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10-22-2018 Politics
Sometimes Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL phones don’t save photos

It is a well-known fact that Google’s Pixel smartphones offer a great camera experience. A combination of hardware and software generates really good photos. That’s also the case with the latest Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL, though we’ll tell you more about that in our full review. Until then, however, we’re hearing reports of an issue that has happened on previous Pixel phones, and that’s apparently there on the new ones as well. Twitter and reddit is full of people complaining that sometimes the Pixel 3 and 3 XL are not saving snapped pictures. This is how it goes down: you take out your phone, you snap a pic, and you can’t find it, as it has not been saved. Interestingly, there’s also a theory according to which this is an issue that has happened before on older Nexus devices, and other phones running the Google Camera app. So, it might not be an Pixel-exclusive problem. The Google Support forums have plenty of reports on the issue, as well as steps to trigger the problem more often. Now, whether it’s because the Camera app is closing before saving the image, or insufficient memory as insinuated by others, it’s yet unknown. A temporary workaround for the issue has been suggested. Disabling Doze/battery optimization for the camera app seems to fix the issue, at least until Google does something officially about the matter.

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10-22-2018 Politics
Trump believes Kushner relationship with Saudi crown prince a liability: report

President Trump has privately bristled that the relationship between his son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner and Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman is a liability amidst the death of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, officials told The Washington Post. Khashoggi, a Saudi-born columnist and U.S. resident and wrote for The Washington Post, was last seen entering the consulate on October 2. Saudi officials said yesterday that he died during a fistfight, yet that claim was met with widespread speculation. Mounting evidence suggests that Khashoggi, who was critical of the Saudi royal court, was killed at Mohammed’s order as part of his crackdown on dissent. Trump told reporters Friday the Saudi explanation was credible, and has said that while he hasn’t decided on a response, no punishment would impact arms sales to the kingdom. The crown prince has held long meetings with Kushner, who reportedly promoted MBS within the administration as a potential partner in the region. While the White House has leaned on the Kushner-Mohammed relationship to further its Middle East policies, the administration is reportedly questioning if the partnership is worth tying itself to MBS’ tainted image. CNN reported earlier this week that Kushner’s private correspondence with Mohammed on private channels, including through the encrypted messaging service WhatsApp, raised concerns among administration officials. A White House spokesperson told The Hill in a statement that Kushner "has always meticulously followed protocols and collaborated with colleagues regarding the relationship with [Crown Prince Mohammed] and all of the other foreign officials with whom he interacts.”

Read Original Article     ON:   The Hill

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10-22-2018 Society
Hundreds of migrants in U.S.-bound caravan cross Mexico-Guatemala border

TECUN UMAN, Guatemala -- A U.S.-bound caravan that once totaled more than 3,000 Central American migrants looked to be about a third that size Saturday morning, when its remaining members woke up on a bridge that divides the borders of Guatemala and Mexico and waited to get past a crossing guarded by hundreds of Mexican federal police. Hundreds of migrants have already crossed, some legally, some not. It's unclear whether any have simply turned back. Members of the migrant caravan burst through a Guatemalan border fence on Friday and rushed onto the bridge over the Suchiate River. Men and women, some with young children and babies drenched in sweat, began storming and climbing the barrier — tearing it down. They defied Mexican authorities' entreaties for an orderly crossing and U.S. President Donald Trump's threats of retaliation. But they were met Friday by a wall of police with riot shields on the Mexican side of the bridge. About 50 managed to push their way through before officers unleashed pepper spray and the rest retreated, joining the sea of humanity on the bridge. Police and immigration agents began letting small groups of 10, 20 or 30 people through the gates if they wanted to apply for refugee status. Once they file a claim, they can go to a shelter to spend the night. Some migrants, tired of waiting, jumped off the bridge into the Suchiate River on Friday. They risked drowning over defeat. When asked why he wanted to jump, one 16-year-old said, "there are no jobs here." Some organized a rope brigade to ford its muddy waters or floated across on rafts operated by local residents who usually charge a dollar or two to make the crossing. As dawn broke Saturday, hundreds of migrants awoke amid garbage that had already piled up on the bridge. Without bathrooms, a foul odor wafted through the air. Jose Yanez had slept with no blanket, but vowed to continue. "From here, we're going on. From here, there's no turning back," said the 25-year-old farmer, adding that he makes 150 lempiras a day in Honduras, or about $6, and has no work benefits. Other migrants managed to catch rest under tarps and plastic sheets. Alison Danisa wept as she knelt on the ground, clutching her naked 11-month-old infant to her breast. "We have suffered so much. She has a fever and we brought nothing," she said, showing the baby's bare bottom to indicate they had no diapers. On Friday, a Mexican marine official with a loudspeaker approached the gate and told migrants they would be taken in trucks to "a humanitarian attention center" in Tapachula, a border city in the Mexican state of Chiapas. But the official did not say when this would happen. ...

