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07-23-2019 Science&Technology
Apple reportedly in talks to buy Intel’s 5G modem business for $1 billion

Apple may be closing in on a deal to buy up Intel’s abandoned smartphone modem business for $1 billion, with The Wall Street Journal reporting today that a deal could be announced as early as next week. Intel announced back in April it was exiting the 5G mobile modem business earlier this year after Apple reached a surprise settlement with Qualcomm that would see Apple once again return to using Qualcomm’s modems in its phones. Intel CEO Bob Swan went on to clarify that Intel had abandoned the modem business directly because of the Apple settlement — without Apple as a customer, the company concluded that it “just didn’t see a path” forward. According to a report from Bloomberg at the time, Apple reportedly decided Intel couldn’t provide a 5G modem the iPhone in a timeframe that worked with its plans to release 5G-ready smartphones, forcing Apple to reconcile with Qualcomm after years of contentious legal disputes. Now, a deal for Apple to acquire that portion of Intel’s business, covering a portfolio of patents and staff valued at $1 billion or more, could be reached in the next week, sources tell the WSJ. After the Apple / Qualcomm deal, Intel reportedly began searching for a buyer for its modem business. And Apple, it turns out, makes a lot of sense as a buyer. Prior to Apple and Qualcomm settling, Intel became the sole third-party modem provider for the 2018 models of the iPhone. And Apple has long been Intel’s only major customer for modems — nearly every other major Android phone relies on either Qualcomm or in-house solutions. While Apple has a new deal with Qualcomm, the famously controlling technology company was already reportedly working on developing its own, in-house modems, similar to its existing internal CPU platform that has resulted in the iPhone and iPad’s proprietary A-series chipsets. Adding Intel’s portfolio and experience to the process — experience that includes existing work on 5G chips for iPhones — would likely only speed up that process and allow Apple to operate independent of a third party for its modems at some point in the future.

Read Original Article     ON:   the verge

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07-23-2019 Games
Nintendo faces class action lawsuit over Switch controller 'drift'

As successful as the Nintendo Switch has been, there's been a consistent headache: Joy-Con drift. Many gamers have reported the controllers' analog sticks registering non-existent input (hence drifting), forcing players to either adapt or send the peripherals in for repairs. There may be legal pressure to do something, though. Lawyers at Chimicles Schwartz Kriner & Donaldson-Smith have filed a class action lawsuit in the US against Nintendo alleging that its sells Joy-Cons knowing they're "defective." The suit also maintains that Nintendo refuses to fix the drifting for free, and hasn't even acknowledged the issue despite widespread reports. The complaint accuses Nintendo of violating California's fraud laws as well as state- and federal-level warranty laws. It further accuses the company of misrepresentation, breaching implied warranty and "unjust enrichment." The attorneys are looking both for monetary damages as well as relief that could include forcing Nintendo to offer better coverage for the issue. We've asked Nintendo for comment. If this succeeds as a class action, though, it could become expensive for the company. Nintendo said it had sold nearly 35 million Switches worldwide as of March 2019, and that's not including sales of stand-alone Joy-Con kits. While US sales are only part of that amount, that could still leave Nintendo compensating quite a few people for their controller drift woes. Just don't expect a windfall as a Switch owner -- with some exceptions, class actions rarely offer hefty payouts for victims.

Read Original Article     ON:   engadget

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07-23-2019 Cars
2020 Corvette Stingray Already Gets ZR1 Treatment In New Rendering

The 2020 Chevrolet Corvette is here, but that’s not stopping rendering artists of the world from looking into the future. Scattered throughout the ‘Vette’s 66-year legacy are occasional ZR1 models (ZR-1 for you C4 aficionados) that, among other things, add prolific power. The most recent ZR1 debuted in 2017, packing a supercharged 755-horsepower (563-kilowatt) LT5 V8 up front beneath a bulging hood, and a gigantic wing on the back. X-Tomi Design on Facebook carries those design cues to the new C8 almost verbatim in this fresh rendering. It certainly looks aggressive, though the high-rise hood is rather pointless now that the engine is behind the driver. Perhaps this design can offer a bit more cargo capacity in the front storage area, but alas, this rendering isn’t about storage or engine placement. It’s about giving the new C8 and C7 ZR1 makeover, and from the iconic hood to the front spiller and big wing at the rear, it’s spot-on. It’s unlikely such a machine will ever exist, and not just because the supercharger-clearing hood is no longer needed. With the Corvette entering the mid-engine supercar world, there’s speculation that the ZR1 badge might be retired. Adopting the new “king of the hill” role could be the Corvette Zora, named of course for Zora Arkus-Duntov. It’s also likely that the range-topping performer will not sport a supercharger, but a twin-turbocharged V8 mated with an electric motor in an all-wheel-drive hybrid configuration. Rumors of a 1,000-hp (746 kW) Corvette have persisted for at least a couple years now, though if such a machine comes to life, it probably won’t materialize for a few more years at least. That’s okay, because Chevrolet promises the base-model Corvette Stingray will be an epic performer at an astoundingly low price. Equipped with the optional Z51 Performance Package, the 2020 Stingray is said to run from 0-60 mph in less than three seconds. Furthermore, a no-option Stingray with the new LT2 V8 will sell for less than $60,000. In short, this new mid-engined Corvette could turn the supercar world on its head.

