to shop the information to multiple countries.

After their arrest, the FBI searched their home in Annapolis, Maryland, where they discovered $11,300 in cash — all one hundred-dollar bills wrapped in rubber-bands; a crypto wallet; passports for their two children; and a go-bag containing a laptop computer, a USB drive and latex gloves.

Prosecutors revealed Wednesday that the couple had requested expedited passport renewals since theirs had expired in February 2021; the request was still being processed at the time of the couple’s arrest.

The Justice Department had previously moved to keep the couple in jail, citing their potential flight risk and the severity of their alleged crimes. The Toebbes appeared Wednesday with their court-appointed lawyers. Magistrate Judge Robert Trumble said he will issue a written decision as to whether Diana Toebbe will be released pending trial.



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Stocks rebound after Omicron plunge

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Reports of the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus brought back memories of last summer when the fast-spreading Delta variant put a dent in the recovery and consumer confidence. This spooked investors on a traditionally quiet day in the market following Thanksgiving, leading to one of the worst days for stocks this year.
The Dow (INDU) logged its worst day since October 2020, while the S&P 500 (SPX) had its worst performance since February. The Nasdaq Composite (COMP) recorded its steepest fall since September.

But just as the market quickly bounced back from its Delta fears, history appears to be repeating itself: Investors are taking a breath and sensing a buying opportunity.

The market opened in the green, with all three indexes sharply higher. The Dow opened up 375 points, or 1.1%, while the S&P rose 1.2%. The Nasdaq was 1.5% higher.

Other asset classes that were battered Friday — notably oil and cryptocurrencies — also recovered.

US oil prices were up 6.7%, or almost $5, at $72.69 per barrel around the time of the stock market open. That doesn’t totally make up for Friday’s drop, but it takes back a chunk of it.

The global oil benchmark Brent was up 5.7% at $76.84 per barrel.

Bitcoin was up more than 5%.

“Investors are trying to make sense of the latest Omicron Covid strain, but at this point more seems to be unknown than known,” said analysts at Bespoke Investments. “Clouding things even more, we’re unlikely to have definitive answers in the immediate future.”



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Stocks tumble as fears over new Covid-19 variant grip global markets

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US equities took a dive at the open and continued their downward path in the first half hour of trading, with the Dow more some 900 points lower. Oil prices were also badly hit.

Over the summer, the Delta variant spooked consumers and weighed on sectors like leisure and hospitality. Now investors and economists worry this new variant could do the same.

Wall Street was deep in the red early Friday, with the Dow (INDU) falling 2.5%, or about 900 points, in what is shaping up to be a volatile session. The broader S&P 500 (SPX) tumbled 1.8% and the Nasdaq Composite (COMP) opened down 1.3%.

It’s a shortened trading session as the New York Stock Exchange will close at 1 pm ET after being closed Thursday for Thanksgiving. Reduced trading volume during this half-day session is also likely to exacerbate the swings in the market.

Nevertheless, it could shape up to be one of the worst days of the year for stocks.

But it’s not just stocks that are getting a beating.

Oil prices are tumbling as well. US oil futures fell 7.4%, or nearly $6, to $72.51 per barrel around the time of the stock market open. The global benchmark Brent dropped 6.8% to $76.63 per barrel.

The US dollar, measured by the ICE US Dollar Index, which pegs it against its main rivals, was down 0.6% Friday morning.

Cryptocurrencies also felt the heat, dropping across the board. Bitcoin was down nearly 7% around the time of the stock market open, according to CoinDesk data.

Meanwhile, investors are pushing into safe haven investments. The 10-year US Treasury bond got more expensive and yields fell more than 0.1 percentage points to 1.52% Friday morning. Gold prices also jumped.



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‘NFT’ is Collins Dictionary’s Word of the Year for 2021, beating out ‘crypto’ and ‘cheugy’

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Written by Jack Guy, CNNLondon

“NFT,” the abbreviation of “non-fungible token,” has been named Word of the Year by dictionary publisher Collins, beating “crypto” and “cheugy” to the top spot.

An NFT is “a unique digital certificate, registered in a blockchain, that is used to record ownership of an asset such as an artwork or a collectible,” according to a blog post from Collins, published Wednesday.

Acting like virtual signatures, NFTs prove the authenticity of an artwork as the blockchain serves as incorruptible proof of ownership, meaning that “original” artworks and their owners can always be identified via the blockchain, even if an image or video is widely replicated.

They also provide scarcity, and as a result the digital art market has been booming.
In March, a digital artwork named “Everydays: The First 5000 days” sold for $69.3 million via Christie’s, making its creator, graphic designer Mike Winkelmann, better known as Beeple, one of the art market’s most valuable living artists.

The idea of a digital revolution is also captured in another of the dictionary’s candidates for Word of the Year: “crypto,” short for “cryptocurrency,” digital money that is challenging traditional forms of money, according to Collins.

It also named “metaverse” in its blog post, following Facebook’s announcement that it would change its corporate name to Meta.

Other selected words reflect the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, with “double-vaxxed” and “hybrid working” making the shortlist.

“Climate anxiety” reflects growing concern about the damage humans are doing to the planet, while “neopronoun” is a way of referring to a person without using their name or traditional markers of gender, such as “he” and “she.” Collins gives “xe,” “ze” and “ve” as examples of neopronouns.

Rounding out the shortlist are “Regencycore,” which is defined as a fashion aesthetic inspired by the Georgian-era clothing seen in the Netflix show “Bridgerton,” and “cheugy,” which is used to say that something is out of date or uncool.

In 2020, Collins named “lockdown” its Word of the Year, for obvious reasons, and, earlier this month, Oxford Languages made “vax” its pick for 2021.

Defined as “a colloquialism meaning either vaccine or vaccination as a noun and vaccinate as a verb,” vax was relatively rare until this year, the company, which publishes the Oxford English Dictionary, said.

In September, vax appeared more than 72 times more frequently than the year before, said Oxford Languages, which analyzes news content to track changes in the English language.



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