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10-22-2018 Entertainment
'Fantastic Beasts': JK Rowling Teases What's Next for Harry Potter Prequel Series

With Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald set to release in November, writer JK Rowling is offering some early hints about where the Harry Potter prequel series could go next. For starters, Rowling assures fans that she has a roadmap in place for where these characters are going and that there may be a surprising and familiar character in the next release. “As with the Harry Potter books, it is all mapped out,” Rowling told Entertainment Weekly. “In fact, when we announced the five films, I talked about that. It’s always possible that some details will change along the way, but the arc of the story is there. It’s been an amazing opportunity to tell parts of the backstory that never made it into the original books. I’m thinking particularly of one character that I think fans will be surprised to meet in this movie.” Rowling teased that the third film in the series may take viewers to some unfamiliar locales. “It’s far too early to spoil anything,” Rowling said. “What I can say is that we’ll go to at least one new city in the next film, possibly two, and I’m keen to move outside Europe and North America. But you’ll just have to wait and see.” Star Eddie Redmayne has similarly teased that the Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald has plenty of surprises and connections for Harry Potter fans. “The script is labyrinthian,” the actor said. “It’s like you’re going down this maze and Jo [Rowling] is weaving the stories together with such intricacy. Along the way, these connections to Harry Potter and secrets are falling at your feet. “There is one… I got to the end and my jaw dropped. There was one thing I didn’t see coming.” One such surprising connection is that Claudia Kim is playing Nagini, Lord Voldemort’s snake who we now know was a Maledictus. Star Dan Fogler has teased that the second film in the series is much darker than the first. "It reminds me a lot of The Empire Strikes Back,” Fogler said. “The first movie is so positive. It’s sweet and lovely. But this time everybody is really put under fire. People are gonna see this like a 100 times just to get everything. They’re going to be going nuts that they have to wait for the next one.”

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10-22-2018 Science&Technology
Study: European Commission launches online tool to measure how well Europe and Asia are connected

On 19 October 2018, as a deliverable of the 12th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Summit in Brussels, the European Commission has presented the ASEM Sustainable Connectivity Portal - an online tool offering a wealth of data on the political, economic and social relationship between the two continents. The ASEM Sustainable Connectivity Portal, together with an accompanying report, offers insights into the state of connectivity between 30 European countries, 19 Asian countries, Australia and New Zealand (together representing the ASEM countries). According to a complementary study: "Exploring ASEM sustainable connectivity. What brings Asia and Europe together?"; links among ASEM countries are stronger than those with the rest of the world, but still far from reaching their full potential. Tibor Navracsics, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, responsible for the Joint Research Centre (JRC), said: "Connectivity inside Europe and inside Asia is currently five times stronger than connectivity between Europe and Asia. The potential for us to enhance these links is therefore substantial. The ASEM Sustainable Connectivity Portal, developed by the Commission's Joint Research Centre, can play a crucial role in helping policymakers, businesses, investors and researchers to identify gaps in cooperation, and crucially, help to generate ideas on how to address them." The Portal also presents detailed information on individual countries and their bilateral connections with other partners, and provides a single access point to data for policymakers, researchers, businesses, citizens and other stakeholders. By identifying links and gaps in cooperation, the Portal can be used to promote trade and societal links. The new tool shows that there is a substantial untapped potential: Intercontinental economic cooperation between Europe and Asia makes up only 20% of total ASEM economic cooperation, with the rest confined to intra-Europe and intra-Asia cooperation. While over €1.3 trillion of goods are traded between Europe and Asia every year, the main trade flows are still confined to within the respective blocks. Nearly €78.1 billion of foreign direct investment (FDI) between Europe and Asia every year still represents less than 30% of all FDI in ASEM. However, connectivity is not only about economic gains. The study also demonstrates that better connected countries have lower levels of poverty, more equal societies and more students in tertiary education. Countries with close ties to others also have a freer press and lower levels of corruption, while they are also more inclusive of minorities and have a greater presence of non-governmental organisations. ...

