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04-27-2017 Politics
Five things to watch for in Trump’s tax plan

President Trump is set to release his tax plan on Wednesday.

The announcement of the administration's principles for tax reform will begin a new debate with Congress as the president nears the end of his first 100 days in office.

It appears Trump will leave the actual reveal to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and National Economic Director Gary Cohn, who will be at the White House press briefing on Wednesday afternoon.

They’re slated to meet the press at the same time Trump has a scheduled meeting with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

The tax plan is hotly anticipated on Capitol Hill and Wall Street, where markets are craving economic action from the new government in Washington.

Presidential leadership is seen as crucial to tax reform’s success. Congress last passed tax reform legislation in 1986, when it was a top priority of President Reagan.

Here are five things to watch for on Wednesday.

How much does Trump’s proposal resemble his campaign tax plan?

President Trump is set to release his tax plan on Wednesday.

How much does Trump’s proposal resemble his campaign tax plan?

Trump repeatedly talked about cutting taxes during his campaign, and Wednesday’s plan is expected to include his past proposal to cut the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 15 percent.

The Wall Street Journal also reported Tuesday that Trump will call for cutting the top rate on “pass-through” business income to 15 percent, an idea that is in line with his campaign proposals. Pass-through businesses, which include many small businesses, have their income taxed through the individual tax code.

Yet meetings between Trump’s economic team and lawmakers, businesses and industry groups suggest a potential openness to new ideas, too.

The extent to which Trump’s new tax proposals resemble his campaign plan is important because it could signal how in line the White House’s goals are with those of House Republicans.

Over the course of his campaign, Trump’s tax plan was revised to look more like the House GOP blueprint. Specifically, it adopted the blueprint’s individual tax brackets of 12 percent, 25 percent and 33 percent.

But the White House may not be married to those rates for individuals. The Journal reported that Mnuchin may want a top individual tax rate of 37 percent. The top rate under current law is 39.6 percent.

Is the proposal actually tax reform?

It’s unclear whether the White House will overhaul the tax code or limit itself to tax cuts.

Reform means reducing some taxes while eliminating other breaks to pay for the reductions and to simplify the code.

Tax cuts could be easier, because this wouldn’t involve picking winners and losers and angering lobbyists.

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Source: The Hill

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04-27-2017 Cars
Quad-turbo BMW M550d becomes world's most powerful six-cylinder diesel car

With the VW emissions scandal still fresh in mind, potential bans for diesel cars on the horizon in European cities and improvements being made to compact, efficient petrol engines, it's fair to say diesel passenger cars are facing a few challenges.

BMW hasn't given up hope, however, putting its faith in the new M550d xDrive as flagship of the 5 Series range. With four turbochargers boosting its six-cylinder engine, the 550d is the most powerful production six-cylinder diesel car ever built.

We didn't mistype that, BMW really has fitted four turbos to the inline-six in the M550d xDrive. The last M550d wasn't exactly a slouch, but dropping its tri-turbo engine in favor of the new quad has freed up another 14 kW (19 hp) of power and 20 Nm of torque. That brings peak power to 294 kW (394 hp), and peak torque to 760 Nm.

One of the biggest criticisms of heavily boosted engines is always lag, but clever multi-stage turbocharging technology in the M550d means drivers should have peak pull on tap almost everywhere in the rev range. The engine is producing 450 Nm of twist at just above idle, and peak torque is on tap between 2,000 and 3,000 RPM. Meanwhile, peak power is pegged at 4,400 RPM. The upshot of all this is a car that should absolutely hammer toward the horizon from almost any speed, in any of the eight gears on offer.

Zero to 100 km/h (62 mph) flies by in 4.4 seconds in the sedan, and takes 4.6 seconds in the ever-practical Touring, while both cars share the same electronically-limited 250 km/h (155 mph) top speed. In spite of this 'bahn-storming performance, BMW says the 550d will sip between 5.9 and 6.2 l/100km (40 and 38 MPG) on the combined cycle, an 11 percent improvement on the outgoing car.

With so much torque, running with rear-wheel drive was never really a viable option in the M550d. To stop its rear-rubber being turned into smoke, BMW has fitted the car with xDrive all-wheel drive for year-round traction. The system is rear-biased under normal driving, but can shuffle power to the front axle if it detects slip.

Diesel and all-wheel drive isn't a combination you'll find in many (if any) memorable sports sedans of the past century, but BMW has still spent some time making sure the 550d xDrive can live up the the M badge on the boot. Rear-wheel steering, designed to make the car feel pointy at low speeds and stable on the highway, is standard, and the 10-mm (0.4-in) drop in ride height should help keep the car flat in the corners. When it's all said and done, this is still a big luxury cruiser. Anyone desperate to take their 5 Series to the track will likely be better served by the upcoming M5 when it launches.

