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04-21-2015 Society
Europe officials set to discuss migrant crisis after capsized boat disaster

Ships and airplanes scanned the Mediterranean Sea for survivors and bodies on Monday, a day after an overloaded boat crowded with hundreds of desperate migrants capsized off the Libyan coast.

“We are there to look for survivors,” said Italian coast guard Commander Filippo Marini. “Let’s not give up hope.”

European officials, under pressure for not doing more to aid a flood of Europe-bound migrants escaping wars, oppression and poverty in Africa and the Middle East, were set to discuss the growing refugee crisis in Luxembourg later Monday.

Survivors told authorities that between 700 and 950 people were aboard the ship that went down on Sunday. A migrant from Bangladesh told Italian prosecutors that “plenty” of them had been locked in the hold by smugglers.

A scene of flailing survivors and floating corpses in the inky water had greeted rescuers. Officials said they had still not updated tallies that placed the number of survivors at 28 and recovered bodies at 24. The death toll was expected to rise sharply.

“What is happening now is of epic proportions,” Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat told BBC News. “If Europe, if the global community continues to turn a blind eye .?.?. we will all be judged in the same way that history has judged Europe when it turned a blind eye to the genocide of this century and last century.”

While the route to Italy has become the main route for migrants trying to reach Europe, other paths remain active. On Monday, the Greek coast guard said at least three people died when a ship carrying migrants ran aground near the island of Rhodes. At least 93 people were rescued, but it was unclear whether others were missing.

The capsizing off Italy immediately heightened criticism of the wealthy European Union for failing to launch an emergency effort to cope with the soaring number of Europe-bound migrants. After Sunday’s disaster, E.U. officials said they would discuss the situation Monday during an already-scheduled meeting in Luxembourg and would call a crisis summit with foreign and interior ministers from its 28 member states. They did not immediately announce a date.

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Source: Washington Post

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04-21-2015 Science&Technology
Sony Quietly Launches Xperia Z4, But With One Big Catch

Sony has just launched its new Xperia Z4 flagship smartphone in Japan, with no major announcement.

Released via a blogpost on its Japanese site, the new flagship won’t be immediately available internationally. I reached out to Sony for more information but was given nothing other and told there’s “no press release at this time”.

As expected, the Xperia Z4 is small upgrade on the Z3, which was released last September. Sony has continued with its partial-improvement policy of making minor changes to its main-line of smartphones with the Z4, save for the new Snapdragon 810 processor.

The Z4 keeps the same shape and design as previous models but weighs in at a slightly lighter 144g, compared to the Z3’s 152g. It’s also marginally slimmer at 6.9mm.

It has the same 5.2-inch 1080p IPS LCD display, 3GB of RAM, MicroSD, waterproof housing and 20.7MP rear camera. The front camera, however, has been upgraded to a 5.5MP sensor with a 25mm wide-angle lens (same as the rear) and image stabilization.

Source: Forbes

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04-21-2015 Sports
Djokovic wins Monte Carlo Masters

Novak Djokovic extended his current winning streak to 17 matches after beating Thomas Berdych 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 in the rain-interrupted final of the Monte Carlo Masters.

But the Serbian world number one didn't have it all his away under uncharacteristically slate gray skies on the Mediterranean coast.


Djokovic edged a tight first set before losing the second after the Czech sixth seed took advantage of the short rain delay and came back strongly.

But Djokovic broke twice early in the third set to surge to a 4-0 lead. And although Berdych gamely fought back Djokovic served out for the title.

"It was a tough match, a particular match," said Djokovic after winning his 52nd career title, and his second Monte Carlo Masters championship.

"Tomas played a great match and deserves this trophy as much as I do," he added. "It was a good final, but bad luck today."

Despite running Djokovic close it was Berdych's third loss in a final this year.

"What can I say? Novak had another excellent week," he said.

"I tried my best but it was not good enough today. I'm missing that one step in my clay game but I'm going to work to raise my game that little bit. I'll do what I can to make that happen and hope to come back next year and go a step further"."

Strong start

2015 has been a sensational year for Djokovic so far.

After winning the Australian Open back in January, Djokovic has followed up with Masters' victories at Indian Wells and Miami. He then beat Rafa Nadal, arguably one of the greatest players on clay of all time, in the semi finals in Monte Carlo.

Sunday's victory over Berdych means he becomes the first man to win the opening three Masters tournaments of the season.