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07-23-2019 Science&Technology
WhatsApp has arrived on KaiOS, the OS used by the Nokia 8110

KaiOS, the phone operating system used on feature phones like last year’s Nokia 8110 remake, finally has an official version of WhatsApp. The app can be downloaded from the KaiStore for KaiOS devices with 256MB or 512MB of RAM, and it will come preinstalled on select phones starting in the third quarter of this year. The KaiOS version of the app supports both calling and messaging, and it includes end-to-end encryption just like it does on Android and iOS. WhatsApp has been gradually released for select KaiOS devices over the past year. Last September, the app came to JioPhone handsets, which run the OS, and Android Authority reported that it came to the Nokia 8110 back in April, but only in India. Today marks the first time it is available in a broader worldwide release. The app is now available for a total of seven KaiOS devices; the Cat B35, Doro 7060, JioPhone (Reliance Jio), JioPhone 2 (Reliance Jio), MTN Smart, Nokia 8110 (HMD Global), and the Orange Sanza. In Western markets, phones like the Nokia 8110 are positioned as the kind of phone that you purchase if you want to get away from modern apps. But the same isn’t true in developing nations where these phones’ low-cost, simplicity, and long battery life (the Nokia 8110 has 25 days of standby, for example) are much more essential. In many of these countries, WhatsApp is a near-essential communications service, and now users won’t be cut out from it if they don’t own a smartphone. KaiOS is a lightweight operating system that’s currently available on a small number of feature phones. The operating system actually started its life as a fork of Firefox OS after Firefox gave up on the idea of a phone OS. The operating system has since attracted investment from Google, and voice-typing powered by Google Assistant arrived on the platform earlier this year.

Read Original Article     ON:   the verge

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07-23-2019 Science&Technology
Elon Musk's Neuralink implant will "merge" humans with AI

Tesla founder Elon Musk has launched tech startup Neuralink to build implants that connect human brains with computer interfaces via artificial intelligence. The approaching technology would see groups of minuscule, flexible electrode "threads" implanted into the human brain by a neurosurgical robot. These threads detect and record the electrical signals in the brain, and transmit this information outside the body. This has the potential to create a scalable high-bandwidth brain-machine interface (BMI) system, meaning that it connects the brain to an external device to form a brain-machine interface. First tests on humans by end of 2020 The goal is to use Neuralink to understand and treat different forms of brain or spine-related disorders. For instance, paralysed humans could use the implanted device to control phones or computers. However Musk also envisions the implant as a means of enhancing your own brain, giving humans the option to achieve a symbiosis with artificial intelligence (AI). This could eventually lead to a future of "superhuman intelligence", according to Musk. As Musk explained at the Neuralink Launch Event in San Francisco on 16 July, the idea is to create a "well-aligned future" that mitigates the supposed existential threat of AI. He and his team hope to test the system on a human patient before the end of 2020. Each group of threads could contain as many as 3,072 electrodes, which would be distributed across 96 threads. Musk's Neuralink startup has also built a neurosurgical robot that is capable of inserting six threads into the human brain per minute. Each thread is smaller than one tenth of the size of a human hair and contains 192 electrodes. Threads inserted by neurosurgery robot Each electrode group is encased inside a small implantable device that contains custom wireless chips, measuring four by four millimetres. The threads would be individually inserted into the brain "with micron precision" by a tiny needle at the end of the robot, which measures around 24 microns in diameter. This would be able to target specific parts of the brain and avoid damaging any blood vessels. As Neuralink president Max Hodak told The New York Times, currently the operation would require drilling holes into the patient's skull to implant the threads. In the future, however, they hope to use a laser beam to pierce the skull with a series of tiny holes, which wouldn't be felt by the patient. "As safe and painless" as laser eye surgery The implant would work by recording information emitted by neurons in the brain, as explained in a video presentation at the event. The brain's neurons connect to form a large network through synapses. At these connection points, neurons communicate with each other using chemical signals called neurotransmitters, which are released in response to an electrical spike called "action potential". ...