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Source: New Atlas

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04-27-2017 Business
Twitter’s user growth continues to accelerate, but its revenues drop

Twitter’s share price has been on a long, slow slide since the company went public back in November 2013. It’s currently trending around an all-time low of $14 a share, but the stock price was up more than 10 percent in premarket trading after the company reported strong user growth today.

Last quarter, Twitter’s daily active user base grew by 11 percent, but its revenue growth slowed to just 1 percent, well below the 48 percent growth rate it managed for the same period in 2016. Investors took this as a sign that advertisers are losing faith in Twitter — or migrating to more popular services like Instagram.

This quarter was a repeat of that dynamic. The daily average user count was up 14 percent, but its revenue dropped to $548 million, a decline of 8 percent from the same period last year. The company still isn’t profitable, but it highlighted the fact that its losses shrunk by about 23 percent to just $62 million.

Twitter continues to be a central part of the news cycle around the world, although not at the fever pitch it was when President Trump was firing off political commentary at 3AM each morning. During 2016, none of the tweaks the company made seem to have generated new momentum. But over the last two quarters it’s become clear new users are finally flocking to the platform.

The big question now is whether Twitter can find a way to reverse the slide in its revenue. It’s now competing against Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram, all of which have larger daily user bases. In response, Twitter is moving its focus away from advertising in the timeline to broadcasting big live events. Over the last three months it pushed 800 hours of live video from big name partners like PBS, the PGA, Bloomberg, and the Halo World Championship. The live video feeds reached an audience of more than 45 million viewers, a 31 percent increase from the same period last year.

Source: The Verge

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04-27-2017 Science&Technology
I switched from the iPhone 7 to Google's new phone and couldn’t be happier — here's why

Here are two statements that sound like opposites, but in reality, exist in parallel:
  • The iPhone is a gorgeous, remarkable device.
  • The software running on the iPhone is adequate at best.

The iPhone 7, Apple's latest iPhone model, is an especially impressive piece of hardware. Just look at this sleek object as personal technology:

When it comes to phones, good looks only get you so far — this is a device I use every day, all the time. How it fits into my life is far more important than how much I like to look at it. In this respect, the Pixel is a far better phone.

It's not as pretty as the iPhone 7, but it's better in every other way. Here's why.

In many respects, the Pixel looks like a bizarro-world version of the iPhone. It has a similar shape, thickness, and screen size. It has the typical curved rectangle look. The size of the border around the screen, the bezel, is nearly identical.

That's not a knock against it — the iPhone's design is the bar by which smartphones are measured in 2017. For the Pixel to feel and look as solid as an iPhone is a real accomplishment, especially considering this is Google's first real crack at making a high-end smartphone.

Ever since the iPhone got the fingerprint sensor, it has been in the same place. It's a great feature — you tap your finger on a spot and, like magic, your phone is unlocked. But its placement is tremendously flawed.

You're just as likely to accidentally drop your phone while pinching it from the bottom in an attempt to unlock it. I certainly am, anyway.

The Pixel solves this flaw in an elegant way, by moving the fingerprint sensor to the back, where your finger naturally rests. As I'm pulling the phone out of my pocket, my finger is already on the sensor. Thus, as I look at my phone, it's unlocked.

It's a small difference, no doubt, but it has a major effect on daily use. It makes the Pixel a faster and more easily accessed device. It also makes it a more secure device, as I'm never holding it by a sliver from the bottom — I'm always gripping it with my full hand, thus preventing needless risk.

I have nice Bluetooth headphones. I love using them at work because there's no wire to get in the way of my hands flitting between keyboard and mouse. I take them off at the end of the day and plug them in. When I arrive the next day, they're fully charged and ready to go. It's an ideal situation for Bluetooth headphones, which require recharging.

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Source: Business Insider

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04-27-2017 Politics
U.S.’s THAAD Missile Defense System Installed in South Korea as Tensions Rise

South Korea announced Wednesday that it had installed key parts of a contentious U.S. missile defense system — the latest sign of worsening tensions on the peninsula.

The South's unveiling of the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense system, or THAAD, came as U.S. warships converged on the Korean Peninsula and after combative North Korea signaled further nuclear and missile tests. It also comes a day after the North showed off its military power with live-fire drills.

The South's announcement sparked protests in South Korea, as some worried that the deployment would make the region more unstable not less.

China expressed its serious concern to Washington and Seoul over the THAAD deployment. Speaking at a daily news briefing in Beijing on Wednesday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said China urged the U.S. and South Korea to withdraw the system.

Seoul and Washington say THAAD's sole purpose is to defend against North Korean missiles, but China is concerned the system's powerful radar could penetrate its territory and undermine its security.

