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  1. The Chinese telecom giant didn't provide evidence to support these allegations. Huawei on Tuesday accused the US government of using "unscrupulous" tactics to disrupt the normal business operations of the Chinese telecom giant and its partners. This comes after the Department of Justice reportedly launched new probes into alleged technology theft by Huawei. In a press released on Tuesday, Huawei said the US was using "every tool at its disposal" to discredit the company and obstruct its business, including "launching cyber attacks" and "sending FBI agents to the homes of Huawei employees" to pressure them to collect information on the company. Huawei also accused the US of instructing law enforcement to threaten and menace its employees, as well as "conspiring" with rival businesses to bring "unsubstantiated accusations against the company." Huawei didn't provide specific evidence to support these allegations. The company didn't immediately respond to a request for additional comment. Huawei also denied that it stole smartphone camera technology and said false allegations shouldn't be considered "rational justification for a criminal investigation by the US Department of Justice." Over the course of 2019, there's been an upswing in scrutiny of Huawei, with a number of countries banning the use of its networking equipment. In January, the Justice Department unsealed indictments against Huawei that included 23 counts pertaining to the alleged theft of intellectual property, obstruction of justice and fraud related to its alleged evasion of US sanctions against Iran. The Justice Department didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. Source
  2. Dorian is shaping up to be a major threat to the Southeastern United States Current forecast calls for a Category 3 hurricane to hit near Kennedy Space Center. Enlarge / A NOAA satellite image from 11am ET shows the position of Tropical Storm Dorian near Puerto Rico. NOAA Tropical Storm Dorian appears to pose an increasing threat to the Southeastern United States, potentially including significant landmarks such as Disney World and the Kennedy Space Center. As of Wednesday morning, Dorian was nearing hurricane strength, with sustained winds of 70mph. The storm's center should pass just to the east of Puerto Rico today and then have as much as four days to strengthen over open ocean before approaching the Florida coast. The National Hurricane Center has ratcheted up its intensity forecast for Dorian, such that it is now predicted to come ashore as a Category 3 hurricane on Monday morning, near Kennedy Space Center on Florida's Atlantic coast. The intensity forecast has really ramped up for a couple of reasons. First of all, the storm is no longer expected to interact with the mountainous terrain of Hispaniola. Its movement is also slower, meaning it will have several days over the very warm waters near the Bahamas, with moderate wind shear. Finally, the upper-atmosphere pattern is very favorable to intensification. Enlarge / The GFS forecast model ensemble predictions for Dorian show a range of possibilities for the track into Florida, and beyond. Weathernerds.org In terms of forecast track, there are some questions about the overall flow pattern in the upper atmosphere, so the landfall location carries more uncertainty than usual. A final landfall remains possible from north of Miami to Jacksonville. There are also questions about where the hurricane moves after it crosses the Florida peninsula. Dorian now seems more likely than not to reemerge in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico and eventually turn north, perhaps making a second landfall anywhere from the Florida Panhandle to Southeastern Louisiana. Effects The immediate concern is heavy rainfall over Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, which could lead to flash flooding. Longer-term, the Florida coast faces the potential for storm surge and strong winds. Both of these will depend heavily on the intensity that Dorian reaches, and where the storm makes landfall, as effects are more significant to the right of the center. As it now appears that Dorian will make a landfall at nearly a 90-degree angle to the Florida coast, storm surge effects will be amplified as the counter-clockwise motion of the storm's winds push water directly onshore. Enlarge / Very early precipitation accumulation forecast for the next seven days. Pivotal Weather In terms of winds, for now, Dorian is a relatively compact storm, so its worst winds may remain confined to within 50 or 75 miles (80-120km) of its center. Wherever the center crosses the Florida peninsula, it will have the potential to cause significant damage. A final concern is heavy rainfall. The steering currents by this weekend, and into early next week, are not overly pronounced. A slower-moving storm means that some areas of the Southeastern United States—Florida, Georgia, Alabama, or the Carolinas—would see a large amount of precipitation and flooding. It is impossible to say at this time where the worst of this inland flooding will occur, but it likely will be somewhere to the right side of the storm's track, although not necessarily particularly close to the center. Source: Dorian is shaping up to be a major threat to the Southeastern United States (Ars Technica)
  3. Hawaii, Oregon and Washington are among the states included in the expansion. Target's same-day Drive Up service is now available across all 50 states in the US. If you've never used Drive Up before, the service allows you to order items through the retailer's mobile app and then pick them up at a designated parking spot at your local Target store. Once you're at the store, a Target employee will bring your order to your car. With today's expansion, Drive Up is available at 1,750 Target retail locations nationwide, including at stores in states where the service was previously unavailable: Alaska, Hawaii, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana and Wyoming. As part of the expansion, Target is promising first-time Drive Up customers free product samples as a way to encourage people to try out the service. After a pilot in Minneapolis and St. Paul in 2017, Target officially launched Drive Up in 2018. Since then, the footprint of the service has grown dramatically, with the company's most recent expansion before today making Drive Up available at 1,550 stores nationwide. Additionally, what started as a two-hour delivery service now promises to complete orders within an hour. Drive Up has been so successful that Amazon has felt pressure to match Target. In June, the company announced a partnership with Rite Aid that will offer Amazon customers free in-store pickup at 1,500 Rite Aid drug stores across the US before the end of the year. By then, Target plans to roll out Drive Up to the majority of the 1,855 stores the company operates across the US. Source
  4. “We’re embarrassed”: US is close to losing measles-elimination status Health experts blame vaccine misinformation—and themselves. Paramount/CBS There’s a “reasonable chance” that the US will soon lose its status as a country that has eliminated measles. That’s according to Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The World Health Organization considers a disease eliminated from a country or region if it has gone at least 12 months without continuous spread of said disease. (This is different from disease eradication, which is when a disease is completely stamped out globally. Humans have only managed to eradicate two diseases: smallpox and rinderpest, which infects cattle and other ruminants.) The US triumphantly declared measles eliminated in 2000—after spending decades tenaciously working to promote widespread vaccination. (The CDC had originally hoped to have it eliminated by 1982.) And in 2016, the WHO declared measles eliminated from the Americas altogether. WHO’s Regional Office for the Americas (PAHO) celebrated the news with announcements titled, in part, “Bye, bye measles!” But now—after a global resurgence of the highly infectious viral illness, spurred partly by misinformation and vocal anti-vaccine advocates—both of those achievements are close to being undone. Massive outbreaks of measles ignited late last September in New York. The disease has continued to spread in flare-ups around the country, sickening a total of 1,215 people since the start of 2019. This week, the CDC reported 12 new cases from the week before. Experts expect the weekly case counts will rise with the start of school—and they’re bracing for a stinging defeat. "We're embarrassed. We're chagrined," infectious disease experts Dr. William Schaffner from Vanderbilt University told CNN. Messonnier echoed the feeling, telling CNN: "It certainly is incredibly frustrating and upsetting to the public health community that we may lose measles elimination status, because we do have a safe and effective vaccine.” The US wouldn’t be alone in its humiliating defeat. Earlier this month, the WHO determined that the UK had lost its measles-elimination status, which it had won only in 2017. “Losing our ‘measles-free’ status is a stark reminder of how important it is that every eligible person gets vaccinated,” Dr. Mary Ramsay, head of immunization at Public Health England, said in a tweeted statement. Schaffner and others in the public health community blame vaccine misinformation as well as themselves for the losses, saying that they were not fast and effective enough to protect the public. "I think this was not our finest hour," Schaffner said. In a statement released today, Wednesday, August 28, WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus addressed the problem of vaccine misinformation directly. “Misinformation about vaccines is as contagious and dangerous as the diseases it helps to spread,” he said in the statement. While he urged governments to strengthen health services, he called upon social media platforms and the private sector in general to help in the fight. “I call upon them to do more to filter out misinformation and inaccuracies that prevent people from achieving health and well-being.” In April, the World Health Organization reported that worldwide cases of measles in the first three months of 2019 were 300% higher than those in the first three months of 2018. In 2017, the most recent year for which there’s complete data, measles caused close to 11,000 deaths. Source: “We’re embarrassed”: US is close to losing measles-elimination status (Ars Technica)
