The ‘golden’ era of political hacking: It’s The Daily Crunch

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Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday our daily guided tour of the biggest tech stories from the past 24 hours will appear here on TechCrunch.com. To get The Daily Crunch in your inbox every day of the week, sign up here.

Cloudy with a chance of cybersecurity showers, Obama bids a tearful farewell, and Tesla taps more Apple talent. That and more in The Daily Crunch for January 11, 2017. And if you like driving, enjoy it while it lasts.

1. Unverified memos about Trump explode Twitter

Rarely has anything resulted in the kind of all-consuming Twitter fascination as memos published by BuzzFeed yesterday regarding Donald Trump and his possible ties to Russian election hacking and to Kremlin intelligence operations. The reports were marked clearly as unverified, but resulted in special briefings by the CIA for both the President and Trump, hence BuzzFeed’s decision that they are worth disclosing to the public.

These memos include a lot of damning accusations, including a claim that Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen worked with the Kremlin to orchestrate leaks of political documents from democrats secured via hacking. They also have a crazy story about “golden showers,” prostitutes and potential blackmail. While these are definitely explosive accusations, they do remain unverified. What happens next will be crucial to watch.

2. Obama says goodbye

It was a day of amazing contrasts, with President Barack Obama saying farewell to the nation in his final official address. Not a dry eye in the room at the end of this one, and the prevailing sentiment was “don’t go.” Please don’t.

3. Tesla hires away the creator of Swift

Apple lost a key team member to Tesla, with Swift creator Chris Lattner joining the carmaker as head of Autopilot Software. It’s a huge move, and one that Musk explained briefly on Twitter by noting that Tesla’s approach is to build a “high computer efficiency machine learning” system, which is why Lattner is perfect for the role. Also, Tesla hired a key Apple hardware designer.

4. Google Voice is going to get some overdue attention

Google is going to update Google Voice, the VoIP service that provides internet phone number and calling for users. It has seemed to languish for a while, but now Google Voice is getting an upgrade, which is great news for longtime users of the once essential service. A lot of people have probably moved on to more mobile-focused alternatives, but still, it could be cool, and I totally thought Voice was going the way of Google Reader.

5. Facebook tries to patch its leaky media boat

Facebook has announced a new Journalism Project to try to address some of its perceived failings on the media side, and it seems partly well-intentioned? But also preachy and a bit like bribery. They’re actually offering a certificate on how to use Facebook for journalism in partnership with Poynter which feels pretty darn gross.

6. Not paying attention while driving is fun

BMW’s Co-Pilot took me for a ride on a Las Vegas highway and it was a blast. I can’t wait to give up control on the highway all the time.

7. Trump’s choice for Attorney General is ignorant on tech

Jeff Sessions didn’t seem to know much about cybersecurity and tech issues he’ll encounter once in office. Unlikely to have a firm position on Snapchat, either.