In a statement to NBC News, United States Forces Korea said the move was "a critical measure to defend the South Korean people and alliance forces against North Korean missile threats, as highlighted by the recent ballistic missile launches by North Korea."

The deployment come as the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier headed toward the peninsula for a joint exercise with South Korea. Aircraft from the Carl Vinson carrier strike group were also conducting joint aviation exercises with the Japanese Air Self Defense Force in the Philippine Sea.

The USS Michigan, a nuclear-powered submarine, arrived Tuesday at the South Korean port of Busan for what was described as a routine visit to rest crew and load supplies. The U.S. 7th Fleet said two American destroyers were conducting simultaneous maritime exercises with ships from South Korea and Japan.

In a statement released Wednesday, South Korea said unspecified parts of THAAD had been installed. The statement added that Seoul and Washington were pushing to get THAAD quickly working to cope with North Korea's advancing nuclear and missile threats. According to Yonhap news agency, the parts include two or three launchers, intercept missiles and a radar.

About 200 residents and protesters rallied against THAAD in front of a local community center, some hurling plastic water bottles. About 8,000 police officers were mobilized and the main road leading up to the site in the country's southeast was blocked earlier Wednesday, Yonhap reported.

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Source: NBC News

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04-27-2017 Security
Webroot deletes Windows files and causes serious problems for users

Users of Webroot's endpoint security product, consumers and businesses alike, had a nasty surprise Monday when the program started flagging Windows files as malicious.

The reports quickly popped up on Twitter and continued on the Webroot community forum -- 14 pages and counting. The company came up with a manual fix to address the issue, but many users still had problems recovering their affected systems.

The problem is what's known in the antivirus industry as a "false positive" -- a case where a clean file is flagged as malicious and is blocked or deleted. False positive incidents can range in impact from merely annoying -- for example, when a program cannot run anymore -- to crippling, where the OS itself is affected and no longer boots.

The Webroot incident falls somewhere in the middle because it affected legitimate Windows files and sent them to quarantine. This is somewhat unusual because antivirus firms typically build whitelists of OS files specifically to prevent false positive detections.

"A folder that is a known target for malware was incorrectly classified as bad, and Facebook was classified as a phishing site," Webroot said in an emailed statement. "The Facebook issue was corrected, and the Webroot team is in the process of creating a comprehensive fix for the false positive issue."

The incorrect detection lasted for two hours, between 1PM and 3PM Mountain Standard Time in the U.S., and resulted in files being flagged as W32.Trojan.Gen. As suggested by the name, this is a generic detection signature intended to catch Trojan programs.

For now, Webroot has provided a solution on its community forum that involves logging into the Webroot online console and manually creating override rules for all of the erroneously blocked files.

Users then have to either wait for the endpoint client to poll the server and restore the files according to the new rules, which can take up to 24 hours, or manually trigger a forced polling for each client from the command line.

While this solution might work for home users or businesses with a relatively small number of computers, it creates problems for large environments, especially for managed services providers (MSPs).

"This is not a fix when you're an MSP," one user wrote on the forum.

"How am I supposed to do this across 3 GSMs [Webroot Global Site Manager deployments] with over 3 thousand client sites? Not good enough," said another.

One user reported that he resorted to recovering the affected files using Windows' Shadow Copy feature. Another one said that his MSP company is considering legal action because it might have to compensate its own customers for the downtime.

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Source: PCWORLD

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04-27-2017 Cars
Tesla Model S Loses Top ‘Consumer Reports’ Rating Over Brake Issue

Tesla has lost its top safety rating from Consumer Reports, which said the electric carmaker failed to install an emergency braking feature that it promised to owners as standard equipment.

The magazine, which provides an annual rating of vehicles sold in the United States, said early Tuesday that the Tesla Model S sedan is losing its top ranking in the ultra-luxury car category, falling to third place behind the Lexus LS and BMW 7 Series.

Tesla was not immediately available for comment. Consumer Reports said it was told by Tesla (tsla, +1.38%) that it planned to provide a software update this Thursday that would enable the feature on Tesla vehicles built since late October.

The California automaker last week recalled 53,000 Model S and Model X vehicles to fix an unrelated parking brake issue.

Consumer Reports said both Tesla models previously came with standard automatic emergency braking, a feature that helps reduce accidents. It said Tesla had cited a software issue for delays of up to six months in enabling the feature on more recent vehicles.

A number of auto companies have agreed to phase in standard automatic emergency braking on most vehicles over the next four years, including such mainstream models as the Toyota Corolla.

Consumer Reports said it would re-evaluate the Tesla scores "once Tesla deploys AEB to all owners and starts selling all new vehicles with the feature activated."