  5. Wind power prices now lower than the cost of natural gas In the US, it's cheaper to build and operate wind farms than buy fossil fuels. Enlarge NREL This week, the US Department of Energy released a report that looks back on the state of wind power in the US by running the numbers on 2018. The analysis shows that wind hardware prices are dropping, even as new turbine designs are increasing the typical power generated by each turbine. As a result, recent wind farms have gotten so cheap that you can build and operate them for less than the expected cost of buying fuel for an equivalent natural gas plant. Wind is even cheaper at the moment because of a tax credit given to renewable energy generation. But that credit is in the process of fading out, leading to long term uncertainty in a power market where demand is generally stable or dropping. A lot of GigaWatts 2018 saw about 7.6 GigaWatts of new wind capacity added to the grid, accounting for just over 20 percent of the US' capacity additions. This puts it in third place behind natural gas and solar power. That's less impressive than it might sound, however, given that things like coal and nuclear are essentially at a standstill. Because the best winds aren't evenly distributed in the US, there are areas, like parts of the Great Plains, where wind installations were more than half of the new power capacity installed. Overall, that brings the US' installed capacity up to nearly 100GW. That leaves only China ahead of the US, although the gap is substantial with China having more than double the US' installed capacity. It still leaves wind supplying only 6.5 percent of the US' total electricity in 2018, though, which places it behind a dozen other countries. Four of them—Denmark, Germany, Ireland, and Portugal—get over 20 percent of their total electric needs supplied by wind, with Denmark at over 40 percent. That figure is notable, as having over 30 percent of your power supplied by an intermittent source is a challenge for many existing grids. But there are a number of states that have now cleared the 30 percent threshold: Kansas, Iowa, and Oklahoma, with the two Dakotas not far behind. The Southwest Power Pool, which serves two of those states plus wind giant Texas, is currently getting a quarter of its electricity from wind. (Texas leads the US with 25GW of installed wind capacity.) Enlarge / Despite having a lot of wind installed, the US uses far more power from other sources. US DOE So while wind remains a small factor in the total electricity market in the US, there are parts of the country where it's a major factor in the generating mix. And, given the prices, those parts are likely to expand. Plummeting prices In the US, the prices for wind power had risen up until 2009, when power purchase agreements for wind-generated electricity peaked at about $70 per MegaWatt-hour. Since then, there's been a very steady decline, and 2018 saw the national average fall below $20/MW-hr for the first time. Again, there's regional variation with the Great Plains seeing the lowest prices, in some cases reaching the mid-teens. That puts wind in an incredibly competitive position. The report uses an estimate of future natural gas prices that show an extremely gradual rise of about $10/MW-hr out to 2050. But natural gas—on its own, without considering the cost of a planet to burn it for electricity—is already over $20/MW-hr. That means wind sited in the center of the US is already cheaper than fueling a natural gas plant, and wind sited elsewhere is roughly equal. Enlarge / Those black bars are the price of gas. Blue circles are wind, while yellow are solar. US DOE The report notes that photovoltaics have reached prices that are roughly equivalent to wind, but those got there from a starting point of about $150/MW-hr in 2009. Thus, unless natural gas prices reverse the expected trend and get cheaper, wind and solar will remain the cheapest sources of new electricity in the US. The levelized cost of electricity, which eliminates the impact of incentives and subsidies on the final prices, places wind below $40/MW-hr in 2018. The cheapest form of natural gas generation was roughly $10 more per MegaWatt-hour. Note that, as recently as 2015, the US' Energy Information Agency was predicting that wind's levelized cost in 2020 would be $74/MW-hr. Built on better tech Why has wind gotten much cheaper than expected? Part of it is in improved technology. The report notes that in 2008, there were no turbines installed in the US with rotors above 100 meters in diameter. In 2018, 99 percent of them were over 100m, and the average size was 116m. In general, the turbine's generator grew in parallel. The average capacity for 2018 installs was 2.4MW, which is up five percent from the year previous. The area swept by the blades goes up with the square of their length. Thus, even though blade length and rated generating capacity are going up in parallel, the actual potential energy input from the blades is growing much faster. This has the effect of lowering what's called the specific power of the wind turbine. These lower specific power turbines work better in areas where the wind isn't as strong or consistent. On the truly windy days, they'll saturate the ability of the generator to extract power, while on a more typical day when the winds are lighter or erratic, they'll get more out of them. So even though more turbines are being built at sites without the best wind resources, we're generating more power per turbine. The capacity factor—the amount of power generated relative to the size of the generator—for projects built in the previous four years has now hit 42 percent, a figure that would once have required offshore wind. That's dragged the capacity factor of the entire US wind industry up to over 35 percent for the first time last year. Enlarge / Each year, the capacity factor of newly installed projects is typically higher than that of the years prior. US DOE The economics of these low-wind designs are so good that 23 existing sites were "repowered," with new, larger rotors replacing older hardware on existing towers. One thing that may be encouraging this is that older plants (those a decade old or more) seem to see a small dip in capacity factor over time. But the reason for this isn't clear at this point, so it's something that will have to be tracked in the future. Better grid management also helped the economics of wind. At times, strong winds can cause wind farms to produce an excess of power relative to demand, causing a farm's output to be reduced. This process, called curtailment, remained a small factor, with only two percent of the potential generation lost this way. Put differently, if the curtailed electricity had been used, it would have only raised the average capacity factor by 0.7 percentage points. Overall, given these economics, it's clear that the economic case for wind energy will remain solid as the tax credits for the construction of renewable energy fade out over the next few years. But the vanishing credits are causing lots of developers to start projects sooner rather than later, so we may see a bubble in construction for the next couple of years, followed by a dramatic drop off. Source: Wind power prices now lower than the cost of natural gas (Ars Technica)
  6. The University of Alaska Fairbanks teamed up with the FAA for the test pilot. The University of Alaska Fairbanks has successfully conducted the first beyond-visual-line-of-sight (BVLOS) drone flight in the US that's been approved by the FAA. At this point in time, drone flights are required to remain within their operators' line of sight, so they can look out for aircraft and other objects on the way. That means this particular test is a big step towards making drone deliveries a reality in the country, something retailers like Amazon are planning to deploy to keep up with consumer demand for high-speed deliveries. University of Alaska's test flight, according to Drone Life, used a hybrid electric drone to inspect a four-mile section of the Trans-Alaska pipeline. Since the test's objective was to fly the drone for the inspection's whole duration with no human involvement, the team had to load it with an on-board technology by Iris Automation called the Casia system. It's a sense-and-avoid technology that can detect other aircraft and make intelligent decisions on what kind of threat they pose to the drone. The Casia system worked with the eight ground-based radars the team installed along the route. Cathy Cahill, the director of the university's drone program, told Reuters that BVLOS flights are important for Alaska due to the lack of roads in remote areas. The test is a milestone for the drone industry as a whole, though. As FAA acting Administrator Dan Elwell said, it advances the industry toward the reliable integration of drones into the airspace. Source
  7. WASHINGTON (AP) — The Department of Homeland Security issued a security alert Tuesday for small planes, warning that modern flight systems are vulnerable to hacking if someone manages to gain physical access to the aircraft. An alert from the DHS critical infrastructure computer emergency response team recommends that plane owners ensure they restrict unauthorized physical access to their aircraft until the industry develops safeguards to address the issue, which was discovered by a Boston-based cybersecurity company and reported to the federal government. Most airports have security in place to restrict unauthorized access and there is no evidence that anyone has exploited the vulnerability. But a DHS official told The Associated Press that the agency independently confirmed the security flaw with outside partners and a national research laboratory, and decided it was necessary to issue the warning. The cybersecurity firm, Rapid7, found that an attacker could potentially disrupt electronic messages transmitted across a small plane’s network, for example by attaching a small device to its wiring, that would affect aircraft systems. Engine readings, compass data, altitude and other readings “could all be manipulated to provide false measurements to the pilot,” according to the DHS alert. The warning reflects the fact that aircraft systems are increasingly reliant on networked communications systems, much like modern cars. The auto industry has already taken steps to address similar concerns after researchers exposed vulnerabilities. The Rapid7 report focused only on small aircraft because their systems are easier for researchers to acquire. Large aircraft frequently use more complex systems and must meet additional security requirements. The DHS alert does not apply to older small planes with mechanical control systems. But Patrick Kiley, Rapid7′s lead researcher on the issue, said an attacker could exploit the vulnerability with access to a plane or by bypassing airport security. “Someone with five minutes and a set of lock picks can gain access (or) there’s easily access