Source: CNN

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04-21-2015 Science&Technology
Google fights back against Apple Watch with an Android Wear update

Everyone's talking about the Apple Watch these days, making it easy to forget Google's Android Wear platform, which debuted last year. Google likely wants to change the conversation, announcing its latest Android Wear update on Monday, focusing on four key features to improve the smartwatch experience.

Android Wear watches will be a little easier to navigate without needing to touch the screen, for example. With the new software, you can flick your wrist to view the next or prior cards in your stream of glanceable notifications. That's helpful because the current Android Wear user interface is based on quite a bit of swiping up and down through lists.

Also assisting with the user interface is a new always-on feature that works for the time or for apps. This likely impacts the battery life of Android Wear, although Google has implemented it in a smart way: The screen is only in full color when using it; after a short time, it "dims" to a more power effiecient view.

Like Apple's smartwatch platform, Google's does have some offline functionality: You could already store and stream music from an Android Wear device, for example. Now you can leave the phone behind and still get notifications thanks to the addition of Wi-Fi support in this update.

Google says that as long as your phone is online -- either via a cellular or Wi-Fi connection -- your watch can get information from it over any available Wi-Fi network with web access. The watch and phone don't have to be on the same network, which is a step beyond what Apple offers.

Note that few Android Wear watches have a Wi-Fi radio. The Sony Smartwatch 3 I bought in December does; that's one of the reasons I purchased it, knowing that it would future-proof the device.

Lastly, this software update makes it a bit easier to reply to messages with an emoji even though there's no keyboard -- thank goodness! -- on the smart watches. You can draw an emoji right on the watch face and Android Wear will match it to the closest emoji it can find, and then send that to your recipient.

The newest Android Wear software will arrive first on the LG Watch Urbane in an over-the-air update and later follow on other devices "soon after" that, says Google.

Source: ZD Net

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04-21-2015 Business
The woes of Jay Y: can the Galaxy S6 save Samsung’s crown prince?

Ever since Samsung chairman Lee Kun-hee suffered a stroke in May 2014, industry watchers have speculated about the future of one of South Korea’s most important and influential companies.

With Lee Kun-hee hospitalised but technically still in charge, a committee of his top lieutenants is believed to be steering the company in his stead, led by Lee Kun-hee’s son and Samsung Electronics vice chairman Lee Jae-yong, who goes by the name Jay Y. As is customary for chaebols, or family-owned business conglomerates, leadership of Samsung is hereditary and therefore makes Jay Y the heir apparent. Yet very little is known about Jay Y, and many South Koreans are apprehensive at the prospect of this enigmatic figure taking control of a company that represents one-fifth of the country’s economy.

Dubbed the “crown prince of Samsung,” Harvard-educated Jay Y has maintained a low profile, with few public appearances and media interviews (so much so that even an updated profile picture prompted a tide of media speculation in 2014).

Views of his leadership capabilities have been mixed. On one hand, onlookers are unsure whether he shares his father’s vision and competitive instinct, which defined Samsung during his reign. On the other, he seems to have a natural ease for international corporate diplomacy that his father didn’t: Jay Y has acted as Samsung’s liaison for clients like Apple, and was the only Samsung executive who attended Steve Jobs’ funeral in 2011.

Now, as Samsung rolls out the Galaxy S6, the most significant release so far under Jay Y, some see it as a chance for him to assuage these doubts, with South Korean media even naming it the “Lee Jae-yong phone.”

Samsung’s intentions to establish Jay Y as the next leader were made clear in 1996 with the Samsung Everland scandal, in which two Samsung executives sold Jay Y controlling shares of de-facto holding company Samsung Everland at a heavily discounted price.

The illegal deal was a move to help Jay Y inherit control of the company by taking advantage of Samsung’s labyrinthine cross-shareholding structure, which enables the majority shareholder of Samsung Everland to control the numerous Samsung affiliates further down the chain. Though two executives were eventually convicted for the illegal transaction, Jay Y remains the largest shareholder of Samsung Everland, now known as Cheil Industries.

While Samsung says that Jay Y has held a “pivotal role as a change and innovation agent”, little is actually known about his history at Samsung, even by some high-ranking company executives.

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Source: The Guardian

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04-21-2015 Health
'Liquid Biopsies' Offer New Promises in Cancer Detection and Monitoring

Traditionally, if you’d need a cancer biopsy taken, the doctor has to cut and analyze a piece of the actual tumor – but that might change very soon. A new and potentially life-changing method is being tested in labs across the United States.