Read Original Article     ON:   dezeen

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07-23-2019 Science&Technology
Facebook design flaw let thousands of kids join chats with unauthorized users

Facebook’s Messenger Kids app is built around a simple premise: children shouldn’t be able to talk to users who haven’t been approved by their parents. But a design flaw allowed users to sidestep that protection through the group chat system, allowing children to enter group chats with unapproved strangers. For the past week, Facebook has been quietly closing down those group chats and alerting users, but has not made any public statements disclosing the issue. The alert, which was obtained by The Verge, reads as follows: Facebook confirmed to The Verge that the message was authentic, and said the alert had been sent to thousands of users in recent days. “We recently notified some parents of Messenger Kids account users about a technical error that we detected affecting a small number of group chats,” a Facebook representative said. “We turned off the affected chats and provided parents with additional resources on Messenger Kids and online safety.” The bug arose from the way Messenger Kids’ unique permissions were applied in group chats. In a standard one-on-one chat, children can only initiate conversations with users who have been approved by the child’s parents. But those permissions became more complex when applied to a group chat because of the multiple users involved. Whoever launched the group could invite any user who was authorized to chat with them, even if that user wasn’t authorized to chat with the other children in the group. As a result, thousands of children were left in chats with unauthorized users, a violation of the core promise of Messenger Kids. It’s unclear how long the bug was present in the app, which launched with group features in December 2017. The privacy flaw is particularly legally sensitive because Messenger Kids is designed for children under the age of 13, and thus subject to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). Some privacy groups have already accused Messenger Kids of violating COPPA by collecting user data, and this latest privacy flaw will only heighten those concerns. The issue also comes at an awkward time for Facebook as a company, which is currently settling charges related to Cambridge Analytica with the Federal Trade Commission. The settlement, which could be publicly revealed as soon as this week, is rumored to include a mandatory privacy committee and $5 billion in fines for Facebook as a company, but no move towards personal liability for CEO Mark Zuckerberg. As a result, it has been widely criticized as insufficient to force the company to adopt stricter privacy protections.

Read Original Article     ON:   the verge

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07-23-2019 Games
Glitch Allows 4 Spider-Mans In One Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 Party

Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 has only been out for a couple of days, and already players have figured out how to break it in their favor. Using a glitch in the game’s Infinity challenge system, players can create parties made up of four of the same hero, which means four times the experience points for super-fast leveling. The character dupe glitch, which was first posted to the Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 subreddit by ShinobiSekiro, takes advantage of solo missions in the game’s Infinity mode. These are special side missions that put players in control of one character instead of the normal team of four. The first solo mission is for Spider-Man, so I’ll use him to demonstrate how the glitch works. When Spider-Man’s solo challenge is selected, the game injects Spider-Man into the player’s party in the first slot. It’s the game’s way of ensuring the player has the right hero available for the mission. When the player finishes or fails the mission, Spider-Man is still in their party in the first position. To make the glitch work, players then must go into the select party menu and move the injected Spider-Man into the second, third, or fourth party slot. Then, if they enter the solo mission again, the game will once more inject Spider-Man into the first slot. Players can repeat this process three times, winding up with a party full of Spider-Men. Spider-Mans. Spiders-Man? Peters. This trick currently works with any character who has a solo mission in the game’s Infinity mode, which includes Captain America, Luke Cage, Gamora and Hulk. Imagine that, a party of four Hulks. That’s three more Hulks than anyone needs. These duped parties can compete in Infinity challenges and play through story mode, as long as the chapter select option is used. Selecting “continue” will re-mix players’ parties. Fans in the Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 subreddit are still figuring out all of the particulars, but there are already obvious benefits to having four copies of the same character. All four characters gain experience for defeating villains and completing tasks, but with this glitch in play, all the experience is applied to one character, so experience gain is technically four times as fast. The duplicate characters all have the same stat and power-enhancing ISO-8 equipped, which seem to stack. Plus it’s a whole lot of fun tearing through hordes of ninja or Raft prisoners or Ultron drones as all the Spider-Mans. It’s cheating a little bit to take advantage of a glitch or exploit, but it’s not a competitive game, so use it at your discretion.

