In today’s Bulldog wrapup of technology and space news:

  • Uber fires autonomous car researcher involved in lawsuit
  • Plastic surgery clinics hacked; 25,000 photos, data online
  • Pentagon declares success for key test of missile defense (plus video)
  • Taxis strike across Spain to protest Uber, Cabify services

The details:

  • Uber fires autonomous car researcher involved in lawsuit

Uber has followed through on threats to fire star autonomous-car researcher Anthony Levandowski, whose hiring touched off a bitter trade-secrets fight with Waymo, the former self-driving car arm of Google.

Waymo has alleged that Levandowski downloaded 14,000 documents containing its trade secrets before he left the company to found a startup that was later purchased by Uber. Earlier this month, U.S. District Judge William Alsup ordered Uber to return the documents and referred the case to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in San Francisco for possible criminal investigation.

Uber General Counsel Salle Yoo told Levandowski in a letter filed in court by Levandowski’s lawyers that he hasn’t complied with Uber’s requests to cooperate in obeying the judge’s order to return the documents.

“Your failure impeded Uber’s internal investigation and defense of the lawsuit,” the letter, dated Friday, stated. It said that Levandowski was fired for cause and that he has a contractual right to correct “deficiencies” within 20 days.

  • Plastic surgery clinics hacked; 25,000 photos, data online

Police in Lithuania say more than 25,000 private photos and personal data — including nude pictures — were made public Tuesday following the hacking of a chain of plastic surgery clinics.

Police said a hacking group called Tsar Team broke into the servers of Grozio Chirurgija clinics earlier this year and demanded ransoms from the clinic’s clients in Germany, Denmark, Britain, Norway and other EU countries.

Police say after threats, several hundred images were released in March and rest of the database was made public on Tuesday. It’s unclear how many patients have been affected, but police say dozens have come forward to report being blackmailed.

“It’s extortion. We’re talking about a serious crime,” the deputy chief of Lithuania’s criminal police bureau Andzejus Raginskis told reporters.

Police are working with security services in other European countries and have warned that people who download and store the stolen data could also be prosecuted.

“Clients, of course, are in shock. Once again, I would like to apologize,” Jonas Staikunas, the director of Grozio Chirurgija, told local media. “Cybercriminals are blackmailers. They are blackmailing our clients with inappropriate text messages.”

Staikunas said victims were asked to pay up to 2,000 euros ($2,238) to guarantee that nude images, passport copies, social security numbers and other data would not be made public. The hackers had also demanded that the clinic pay 344,000 euros ($385,000) in ransom to prevent the data dumping, but it refused.

  • Pentagon declares success for key test of missile defense

The Pentagon scored an important success Tuesday in a test of its oft-criticized missile defense program, destroying a mock warhead over the Pacific Ocean with an interceptor that is key to protecting U.S. territory from a North Korean attack.

[VIDEO: Watch a Fox News report about the test at ]

Vice Adm. Jim Syring, director of the Pentagon agency in charge of developing the missile defense system, called the test result “an incredible accomplishment” and a critical milestone for a program hampered by setbacks over the years.

“This system is vitally important to the defense of our homeland, and this test demonstrates that we have a capable, credible deterrent against a very real threat,” Syring said in a written statement announcing the test result.

Despite the success, the $244 million test didn’t confirm that under wartime conditions the U.S. could intercept an intercontinental-range missile fired by North Korea. Pyongyang is understood to be moving closer to the capability of putting a nuclear warhead on such an ICBM and could develop decoys sophisticated enough to trick an interceptor into missing the real warhead.

Syring’s agency sounded a note of caution.

“Initial indications are that the test met its primary objective, but program officials will continue to evaluate system performance based upon telemetry and other data obtained during the test,” his statement said.

  • Taxis strike across Spain to protest Uber, Cabify services

Taxi drivers across Spain set off firecrackers and threw objects at police Tuesday as they went on strike to protest the increase in cars run by private companies like Uber that offer cheaper, mobile ride-hailing services.

Travelers arriving at Madrid’s or Barcelona’s airports and train stations found none of the usual lines of taxis waiting to pick them up.

The strike was directed against the San Francisco-headquartered Uber and Madrid-based Cabify services.

Unions claim these companies flout a law that stipulates there should be one private company vehicle for every 30 taxis and promote unfair competition.

Thousands of taxi drivers staged a demonstration in central Madrid at noon, with some setting off firecrackers and hurling plastic bottles of water and eggs at police cordoning off access to Parliament. Some brief scuffles with police also occurred but there were no immediate reports of arrests or injuries.