It’s called liquid biopsy and through recent and very expensive techniques the doctors might only need a blood sample in order to test for cancer DNA in the body. The test is able to find tiny traces of such DNA material in the patient’s blood.

The thing with the blood draw is that it bears benefits for both the patient and the doctor; the patient goes to less trouble than undergoing a traditional biopsy or even a CT scan; and the oncologist can be sure about the efficiency of a treatment and it offers a more stable monitoring tool. If the treatment appears to be failing, oncologists will know to abandon it quicker, sparing the patient of unnecessary side effects and offering the possibility of trying out better alternatives.

Dr. José Baselga, chief doctor and leading medical officer at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, said that this technique has the chance of forever changing the follow up procedures on the unresponsive treatments, helping tremendously in the cases of resistance to medication. Down the line, such methods can even be used as a tool in diagnosing cancer in the really early stages.

More proof needed – research underway

However, this strong hope is still in dire need of more proof of efficacy; so far, the test has only been part of smaller studies, analyzed in relation with only a few particular types of cancer (blood, colon and lung cancer).

But even so, the medical world is thrilled. The largest study so far used the test on 126 lymphoma patients – a study conducted by the National Cancer Institute. The results were published in The Lancet Oncology. Apparently, the test was so accurate that it could predict the reappearance of cancer with up to 3 months before CT scans could finally detect them.

The blood test could also specifically identify the patients that were the most prone to therapy resistance. Labs that have not used it yet are also fascinated by the results showed by those which do.

The idea behind the creation of the test is based on a findings dating years ago: it was proved that tiny pieces of fetus DNA could be found in the bloodstreams of their mothers – birthing the idea that tumors – like all growing cells – also shed these little DNA fragments.

But it was not an easy task to find these specific bits of DNA as they were surrounded by a lot of other molecules, especially since they are in circulation only for a few hours before they are stabilized.

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Source: Wall Street OTC

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04-21-2015 Society
The Boston Marathon Bombings -- Two Years Later

Two and a half years ago, I decided to run a marathon. Whether it was our senseless young-adult invincibility or our innate desire for adventure or our illogical perception of the race itself, I still cannot remember the exact reason why my two college friends and I finally registered.

And for the subsequent months, we trained -- although somewhat halfheartedly and most certainly insufficiently. We balanced our weekend long runs with our social lives and with our academic lives. We woke up (almost) every Saturday morning, met somewhere on campus, and ran however far we could manage. Our runs were filled with great conversations and destinations, but our pace and our distances certainly were never our priorities. We were seeking adventure.

And then, as I was 22 miles deep in pain with no end in sight, I realized why people take marathon training so seriously. And with a mile to go until the finish, as my training partner passed me in the blurry haze of nothingness runners call "the wall," shouting back "come on, don't stop now," I realized that we still could do it -- we could qualify for the Boston Marathon. And sure enough, we did -- for me, by truly a few sweet seconds. Before the race, we had talked plenty of times about the idea of running Boston, but we never had considered it a legitimate possibility. We knew our training should have been more serious. We knew that there exists a learning curve in marathon running. And then suddenly, less than 3 hours and 5 minutes later, it was there -- our Boston qualifying time. It was all we wanted -- an adventure, a brotherhood forming between a group of semiserious runners simultaneously pushing themselves past their perceived limits and barriers.

And suddenly, I was swept hastily into the craze of the race.

It became a beacon -- a one year in the distance event when I could join the elite and race alongside the best in the world in one of America's oldest annual sporting events and contribute my blood sweat and tears alongside the rest of my international running family.

Sadly, my goals changed a few weeks later.

I watched from the Student Union television as the race -- taking place in the patriotic Boston on its Patriot's Day holiday -- fell into complete disarray as Boylston Street exploded and peoples' lives were cut short or forever changed and the city of Boston was blindsided with an act of terror.

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Source: Huffpost

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04-21-2015 Culture
He let us imagine our future

"One writes out of a need to communicate and to commune with others, to denounce that which gives pain and to share that which gives happiness. One writes against one's solitude and against the solitude of others. One assumes that literature transmits knowledge and affects the behavior and language of those who read, thus helping us to know ourselves better and to save ourselves collectively." -- Eduardo Galeano, In Defense of the Word, 1976

WHEN EDUARDO Galeano passed away from cancer on April 13, those of us who hunger for freedom lost a writer, an historian, a journalist and, above all, a fighter who could articulate both the beauty and the horror of this world like no other.