through the engine compartment,” Kiley said. Jeffrey Troy, president of the Aviation Information Sharing and Analysis Center, an industry organization for cybersecurity information, said there is a need to improve the security in networked operating systems but emphasized that the hack depends on bypassing physical security controls mandated by law. With access, “you have hundreds of possibilities to disrupt any system or part of an aircraft,” Troy said. The Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement that a scenario where someone has unrestricted physical access is unlikely, but the report is also “an important reminder to remain vigilant” about physical and cybersecurity aircraft procedures. Aviation cybersecurity has been an issue of growing concern around the world. In March, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s inspector general found that the FAA had “not completed a comprehensive, strategy policy framework to identify and mitigate cybersecurity risks.” The FAA agreed and said it would look to have a plan in place by the end of September. The UN’s body for aviation proposed its first strategy for securing civil aviation from hackers that’s expected to go before the General Assembly in September, said Pete Cooper, an ex-Royal Air Force fast jet pilot and cyber operations officer who advises the aviation industry. The vulnerability disclosure report is the product of nearly two years of work by Rapid7. After their researchers assessed the flaw, the company alerted DHS. Tuesday’s DHS alert recommends manufacturers review how they implement these open electronics systems known as “the CAN bus” to limit a hacker’s ability to perform such an attack. The CAN bus functions like a small plane’s central nervous system. Targeting it could allow an attacker to stealthily hijack a pilot’s instrument readings or even take control of the plane, according to the Rapid7 report obtained by The AP. “CAN bus is completely insecure,” said Chris King, a cybersecurity expert who has worked on vulnerability analysis of large-scale systems. “It was never designed to be in an adversarial environment, (so there’s) no validation” that what the system is being told to do is coming from a legitimate source. Only a few years ago, most auto manufacturers used the open CAN bus system in their cars. But after researchers publicly demonstrated how they could be hacked, auto manufacturers added on layers of security, like putting critical functions on separate networks that are harder to access externally. The disclosure highlights issues in the automotive and aviation industries about whether a software vulnerability should be treated like a safety defect — with its potential for costly manufacturer recalls and implied liability — and what responsibility manufacturers should have in ensuring their products are hardened against such attacks. The vulnerability also highlights the reality that it’s becoming increasingly difficult to separate cybersecurity from security overall. “A lot of aviation folks don’t see the overlap between information security, cybersecurity, of an aircraft, and safety,” said Beau Woods, a cyber safety innovation fellow with the Atlantic Council, a Washington think tank. “They see them as distinct things.” The CAN bus networking scheme was developed in the 1980s and is extremely popular for use in boats, drones, spacecraft, planes and cars — all areas where there’s more noise interference and it’s advantageous to have less wiring. It’s actually increasingly used in airplanes today due to the ease and cost of implementation, Kiley said. Given that airplanes have a longer manufacturing cycle, “what we’re trying to do is get out ahead of this.” The report didn’t name the vendors Rapid7 tested, but the company alerted them over a year ago, the report states. Source
  8. WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A month after President Donald Trump said he would allow U.S. companies to resume selling to blacklisted Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei, his administration has done little to clarify what sales will be permitted. The lack of clarity on what U.S. firms can supply to the world’s top producer of telecommunications equipment as long as it’s on a so-called “entity list” is likely to cast a shadow over this week’s U.S.-China trade negotiations in Shanghai. Trump had pledged to allow the sales as a goodwill gesture to President Xi Jinping when the two met last month and agreed to restart talks to try to resolve their year-long trade war. China, for its part, agreed to restart large-scale agricultural purchases. U.S. chipmakers cheered Trump’s announcement, which administration officials clarified afterwards meant the government would issue export licenses in cases where there is no national security risk and where the items are “non-sensitive” and readily replaced by rivals. But the department has yet to respond to any of a total of around 50 license requests from about 35 companies, sowing uncertainty in the industry and in Beijing. “At this stage, there is mass confusion,” said William Reinsch, a former Commerce official, adding that the plan for case-by-case decisions “maximizes the uncertainty.” The governments of the world’s two largest economies have imposed billions of dollars of tariffs on each other’s goods, slowing global growth and roiling markets. U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer will meet with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He starting on Tuesday, the first face-to-face meeting since the two leaders met. Many people close to the talks expect the topic of Huawei to dominate, along with the failure of Chinese agricultural purchases to meet expectations, taking time and attention away from the many deeper, longer term issues. Trump hosted a meeting of seven technology CEOs last week to discuss Huawei and other topics, at which the executives expressed frustration at Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross for not providing clear guidelines, Reuters reported. “By making the meeting public, the U.S. was trying to send a signal, ‘we’re moving on Huawei, we need you to move on agriculture’,” said Wendy Cutler, a former U.S. trade negotiator and Vice President of the Asia Society Policy Institute. PAR FOR THE COURSE Many companies have halted sales to Huawei since the company was put on the entity list on May 16, while some have chosen to resume selling items made abroad. Some, including Intel Corp (INTC.O) and Qualcomm (QCOM.O), began pressing Commerce for carve-outs soon after. Some companies have taken advantage of a narrow “temporary general license” provided by the Commerce Department which allows for transactions such as software updates for Huawei. Last week, Intel and Xilinx Inc (XLNX.O) said they had applied for licenses to resume sales of some products to Huawei. The companies also said they had resumed sales of some products they had independently determined were not subject to the ban. Secretary Ross has said responses to requests for licenses are coming in a matter of weeks. “It’s par for the course for this administration,” said trade lawyer Doug Jacobson. “They are making up policy as they go along based on the president’s direction.” The uncertainty continues to roil global industry. Last month San Jose, California-based Broadcom forecast that the U.S.-China trade tensions and the Huawei ban would knock $2 billion off its sales this year. CEO Hock Tan said there was no obvious substitution for Huawei, which accounted for about $900 million or 4 percent of its sales last year. Fedex Corp (FDX.N) last week said “unclear” Commerce department policy on Huawei “resulted in considerable complexity for our operations,” to explain why it held back more than 100 Huawei packages, which is now under investigation by Chinese authorities. The May blacklisting represented a significant escalation in Washington’s campaign against Huawei, which it says steals U.S. intellectual property and violates Iran sanctions. CFO Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Canada on a U.S. warrant on charges she misled global banks about Huawei’s relationship with a company in Iran. Meng, who is also the Huawei CEO’s daughter, maintains her innocence and is fighting extradition. Washington has also launched a lobbying effort to convince U.S. allies to keep Huawei out of next-generation 5G telecommunications infrastructure, citing concerns the company could spy on customers. Huawei has denied the allegations. Judith Alison Lee, a trade attorney at Gibson Dunn, said her clients have received requests from Commerce for more information related to their license applications but no approvals so far. “There is a real sense of uncertainty at the department about where the administration is going on Huawei,” she said. “Every day that goes by it creates more damage to Huawei and the Chinese, and that makes the trade talks that much more difficult.” Source
  9. What can brown fly for you? UPS announced it has submitted an application to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to operate commercial delivery drones in the US, through a new subsidiary called UPS Flight Forward. The company has been working closely with the FAA over the last year; in 2018, the agency launched a program to test out drones in a range of autonomous flying situations, and UPS was one of the accepted applicants. It’s been couriering lab samples around the WakeMed hospital campus in Raleigh, North Carolina, in partnership with the drone startup Matternet. Bala Ganesh, head of UPS’s advanced technology group, says that once the FAA has certified the new company, it plans to build upon the work it’s been doing in healthcare deliveries. “The time for storyboarding and testing is over,” Ganesh said. “We are now moving into the deployment phase.” UPS won’t be the first drone company to be given what’s called air-carrier certification, allowing it to operate commercially in the US. That honor went to Wing, a subsidiary of Google parent Alphabet, which got its FAA approval in April. UPS is hoping to get its certification later this year, at which point Ganesh says the company will expand its drone activities in three ways. First, it wants to replicate the work it’s done at WakeMed at other large medical facilities that need lab work ferried around as quickly as possible. It then wants to begin flying farther, using autonomous drones to potentially fly between five and ten miles from their point of origin. (Right now, most drone operations in the US need to be conducted within the line of sight of a pilot.) After that’s been mastered, UPS wants to fly its drones at night. Ganesh says much of this work shouldn’t require many changes to the hardware UPS has been using to date, but it needs to work with its partners and the FAA to determine how its drones should operate in these new situations. Nothing like this has really been done at scale before—Wing is still very much in a testing phase, and most other autonomous drone operations are either very small or tend not to fly near people. “It’s like we’re designing the airplane and flying it at the same time too,” Ganesh says. UPS doesn’t plan, at least for the near future, to offer drone deliveries to regular customers, so don’t expect to be getting your next online order delivered to your house by drone. For now, it’s concentrating on small payloads for healthcare. But Ganesh says other “urgent point-to-point needs” are being looked into. It really comes down to cost: right now, flying these drones isn’t cheap, and there are few customers that will pay for immediate deliveries at these prices outside of the healthcare industry. But as drone technology proliferates, UPS will likely look at delivering wherever it’s profitable to do so. Source
