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01-20-2017 General
Quake-triggered avalanche buries Italian hotel, rescuers fear ‘many dead’

ROME — Italian rescuers dug frantically Thursday through a wall of snow and splintered trees that buried a resort hotel after an avalanche was shaken loose by a string of earthquakes, trapping at least 30 people, including children. Some bodies were found, and officials feared many more were dead.

Deep snow in the central Abruzzo region — which also was battered by major quakes last summer — slowed efforts to reach the Hotel Rigopiano, located off a hairpin-path alpine road at about 4,000 feet.

Some rescuers used skis, and others were dropped by helicopter after daybreak Thursday — a day after the quakes that triggered the snowslide. Sniffer dogs aided crews seeking possible survivors or bodies.

The state-run news agency ANSA, citing rescue officials, said at least three bodies were pulled from the snow amid the slow search. Crews at the hotel used shovels in some places. Meanwhile, plows struggled to carve a route along the snow-choked access road to bring in heavy equipment.

“There are so many dead,” Antonio Crocetta of the local alpine rescue workers told ANSA. “The avalanche was huge.”

Plaintive text messages were earlier sent to emergency numbers by those buried inside, according to ANSA. At least two children were believed missing.

“Help, we’re dying of cold,” one couple wrote to rescuers.

But some rescuers described only silence Thursday as they struggled to move the tightly packed snow — littered with rocks and tree limbs — that covered half the four-star spa and resort and toppled walls.

Images from the scene showed hallways choked with snow, which also punched into the hotel lobby and buried tall peaked roofs.

“We’re dropping our rescue units down by helicopter and they are starting to dig,” Luca Cari, spokesman for the national fire brigades, told Reuters news agency.

A frosty mist that had settled over the area slowly began to lift.

“The mist is easing now,” said Pierpaolo Petrucci, a representative in the regional assembly. “And when the mist dissipates, the ugliness appears.”

Civil protection has said that as many as 30 people are missing. Two people were rescued outside the hotel, treated for hypothermia and removed by helicopter.

Among the survivors was Giampaolo Parete, 38, who told rescuers that he had gone to his car when the avalanche hit. His wife and two children were buried inside, ANSA reported.

“I saved myself because I’d gone to pick something up from the car,” he said. “The avalanche came and I was buried by snow, but I managed to get out. The car was not buried, so I stayed there and waited for rescue operators.”

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Source: Washington Post

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01-20-2017 Politics
In Manning clemency call, Obama sought to reduce sentence viewed as ‘nuts’

From the moment a military judge handed down a 35-year prison term for Chelsea Manning in 2013, President Obama and some administration officials saw the sentence as excessive. “Nuts,” said one person close to Obama.

They said Manning, an Army private charged with disclosing troves of secret files to WikiLeaks, should be punished for her crime. But while Obama, a former law professor, was known for his tough stance on government leakers, he had also advocated for changing America’s often harsh, inconsistent sentencing practices.

Long before Manning’s attorneys submitted a second clemency request in November, Obama had considered the notion of “proportionate sentences” in evaluating the soldier’s case, as he had in decisions to grant clemency to more than 1,300 drug offenders.

The key question for the president was how much time Manning should serve. He and his advisers looked at other government leak cases, which indicated that 35 years was the longest sentence ever imposed for a leak conviction. By the time the second request came in, Manning had served six years, much of that time subjected to harsh treatment and solitary confinement.

In his decision to commute Manning’s sentence, made public this week, Obama knew he would face criticism, the person close to the president said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. “But he felt strongly it was the right thing to do.”

The 11th-hour announcement was a stunning end to a legal saga that began six years earlier with the arrest of Manning, then a 22-year-old intelligence analyst in Baghdad.

The revelations contained in the more than 700,000 documents Manning provided to WikiLeaks captured worldwide attention, revealing for the first time details of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and diplomats’ secret and sometimes snarky reports about the countries where they served. They also rattled American officials, who feared the disclosures would undermine U.S. security and alienate allies.

[Obama commutes sentence of Chelsea Manning, soldier convicted for leaking classified information]

Manning pleaded guilty to most of the charges facing her in a military court and, in 2013, received a lengthy sentence for a series of offenses, including violations of the Espionage Act. Soon afterward, Manning, formerly known as Bradley Manning, announced her intention to live as a woman and requested hormone therapy to begin a gender transition.

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Source: Washington Post

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01-20-2017 Science&Technology
Hacker Group Anonymous Threatens Trump, May Expose 'Personal Ties' With Mobsters

Famous Hacker group Anonymous, has targeted U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, threatening to expose his "personal and financial ties with Russian mobsters."