Read Original Article     ON:   kotaku

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07-23-2019 Science&Technology
This website uses AI to turn your selfies into haunted classical portraits

Bored of using AI to age yourself into a desiccated husk? Why not use it to turn your selfies into harrowing but artistic portraits instead? Head over to aiportraits.com, home of a fun little widget built by researchers at the MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab, and upload a photo to try out an artistic transformation for yourself. The site uses an algorithm trained on 45,000 classical portraits to render your face in faux oil, watercolor, or ink. There’s a huge number of styles included in this database, covering artists from Rembrandt to Titian to van Gogh, with each input producing a unique portrait. As the researchers point out, unlike earlier AI methods that created similar AI portraits, the algorithm here is not merely “painting over” your face in a new style. Instead, it uses what’s known as a generative adversarial network (GAN) to generate new features from scratch. Certain elements within any selfie may prompt the algorithm to use a specific style. In the images below, for example, researchers say the algorithm “decides upon a Renaissance style, highlighting the elegance of the aquiline nose, the smoothness of the forehead.” If you try a few different selfies, you’ll certainly get different results. Before you get worried about the privacy implications (as some have warned with face-aging app FaceApp), this does all seem above board. Your photos are sent to the creators’ servers in order to produce the portrait, but the researchers promise they won’t use your data for any other purpose, and any images you send are “immediately” deleted after use. But know this: once the AI paints your portrait, your youthful features will be frozen forever, while your digital rendering ages day by day in your downloads folder. Yea, it will become a foul ledger of your life, a record of every sin and vice you commit. Its very existence will wrack your conscience and corrupt all pleasure and joy you had once hoped for. But that’s fairly standard for this sort of privacy policy and nothing at all to worry about.

Read Original Article     ON:   the verge

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07-23-2019 Science&Technology
Google And Facebook Are Tracking Your Porn Site Activities, Says Microsoft Report

Facebook, Google, and Oracle may be tracking and leaking user data from porn sites, according to a study led by Microsoft. Together with researchers from Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pennsylvania, the team analyzed 22,484 porn sites and found it was riddled with web trackers. The study identified three implications such as the risks of porn data leakage compared to other data types, the impact to the vulnerable population, and the complications for giving consent. Incognito Is Vulnerable The researchers used a tool called webXray to identify and analyze trackers that feed data to third parties. Results showed that 74 percent of those trackers belonged to Google and its subsidiaries, 24 percent to Oracle, and 10 percent to Facebook. This translates to approximately 16,638 porn sites tracked by Google, 5,396 by Oracle, and 2,248 by Facebook. Even when users switch to incognito mode, their web activities are not secured. Search data are not stored in their histories, but the same is trickled to third parties. "Such 'third-party' code can allow companies to monitor the actions of users without their knowledge or consent and build detailed profiles of their habits and interests," noted the authors. The study reported that only 17 percent of the surveyed porn sites have encryption, leaving visitors vulnerable to hackers. Retailing Porn Data Coauthor Elena Maris, a postdoctoral researcher at Microsoft, said it is alarming how user data on porn sites are tracked similarly to online retail. Companies like Google and Facebook use trackers to analyze traffic and feed it back to websites for marketing. However, the researchers did not indicate how the data on porn sites were used. In a statement, A Google spokesman said they do not collect user information to build marketing profiles. "We don't allow Google Ads on websites with adult content and we prohibit personalized advertising and advertising profiles based on a user's sexual interests or related activities online," a Google representative said. Google added it does not transmit data with the users' identifiable information. Similarly, a Facebook spokesperson told The Times that the company prevented porn sites from using their tracking tools for advertisement.