  10. Cyber threats from the U.S. and Russia are now focusing on civilian infrastructure Targeting civilian infrastructure opens a dangerous new front in cyber hostilities between the U.S. Cyber-confrontation between the U.S. and Russia is increasingly turning to critical civilian infrastructure, particularly power grids, judging from recent press reports. The typically furtive conflict went public last month, when The New York Times reported U.S. Cyber Command’s shift to a more offensive and aggressive approach in targeting Russia’s electric power grid. The report drew skepticism from some experts and a denial from the administration, but the revelation led Moscow to warn that such activity presented a “direct challenge” that demanded a response. WIRED magazine the same day published an article detailing growing cyber-reconnaissance on U.S. grids by sophisticated malware emanating from a Russian research institution, the same malware that abruptly halted operations at a Saudi Arabian oil refinery in 2017 during what WIRED called “one of the most reckless cyberattacks in history.” Although both sides have been targeting each other’s infrastructure since at least 2012, according to the Times article, the aggression and scope of these operations now seems unprecedented. Washington and Moscow share several similarities related to cyber-deterrence. Both, for instance, view the other as a highly capable adversary. U.S. officials fret about Moscow’s ability to wield its authoritarian power to corral Russian academia, the private sector, and criminal networks to boost its cyber-capacity while insulating state-backed hackers from direct attribution. Moscow sees an unwavering cyber-omnipotence in the U.S., capable of crafting uniquely sophisticated malware like the ‘Stuxnet’ virus, all while using digital operations to orchestrate regional upheaval, such as the Arab Spring in 2011. At least some officials on both sides, apparently, view civilian infrastructure as an appropriate and perhaps necessary lever to deter the other. Image courtesy of TechCrunch/Bryce Durbin Whatever their similarities in cyber-targeting, Moscow and Washington faced different paths in developing capabilities and policies for cyberwarfare, due in large part to the two sides’ vastly different interpretations of global events and the amount of resources at their disposal. A gulf in both the will to use cyber-operations and the capacity to launch them separated the two for almost 20 years. While the U.S. military built up the latter, the issue of when and where the U.S. should use cyber-operations failed to keep pace with new capabilities. Inversely, Russia’s capacity, particularly within its military, was outpaced by its will to use cyber-operations against perceived adversaries. Nonetheless, events since 2016 reflect a convergence of the two factors. While the U.S. has displayed a growing willingness to launch operations against Russia, Moscow has somewhat bolstered its military cyber-capacity by expanding recruiting initiatives and malware development. The danger in both sides’ cyber-deterrence, however, lies not so much in their converging will and capacity as much as it is rooted in mutual misunderstanding. The Kremlin’s cyber-authorities, for instance, hold an almost immutable view that the U.S. seeks to undermine Russia’s global position at every turn along the digital front, pointing to U.S. cyber-operations behind global incidents that are unfavorable to Moscow’s foreign policy goals. A declared expansion in targeting Russian power grids could ensure that future disruptions, which can occur spontaneously, are seen by Moscow as an unmistakable act of U.S. cyber-aggression. In Washington, it seems too little effort is dedicated to understanding the complexity of Russia’s view of cyber-warfare and deterrence. The notion that Russia’s 2016 effort to affect the U.S. presidential election was a “Cyber” or “Political” Pearl Harbor is an appropriate comparison only in the sense that U.S. officials were blindsided by Moscow’s distinct approach to cyberwarfare: an almost seamless blend of psychological and technical operations that differs from most Western concepts. Russian military operators conducted what should be considered a more aggressive cyber-campaign a year before their presidential election-meddling, when they posed as ‘CyberCaliphate,’ an online branch of ISIS, and attacked U.S. media outlets and threatened the safety of U.S. military spouses. For their part, the Russians made a different historical comparison to their 2016 activity. Andrey Krutskikh, the Kremlin’s bombastic point-man on cyber-diplomacy issues, likened Russia’s development of cyber-capabilities that year to the Soviet Union’s first successful atomic bomb test in 1949. Image courtesy of Getty Images/BeeBright Western analysts, fixated on untangling the now-defunct concept of the ‘Gerasimov Doctrine,’ devoted far less attention to the Russian military’s actual cyber-experts, who starting in 2008 wrote a series of articles about the consequences of Washington’s perceived militarization of cyberspace, including a mid-2016 finale that discussed Russia’s need to pursue cyber-peace with the U.S. by demonstrating an equal ‘information potential’. Despite Cyber Command’s new authorities, Moscow’s hackers are comparatively unfettered by legal or normative boundaries and have a far wider menu of means and methods in competing with the U.S. short of all-out war. Russian military hackers, for example, have gone after everything from the Orthodox Church to U.S. think tanks, and they launched what the Trump administration called the most costly cyber-attack in history. In the awkward space between war and peace, Russian cyber-operations certainly benefit from the highly permissive, extralegal mandate granted by an authoritarian state, one that Washington would likely be loath (with good reason) to replicate out of frustration. By no means should the Kremlin’s activity go unanswered. But a leap from disabling internet access for Russia’s ‘Troll Farm’ to threatening to blackout swaths of Russia could jeopardize the few fragile norms existing in this bilateral cyber-competition, perhaps leading to expanded targeting of nuclear facilities. The U.S. is arriving late to a showdown that many officials in Russian defense circles saw coming a long time ago, when U.S. policymakers were understandably preoccupied with the exigencies of counterterrorism and counterinsurgency. Washington could follow Moscow’s lead in realizing that this is a long-term struggle that requires innovative and thoughtful solutions as opposed to reflexive ones. Increasing the diplomatic costs of Russian cyber-aggression, shoring-up cyber-defenses, or even fostering military-to-military or working-level diplomatic channels to discuss cyber redlines, however discretely and unofficially, could present better choices than apparently gambling with the safety of civilians that both sides’ forces are sworn to protect. Source: Cyber threats from the U.S. and Russia are now focusing on civilian infrastructure
  11. Trump administration freezing fuel efficiency penalties WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Trump administration said late on Friday it was issuing final rules to suspend a 2016 Obama administration regulation that more than doubled penalties for automakers failing to meet fuel efficiency requirements. FILE PHOTO: Traffic is pictured at twilight along 42nd St. in the Manhattan borough of New York, U.S., March 27, 2019. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri Congress in 2015 ordered federal agencies to adjust a wide range of civil penalties to account for inflation and, in response, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) under President Barack Obama issued rules to eventually raise fines to $14 from $5.50 for every 0.1 mile per gallon of fuel that new cars and trucks consume in excess of the required standards. Automakers protested the hike, saying it could increase industry compliance costs by $1 billion annually. After a group of states and environmental groups filed suit, the Trump administration began the process of formally undoing the Obama regulation and first proposed the freeze in 2018. In a statement late on Friday, NHTSA said it was faithfully following the intent of Congress to ensure the penalty rate was set at the level required by statute. It expected this final rule to significantly cut the future burden on industry and consumers by up to $1 billion a year, it added. The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, a trade group representing General Motors Co (GM.N), Volkswagen AG (VOWG_p.DE), Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T), Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV (FCHA.MI) and others, had said it could increase industry compliance costs by $1 billion annually. Late on Friday, Gloria Bergquist, a spokeswoman for the group, praised the decision, saying NHTSA’s “own model clearly shows the significant economic harm that such a dramatic and unjustified increase in penalties would have on auto manufacturers, workers, and ultimately consumers.” The prior administration had “failed to take into account the significant economic harm that would result,” she added. Automakers argued the increases would dramatically raise costs, since they would also boost the value of fuel economy credits that are used to meet requirements. In September 2017, three environmental groups and some U.S. states including New York and California sued NHTSA for putting the Obama rules on hold. Last year, the states said, “If the penalty is not sufficiently high, automakers lack a vital incentive to manufacture fuel-efficient