Read Original Article     ON:   Tech Times

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10-22-2018 Science&Technology
Ariane 5 launches two satellites on 7-year voyage to Mercury

A powerful European Ariane 5 rocket blasted off from French Guiana late Friday and boosted a pair of satellites into space for a seven-year plunge into the inner solar system, a voyage requiring seven planetary flybys to slow down enough in the sun’s gravitational clutches to slip into orbit around hellish Mercury. The $1.9 billion BepiColombo project is only the second, after NASA’s MESSENGER mission, to attempt putting a spacecraft into orbit around the solar system’s innermost planet, one of the most technically challenging missions ever attempted by the European Space Agency and the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA. The Ariane 5 rocket, the most powerful in Europe’s inventory and one of the most reliable heavy-lift boosters in the world, thundered to life at 9:45 p.m. EDT (GMT-4; 10:45 p.m. local time) and majestically climbed away from the Guiana Space Center on the northern coast of South America. Lighting up the European space base for dozens of miles around, the rocket arced away to the east over the Atlantic Ocean atop a brilliant jet of flame from its two solid-fuel boosters, rapidly accelerating as it burned through five tons of propellant per second. “It was fantastic!” Johannes Benkhoff, the BepiColombo project scientist said after taking in his first launch. “I’ve never seen that before, and it was great. It was like a big fireball going through the sky, it was really nice.” The climb to space went smoothly and 27 minutes after liftoff, ESA’s Mercury Planetary Orbiter and JAXA’s Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter, both attached to an ESA-supplied carrier spacecraft known as the Mercury Transfer Module, were released from the Ariane 5’s upper stage to fly on their own. “Arianespace is delighted to announce that BepiColombo (is) on its targeted escape orbit and is now on its way towards Mercury,” said Stéphane Israël, chief executive officer of Arianespace. “Today’s new success marks the beginning of a seven-year trip for BepiColombo, taking advantage of gravitational assistance from Earth, Venus and Mercury. What an exciting journey!” While it may seem counterintuitive, it will require more energy to reach Mercury — a change in velocity of 11.5 miles per second — than it did for NASA’s New Horizon’s probe to reach distant Pluto. The transfer module carrying the two satellites is equipped with ion thrusters and more traditional liquid-fueled rocket engines. But the lion’s share of the needed energy will come from planetary flybys, using the gravity of Earth, Venus and Mercury to help shape the trajectory and put the brakes on, slowing the BepiColombo spacecraft enough to achieve orbit around Mercury. ...

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10-22-2018 Cars
Tesla is rolling out a cheaper, mid-range Model 3

Tesla is now offering a new, cheaper mid-range battery version of the Model 3 that starts at $45,000 before federal tax incentives. CEO Elon Musk announced the new variant, which has an estimated battery range of 260 miles, via Twitter. The company’s website has already been updated. Customers in the U.S. can order the mid-range version as of today and it will soon be offered in Canada as well. Musk tweeted that the mid-range Tesla Model 3 costs $35,000 after federal and state tax rebates in California. However, for customers to realize the full $7,500 federal tax incentive, they must take delivery of the electric vehicle by December 31, 2018. The delivery estimate for the mid-range version is 6 to 10 weeks, which means customers who order the vehicle by late October or early November should still be able to get the full tax credit. Earlier this year, Tesla delivered its 200,000th electric vehicle. The achievement activated a countdown for the $7,500 federal tax credit offered to consumers who buy new electric vehicles. The tax credit begins to phase out once a manufacturer has sold 200,000 qualifying vehicles in the U.S. Under these rules, Tesla customers must take delivery of their new Model S, Model X or Model 3 by December 31. Musk explained in a subsequent tweet that the mid-range vehicle is outfitted with a long-range battery that has fewer cells. “Non-cell portion of the pack is disproportionately high, but we can get it done now instead of February,” he wrote. It should be noted that while this mid-range battery model is cheaper than the long-range dual motor Model 3 and the performance versions, it’s still not the $35,000 base-spec Model 3 (before incentives) that was originally promised. That low-cost model, which will feature a standard battery with a different architecture, won’t be available for 4 to 6 months. “As Model 3 production and sales continue to grow rapidly, we’ve achieved a steady volume in manufacturing capacity, allowing us to diversify our product offering to even more customers,” a Tesla spokesperson said in an emailed statement. “Our new Mid-Range Battery is being introduced this week in the U.S. and Canada to better meet the varying range needs of the many customers eager to own Model 3, and our delivery estimate for customers who have ordered the Standard Battery is 4-6 months.”