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07-23-2019 Science&Technology
Windows 7 vs Windows 10: The next big challenge

It's been some time since Windows 10 overtook Windows 7 to become the most used PC operating system, but with the final end of Windows 7 support looming, there's still much work to do. With six months until Windows 7 goes out of extended support there's quite a lot of data around to provide at least a rough picture of the current state of play. According to a survey by IT company Kollective of 200 UK and US decision makers, just under one in five large enterprises haven't migrated to Windows 10, even though that's a significant number that's still down from 43% when the company ran similar research at the start of the year. This research suggests that the vast majority of organisations have started to migrate to Windows 10, and estimates that three quarters have actually completed the project already. But for the quarter still working, six months may not be enough time to get everything finished. Separate research from authentication company Duo found that Windows 10 now accounted for 66 percent of PCs its software interacts with, compared to 29 percent for Windows 7. In some sectors the situation is more worrying – Duo points to healthcare as a sector that is particularly wedded to Windows 7. Finding the time to do an upgrade in a busy hospital is always going to be hard, and some medical hardware just can't be upgraded. It's probably worth noting that there is even still a worrying amount of Windows XP still in use – the UK's health service still has about 2,300 PCs running that 18 year-old operating system, although that actually only accounts for 0.16% of the NHS's 1.4 million PCs. Data from NetMarketShare shows the gradual decline of the use of Windows 7 which now accounts for somewhere around 38% of PCs connecting to the internet; Windows 10 overtook it at the back end of last year and has about a 41% market share. It's always wise to be aware of the caveats around figures such as these figures, but the broad trends are clear. Whatever the precise figure for Windows 7 versus Windows 10 right now, what's very clear is that, with less that six months before Windows 7 goes out of extended support on 14 January 2019 there's still an lot of PCs out there using it. There are options for companies that don't get everything moved off Windows 7 before the middle of January, or who want to stick with it for whatever reason, in the form of extended support packages from Microsoft, although there is a significant cost attached to these. ...

Read Original Article     ON:   ZDnet

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07-23-2019 Science&Technology
Tinder rebels against Google Play app fees by taking direct payments

Tinder is exploring a different approach to fighting app store fees -- it's simply ignoring what the store operators want. The dating giant has introduced a default payment process into its Android app that skips Google Play's system entirely, instead taking payments directly. And if you go this route, you lose the option of switching back to Google Play after the fact. Match Group spokeswoman Justine Sacco characterized this as an experiment to Bloomberg, saying that the firm "constantly" tests new features and that payment options which "benefit [the users'] experience" were an example of this. We've asked Google for comment, although it hadn't responded to Bloomberg's request as of this writing. It's entirely practical for Android developers to enable direct payments without using Google Play, but that typically means bypassing Google Play altogether, like Epic did with Fortnite. It's another matter entirely to remain in the store but ditch Google's usual requirements. Tinder may be betting that Google won't pull such a high-profile app despite the obvious defiance. Services like Tinder and Spotify are rebelling against app store revenue cuts for one simple reason: they want a larger slice of the pie. Google and Apple both take up to 30 percent from in-app subscriptions (15 percent after the first year), and that's a large hit for services that often cost $10 or less per month. Developers either have to take a revenue hit for customers who subscribe through the stores or else raise prices to compensate. They've also argued that the revenue sharing leads to unfair competition when it involves similar services. Apple gets all of the revenue from Apple Music subscriptions at $10 per month, for instance, but Spotify only gets $7 from in-app memberships. Tinder and other objectors are unlikely to get what they want without a fight. While third party app subscriptions aren't vital to Google's bottom line, they likely represent a significant amount. Sensor Tower recently estimated that Tinder alone raked in $497 million of total revenue across Android and iOS in the first half of 2019. Even if you limit that to Google's cut, that could still be tens of millions of dollars lost from one company. ...

Read Original Article     ON:   Engadget

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07-23-2019 Environment
Scientists discovered a new species of tiny sharks that glow in the dark

(CNN)Sharks are known to stalk and sniff out prey before they attack. But all this newly discovered shark species has to do is glow in the dark, and the prey comes to them. The 5 1/2-inch American Pocket Shark is the first of its kind to be discovered in the Gulf of Mexico, according to a new Tulane University study. It's less fearsome than it is wondrous. Scientists stumbled upon a teeny male kitefin shark in 2010 while studying sperm whales in the Gulf. It wasn't observed again until 2013, when National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) researcher Mark Grace found it in a pool of less luminous specimens. It's only the second pocket shark ever captured or recorded, Grace said in a statement. The other was found in 1979 in the east Pacific Ocean. "Both are separate species, each from separate oceans," he said. "Both are exceedingly rare." According to the paper, the shark secretes a glowing fluid from a tiny pocket gland near its front fins. It's thought to help attract prey, who are drawn to the glow while the tiny predator, practically invisible from below, stealthily attacks. Bioluminescence is common in the sea A glow-in-the-dark ocean organism is hardly unique. NOAA estimates about 90% of animals that live in open water are bioluminescent, though research on deep sea creatures is scant. An animal's glow is triggered by a chemical reaction that emits light energy, according to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. Organisms light up to attract a mate, warn an attacker to stay away or, in most cases, make a meal out of a smaller swimmer. Remember the fanged fish with the glowing antenna that terrorized Marlin and Dory in "Finding Nemo?" It's called a black seadevil, and it's very real and very terrifying. True to its name, it lures prey toward its jaws by dangling a bioluminescent spine from the top of its head, says the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute. Shudder. More charmingly, hordes of bioluminescent plankton turn oceans neon blue at night, a response that startles predators ready to munch on them. The results are less stunning during the day: The dinoflagellates discolor the water in a phenomenon known as red tide, according to the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