Galeano was shaped by Latin America in a time of rising hopes, mass upheavals and brutal, dictatorial repression. He was born in Montevideo, Uruguay, in 1940. The 1954 U.S.-backed coup in Guatemala that toppled progressive reformer Jacobo Arbenz and began the "dirty wars" of counterinsurgency and repression against the left was a seminal event in 20th century Latin America and in Eduardo's life. This was also true of the 1959 Cuban Revolution.

Eduardo became a writer and activist as a teenager, first writing and drawing cartoons for the Uruguayan socialist paper El Sol. He matured as a reporter writing for the political and cultural publication Marcha, and then became editor of the left-wing daily El Epoca. As a radical journalist, Galeano traveled to Guatemala and reported on the struggle of the guerrillas there. He criticized the regimes that defended inequality in the face of rising resistance movements, including the government of his own country.

In 1971, Galeano published one of his most influential books, Open Veins of Latin America. The book, which remains essential reading for radicals today, presents a political-economic history of his home region since colonization by European empires. Unlike dry histories written from an academic distance, Open Veins is a passionate, poetic and no less thorough and materialist account of what the subtitle calls "five centuries of the pillage of a continent."

Embraced by people on the left and reviled by those in power, the book became both popular in the years after its publication and banned by the governments of Argentina, Chile and Uruguay.

The price that Eduardo paid for writing the truth was exile. When the military seized power in Uruguay in 1973, Galeano was forced out of the country. He fled to Buenos Aires, where he became the editor of the left cultural publication Crisis. Following a coup in Argentina, Galeano escaped death squads again, this time landing in Spain.

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Source: Socialist Worker

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04-20-2015 Society
'Genocide' charged as boat capsizes in Mediterranean

CNN It was the latest in a series of dangerous voyages as hundreds of men, women and children boarded a boat in Libya, hoping to make it safely to Europe.

But after a couple of days at sea, in the dark of night Saturday, the ship was in distress in the Mediterranean and sent out an SOS.

As rescuers approached, the migrants -- perhaps 700 people on board -- moved to one side of their boat, hoping to be saved. Their movement caused the large, multilevel boat to capsize, sending the desperate crowd plunging into the frigid water, their chance of survival slim.

While the shipwreck was an accident, human traffickers facilitate risky trips like this, risking people's lives by putting them on rickety ships in unpredictable waters.

"Gangs of criminals are putting people on a boat, sometimes even at gunpoint," Malta's Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said. "They're putting them on the road to death, really, and nothing else."

Malta is working with Italy in the rescue operations.

It's "genocide -- nothing less than genocide, really," Muscat told CNN.

"Our troops, together with the Italian navy, are literally looking through the bodies to try to find someone who's still alive," he said.

Some were rescued Sunday, said Flavio Di Giacomo, spokesman for the International Organization for Migration. He told CNN that 49 survivors were recovered and being taken to Sicily. But the Italian Coast Guard, which is leading the rescue operation, reported that 28 survivors and 24 bodies have been recovered so far in the area about 110 kilometers (70 miles) north of Libya.

Security for Libya's borders is essential to "take out these criminal gangs -- these terrorists," Muscat said. The international community "cannot continue to turn a blind eye," he added.

The leader of the international nonpartisan medical organization Doctors Without Borders had strong words for the tragedy Sunday. "A mass grave is being created in the Mediterranean Sea and European policies are responsible," said the group's president, Loris De Filippi. He compared the high number of deaths to "figures from a war zone."

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Source: CNN

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04-20-2015 Entertainment
Ringo Starr inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Ringo Starr was ushered into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with a little help from one of his famous friends.

The mop-topped drummer who kept the beat for the Beatles, Starr was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a solo artist on Saturday night during a ceremony jammed with scintillating performances and touching moments.

Starr was the last of the Beatles to be inducted for his individual work, getting in after bandmates Paul McCartney, John Lennon and George Harrison. He was always the fourth Beatle — John, Paul, George ... and Ringo — but now he's been immortalized as a frontman.

Starr was inducted along with Green Day, underground-icon Lou Reed, Joan Jett and The Blackhearts, soul singer-songwriter Bill Withers, guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble, The Paul Butterfield Blues Band and The "5' Royales.

The 74-year-old Starr was inducted by McCartney, who said he could always count on Starr to have his back on every song.