vehicles.” Some automakers historically have paid fines instead of meeting fuel efficiency requirements - including some luxury automakers like Jaguar Land Rover, owned by India’s Tata Motors (TAMO.NS), and Daimler AG (DAIGn.DE). In February, Fiat Chrysler told Reuters it paid $77 million in U.S. civil penalties in 2018 for failing to meet 2016 model year fuel economy requirements. Fiat Chrysler welcomed the decision. It “enables us to continue our significant investment plans in both our U.S. manufacturing footprint and new technologies required to maintain our trajectory of improved fuel-efficiency,” the carmaker said in a statement late on Friday. Environmental groups urge the administration to retain the increase, noting U.S. fuel economy fines have lost nearly 75% of their original value because the fines have only been increased once — from $5 to $5.50 in 1997 — in more than four decades. The move comes as NHTSA and the Environmental Protection Agency are working to finalize a rewrite of the Obama administration’s fuel efficiency requirements through 2026 in the coming months. In August 2018, the administration proposed freezing fuel efficiency requirements and stripping California of the right to set its own vehicle-emissions rules. The final regulation faces a multi-year legal battle that could leave automakers in limbo about future emissions and fuel-efficiency requirements. The Obama-era rules called for a fleetwide fuel-efficiency average of 46.7 miles per gallon by 2026, compared with 37 mpg under the Trump administration’s preferred option. Last month, 17 major automakers urged a compromise “midway” between the Obama-era standards that require annual decreases of about 5% in emissions and the Trump administration’s proposal. Reuters reported in April that officials expect the final rule will include a small increase in yearly fuel-efficiency requirements. Source: Trump administration freezing fuel efficiency penalties
  12. OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland on Thursday dismissed a suggestion that Ottawa block the extradition of a top executive from China’s Huawei Technologies Co Ltd to the United States, saying it would set a dangerous precedent. FILE PHOTO: Canada's Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland Huawei’s Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou, who was arrested on U.S. fraud charges in Vancouver last December, will challenge Washington’s extradition request at hearings that are set to begin next January. China angrily demanded Canada release Meng and detained two Canadians on spying charges. It has also blocked imports of Canadian canola seed and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said he fears further retaliation. The Globe and Mail newspaper on Thursday said former Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien had floated the idea of the government intervening to stop the extradition case and thereby improve ties with Beijing. “When it comes to Ms Meng there has been no political interference ... and that is the right way for extradition requests to proceed,” Freeland told a televised news conference in Washington. “It would be a very dangerous precedent indeed for Canada to alter its behavior when it comes to honoring an extradition treaty in response to external pressure,” she added, saying to do so could make Canadians around the world less safe. Canadian officials say they see no prospect of relations with China improving until Meng’s future is resolved. Trudeau said last week he would look at whether it was “appropriate or desirable” to seek a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of a Group of 20 summit in Japan later this month. Trudeau plans to visit Washington for talks on June 20 which will address the case of the two detained Canadians. Source
  13. Sajid Javid inks court papers for hearing tomorrow UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid revealed this morning that he has signed papers to have Julian Assange extradited to the US. Speaking on BBC radio earlier today, Javid said: "There's an extradition request from the US that is before the courts tomorrow but yesterday I signed the extradition order and certified it and that will be going in front of the courts tomorrow." Javid's certifying of the US extradition request lodged this week is the first formal step in having Assange sent across the pond. The next phase is tomorrow, when Belmarsh Magistrates' Court will set a date for a full extradition hearing. After that, assuming a district judge (full-time professional magistrate) OKs the extradition, Javid himself will make the final decision on whether or not to send the one-time chief WikiLeaker to America, as UK.gov's website explains. It is almost certain Assange will file an appeal to the High Court after the district judge's ruling, and again (as the law allows) after the Home Secretary's final decision. Avenging US government agents have long wanted Assange in their clutches because of his website WikiLeaks. As world+dog knows, WikiLeaks published classified material that mostly came from the US government, including the infamous "Collateral Murder" footage from gun cameras aboard American attack helicopters in the Middle East, depicting US pilots killing unarmed civilians. It also published thousands of entirely unredacted US diplomatic cables, exposing the nation's foreign policy workings and causing it severe embarrassment in the process. Sweden, which previously wanted Assange over allegations of sexual assault, abandoned its attempt to get its hands on the Australian national a week ago after a local court decided not to grant prosecutors an EU Arrest Warrant. That would have bypassed normal extradition protections in UK law. Assange's fans have always maintained that the Swedish proceedings were a front to have him extradited on to America. Assange is charged in the US with 18 counts including publishing classified material, collaborating with ex-US Army leaker Chelsea Manning, and various other crimes. In UK law, the Americans must promise only to try Assange on the charges they have published so far before he can be handed over – and the possibility of the death sentence would automatically bar his extradition. So far the WikiLeaker has not been charged with capital crimes. In his defence, Assange is understood to be claiming that he is a journalist and that the activities of WikiLeaks were journalism, rather than espionage as American prosecutors claim. In May, Assange was sentenced for jumping bail in the UK when he fled to London's Ecuadorian embassy, back in June 2012. He is currently serving 22 weeks in HM Prison Belmarsh in Woolwich, southeast London, with a theoretical release date of 2 October, well after the normal legal timescales for extradition hearings would be over. Source
  14. China’s saber-rattling on rare-earths trade has US officials looking for options Coal runoff could be a solution; Pentagon wants funding for rare-earths independence. Rare earth oxides. Clockwise from top center: praseodymium, cerium, lanthanum, neodymium, samarium, and gadolinium. Peggy Greb, US Department of Agriculture On Wednesday, Chinese newspapers ran commentaries warning the United States that escalating trade tensions would result in China cutting off its rare-earth-minerals trade with the US. China is the dominant supplier of rare-earth minerals around the world. The minerals are used in all sorts of advanced materials and play a prominent role in the operation of electric motors, wind turbines, and military-related material. According to Reuters, China's official People's Daily ran an article saying: "Undoubtedly, the US side wants to use the products made by China's exported rare-earths to counter and suppress China's development. The Chinese people will never accept this!" The commentary continued: "We advise the US side not to underestimate the Chinese side's ability to safeguard its development rights and interests. Don't say we didn't warn you!" A similar message apparently ran as an editorial in the Global Times on Wednesday. US response: Get rare-earths from coal waste China has thus far imposed mild tariffs on the rare-earth ore coming to it for processing. This tariff has squeezed the bottom lines of the owners of the only US rare-earth mine at Mountain Pass, Calif. Mountain Pass ships its ore to China for processing into industrial-grade metal, because there are no comparable rare-earths processing plants in the US. An Australian rare-earth minerals company announced last week that it would join with a US chemical company to build a rare-earths processing plant in Texas, but such a plant is likely years away from becoming a reality. China restricted its rare-earths supply before, in 2010, when it cut its export quota by 40 percent and sent prices skyward. In 2012, the US asked the World Trade Organization (WTO) to intervene, and in 2014, the WTO said that China's restriction of rare-earth-metals exports violated international trade law. Despite the high prices caused by China's export restrictions in 2010, the country is still the dominant supplier of processed rare-earth minerals. This is, in part, because processing the minerals can be environmentally taxing and wealthier countries like the US have little appetite for being home to a processing plant that creates a lot of (sometimes radioactive) waste. But a group of US senators in April reintroduced the Rare Earth Element Advanced Coal Technologies Act (REEACT) to try to glean some of these rare-earth minerals from coal-mining sludge. (An earlier version of the bill died in the Senate in 2018.) REEACT would spend $23 million each year between 2020 and 2027 to "conduct R&D on the separation of rare-earth elements from coal and coal byproducts." So far, researchers at West Virginia University (WVU) have been working at a pilot facility that's funded by more than $4 million in grants from the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL). They hope the plant will be able to extract certain rare-earth minerals from sludge created during acid coal-mine drainage. Let’s hear it for sludge! Treated sludge from West Virginia coal mines contain heavy rare-earths in particular, which are valuable and have few suppliers outside of China. "Studies show that the Appalachian basin could produce 800 tons of rare-earth elements per year, approximately the amount the defense industry would need," according to a WVU press release from 2018. Paul Ziemkiewicz, a director of WVU's Energy Institute testified before Congress in mid-May to brief lawmakers about advancements in the field. Ziemkiewicz said that refining coal-mine sludge to deliver certain rare-earth minerals may have a lower regulatory hurdle than would normally be expected. "Recovering rare-earths from acid mine drainage doesn't require much permitting," Ziemkiewicz told Congress. "You've already got infrastructure, you've got a workforce, you've got SMCRA permits required by the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act, and the state and Federal clean water permits." Though the permitting might be simple, it's unclear how quickly the process could be commercialized, especially if the REEACT bill fails to pass. In the meantime, the Pentagon late yesterday issued a report urging US action or securing rare-earths supply, according to Reuters. The report apparently urges the White House to use economic incentives under the Defense Production Act to bolster rare-earths production. Source: China’s saber-rattling on rare-earths trade has US officials looking for options (Ars Technica)