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10-22-2018 Science&Technology
3D-Printed Guns Have 'Fingerprints': 'PrinTracker' May Help Forensic Investigators

Law enforcement authorities may soon be able to trace 3D printed guns to the machine it came from. A new study led by University of Buffalo (UB) has discovered a method, called 'PrinTracker' that could help forensic investigators trace 3D-printed guns and counterfeit goods to the 3D printer that made them. 3D printing has many uses. However, it's also a counterfeiter's dream, worries lead author Wenyao Xu, PhD, associate professor of computer science and engineering in UB's School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. "Even more concerning, it has the potential to make firearms more readily available to people who are not allowed to possess them," Xu said. The study includes coauthors from Rutgers University and Northeastern University. A Unique Pattern A 3D printer works like a common inkjet printer i.e. the printer heads move while "printing" an object. And instead of discharging ink, the nozzle discharges a filament in layers, until the desired 3D object is formed. Each of these layers contains tiny wrinkles, called in-fill patterns. Usually measured in submillimeters, these patterns are supposed to be uniform but are not. In fact, the printer's model type, nozzle size, and other factors cause slight imperfections in the patterns, which may make the actual object have patterns that vary 5 to 10 percent from the design plan. These patterns, although imperfect, are unique to each 3D printer and repeatable. And that's how, like fingerprints, the 3D printed object can be traced back to the 3D printer that created it. "3D printers are built to be the same. But there are slight variations in their hardware created during the manufacturing process that lead to unique, inevitable and unchangeable patterns in every object they print," Xu said. As part of the study, the research team made 5 door keys from 14 common 3D printers - 10 fused deposition modeling (FDM) printers and four stereolithography (SLA) printers. Using a common scanner, the researchers created digital images of each key. They, then, enhanced and filtered each image, identifying the elements of the in-fill pattern. Thereafter, the team developed an algorithm to align and calculate the differences in each key to verify the authenticity of the "fingerprint." The researchers then created a "fingerprint" database - 'PrinTracker' - of the 14 3D printers, and found that they were able to match the key to the 3D printed that created it, 99.8 percent of the time. To determine whether additional use or wear-and-tear of the printers would affect the database, the researchers ran a separate series of tests 10 months later on the same printers and discovered that the PrinTracker's ability to match objects to their machine of origin were still 99.8 percent accurate. ...

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10-20-2018 Science&Technology
Yet another report suggests this year’s iPad Pro refresh will drop Lightning for USB-C