"You don't have to look with Ringo," McCartney said. "He's there."

Starr, amazingly fit and looking 20 years younger than his age, then stepped to the podium and said: "My name is Ringo and I play drums" — as if anyone didn't know.

He was then joined on stage by Eagles guitarist Joe Walsh on "It Don't Come Easy" before McCartney came out to play bass, the two living Beatles jamming again, to "A Little Help From My Friends."

The evening concluded, as it always does, with an all-star jam, this time to "I Wanna Be Your Man."

With plenty of punk attitude and energy, Green Day thrashed its way into the Rock Hall.

The Bay Area trio, which formed as teenagers and helped make punk rock radio friendly in the 1990s, briefly turned the star-studded event into one of their high-intensity shows with a powerful set of some of their most memorable hits.

From the opening power chords of "American Idiot," Billie Joe Armstrong, Mike Dirnt and Tre Cool had the crowd at Cleveland's Public Hall bouncing and dancing in the aisles.

Brash and belligerent, Green Day blasted onto the music scene just as Seattle's grunge sound was growing stale. The band borrowed riffs from punk pioneers like The Stooges and Sex Pistols, flavored them with some power chords and pop hooks and helped redefine a genre.

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Source: Fox News

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04-20-2015 Society
Oklahoma City bombing 20th anniversary remembrance

OKLAHOMA CITY - Several hundred people have gathered at the former site of the Oklahoma City federal building to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the terrorist bombing there that killed 168 people and injured many others.

Survivors of the April 19, 1995, attack and relatives of some of the dead are among those attending Sunday's memorial service. The service is set to begin at 9:02 a.m., which was when the bomb detonated, with a 168-second moment of silence followed by a reading of the names of those killed. Former President Bill Clinton and Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin are expected to speak at the gathering.

Timothy McVeigh, an Army veteran with strong anti-government views, was executed for carrying out the bombing. His accomplice, Terry Nichols, is serving life in prison.

Officials estimate that almost 400,000 people in Oklahoma City knew someone who was killed or injured in the bombing, reports CBS affiliate KWTV in Oklahoma City.

The first time the victims were honored was on April 23, just four days after the bombing. Mourners gathered at the State Fair Park for a solemn ceremony, including Rev. Billy Graham, then-President Clinton and then-Attorney General Janet Reno.

On May 4, authorities ended the search for survivors. KWTV reports one rescue worker was killed and 85 others were injured trying to help save victims.

Source: CBS News

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04-20-2015 Science&Technology
How Moore's Law Changed History (and Your Smartphone)

When I was a kid, I got an idea from a puzzle book which I believed in my childlike way would make me fabulously wealthy in just a few weeks. The trick was to convince my mother to pay me a progressively doubling wage for doing household chores for a month—a penny on the first day, two cents on the second, four on the third, and so on.

Unfortunately for me, my mom was too bright to take me up on the offer. So I missed out on collecting $10.7 million and change after 30 days of doing the dishes, taking out the trash, and the like. Fortunately for all of us, the semiconductor industry did accept Intel co-founder Gordon E. Moore's challenge to do something similar 50 years ago—and we continue to reap the benefits today.

Back in 1965, Moore, then the director of R&D at Fairchild Semiconductor, was asked by Electronics magazine to submit an article making a prediction for developments in the semiconductor component industry over the following decade. So for the 35th anniversary issue of Electronics published on April 19, 1965, Moore noted that the number of transistor and resistor elements on computer chips had been doubling roughly every year—and that he expected this to keep happening for the next 10 years.

It was a prediction that ended up extending far past its first decade. And what later became known as "Moore's Law" would prove to be perhaps the most reliable and enduring guide to the pace of technological advance in not just the semiconductor business, but in the computing industry as a whole.

But back in April 1965, Moore's observation, accompanied with a simple graph he'd sketched, wasn't even regarded as cover story material in Electronics. Instead, you had to thumb forward to page 99 to find the Intel co-founder's prophetic pronouncement amidst the writings of other industry experts. For just 75 cents, you'd have had the very first iteration of Moore's Law in your grubby hands, but finding it wasn't easy.

In an interview earlier this year, Moore, who co-founded Intel in 1968 with the late Robert Noyce, explained how the whole thing came about after Electronics asked him for the article. "I took the opportunity to look at what had happened up to that time. This would have been in 1964, I guess. And I looked at the few chips we had made and noticed we went from a single transistor on a chip to a chip with about eight elements—transistors and resistors—on it," said the 86-year-old chairman emeritus of Intel.