  15. Time has published an article written by Apple CEO Tim Cook arguing in favor of stronger U.S. privacy laws. The article was published under the headline “You Deserve Privacy Online. Here's How You Could Actually Get It.” Much of the article rehashes what Cook has said before, which can be summarized by what he believes are the four basic privacy rights: “First, the right to have personal data minimized. Companies should challenge themselves to strip identifying information from customer data or avoid collecting it in the first place. Second, the right to knowledge—to know what data is being collected and why. Third, the right to access. Companies should make it easy for you to access, correct and delete your personal data. And fourth, the right to data security, without which trust is impossible.” A new proposal regarding the regulation of data brokers is a bit more novel. These companies violate all of those principles by gathering as much information as possible, in secret, with no guarantee of its security. And most people can’t do a single thing about it. This setup isn't just invasive; it's dangerous. Just consider the Equifax hack, or this Motherboard report about how easy data brokers make it to buy personal information, or any of the other examples of just how much data is traded without true oversight. Here’s what Cook wants to do about that: “We believe the Federal Trade Commission should establish a data-broker clearinghouse, requiring all data brokers to register, enabling consumers to track the transactions that have bundled and sold their data from place to place, and giving users the power to delete their data on demand, freely, easily and online, once and for all.” Those protections would be in addition to stronger federal laws regarding consumer privacy, too, and not just for data brokers. They get their data from somewhere, and that list of sources includes tech companies. Which is where Apple’s self interest comes in. Many tech companies make their money by selling information about their users. That's why so many services are free—the monetization occurs behind the scenes with data sharing deals or advertising platforms. See: Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Apple makes its money by selling devices. That affords it the opportunity to limit data collection and, naturally, use privacy as a marketing tool. It sees demand for non-invasive tech and it’s more than happy to meet that demand with its products. Stricter privacy laws wouldn't be a win for Apple because of Cook’s personal beliefs. They’d be a win for Apple because so much of its competition relies on for-profit surveillance to survive. So you have to consider that when executives back policy, even if it may benefit many people. Source
  16. Your Netflix subscription is about to get pricier. ‬ It’s a 13% to 18% increase. ‪The popular streaming service announced that it will raise prices across its U.S. plans for new subscribers on Tuesday, and for existing users over the next three months. ‬ ‪Netflix’s most popular plan, previously $10.99 a month for two HD streams, will rise to $12.99. The cheapest $7.99 non-HD plan will now be $8.99, while the premium option that allowed four simultaneous streams in 4K will rise to $15.99 per month from $13.99. ‬ Netflix is raising the rates to fund its push into original programming. It was reported by The Economist last year that the company was spending between $12 billion and $13 billion on original programming in 2018, releasing popular films such as "Bird Box" and "Roma" as well as new seasons of TV shows like "13 Reasons Why," "Orange is the New Black" and "Marvel's Daredevil." Netflix has become a content powerhouse over the last few years. “We change pricing from time to time as we continue investing in great entertainment and improving the overall Netflix experience for the benefit of our members,” a Netflix spokesperson said in a statement to USA TODAY. The company plans to notify existing users by email and in the app of the price increase. Tuesday's price hike is the fourth time the company has raised its prices in the U.S., the last hike coming in 2017. In September, the company said it had 58 million U.S. subscribers. The move comes amid growing competition in the streaming space in 2019. AT&T, now the owners of Time Warner's vast content library (including HBO), plans to launch a streaming offering later this year. As does Disney, which is in the process of acquiring 21st Century Fox's movie and TV studios. Source
  17. Air traffic controllers in the U.S. must stay on the job under partial government shutdown 'Thanks to our friends to the north at Moncton Center for the pizza, Air traffic controllers from Atlantic Canada directed a fleet of special arrivals into the New York Air Traffic Control Centre on Friday night, as a gesture of solidarity and respect. And each was covered in a layer of gooey melted cheese. The Canadian Air Traffic Controller Association units in Gander, N.L., and Moncton, N.B., ordered pizzas for all of their colleagues at the control centre on Long Island, who have been working without pay since the partial U.S. government shutdown began on Dec. 22. U.S. President Donald Trump wants $5.7 billion to build a border wall with Mexico, and says he won't put through a bill to cover the cost of operating parts of the government until he gets it. The Democrats have put forward a funding bill, but don't support the wall. "It's been so overwhelmingly negative and it's nice to see that there's solidarity out there. There's people out there who are just saying, 'Hey, I work with you as a friend or a colleague and here's a nice gesture of friendship, that we care,'" said David Lombardo, a former air traffic controller who lives in Long Island and runs a social media site for people in the industry. He posted a notice to Reddit about the impending pizza arrival seen in the hallways of the New York control centre. "Aviation is a really tight-knit group of people, it's like a family. And plus, it goes against the whole rhetoric here that we're talking about because it's an international boundary!" Air traffic controllers in Cleveland enjoy pizza from their counterparts in Toronto. Workers at the Minneapolis Air Route Traffic Control Centre also enjoyed pizza from the Winnipeg Area Control Centre. Air traffic controllers provide essential services and are unable to suspend work or take any other job action during the government shutdown, he said. As a result, with no other government services running, they're working without paycheques. "They're worried about their mortgages, their medical bills. It's one thing to have a date set and say, 'Hey you're going to get your back pay in a week or two,' but they have absolutely no idea when they're going to get paid, And you can imagine that's pretty disheartening and pretty scary for many people." Sometimes solidarity comes with a soft crust and a layer of melted cheese. According to Doug Church, deputy director of public affairs with the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) in the U.S., there are currently 14,000 controllers working without pay. And they're thrilled about the pizzas. "It's just a really good shot in the arm of positive energy and positive emotion to know that, 'Hey they've got our back,'" he said. "On behalf of the entire NATCA and air traffic control around this country, we extend our thanks and our gratitude." A concerted, Canada-wide pizza delivery The pizza-delivering task force from the Gander and Moncton crews is part of a national effort on behalf of Canadian air traffic controllers to show support for their American counterparts, said Peter Duffey, president of the Canadian Air Traffic Control Association (CATCA). Duffey said local unions have been asking the national union what they could do to help since the U.S. government shutdown began. On Thursday evening, controllers in Edmonton had the idea to send pizzas across the border to controllers in Alaska. It snowballed from there. As of Sunday morning, Canadian units have sent pizzas to 35 different units in the U.S. "This is as grassroots as it gets, with our members just jumping on board this like crazy," he said. "I couldn't be more proud of what my members are doing." 'We're all taking care of the skies over North America' Duffey echoed Lombardo's sentiment that air traffic controllers keep each other close, even though they don't work side-by-side and often only hear each other's voices in headsets. "We always stand together, especially with our American counterparts," he said. "Our members just want to reach out to those people that they consider to be co-workers. We're all taking care of the skies over North America." The nature of the job also builds a strong bond, he said. "We always say that we have to be 100 per cent correct, 100 per cent of the time, with zero room for error. That's the nature of our job. To have somebody have to report to work with the added pressure of knowing they're now into their second period of work with no paycheque, they don't need that kind of added stress and pressure. We just want to send them a message that says, 'Hey we're with you, we stand with you, and we're sorry that this is happening to you.'" Church agreed that the current working conditions only made a tough job tougher. "We hold our aviation system and the safety of it in a very high regard and treat it with the utmost professionalism. It's very painful to see that system suffer because of political dispute and it really needs to end now." It was tasty pizza Lombardo said the shipment from the Gander and Moncton units were the first evidence he saw of the pan-Canadian pizza effort, but that he knew there were a lot of pies being ordered from north of the border. Gander, he said, may be a small town in a small province, but they play a big role in the skies. "They have a massive chunk of airspace that they handle," he said. "They're well-known for being very, very important in the aviation world, and it's so nice to see them care about everyone else around them." They may now be known for having good taste in pizza, too. Reddit users responded to Lombardo's post asking about the pizza place the Gander and Moncton crews chose — Gino's of Ronkonkoma — he assured them the folks at the New York control centre had a good feed. "It's really good pizza," he wrote. "And this is Long Island. Believe me, we are pizza perfectionists." Source