Apple earlier today officially confirmed its upcoming special event for October 30th. At the event, the company is expected to unveil new Macs, as well as a new iPad Pro with USB-C instead of Lightning. This evening, supply chain blog Macotakara is out with its own report, again suggesting USB-C for the iPad Pro. Previously, reliable Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo had suggested the 2018 iPad Pro models would drop Lightning connectivity in favor of USB-C. Then, last week, we reported that the USB-C switch would enable features such as 4K video output and more. Macotakara says that it talked to numerous accessory makers at the Global Sources Mobile Electronics Trade Fair in Hong Kong this week, and the consensus was that the 2018 iPad Pro would feature USB-C instead of Lightning. Of course, accessory makers aren’t always the most reliable source of details pertaining to upcoming Apple, but Macotakara’s report is just the latest to suggest USB-C support on this year’s iPad Pro refresh. As for dimensions of this year’s iPad Pro with USB-C, Macotakara cites a rendering that originally appeared on Slash Leaks last week. Likely based on supply chain schematics, this rendering shows the larger 12.9-inch model measuring in at 280.66 mm tall and 215.00 mm wide. For comparison’s sake, the current-generation iPad Pro measures 305.7 mm by 220.6 mm. Meanwhile, the Slash Leaks rendering suggests the smaller model will measure in at 247.64 mm tall and 178.52 mm wide. Unsurprisingly, this is slightly smaller than the current 10.5-inch iPad Pro, which measures 250.6 mm by 174.1 mm. According to Macotakara, these dimensions seem to be what accessory makers are basing their products on as of now. The 2018 iPad Pro refresh is expected to be unveiled later this month at Apple’s special event. The event was announced today and takes place on October 30th in Brooklyn, New York. Apple teased the event with a “There’s more in the making” tag line. Do you plan on upgrading to the new iPad Pro with USB-C? Let us know your thoughts down in the comments. Updated to clarify smaller model dimensions.

Read Original Article     ON:   9to5Mac

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10-20-2018 Science&Technology
One of the Pixel 3 XL's front-facing speakers is (much) louder than the other

Earlier today we reported that Google's latest Pixels had some low audio quality when recording videos, but that isn't the only issue to have appeared since the pair of phones launched. There are also widespread reports that the Pixel 3 XL's two stereo front-facing speakers have drastically different volumes. According to a statement made by Google on Reddit, this profound difference in sound balance is intentional. Reports of the behavior are widespread, so much so that it seems to be a universal hardware problem. The issue manifests as an audible difference in volume between the top and bottom/left and right front-facing speakers resulting in imbalanced stereo output. For some perspective, Google's Nexus 6P was well-known for having the same behavior manifest as a latent defect, and there are reports that the OG Razer Phone has the same issue. Some have claimed last year's Pixel 2 and 2 XL had a similar problem, but it was much less pronounced. Reaching further back, the Nexus 6 may have had its own balance issues, and even the iPhone and Galaxy S9 — which combine the earpiece with a bottom-firing speaker for stereo audio — suffer some degree of imbalanced audio. We reached out to Google for comment on this story, and were directed to a response by the official Google account PixelCommunity to a relevant post on /r/GooglePixel, which is included just below: Hi all, This is by design. We specially designed speakers that allow for louder sound (40% louder than last year) and better low frequency response. We use new amplifier technology with advanced speaker protection algorithms to push these speakers harder and really get every last bit of performance out of them. We also worked closely with the expert tuning of a Grammy-award winning music producer to enhance the audio in a way that plays to the strengths of the hardware system. Google's comment directly states that this imbalanced audio output was "by design," and therefore a conscious decision, perhaps something like Xiaomi's Mi Max 2, which tunes the bottom speaker for bass. What makes that explanation strange is that the smaller Pixel 3 doesn't have the same problem. In our tests, the Pixel 3 also has slightly imbalanced audio, it's nothing compared to the difference between speakers on the Pixel 3 XL. ...

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10-20-2018 Environment
The world’s biggest organism is facing its end

At first glance, Pando is unimpressive. If you aren’t looking for it, you could easily drive past the homogenous forest of stems ranging from a few inches to some 100 feet (about 30 meters) tall—the biggest they appear more like trunks—all with matching leaves, on one of the few roads leading to Fish Lake in southern Utah. But if you do pull over on your way up to the lake, and give it more than a second’s look, you might recognize that you’re standing in front of world’s largest living organism, a colony of over 47,000 identical, quaking aspen trees, all connected by a single root system spanning over 100 acres. Scientists believe it to be the world’s largest single organism. When my partner and I stopped in front of part of it last week, Pando’s leaves had all turned yellow for the fall. It was snowing and serene, and both a humble and humbling sight. Scientists aren’t sure how long Pando has been alive, but estimates that place its birth somewhere between 80,000 years and over a million years ago. Individual stems can live longer than 130 years. The death of one stem signals to the root system that it’s time to grow another. Like the hairs on our heads, the ages of each identical stem vary, so the colony remains robust even if a few die. And yet, its days may be dwindling. A recent study from Utah ecologists suggests that for the past 40 years or so, Pando hasn’t been able to regrow its stems effectively. “People are at the center of that failure,” Paul Rogers, an ecologist Utah State University who co-authored the paper, told Earther. Nearby ranchers have allowed their cattle to roam and snacked voraciously on young stems, and as human populations have grown in the area, deer hunting has decreased for safety reasons. But thriving deer populations wreck havoc on young aspen stems. For the past 40 years, it appears the root system has not been able to reproduce fast enough to keep up with the decimation. Rogers and Darren McAvoy, also at Utah State University, studied aerial footage of the tree system dating back to 1939, and saw that clearing aspen stems for human development has cause Pando to stop regrowing in some areas for three to four decades. They also surveyed parts of Pando from 2016 to 2017 to look at the overall health of the tree, and used scat as evidence of deer and cattle intrusion. A few areas of Pando were experimentally enclosed in fences in 2013 and 2014; these showed signs of much healthier regrowth. To help Pando survive the long haul, humans will need to set up more thorough and better fencing, cull some of the deer, and make sure cattle aren’t grazing in the area, Rogers told the New York Times (paywall). ...