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Source: PC Mag

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04-14-2015 Politics
Marco Rubio Announces 2016 Presidential Bid

MIAMI — Senator Marco Rubio of Florida told his top donors Monday that he was running for president in 2016, becoming the third Republican to officially enter the contest.

Mr. Rubio will make a formal announcement Monday evening here, when he is expected to present himself as the embodiment of generational change who can unite the Republican Party’s factions and offer economic solutions for the 21st century.

At 43, the youngest candidate in the rapidly growing 2016 presidential field, Mr. Rubio is expected to cast himself as a forward-looking, next-generation leader — and an implicit contrast with both Jeb Bush, 62, whose family has dominated Republican politics for nearly three decades, and Hillary Rodham Clinton, 67, the wife of a former president and the most likely Democratic nominee.

At a breakfast for bundlers of donations to his campaign on Monday at the Miami Marriott Biscayne Bay, Mr. Rubio said that people were eager to look to the future. He described “one candidate in the race who’s from yesterday and who wants to take us back to yesterday,” one attendee said afterward.

Another donor said Mr. Rubio pointed to the venue for his announcement Monday night — Miami’s Freedom Tower, which served as a processing center for thousands of Cuban refugees fleeing the government of Fidel Castro — as a sign of America’s greatness because the child of refugees children could run for president.

Mr. Rubio joins his Senate colleagues Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky, who both have announced their candidacies. Other Republican hopefuls, including Mr. Bush and Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, are also preparing to officially enter the race.

Mrs. Clinton, wh announced her candidacy in a videotaped message Sunday afternoon, was on a road trip to Iowa after announcing her second bid for the Democratic nomination.

Mr. Rubio is expected to campaign on themes that emphasize American greatness and the American dream, an optimistic, aspirational message that he outlined in his newly released book, “American Dreams.”

He is also angling to become the youthful face of a party that skews older and has struggled to attract young voters, blacks and Hispanics. Many mainstream Republicans hope that a Cuban-American who speaks fluent Spanish can help draw Hispanic voters, a growing demographic that will be critical during the general election, into the party. Mr. Rubio served in the Florida House of Representatives from 2000 to 2008, eventually becoming speaker. He was elected to the United States Senate in 2010 and has said he would not run for re-election if he ran for president.

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Source: The New York Times

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04-14-2015 Science&Technology
Briny Water May Pool in Mars' Equatorial Soil

Mars may be a frigid desert, but perchlorate salts in the planet’s soil are lowering the freezing temperature of water, setting up conditions for liquid brines to form at equatorial regions, new research from NASA’s Curiosity rover shows.

The Mars rover Curiosity just found out that Martian soil is 2 percent water! The discovery of subsurface water, even a trickle, around the planets warmer equatorial belt defies current climate models, though spacecraft orbiting Mars have found geologic evidence for transient liquid water, a phenomenon termed “recurring slope lineae.”

The findings, published in this week’s Nature Geoscience, are based on nearly two years worth of atmospheric humidity and temperature measurements collected by the roving science laboratory Curiosity, which is exploring an ancient impact basin called Gale Crater near the planet’s equator.

The brines, computer models show, form nightly in the upper 2 inches of the planet’s soil as perchlorates absorb atmospheric water vapor. As temperatures rise in the morning, the liquid evaporates.

The levels of liquid, however, are too low to support terrestrial-type organisms, the researchers conclude.

“It is not just a problem of water, but also temperature. The water activity and temperatures are so low in Mars that they are beyond the limits of cell reproduction and metabolism,” Javier Martin-Torres, with Lulea University of Technology, in Kiruna, Sweden, wrote in an email to Discovery News.

The realization that conditions were suitable for liquid brines to form stemmed from an unrelated effort to include a brine-manufacturing in-situ resource demonstration on the next Mars rover, slated to launch in 2020. The proposed instrument was not selected, but in the course of its development Martin-Torres and Maria-Paz Zorzano, with the National Institute of Aerospace’s Astrobiology Center in Madrid, Spain, analyzed the humidity and temperature data coming back from Curiosity.

“We realized were seeing conditions where brines should be formed,” Martin-Torres said.

The discovery has implications for Mars’ global environment.

“As perchlorates are widely distributed on the surface of Mars, this discovery implies that the rest of the planet should possess even more abundant brines owing to the expected greater atmospheric water content and lower temperatures,” the scientists write in Nature Geoscience.