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07-17-2019 General
Jeffrey Epstein accusers' lawyer says financier abused female visitors while on work release from ja

An attorney for several accusers of Jeffrey Epstein said Tuesday that the wealthy financier had “improper sexual contact” with “female visitors” while he was on work release during his earlier jail time. “It was sexual in nature,” attorney Brad Edwards said. “The female visitors were not there for business.” He added, as the New York Post reported, “He was having office visitors — some of whom were flown to him from New York — and continuing to engage in similar conduct literally while he was in quote-unquote jail.’’ Eleven years ago, Miami U.S. Attorney Alexander Acosta — President Trump’s former labor secretary — approved an extraordinary secret agreement in which Epstein pleaded guilty to lesser state charges rather than face much tougher federal prosecution on charges he sexually abused underage girls at his homes in Florida and New York from 2002 through 2005. His sentence allowed Epstein to spend 12 hours a day on work release. Edwards alleges that a Florida woman said Epstein abused her during his work release while he served 13 months in a private wing of a Palm Beach jail. “All I can say is more than one person that visited him, they believed they were going there for something other than a sexual purpose,” Edwards said, according to the Daily Beast. “Once there, he used his perfect master manipulation to turn the situation into something sexual,” Edwards said. “Not one of the individuals was a prostitute. These were all people who at the time that wanted something. They came over under false pretenses and he manipulated them and now his attorneys have labeled them prostitutes.” He said he was surprised by Epstein’s recent arrest. One of Epstein’s most vocal accusers also urged other women Tuesday to come forward if they have allegations to make against the registered sex offender and financier as federal authorities prosecute him on sex charges. “If you were a victim of Epstein then you know what I know, he’ll never stop sexually abusing children until he is in jail,” Courtney Wild told reporters at a news conference in New York. “We will not get justice until you speak out,” Wild added, addressing anyone who believes they have been abused by Epstein. “You are not alone, and this was not your fault.” JEFFREY EPSTEIN HAD HELP OPERATING SEX TRAFFICKING RING FROM WOMEN HE ALLEGEDLY COERCED Wild was an unnamed accuser in the 2008 lawsuit against the Department of Justice over a plea deal. ...

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07-16-2019 Politics
Immigrant rights group decries new Trump asylum restrictions as 'most egregious,' 'extreme' to date

Immigrant rights advocates and attorneys denounced President Donald Trump's latest move Monday to restrict asylum at the southern border as the "most egregious" and "extreme" policy targeting the form of protection by the administration yet. “The administration has been trying to fight against asylum at the southern border for a long time now and if they are able to get away with this regulation, they have effectively ended it for the vast majority of the population that we see applying for asylum at the southern border,” Sarah Pierce, a policy analyst at the Migration Policy Institute, told NBC News. On Monday morning, the departments of Justice and Homeland Security announced that they would move to end asylum protections for most Central American migrants and other asylum-seekers coming to the southern border in the latest attempt to restrict the influx of migrant families coming to the United States. The rule is set to publish in the Federal Register on Tuesday and would be effective immediately. It states that asylum-seekers who pass through another country before reaching the U.S. and do not attempt and fail to seek asylum there will not be eligible for the protection, according to a statement from the two departments. Keren Zwick, a litigator with the National Immigrant Justice Center, said in a news teleconference Monday afternoon that the rule was the administration’s “most egregious attack on the asylum system” to date. Charanya Krishnaswami, advocacy director for the Americas for Amnesty International, said on the call the rule would “fundamentally eviscerate the right to territorial asylum in the United States.” Meanwhile, Wendy Young, president of Kinds in Need of Defense, told NBC News she believed the rule was the “most extreme” against asylum by the Trump administration. Several advocacy organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union, quickly vowed to challenge the rule in court. In the past, federal judges have blocked other attempts by the administration to change the asylum policy, most notably the president's effort to deny the protection to anyone who did not enter the U.S. through a legal port of entry. Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan said in the statement Monday morning that the rule “will help reduce a major 'pull' factor driving irregular migration to the United States and enable DHS and DOJ to more quickly and efficiently process cases originating from the southern border, leading to fewer individuals transiting through Mexico on a dangerous journey.” ...