  18. Times are tough in 2019 thanks to the US-China trade war and an escalating war of words between Washington and Beijing over tech leadership Chinese companies at CES all agreed though that while the trade war has adversely impacted their business in the US, it remains a very important market CES, the world’s largest client electronics commerce present held yearly in Las Vegas, has historically been an occasion for firms, from international names reminiscent of Sony, Samsung and Huawei to smaller Shenzhen-based suppliers, to indicate off their expertise, services – normally to an keen crowd. It has even been known as the ‘Chinese language Electronics Present’ lately due to the growing presence of members from China. However for Chinese language suppliers hoping to make use of the occasion as a technique to achieve new enterprise leads, occasions are robust in 2019 due to the US-China commerce struggle and an escalating disagreement between Washington and Beijing over management in a spread of innovative applied sciences and improvements, reminiscent of synthetic intelligence and 5G cell networks. China cools on world’s largest tech present as commerce struggle bites The US and China, the 2 largest economies on this planet, have slapped billions of {dollars} in tariffs on one another, sending markets reeling and commentators right into a frenzy over the long-term implications for US-China relations. However on the Design and Supply tent, the place part suppliers set out their wares, it was extra quiet then ordinary as rows of Chinese salespeople manning small cubicles stood forlornly in entrance of product shows, making an attempt exhausting to catch the attention of passers-by within the hope of snaring a sale. Chinese firms that the Publish spoke to at CES all agreed that the US-China commerce struggle has adversely impacted their enterprise with US clients, however all stated that whatever the lowering margins, the US market stays extraordinarily essential. “We’re positively affected by the tariffs, in actual fact certainly one of our large US clients is shifting their manufacturing operations outdoors of China to Vietnam to keep away from a rise in the price of doing enterprise,” stated Yuki, a saleswoman from Dongguan-based Ruiheng Digital Co. Ltd., which manufactures energy adaptors and circuit boards. Source
  19. The US Commerce Department has refused to renew an export licence at a Huawei subsidy in Silicon Valley, meaning China cannot access new developments at the site. According to the Wall Street Journal, Huawei R&D outfit Futurewei was informed over the summer that the US Department of Commerce would not be renewing the license meaning some of the technologies developed at the site, but not all, could not be exported back to China. It’s a new strategy in the conflict between the US and China, but it could prove to be an effective one. Silicon Valley is not the hotspot of the technology world because of the favourable climate or the presence of helpful regulations, it has one of the most talented workforces around the world. There are of course challengers to this claim emerging, India or Eastern European for example, but companies flock to Silicon Valley to open up R&D offices to tap into this resource. Such a ban from the US Commerce Department means Huawei is going to miss out on some of these smarts. The block will prove problematic to overcome as there does not appear to be any logical way to combat the move. The rationale behind the blockage is quite simple; national security. Seeing as Huawei is currently being trialled and punished without the burden of evidence, there seems to be little the vendor can do to combat such passive aggressive moves by the US. This is of course just another stage is the incrementally escalating conflict between the US and China. The tension between the pair does seem to have escalated over the last few days following a minor hiatus at Christmas. Rumours are circling the Oval Office concerning an all-out ban on Huawei and ZTE technology in the US, while suspicions will only increase following the arrest of a Huawei employee in Poland on the grounds of espionage. With all the drama before Christmas and the hullaballoo kicking off again now, perhaps we should expect some sort of retaliation from Beijing. The Chinese governments has not been anywhere near as confrontation as the US, though there might be a breaking point somewhere in the future. Source
  20. The U.S. was ranked one of the deadliest countries for journalists in 2018 for the first time in an annual report from Reporters Without Borders. The U.S. ranked sixth among the most lethal countries for journalists, behind Afghanistan, Syria, Mexico, Yemen and India, in that order. Six journalists were killed in the U.S. this year. Four journalists, as well as a sales assistant, were killed in June when a gunman opened fire at the Annapolis, Md. offices of the Capital Gazette. Two other journalists, a North Carolina television anchor and cameraman, were killed by a falling tree while covering a hurricane in May. Overall, more journalists were killed, abused and subjected to violence in 2018 than in any other year on record, according to the report, which added that reporters are facing an “unprecedented level of hostility." Murder, imprisonment, hostage-taking and enforced disappearances of journalists all increased compared to last year. A total of 80 journalists were killed in 2018, with 49 murdered or deliberately targeted while 31 were killed while reporting. While the report partially blames bombings and shootings targeting the media in Afghanistan with the increase in deaths, 45 percent of those killed were not in conflict zones. In 2018, 348 reporters were detained and 60 were held hostage. China leads the world in detentions, with 60 journalists held in that country. Thirty-one journalists are being held hostage in Syria. “Violence against journalists has reached unprecedented levels this year, and the situation is now critical,” Reporters Without Borders Secretary General Christophe Deloire said in a press release. “The hatred of journalists that is voiced, and sometimes very openly proclaimed, by unscrupulous politicians, religious leaders and businessmen has tragic consequences on the ground, and has been reflected in this disturbing increase in violations against journalists,” he added. The October murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a columnist for The Washington Post who resided in Virginia, in Istanbul sparked international outrage. The CIA has concluded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the hit as part of his crackdown on dissent. Reporters Without Borders has been heavily involved in the #ProtectJournalists campaign, which calls for the appointment of a special representative of the United Nations secretary general for the protection of journalists. Source
  21. An invasive tick that feeds on humans, pets, livestock and wildlife is now making a new home for itself in the United States. The Asian longhorned tick (Haemaphysalis longicornis) is a potentially disease-carrying, blood-sucking species native to East Asia. Last year, however, this exotic pest was somehow found in the US state of New Jersey, hitching a ride on a sheep, thousands of kilometres from home. Since then, this intrepid and opportunistic explorer has been popping up all over, in multiple different states, including New York, Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Arkansas, Connecticut and Maryland. It's the first invasive tick to emerge in the US in nearly 80 years, and researchers think it is here to stay. A new study suggests that the steady and furtive creep of the Asian longhorned tick has only just begun. "The Asian longhorned tick is a very adaptable species, especially in its native East Asia,"says lead author Ilia Rochlin, an entomologist at the Rutgers University Center for Vector Biology. "The optimal tick habitat appears to be defined by temperate conditions--moderate temperature, humidity, and precipitation. These climatic conditions also support forested or shrubby vegetation, providing prime environment for ticks." And unfortunately, these ideal conditions are found right across North America. Using climate and environmental data from the tick's home in China, Japan and Korea, Rochlin created a statistical model that identifies similarly suitable habitats in the US and Canada. The findings reveal that much of North America is a veritable breeding ground for the Asian longhorned tick, with moderate to high suitability. Vast regions of this continent, including the west coast and especially the east coast, were found to boast ideal humid temperatures and subtropical broadleaf forests in which these ticks commonly flourish. "Similar to China's mainland, this potential H. longicornis habitat in North America is limited by low temperatures in the north, by dry climatic conditions in the west, and by high temperatures in the south," the study concludes. This leaves plenty of room for movement. Dipping down to northern Florida and stretching all the way up to southeastern Canada; tracing the Gulf coast as far as Louisiana; reaching inland to the Midwest and southeastern states; running along the northern coast of California and Oregon, and speckling the waterline of Washington. The regions where this tick could potentially set up residence are immense. The results are concerning, because this tick is notorious for carrying disease, and this puts all of its food sources in North America at risk, including goats, sheep, cattle, pigs, deer, cats, dogs, rats, mice, hedgehogs, birds and even humans. At present, there is no evidence that the longhorned tick has transmitted any diseases in the US, but given its track record, expectations are not good, prompting the US Centres for Disease Control (CDC) to issue a warning about the invasive species last month. In its homeland, this tick has been found to carry a severe, fever-inducing virus of the Phlebovirus genus. And incidentally, this emerging disease is closely related to the Heartland virus in the US, which is currently transported by the Lone Star tick. "Introduction of a tick species that is a competent vector for a closely related virus should be a matter of concern for the public health agencies and requires further investigations," the study argues. But perhaps the biggest worry has to do with livestock. In Australia and New Zealand, where this invasive species has already set up camp, the Asian longhorned tick has been found to carry bovine theileriosis, which can result in costly production losses and high mortality. This blood-sucking tick can even cause a dairy cow's milk production to drop by as much as 25 percent. Given the species' tiny size, its versatility and its ability to asexually reproduce, laying thousands of eggs at a time, Rochlin says that eradicating it from the US will be extremely difficult if not impossible. The only thing we really can do at this stage is keep tabs on this parasite as closely as possible. "The main question I am often asked is 'What can be done about ticks?' - and I don't have a good answer to that. While research and surveillance are important, we are in dire need of comprehensive tick-control strategy and new tools to carry it out," Rochlin says. "Mosquito control has been very successful in this country, but we are losing the battle with tick-borne diseases." This study has been published in the Journal of Medical Entomology. source