Consumer Reports said Tesla, in an emailed statement to the magazine, said the company expects to include AEB in a software update slated to be pushed to owners later this week. The magazine said the software update, which is delivered wirelessly to Tesla vehicles much like updates on a smartphone, could take up to two weeks to take effect in all vehicles.

Source: Fortune

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04-27-2017 Science&Technology
Why Instagram Is Becoming Facebook’s Next Facebook

At a recent all-hands meeting with employees, Kevin Systrom, a founder and chief executive of Instagram, showed off one of his favorite charts: Days to Reach the Next 100 Million Users.

“It’s the only graph in the company that we celebrate when it declines,” Mr. Systrom said in an interview last week at Instagram’s headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif.

Not long ago, the Facebook-owned photo-based social network grew at a steady clip. Every nine months, without fail, Instagram added another 100 million users somewhere in the world. Then, last year, it began racking up more new users every day. It grew to 600 million users from 500 million in only six months.

On Wednesday, just four months after reaching that milestone, the company announced it had reached another: About 700 million people now use Instagram every month, with about 400 million of them checking in daily.

I had come to visit Mr. Systrom because I’m one of the new 100 million. I technically joined Instagram years ago but used it only occasionally. In the past few months, however, I began diving in more often, and now I check it several times a day. As I used Instagram more, I realized something about the photo-sharing app: It’s becoming Facebook’s next Facebook.

Part of what got me interested in using Instagram more was the war between Facebook and Snapchat, the picture-messaging app that has created genuinely new ways of communicating online — and whose features Instagram and Facebook’s other subsidiaries recently copied.

But once I started using Instagram, I discovered something surprising: Instagram has improved on the features it took from Snapchat. Over much of the past year it has added lots of other features, too. Among them are a feed ranked by personalization algorithms rather than by chronology, live streaming, the ability to post photo galleries and a (controversial) new app design and logo.

Instagram is now substantially changing the daily experience of using the service at a speed that would ordinarily feel reckless for a network of its size. But rather than alienating existing users, its confident moves seem to be paying off.

This is difficult to quantify. My subjective experience may not match yours (lots of people, for example, say they hate the new ranked feed). But for me, Instagram’s many changes have made for a social network that feels more useful, interesting and fun than it was last year. Part of it is the new features themselves, but a bigger reason is the greater use that the features have inspired. Networks are better when more people use them more often; the more I’ve used Instagram recently, the more stuff I’ve seen from more people, and the more I want to use it some more.

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Source: The New York Times

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04-26-2017 Politics
President Trump just had his bluff called — again

For the second time in two major legislative battles, the Trump White House has issued an ultimatum — only to back down.

In the health care debate, the president was going to force a House vote on the package and dare skeptical Republicans to vote against replacing Obamacare, before abandoning that plan in the face of defeat.

And now, in the government funding debate, he's backing off his previous demand that Congress approve funding for his border wall. As The Post's Philip Rucker, Robert Costa and David Weigel report:

"But with a Friday deadline looming to pass a new spending bill, the Trump administration projected confidence that a shutdown would be avoided. In the face of fierce Democratic opposition to funding the wall’s construction, White House officials signaled Monday that the president may be open to an agreement that includes money for border security if not specifically for a wall, with an emphasis on technology and border agents rather than a structure.

Trump showed even more flexibility Monday afternoon, telling conservative journalists in a private meeting that he was open to delaying funding for wall construction until September, a White House official confirmed."

The wall, of course, was the biggest applause line for Trump throughout his campaign — often taking the form of a call-and-response with his approving crowds. And given how divisive it is, inserting it into must-pass legislation like a government funding bill seemed to be the best way to get what Trump wants.

That's what the White House tried. Office of Management and Budget Chairman Mick Mulvaney said last week that any government-funding bill must include funding for the border wall. Throughout the weekend, top White House aides including Mulvaney suggested Trump might veto a spending bill that doesn't fund his border wall. Chief of Staff Reince Priebus told The Post on Sunday that Trump's insistence on that point remained strong.

Fast forward a little more than 24 hours, and Trump apparently abandoned that demand. With still four days to go in the funding battle, he showed his hard-line stance wasn't so hard-line, after all. Basically, he had his bluff called — again. Read full story

Source: The Washington Post

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04-26-2017 Science&Technology
With CRM integration, Microsoft finds another use for LinkedIn

Microsoft is wielding LinkedIn against Salesforce in the battle for the CRM market. Starting Tuesday, salespeople will get LinkedIn Sales Navigator data alongside other information in the Dynamics 365 Sales dashboard.

Users who have both systems will see information from LinkedIn profiles inside the lead, contact, account and opportunity pages of Dynamics 365 Sales. Dynamics and LinkedIn Sales Navigator will sync their information every day so that LinkedIn’s system is up to date on activity from Microsoft’s CRM and vice versa.