The scientists hope to include the brine-manufacturing instrument on Europe’s ExoMars mission.

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Source: Discovery News

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04-13-2015 Science&Technology
Apple's New MacBook: The Ultimate Portable With Caveats

While the bulk of this week's media attention was focused squarely on the Apple Watch, the company also launched a brand new MacBook notebook with a 12-inch Retina display and USB-C port -- Apple's latest in a long line of svelte connecting devices.

The MacBook, which is 24% thinner than the 11-inch MacBook Air, is offered in three colors -- gold, silver, and space gray -- and also boasts an Apple-designed butterfly mechanism for the keyboard, which the company says is four times as stable and 40 percent thinner than a traditional laptop keyboard.

The notebook also features the company's Force Touch trackpad, designed with force sensors that allow users to customize the feel of the trackpad by changing the amount of pressure needed to register each click.

The trackpad also enables a new gesture called Force Click, a click followed by a deeper press, for tasks like pulling up the definition of a word, checking a map or taking a look at a file preview. While there is no doubting the impressiveness of the technical specs --Apple's engineered a razor thin (just 13.1-mm at its thickest point) machine boasting 14 hours of battery life and no moving parts or vents -- the quest for portability has resulted in some limitations.

Reviews of the device from all corners of the Web have highlighted the MacBook’s precision detailing and lightness -- it weighs less than two pounds -- but Apple’s decision to offer just the one USB-C port left some publications unsatisfied.

"Using a computer that feels like it fell through a time warp from the future is fun, but if that computer drops through the wormhole without any compatible accessories then there's going to be some aggravation, too," MacWorld's Jason Snell wrote in his review. "The new MacBook is one of those Apple products. It feels like it came from the future, and didn't bring its ecosystem with it."

Most publications gave the notebook overall positive reviews, with many acknowledging the limitations that come with designing such a thin machine -- and at least one reviewer who was more than happy to ditch the ports in exchange for all-day battery life.

"If you know going into the purchase that you are going to connect a bunch of things to your computer, perhaps the MacBook isn't for you," wrote Jim Dalrymple of the Apple-focused news blog The Loop. "There’s nothing wrong with that, but for a lot of people, like me, not having the ports isn't a big deal."

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Source: InformationWeek

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04-13-2015 Politics
Hillary Clinton set to launch second presidential bid

(CNN)Hillary Clinton is poised to take another shot at cracking the highest glass ceiling in American politics with an announcement expected later Sunday that she'll run for president again.

Clinton's second presidential run -- expected to be announced in a video -- would amount to another chapter in a life that has seen the former first lady go from a child raised in a conservative home outside Chicago to one of the most recognizable women in the world. Clinton became a household name in 1992 when her husband, Bill Clinton, won the presidency.

Since then, Hillary Clinton has become a force in her own right, serving in the Senate for eight years, unsuccessfully running for president in 2008 and leading the State Department from 2009 to 2013.

Over the coming months, Clinton's campaign will plot how to reintroduce the former first lady -- on her own terms -- to the American people. Democrats close to Clinton have started to call her the most unknown famous person in the world. Their argument is that people know of Clinton -- she has near 100% name recognition in most polls -- but they don't know her story.

Using small, controlled events with everyday people, the campaign will hone in on Clinton's personal story, using themes such as her Midwestern upbringing, her mother's perseverance in the face of neglectful parents and Clinton's own time raising a daughter to cast the presidential hopeful in a more favorable, softer light than she was seen during much of her 2008 presidential run.

Clinton's candidacy has been widely anticipated. Even since before Clinton left the State Department in early 2013, speculation that she would take another shot at the White House has followed her.

For her part, Clinton willingly teased those expectations for the better part of the last two years as she crisscrossed the country delivering paid speeches, selling her new memoir and stumping for Democrats during the 2014 midterm elections. Throughout all of it, Clinton was consistently peppered with questions about her presidential ambitions and plans for the future. She was reluctant to tease a bid in early 2014 -- telling an audience in New Orleans that she wasn't even thinking about a run -- but grew less coy this year when she began to embrace the expectations around her.

Prohibitive favorite

Clinton, expected to be the first to enter the Democratic presidential field, will enter the race as the prohibitive favorite for the nomination, even though some of her poll numbers have slipped of late, likely because of a nagging email controversy.

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Source: CNN

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