  22. SAN DIEGO (AP) — U.S. authorities arrested 32 people at a demonstration Monday that was organized by a Quaker group on the border with Mexico, authorities said. Demonstrators were calling for an end to detaining and deporting immigrants and showing support for migrants in a caravan of Central American asylum seekers. A photographer for The Associated Press saw about a dozen people being handcuffed after they were told by agents to back away from a wall that the Border Patrol calls “an enforcement zone.” The American Friends Service Committee, which organized the demonstration, said 30 people were stopped by agents in riot gear and taken into custody while they tried to move forward to offer a ceremonial blessing near the wall. Border Patrol spokesman Eduardo Olmos said 31 people were arrested on suspicion of trespassing by the Federal Protective Service and one was arrested by the Border Patrol for assaulting an agent. More than 300 people, many the leaders of churches, mosques, synagogues and indigenous communities, participated in the demonstration at San Diego’s Border Field State Park, which borders Tijuana, Mexico. Source
  23. “We’ve launched our last satellite,” John Donovan, CEO of AT&T Communications, said in a meeting with analysts on Nov. 29. The AT&T executive effectively declared the end of the satellite-TV era with that statement. AT&T owns DirecTV, the US’s largest satellite company—and second largest TV provider overall, behind Comcast. DirecTV will continue offering satellite-TV service—it had nearly 20 million satellite video subscribers as of September, per company filings. But the company will focus on growing its online video business instead, Donovan said. It has a new set-top box, where people can get the same TV service they’d get with satellite, through an internet-connected box they can install themselves. It expects that box to become a greater share of its new premium-TV service installations in the first half of 2019. It also sells cheaper, TV packages with fewer channels through its DirecTV Now and WatchTV streaming services, which work with many smart TVs and streaming media players like Roku and Amazon Fire TV devices. The practice of getting TV through satellite dishes propped up in backyards and perched on rooftops first took hold in the US in the last 1970s and early 1980s, after TV networks like HBO and Turner Broadcasting System started sending TV signals to cable providers via satellites. People in areas without cable or broadcast TV began putting up their own dishes to receive the TV signals, and that grew into a TV business of its own. But in recent years, consumers have shifted to new digital TV offerings like Netflix and Hulu or the live, PlayStation Vue service. That shift away from traditional TV services has hit satellite particularly hard. The US pay-TV industry reportedly lost a record number of TV subscribers last quarter, and the satellite services from DirecTV and Dish Network (which also owns internet-TV service Sling TV) were the hardest hit. In 2017, AT&T lost 554,000 satellite video subscribers, and it continued to hemorrhage customers this year, according to company filings. “He’s not going to launch more satellites,” AT&T’s top boss, chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson, said of Donovan, during the meeting. “We’re kind of done.” Source
  24. Xi Jinping and Donald Trump discussed a range of issues — among them the trade dispute that has left over $200 billion worth of goods hanging in the balance. "President Trump has agreed that on January 1, 2019, he will leave the tariffs on $200 billion worth of product at the 10 percent rate, and not raise it to 25 percent at this time," the White House said. Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Donald Trump put their bilateral trade war on pause momentarily, striking an agreement to hold off on slapping additional tariffs on each other's goods after January 1, as talks continue between both countries. In a White House readout of a dinner at the G-20 summit in Argentina, Xi and Trump discussed a range of nettlesome issues — among them the trade dispute that has left over $200 billion worth of goods hanging in the balance. "President Trump has agreed that on January 1, 2019, he will leave the tariffs on $200 billion worth of product at the 10 percent rate, and not raise it to 25 percent at this time," the statement read. Over the next 90 days, American and Chinese officials will continue to negotiate lingering disagreements on technology transfer, intellectual property and agriculture. "Both parties agree that they will endeavor to have this transaction completed within the next 90 days. If at the end of this period of time, the parties are unable to reach an agreement, the 10 percent tariffs will be raised to 25 percent," the statement added. Meanwhile, "China will agree to purchase a not yet agreed upon, but very substantial, amount of agricultural, energy, industrial, and other product from the United States to reduce the trade imbalance between our two countries. China has agreed to start purchasing agricultural product from our farmers immediately," the White House said. Xi also plans to designate Fentanyl as a controlled substance, according to the statement. As the U.S. opioid crisis continues to rage, it would suggest that people selling the drug to parties in the U.S. would be subject to stiff penalties in China. The Trump administration had threatened to more than double the tariffs it has already slapped on $250 billion worth of Chinese imports, while Xi's government has put targeted tariffs on $110 billion in U.S. goods. The standoff has raised fears among investors and businesses that the global economy could be dragged down by the dispute between the world's two largest economies. Trump, who made U.S. trade policy a central plank of his platform as a presidential candidate in 2016, wants to address specific gripes with China's trade practices, especially its alleged theft of U.S. intellectual property. Trump touted the G-20 meeting thus far as a "great success" in a pair of tweets Saturday. But he postponed a press conference, which was scheduled to follow a summit meeting, until after the funeral of former President George H.W. Bush, who died at age 94 on Friday. In a joint declaration, the group of nations said the current multilateral trading system is "falling short of its objectives and there is room for improvement," and supported reforms to the World Trade Organization. Source
  25. Artificial intelligence technology has the capability to be the most impactful software advance in history and the US government has no idea how to properly regulate it. The US does know that it doesn’t want other countries using its own AI against it. A new proposal published (Nov. 19) by the Department of Commerce (pdf) lists wide areas of AI software that could potentially require a license to sell to certain countries. These categories are as broad as “computer vision” and “natural language processing.” It also lists military-specific products like adaptive camouflage and surveillance technology. The small number of countries these regulations would target includes a big name in AI: China. Donald Trump, who has placed tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars of Chinese goods as part of a simmering trade war, has long railed against China’s alleged theft of intellectual property. This proposal looks like a warning from US officials, just as Chinese president Xi Jinping aims to boost AI in his own country. “This is intended to be a shot across the bow, directed specifically at Beijing, in an attempt to flex their muscles on just how broad these restrictions could be,” says R. David Edelman, a former adviser to president Barack Obama who leads research on technology and public policy issues at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. On two occasions this year, the White House has moved to stop China from receiving tech exports on national-security grounds. The US already regulates certain exports to China, and products capable of military use are required to be licensed before they can be exported, as is the case with North Korea, Syria, and Iran. Since AI software isn’t a device or a physical product, it could prove a difficult task to restrict how the technology flows out of the country, says Jack Clark, policy director at the nonprofit OpenAI. He argues that artificial intelligence, as a dual-use technology, can be utilized as a weapon or tool. Because AI is not tethered to a specific physical device, regulating it must address how a broad technology could function on any computer. “It’s like trying to restrict math,” Edelman says. In addition, tech companies regularly post open-source AI software and tools on the internet, in an effort to get more people using their paid services and expanding the reach of AI tools in general. It’s still unclear whether open-source code would be called an export. Publicly available code was exempt when the US regulated the export of encryption. These kinds of hard questions are needed for sensible regulation, Clark says: “I’m happy to see this because it’s a conversation that needs to be had. It’s going to be a difficult and frustrating process because it’s complicated issue.” Negotiations will be complicated by the 30-day window offered for comments, which Edelman and Clark said is unusually short. Source
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