On top of the LinkedIn announcement, Microsoft also launched Dynamics 365 for Talent, to help companies manage their workforces, and Dynamics 365 for Retail to manage commerce operations.

All these launches are part of Microsoft’s push to create next-generation systems of record for businesses that are based in the cloud. The company introduced Dynamics 365 last year as a suite of business apps that handle institutional processes like sales, inventory management and human resources.

LinkedIn Sales Navigator is the enterprise social network’s product for professional salespeople. It has a number of features meant to aid with selling, like the ability to get automatic lead recommendations from LinkedIn’s data and to send users promotional messages through LinkedIn.

The integration with Dynamics 365 for Sales means it will make more sense for people using Sales Navigator to buy Microsoft’s CRM and vice versa. That’s important as Microsoft woos companies that are also considering alternatives from rivals like Salesforce and Oracle.

Microsoft acquired LinkedIn for $26.2 billion last year. While the enterprise social network remains largely an independent entity, Microsoft is working to integrate its offerings into the company’s other products, including the Cortana virtual assistant.

Salesforce tried to block the acquisition last year, arguing that giving Microsoft control over LinkedIn’s data would hurt competition.

The news comes the same day that LinkedIn announced it has 500 million members with profiles on its service. It’s not clear how much those members use the service, but they provide a base of information that Dynamics 365 can use for recommendations.

People who work for small businesses also have a new sales tool available. Microsoft is rolling out its Outlook Customer Manager to people worldwide who subscribe to Office 365 Business Premium. Customer Manager is a lightweight CRM system that integrates with Microsoft Outlook on PCs, iOS devices and the web.

Source: Computerworld

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04-26-2017 Science&Technology
FaceApp apologises for 'racist' filter which lightens users' skintone

The creator of an app which changes your selfies using artificial intelligence has apologised because its “hot” filter automatically lightened people’s skin.

FaceApp is touted as an app which uses “neural networks” to change facial characteristics, adding smiles or making users look older or younger. But users noticed one of the options, initially labelled as “hot” made people look whiter.

Yaroslav Goncharov, the creator and CEO of FaceApp, apologised for the feature, which he said was a side-effect of the “neural network”.

He said: “We are deeply sorry for this unquestionably serious issue.

“It is an unfortunate side-effect of the underlying neural network caused by the training set bias, not intended behaviour.”

The feature is still available but has now been renamed “spark”, in an attempt to “exclude any positive connotation associated with it”, Goncharov said.

He added: “We are also working on the complete fix that should arrive soon.”

In previous interviews Goncharov, who is a former Microsoft and Yandex engineer, said FaceApp differs from other face-tuning software, which usually adds filters, because it uses deep learning technology to alter the photo itself.

He told TechCrunch in February: “We believe that such entertaining effects are subject to trends, but photorealism is timeless

“In addition to a sound product concept, we think that we are quite ahead in terms of technology.”

The app came out in January on iOS and then on Android in February, but has surged in popularity in the last few weeks.

This is by no means the first time an app which changes people’s faces have been criticised for racial insensitivity.

Snapchat’s filters have come under fire on several occasions. Last year it was criticised for promoting “yellowface” after it released a filter which allowed users to turn their selfies into Asian caricatures. Prior to that, a Bob Marley filter was dubbed “the digital equivalent of blackface”.

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Source: The Guardian

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04-26-2017 Cars
Waymo Launches Early Rider Program, Expands Self-Driving Fleet With Fiat Chrysler

The future of personal mobility has arrived in Phoenix with the launch of Waymo's early rider program.

Waymo, the Alphabet Inc. subsidiary created to commercialize Google's automated driving technology is now inviting the public to participate in its efforts, at least if they live in the Arizona capital. In addition to launch of an automated ride-hailing service, Waymo and Fiat Chrysler are also significantly expanding the size of the Waymo test fleet with an additional 500 Pacifica hybrid minivans.

Waymo isn’t the first company to launch an automated ride service, Delphi and nuTonomy both have pilot programs in Singapore with six cars each. Uber started carrying some passengers in Pittsburgh in the fall of 2016 and launched a short-lived San Francisco test in December. What’s different this time is the scale of the program. Waymo has done far more on-road testing of its automated driving technology than any other company with more than 2.5 million miles at last count. Waymo also has a fleet of 100 automated Pacifica minivans that are already on the road.

Production of the new batch of 500 Pacificas will kick off in May 2017. According to FCA spokeswoman Dianna Gutierrez, the process will be similar to that used for the original batch of vans. Stock Pacificas will be assembled at FCA’s Windsor, Ontario plant and shipped to a facility in southeast Michigan to be upfitted with the Waymo-designed self-driving suite. From there, Waymo will add the vehicles to its fleet.