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10-20-2018 Science&Technology
YouTube Back Online After Outage Makes Internet Freak Out

YouTube video service went down late Tuesday night for more than an hour, sending the online community into a tizzy. It, however, managed to get back on its feet quickly. Those visiting the hugely popular video streaming/upload site were greeted by "500 Internal Server Error" message, with an amusing assurance that "A team of highly trained monkeys has been dispatched to deal with this situation." Though Google was silent on the issue, YouTube itself acknowledged the problem, which affected not only the main YouTube service but also YouTube TV and YouTube Music, on Twitter and assured that it would be resolved soon. After nearly an hour, the problem was resolved: YouTube, however, did not explain what caused the issue. Some YouTube users still complained that they were unable to watch any recorded shows on YouTube TV. YouTube later apologized, saying there was a "miscommunication" and the issue has now been fully resolved. ...

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10-17-2018 Science&Technology
Pixel 3: 9 settings to change right away

Google's Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL have a lot to like. They're fast, have incredible displays, and the camera is simply amazing. With Android Pie 9.0 on each device, there are some settings and features that you'll surely want to tweak as you set up and begin using your phone. Here are nine such settings you should change right away. Lockdown is a feature that will disable the fingerprint sensor on your phone should you find yourself in a less-than-ideal situation. Once you trigger Lockdown, the phone immediately locks and the only way to unlock it is to enter your passcode. You'll first need to enable Lockdown, then you can trigger it by holding in the power button and selecting Lockdown from the popup. Wind Down Digital Wellbeing keeps track of how many notifications you receive in a day, the number of times you pick up or unlock your phone, and how much time you spend in various apps on your phone. Once you get over the amount of time you spend in Facebook each day, enable Wind Down. This feature will put your phone's display in grayscale mode and enable Do Not Disturb. Trust me, when you start looking at Instagram in black and white, you want to put your phone down -- and fast.

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10-16-2018 Politics
Trump’s 60 Minutes interview once again reveals gross ignorance and wild dishonesty

Donald Trump trusts Kim Jong Un but not American climate scientists. He knows more about NATO than Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis. He thinks the European Union was created to take advantage of America on trade. And he isn’t sure whether or not Vladimir Putin is involved in assassinations. In short, his sit-down interview with 60 Minutes’ Lesley Stahl revealed the president of the United States to be grossly dishonest, woefully ill-informed, and congenitally incapable of admitting error or demonstrating any kind of moral or intellectual growth. He is, in other words, totally unfit for high office and fairly obviously so. Even more amazingly, despite Stahl covering an incredibly wide range of issues she broke essentially no new ground. Every terrible, disqualifying thing he said was something he’s said before. Donald Trump says a lot of things that aren’t true I’ve written up a lot of Trump interviews, and one untrue thing he almost invariably says is that the US trade deficit with China costs us $500 billion a year. This is neither how trade deficits work, nor the correct figure which should be more like $350 billion. For Sunday night’s performance, Trump was seemingly prepped that his number is wrong, but instead of using the accurate one he simply modified his usually statement, telling Stahl “I told president XI, we cannot continue to have China take $500 billion a year out of the United States in the form of trade and other things.” ...