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07-15-2019 Science&Technology
This is Google’s answer to WhatsApp

WhatsApp is the dominant messaging platform in South Africa, and is often the first app to be downloaded on new smartphones. This is despite a plethora of high-quality apps offering similar features, such as Telegram and Viber. While these platforms have not been able to dethrone the popular Facebook-owned messaging app, a major player is now looking to provide stern competition for WhatsApp. Google Messages Google has launched an open beta program for its new messaging app, Google Messages, on Android. The app, which was formerly known as Android Messages, is a simple-looking platform that provides all expected baseline features of a messaging app. These include the ability to send images and videos, group chat functionality, indications that a user is typing, and business features. It will also offer additional Google-related features in the future, such as Google Pay integration and Google Assistant functionality. Transitioning from SMS Google Messages is currently used for reading and sending standard SMS messages on Android devices, but Google is in the process of including Rich Communication Services (RCS) as part of its messaging service. This will allow Google to transform it into a secure messaging app in the vein of WhatsApp, Viber and Telegram, which does not use SMS technology, but instead sends messages through Wi-Fi and data. In South Africa, WhatsApp has become incredibly popular because messaging over Wi-Fi or mobile data is significantly cheaper than using SMSs, so until Google Messages transitions into an RCS form in South Africa, it is unlikely that many South Africans will ditch WhatsApp in favour of this app. It should be noted, however, that mobile operators have previously stated they have no immediate plans to roll out RCS support on their networks. If the transition does take place locally, it will be interesting to see if WhatsApp on Android faces a significant challenge from Google Messages, or whether users will ignore this new option – as was the case when Windows introduced its Edge browser. Open beta The open beta allowed users to opt into the test – either via a direct link or through the Play Store. However, these options are no longer available, as Google has received as many beta testers as it wanted. Those who wish to sign up to the open beta program can regularly check this link to see if it reopens for more testers. At the time of writing, Google had not used its new open beta programme to test any new features. Learn more about Google Messages below.

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07-15-2019 General
Epstein sought to pay off potential witnesses, U.S. prosecutors say

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Jailed American financier Jeffrey Epstein made payments to two potential witnesses seeking to influence them in the child sex trafficking case against him late last year, prosecutors said late on Friday. In a filing in Manhattan federal court, prosecutors said Epstein wired a total of $350,000 to the two individuals, who were not named. They said they learned of the payments through records they obtained from a financial institution, which was not identified. Epstein’s lawyers did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Epstein, 66, was arrested on July 6 at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey, where he had returned on his private plane from Paris. He has pleaded not guilty to sex trafficking and conspiracy and could face up to 45 years in prison. According to an indictment, Epstein arranged for girls under the age of 18 to perform nude “massages” and other sex acts for him in his New York and Florida homes, and paid some girls to recruit others, from at least 2002 to 2005. Epstein had faced similar charges in 2007, but negotiated a deal to avoid federal prosecution and plead guilty to a single Florida state prostitution charge. In a court filing on Thursday, Epstein asked to be allowed to await trial under house arrest in his Manhattan mansion, offering to pay for private armed security. In Friday’s filing, however, prosecutors called Epstein “unrepentant and unreformed” and said his payments to possible witnesses, along with the risk he would use his wealth to flee the country, warranted keeping him behind bars. Prosecutors said Epstein paid $100,000 in November to a person identified in his 2007 non-prosecution agreement as a possible co-conspirator. They said he paid $250,000 in December to another person identified in the agreement as a possible co-conspirator and employee. The payments were made shortly after the Miami Herald began publishing a series of articles about Epstein, who was known for socializing with politicians and royalty. “This course of action, and in particular its timing, suggests the defendant was attempting to further influence co-conspirators who might provide information against him in light of the recently re-emerging allegations,” the prosecutors said. A hearing on Epstein’s bail request is scheduled for Monday morning.

Read Original Article     ON:   Reuters

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