The early rider program is currently open to anyone in the Phoenix area that wants to apply. Waymo will evaluate the transportation needs of applicants and if they are accepted into the test program, all family members in the household will be able to use these vehicles free of charge on a daily basis. For the foreseeable future, a safety driver will be on-board at all times to take over if needed, but so far Waymo’s vehicles have established an excellent reliability record based on the disengagement data submitted to the state of California.

The greater Phoenix area makes an ideal location to launch Waymo’s autonomous mobility service. It has a sufficiently high-population density to make what will ultimately need to be a commercial service economically viable and it covers a geographic area more than twice the size of San Francisco. As a warm weather location it will also be much more amenable to early autonomous operations than somewhere like Chicago or New York.

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Source: Forbes

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04-21-2017 Cars
2017 Hyundai i30 | new car sales price

Hyundai has thrown down the gauntlet to Australia's other leading car importers, bringing in its new i30 with reduced pricing at the entry level and more equipment as standard.

The five-door, five-seat small hatchback finished 2016 as the third most popular car, finishing less than a month's sales behind the second-placed Toyota Corolla.

The i30 Active now starts at $20,950 before on road costs, a price reduction of $500 over the outgoing machine.

It also now scores 16-inch alloys, LED daytime lamps, automatic headlights and a tyre pressure monitor as standard. Hyundai claims the extra equipment is valued at $2000.

As well, every i30 will get satellite navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity via an 8.0-inch colour infotainment screen.

The range will also now be split into two distinct lines; Sports variants include the SR and SR Premium, while the Comfort line will include Elite and Premium versions of the car.

The SR cars are both petrol powered, while the Comfort machines are diesels.

It's a similar strategy to that adopted by companies like Volkswagen, and will allow for the addition of a third N line for the i30's high performance variants.

The Active will cross over both lines, and will be available with one of two engines and three transmissions.

A new-for Active 2.0-litre direct injection four-cylinder petrol engine can be combined with either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission, while an updated version of the company's 1.6-litre CRDi turbo diesel engine has the option of a six-speed manual or seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.

The 2.0-litre engine picks up 13kW and 28Nm over the old 1.8, making 120kW and 203Nm.

The Euro 5-tune diesel, meanwhile, retains the same 100kW power output, with 280Nm of torque available with the manual and 300Nm with the dual-clutch auto.

Standard kit on the Active includes a three-stage Drive Mode switch for auto-equipped cars, seven airbags and keyless entry. Its chassis is slightly different to the other cars, using a MacPherson strut/torsion beam rear end which it shares with the two diesel cars. The SR models get a multi-link rear suspension system.

The upside of the multi-link system is better handling, but the downside is the loss of a full-sized spare.

The first of the two Sports variants is the SR, which gets Hyundai's 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine first seen in the Elantra SR last year.

The i30 Active now starts at $20,950 before on road costs, a price reduction of $500 over the outgoing machine.

It also now scores 16-inch alloys, LED daytime lamps, automatic headlights and a tyre pressure monitor as standard.

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Source: CarsGuide

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04-19-2017 Science&Technology
Could the US take out North Korea's missiles before launch?

A failed missile launch in North Korea Sunday has brought renewed attention to reports that the United States is trying to degrade North Korea's missile capabilities via hacking.

It's unclear if the US interfered with this specific test, but the tactic is actively being pursued by the US military, according to public statements and Congressional testimony by current and former members of the armed forces.

"There is a very strong belief that the US -- through cyber methods -- has been successful on several occasions in interrupting these sorts of tests and making them fail," former British Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind told the BBC.

Rifkind's comments come on the heels of a report in The New York Times last month saying US President Donald Trump inherited a cyberwar on North Korea in the hope of sabotaging its missile tests.

"It's clear United States policy to develop the cyber capability to disable enemy ballistic missiles," said Greg Austin, a professor at the Australian Centre for Cyber Security at the University of New South Wales.

It's been touted as a cost-saving measure that could be used in conjunction with the traditional ballistic missile defense systems, which cost hundreds of millions of dollars.

How to do it

Retired Adm. Archer Macy said at a 2015 talk on missile defense the Defense Department was trying to develop technologies to prevent missiles from launching, mess with their flight paths or navigation systems and even destroy their warheads.

"We cannot afford to build enough interceptors to engage the quantity of threat missiles which can be presented to us. And even if we could, we can never expect a 100% probability of defeating all of them regardless of the techniques used," Macy said.

As far as what to hack, "there's lots of ways in, which makes it very hard for the defender to know what's being attacked and what's not being attacked," said Austin, who is leading the UNSW's newly-announced Research Group on Cyber War and Peace.

Most missiles have a self-destruct button, which could be activated. Something like the Stuxnet virus, which penetrated Iran's Natanz nuclear facility, could be deployed.