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10-15-2018 Science&Technology
Researchers Studying How Humans See Color Grow Human Retinas In Lab

Researchers from the Johns Hopkins University in Maryland have successfully grown human retinas inside a laboratory to figure out how humans see colors. The goal is to provide a better understanding of human biology, specifically how cells transform into specific types responsible for certain functions. This study focuses on the three-cone photoreceptors or the specialized cells that allow people to see red, blue, and green. The study was published in the journal Science. Lab-Grown Eyes The research was quite special because previous studies on vision have used either mice or fishes. However, neither animal has the same color dynamics as humans. So, researchers from the Johns Hopkins University have taken a step forward and created a human retina using stem cells. The first to grow, according to the study, were the blue-detecting cells, followed by red, then green. The stem cells took months to develop into a full-blown human retina inside their lab. During the study, they found that the molecular switch that occurred was based on the level of the thyroid hormone, which is independent or not controlled by the thyroid gland. Instead, the thyroid hormone was completely controlled by the lab-grown eye. This discovery allowed researchers to manipulate the development of the retinas, creating ones that could only see blue, red, or green. How the level of thyroid hormones affects the development of cone photoreceptors also explain why some pre-term babies are more prone to having vision difficulties. "Our research is really trying to figure out what pathways these cells take to give us that special color vision," stated Robert Johnston, a developmental biologist at the Johns Hopkins University. Leading To Better Treatment For Vision Disorders The researchers hope that the study will pave the way to correcting eye-related disorders. The next step is to use organoids or organ-specific tissues cultured from stem cells to learn more about the mechanisms involved in color visions and other parts of the retina. In particular, they also want to grow a new macula in a lab that might lead to the treatment of macular degeneration in the future. "If we can answer what leads a cell to its terminal fate, we are closer to being able to restore color vision for people who have damaged photoreceptors," added lead author Kiara Eldred.

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10-15-2018 Entertainment
The team behind ‘First Man’ aims to de-mythologize the space program

ven for those of us born decades after the event itself, Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the moon remain among history’s most iconic and indelible images. Can a Hollywood movie tell us anything new about that moment? new about that moment? With “First Man” (which opens today), “La La Land” director Damien Chazelle certainly tries. The film climaxes with an eerie and beautiful dramatization of Apollo 11, and with Armstrong’s famous words about a giant leap for mankind. But it’s what comes before that feels revelatory — the film’s fastidious attention to the training, the mistakes and the disasters that all led up to that moment. Most of those details come from real life, according to screenwriter Josh Singer (who won an Oscar for co-writing “Spotlight”). His starting point was James R. Hansen’s biography of Armstrong (who’s played in the film by Ryan Gosling), and Singer said he was also able to pepper Hansen, as well as Armstrong’s sons Mark and Rick, with questions. That doesn’t mean everything in the film sticks to the historical record. In fact, Singer said that one of the things he tried to do in the annotated screenplay was to highlight the areas where the movie diverged from reality. But even then, it seems like the moments when Singer made things up or fudged the facts weren’t all that far from the truth. “We felt a tremendous responsibility to Neil and his family,” he said. In addition, he noted that “anytime you’re treading in territory that’s been written about a lot, you feel that it’s a little bit of a higher bar.” For example, while the film shows the Gemini astronauts using a multi-axis trainer to prepare for weightlessness and space flight, it’s not totally clear whether the trainer (which is basically a giant whirling machine) was actually used in that program. On the other hand, they definitely train using the “vomit comet” plane, so why not show that? Ultimately, Singer said they decided to go with the trainer because it “just felt better storywise,” foreshadowing a later scene in the film. Similarly, he said that while the crash of the lunar landing research vehicle shown in the movie was real, Armstrong’s actual injuries consisted of “a bloody tongue and trouble talking.” However, to convey that “he really did almost die,” Singer and Chazelle decided to show external injuries, rather than “making Ryan talk funny.” In Singer’s view, it was the research that allowed him to write a film that “pushes [against] the historical narrative” around the space program. To be clear, it’s not a wildly revisionist film — I walked out of the theater admiring Armstrong, his colleagues and what they accomplished. But Singer said he wanted to show that “there really was a human cost here.” ...

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