Things to do when Amazon S3 is down

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Warren Buffett’s employees have the chance to win $1 million a year for life – but there’s a huge catch

Warren BuffettAP Images

Employees at Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway have the chance to score some serious cash off the company’s billionaire founder this March.

On Monday, Buffett – a long-time March Madness fan – announced an unprecedented giveaway on CNBC’s “Squawk Box”: Berkshire Hathaway will hand over $1 million a year for life to any employee who correctly guesses the teams in the Sweet 16 of the men’s NCAA basketball tournament this year.

However, that’s much easier said than done, even for the most avid basketball fan. According to Money, there’s a 1 in 1.24X1064 chance of accurately predicting all 16 teams. That’s more than 282 trillion potential variations, Mark Ablowitz, a professor of applied mathematics at the University of Colorado Boulder, told Fortune. Not exactly great odds.

Not everyone will go home empty-handed, though. Whichever employee’s bracket makes it the furthest in the tournament will win $100,000.

“Last year, we had two fellows that tied,” Buffett, who has an estimated fortune of $73.5 billiontold CNBC. “One of them knew a lot about basketball; the other didn’t know anything about basketball, but they each got $50,000 out of it.”

But as for winning the grand prize of $1 million a year for the foreseeable future: Even the Oracle of Omaha himself would struggle to win that challenge. 

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The Trump team may have gone even further to knock down news about its Russia ties

donald trump phoneAP Photo/Matt Rourke

White House officials allegedly sought to recruit congressional lawmakers and the US intelligence community to help throw cold water on stories about communications between Russia and people in President Donald Trump’s inner circle.

According to a Washington Post report published Friday evening, some of those lawmakers were asked by the White House to talk to reporters and refute stories from The New York Times and CNN that alleged frequent communication between Trump allies and the Kremlin before the election.

The Post’s Greg Miller and Adam Entous report that the calls were sent last week, after White House officials failed to get senior FBI officials on board with publicly denouncing the news reports.

Miller and Entous wrote that the White House reached out to other officials instead, to “participate in White House-arranged calls with news organizations, including The Washington Post.

The Post confirmed that at least two senior lawmakers were approached about questioning the Times and CNN reports – Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina and Rep. Devin Nunes of California.

Burr and Nunes are on the Senate and House Intelligence Committees, which are investigating Russian interference in the US election.

Devin NunesAPBurr told The Post he “had conversations” with the White House about stories surrounding Russia and said he thought the discussions were appropriate as long as he believed his comments wouldn’t conflict with his “responsibilities to the committee in an ongoing investigation.

Nunes said he had already been discussing The New York Times and CNN stories with reporters before the White House reached out, and then talked to another reporter “at the request of the White House.”

The White House’s actions have prompted questions about possible overreach as the Trump administration attacks reporting on its ties to the Kremlin, a story that has only gained traction in the months following Trump’s election.

The Trump administration’s attempts to block coverage only intensified on Friday when several media outlets were kept out of a White House press briefing, prompting sharp rebukes from many corners of the country.

Trump on Friday night continued railing against news organizations, sending another tweet that echoed one he sent days ago, labeling the media “a great danger to our country.”


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Oregon is joining a major lawsuit against Trump’s immigration ban

Ellen Rosenblum OregonAP Photo/Don Ryan

SALEM, Ore. (AP) – Oregon asked a federal court late Wednesday to join a lawsuit filed by Washington state against an immigration ban imposed by President Donald Trump.

Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum said in the motion that Oregon also needs protection from the ban on immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim countries, which she said would harm Oregon’s businesses, residents, universities, health care and economy.

The lawsuit filed by Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson on Jan. 30 resulted in a judge suspending Trump’s temporary ban. Minnesota previously joined the lawsuit.

Rosenblum wrote in the motion filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington that if Washington and Minnesota prevail, the court might craft a limited remedy instead of a nationwide injunction, which would not address the harm caused to Oregon.

Both Rosenblum and Ferguson said in recent interviews with The Associated Press that they are increasingly sharing information and consulting with each other and with other Democratic counterparts, as the White House and Congress try to roll back former President Barack Obama’s policies and steer a conservative course for the nation.

At stake are health care, the environment, immigrant rights, marijuana legalization and many other issues.

“What I am very proud of is that state attorneys general are stepping up to the plate,” Rosenblum said, citing efforts by her counterparts, including in Virginia, Massachusetts, New York and Hawaii.

Rosenblum told AP that Oregon is also readying for a court battle in case the federal government tries to curtail abortion rights.

In particular, Rosenblum worries that the federal government will try to force states to restrict abortion rights by cutting funding for Planned Parenthood. The Hyde Amendment already prevents federal dollars from funding abortions, she said, but Planned Parenthood also offers treatment for sexually transmitted diseases and preventive health care. She said she already has staffers researching a possible response.

“The penalizing of an organization that provides abortions but that does a huge amount of other very, very important health care, to treat our citizens, absolutely, we’re going to push back against that to the greatest extent possible,” Rosenblum said.

Attorneys general, particularly from more liberal states, are coordinating more via informal phone calls and emails, and in meetings such as those of the Democratic Attorneys General Association, which Rosenblum co-chairs.

Trump has promised to issue a revised travel ban, saying it’s needed to keep America safe. Ferguson said in a telephone interview late Tuesday that his team is ready to take further action.

“When it comes out, we will scrutinize it to see if it is constitutional and lawful,” Ferguson said. “If it is not, you can be sure we’ll be following up.”

The events before and after Trump’s signing of the executive order highlight the new level of communication among liberal states’ attorneys general. The Democratic Attorneys General Association had just finished holding a meeting in Florida when Trump signed the order, on Jan. 27, a Friday.

Ferguson was flying back to Seattle but already had lined up a team of five attorneys and support staff ready to pounce. As travelers from the banned countries were detained at airports across America and were prevented from boarding U.S.-bound flights, Ferguson’s team worked through the weekend.

“The pace for those 72 hours, to say it was intense would be significant understatement,” Ferguson said. “We felt every hour mattered.”

On Jan. 30, they asked a federal court for a temporary restraining order to prevent enforcement of Trump’s order, claiming it was unconstitutional. Rosenblum said she helped organize a statement from 18 attorneys general supporting Ferguson’s lawsuit.

Eric Schneiderman, attorney general for New York, which was one of those 18 states and which also filed a lawsuit, said attorneys general are having an “awakening” regarding the Trump administration.

Rosenblum said Ferguson deserves praise for being “first out of the gate” and that she feels no rivalry about being first to stand up against White House orders that are seen as illegal or unconstitutional.

“There’s going to be plenty to go around,” Rosenblum said.