In theory, it could be as simple as infecting systems with corrupted software via a USB thumb drive, says Jai Galliott, a defense analyst and professor at UNSW. Though the question remains how that could physically be done in a country as closed-off as North Korea.

Austin believes a successful hack would most likely target the launch sequencing, which could potentially degrade the launch.

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Source: CNN

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04-18-2017 Politics
Trump vs. Obamacare, "Patience" with North Korea, and Erdogan's power

Kill or let die

On the day the House Republican leadership pulled the plug on its plan to replace Obamacare, President Trump said the best political move might be to just step back and let the law “explode.”

While health care experts disagree on how fragile the Affordable Care Act is on its own, they agree Mr. Trump has the power to hasten its demise -- but how far will he go to do so? “Strategic patience”

Visiting the heavily-armed border between U.S. ally South Korea and North Korea, Vice President Mike Pence is warning the “era of strategic patience” with dictator Kim Jong Un’s regime is over. Pence says the U.S. is hopeful China can pressure Kim to stop his provocative missile and nuclear tests, but ready to take action if that doesn’t happen -- by any means necessary.

Power granted

Turkey’s government has declared victory in a referendum to change the constitution in ways that would give sweeping new powers to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The political opposition in Turkey -- one of America’s key partners in the fight against ISIS -- has challenged the result, however, saying millions of votes should be recounted amid fears Erdogan is embracing authoritarianism.

Part-time poor

Although the U.S. unemployment rate is at its lowest level since before the Great Recession, a new study offers a stark reminder that the economy remains far from healed. It shows that a third of middle-class families spend part of the year in poverty. We explore what’s behind the surge in financial insecurity.

Jogger murder

A suspect is under arrest in connection with the murder of a jogger in Massachusetts more than eight months ago. Vanessa Marcotte, a 27-year-old Google employee, was visiting her mother when she was killed. We hear what Marcotte’s cousin has to say about the suspect’s arrest.

Parking scam

Got a parking ticket on your windshield, or a notice in the mail, when you thought you were parked legally? Better investigate before you pay. A scam involving fake parking tickets is revving up, thanks to cheap, but sophisticated hand-held printers that can make fake tickets look real.

Source: CBCNEWS

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04-17-2017 Science&Technology
Hacker documents show NSA tools for breaching global money transfer system

Documents and computer files released by hackers provide a blueprint for how the U.S. National Security Agency likely used weaknesses in commercially available software to gain access to the global system for transferring money between banks, a review of the data showed.

On Friday, a group calling itself the Shadow Brokers released documents and files indicating NSA had accessed the SWIFT money-transfer system through service providers in the Middle East and Latin America. That release was the latest in a series of disclosures by the group in recent months.

Matt Suiche, founder of cybersecurity firm Comae Technologies, wrote in a blog post that screen shots indicated some SWIFT affiliates were using Windows servers that were vulnerable at the time, in 2013, to the Microsoft exploits published by the Shadow Brokers. He said he concluded that the NSA took advantage and got in that way.

"As soon as they bypass the firewalls, they target the machines using Microsoft exploits," Suiche told Reuters. Exploits are small programs for taking advantage of security flaws. Hackers use them to insert back doors for continued access, eavesdropping or to insert other tools.

"We now have all of the tools the NSA used to compromise SWIFT (via) Cisco firewalls, Windows," Suiche said.

Reuters was not able to independently verify the authenticity of the documents released by the hackers. Microsoft acknowledged the vulnerabilities and said they had been patched. Cisco Systems Inc has previously acknowledged that its firewalls had been vulnerable.

Cisco and the NSA did not reply to requests for comment. Belgium-based SWIFT on Friday downplayed the risk of attacks employing the code released by hackers and said it had no evidence that the main SWIFT network had ever been accessed without authorization.

It was possible that the local messaging systems of some SWIFT client banks had been breached, SWIFT said in a statement, which did not specifically mention the NSA.

Because tracking sources of terrorist financing and money flows among criminal groups is a high priority, SWIFT transfers would be a natural espionage target for many national intelligence agencies.

Read full story

Source: AOL

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Top 150 World Newspapers (*)

No. Newspaper / Country No. Newspaper / Country No. Newspaper / Country No. Newspaper / Country
1 The New York Times / United States 2 The Guardian / United Kingdom 3 The Daily Mail / United Kingdom 4 China Daily / China
5 The Washington Post / United States 6 The Telegraph / United Kingdom 7 The Wall Street Journal / United States 8 USA Today / United States
9 The Times of India / India 10 The Independent / United Kingdom 11 Los Angeles Times / United States 12 El País / Spain
13 Financial Times / United Kingdom 14 The People's Daily / China 15 United Daily News / China 16 The Economic Daily / China
17 Le Monde / France 18 Daily Mirror / United Kingdom 19 El Mundo / Spain 20 Daily News / United States
21 La Repubblica / Italy 22 Bild / Germany 23 Le Figaro / France 24 The Sydney Morning Herald / Australia
25 Houston Chronicle / United States 26 Hürriyet / Turkey 27 Chicago Tribune / United States 28 The Examiner / United States
29 New York Post / United States 30 Asahi Shimbun / Japan 31 Corriere della Sera / Italy 32 The Economic Times / India
33 Milliyet Gazetesi / Turkey 34 Marca / Spain 35 Liberty Times / Taiwan 36 Die Welt / Germany
37 The Globe and Mail / Canada 38 Nihon Keizai Shimbun / Japan 39 The Hollywood Reporter / United States 40 Sabah / Turkey
41 The Christian Science Monitor / United States 42 Daily Express / United Kingdom 43 Kompas / Indonesia 44 The Indian Express / India
45 Yomiuri Shimbun / Japan 46 Gazeta Wyborcza / Poland 47 The Hindu / India 48 The Toronto Star / Canada
49 The Sun / United Kingdom 50 The Age / Australia 51 The Boston Globe / United States 52 Philippine Daily Inquirer / Philippines
53 Süddeutsche Zeitung / Germany 54 The Washington Times / United States 55 Clarín / Argentina 56 Chosun Ilbo / Japan
57 Die Zeit / Germany 58 The Onion / United States 59 Metro / United Kingdom 60 ABC / Spain
61 The Seattle Times / United States 62 The Times / United Kingdom 63 La Gazzetta dello Sport / Italy 64 Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung / Germany
65 The Hill / United States 66 Dainik Bhaskar / India 67 The Philadelphia Inquirer / United States 68 The Oregonian / United States
69 The Dong-a Ilbo / Korea 70 La Nación / Argentina 71 The Hindustan Times / India 72 San Jose Mercury News / United States
73 The Dallas Morning News / United States 74 AS / Spain 75 The Australian / Australia 76 Star Tribune / United States
77 Qingdao News / China 78 The Jerusalem Post / Israel 79 The Plain Dealer / United States 80 L'Equipe / France
81 Komsomolskaya Pravda / Russia 82 The Denver Post / United States 83 Mladá fronta Dnes / Czech Republic 84 Libération / France
85 O Globo / Brazil 86 Aftonbladet / Sweden 87 The Japan Times / Japan 88 Business Standard / India
89 Le Nouvel Observateur / France 90 Kommersant / Russia 91 Le Parisien / France 92 The New Zealand Herald / New Zealand
93 Detroit Free Press / United States 94 Newsday / United States 95 The Baltimore Sun / United States 96 National Post / Canada
97 Il Sole 24 Ore / Italy 98 The Miami Herald / United States 99 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution / United States 100 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette / United States
101 The Irish Independent / Ireland 102 South China Morning Post / Hong Kong SAR 103 The Irish Times / Ireland 104 The Star Online / Malaysia
105 De Telegraaf / Netherlands 106 Dawn / Pakistan 107 Der Standaard / Austria 108 The Sacramento Bee / United States
109 20 Minutos / Spain 110 Mainichi Shimbun / Japan 111 Rossiyskaya Gazeta / Russia 112 Apple Daily / Taiwan
113 DNA - Daily News & Analysis / India 114 La Stampa / Italy 115 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel / United States 116 20 Minutes / France
117 La Vanguardia / Spain 118 Evening Standard / United Kingdom 119 China Times / Taiwan 120 The Straits Times / Singapore
121 Orlando Sentinel / United States 122 Der Tagesspiegel / Germany 123 South Florida Sun-Sentinel / United States 124 Verdens Gang / Norway
125 Argumenti i Fakti / Russia 126 Boston Herald / United States 127 Infobae / Argentina 128 Dagbladet / Norway
129 Independent Online / South Africa 130 The New York Observer / United States 131 Yeni Safak / Turkey 132 Seattle Post-Intelligencer / United States
133 The Kansas City Star / United States 134 Al-Ahram / Egypt 135 The Scotsman / United Kingdom 136 Nikkan Sports / Japan
137 Deseret News / United States 138 Herald Sun / Australia 139 The Vancouver Sun / Canada 140 Yang Cheng Wan Bao / China
141 Les Échos / France 142 Gulf News / United Arab Emirates 143 Yedioth Aharonot / Israel 144 Sports Nippon / Japan
145 The Orange County Register / United States 146 Expressen / Sweden 147 St. Louis Post-Dispatch / United States 148 Pravda.ru / Russia
149 Handelsblatt / Germany 150 The Daily Telegraph / Australia

(*) Selected by 4International Media & Newspapers


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