In a succession of tweets, posted from one of the group's main Twitter accounts on Jan. 16, 2017, Anonymous claimed it has secret information on Trump's dubious ties with Russian mafia, child traffickers and money launderers.

.@realDonaldTrump you have financial and personal ties with Russian mobsters, child traffickers, and money launderers.

— Anonymous (@YourAnonCentral) January 16, 2017

The hacker group also cautioned that Trump will regret his next four years as President.

This isn't the 80's any longer, information doesn't vanish, it is all out there. You are going to regret the next 4 years. @realDonaldTrump — Anonymous (@YourAnonCentral) January 16, 2017

The tweets from the hacker collective came after Trump took a dig at retiring CIA chief John Brennan with a tweet saying "Was this the leaker of fake news?"

much worse - just look at Syria (red line), Crimea, Ukraine and the build-up of Russian nukes. Not good! Was this the leaker of Fake News?

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 16, 2017

The "fake news" according to Trump is the dossier written by British espionage Christopher Steel, which claims that Trump paid sex workers to urinate on his Moscow hotel bed as a sign of "dirty protest" against Barack Obama. Obama stayed in the same hotel suite during an earlier visit.

Although Anonymous made strong allegations against Trump in its tweets, the group did not release any evidence to support its claims. The group did not reveal how it plans to share this alleged information in its possession and expose Trump.

In 2016, Anonymous had waged a cyber war against Donald Trump by shutting down his personal websites and threatening to expose personal information Trump didn't want the public to gain knowledge of.

Anonymous also started the #OpTrump campaign and called in every individual with access to a computer to join the movement and sabotage his presidential campaign.

However, the protest did not gather much support as a few days later, another group calling itself the Anonymous Patriots, said the hashtag campaign was an attack on freedom of speech.

Trump is yet to respond to the allegations made by Anonymous and may be busy with making final changes to the plan he aims to replace Obamacare or ACA with.

TechTimes earlier reported that the republican President elect is all set to scrap the ACA and replace it with a plan which includes "lower numbers, much lower deductibles." It seems he also plans to go ahead with the plans of building a wall right across the Mexican border.

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Source: Tech Times

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01-20-2017 Entertainment
Netflix fueled by original programming, even as its costs hold earnings back, analysts say

Shares of Netflix Inc. soared 6% Thursday morning, a day after the company beat fourth-quarter earnings expectations and showed strong subscriber growth.

With the stock gains pushing Netflix NFLX, +5.37% to a record level Thursday morning, analysts were enamored of the company’s rapid subscriber additions in the U.S. and even more so internationally. Still, Netflix’s promise to continue original programming, which means continued spending, weighed on some analysts who believe the company may struggle to see international profitability.

Shares of Netflix have gained 9% in the past three months, as compared with the S&P 500’s SPX, -0.13% gain of 6%.

Don’t miss: My dad talked me out of the decade’s best investment, but he wasn’t wrong

Here’s what analysts said:

• Netflix was upgraded to neutral from underperform at Macquarie, due to the growth in subscription numbers. Netflix added 2 million new U.S. subscribers and 5 million international subscribers in the fourth quarter.

However, subscriber growth was met by growing costs, driven by international expansion and original-content production, with an expectation that its operation margin will grow to 7% in 2017, up from 4% in 2015.

Still, for the time being, the subscription additions are covering the margin pressure and risks of rising competition, said Tim Nollen, a Macquarie analyst. He raised his price target to $130 from $85.

Market Pulse: Netflix adds $4.7 billion to market cap as stock soars toward record high in premarket

• Netflix got a boost from the launch of original programming in the quarter, including “The Crown” and “Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life,” which built subscriber momentum, said Scott Devitt, an analyst at Stifel.

He expects that momentum to continue, he said, as Netflix still has 42 original-content releases to put out in the first quarter, including “Santa Clarita Diet,” which stars Drew Barrymore, and “Iron Fist,” a series based on Marvel comic books.

The only thing that’s weighing on Netflix in the short term, Devitt said, is its plan to continue producing original content and investing globally, with an expected cash burn of $2 billion in 2017, up from $1.66 billion in 2016. But this could lead to “meaningful savings” long term, he said.

Devitt raised his price target to $155 and maintained his buy rating.

• Doug Anmuth, an analyst, with J.P. Morgan, raised his price target to $175 from $140 and reiterated an overweight rating.

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Source: Market Watch

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01-20-2017 Environment
3 Reasons Scientists Are Confident 2016 Was The Warmest Year On Record

Unfortunately I have to start this discussion noting that 2016 was the warmest year on record. It took the title from the 2015, which took over for 2014. Ethan Siegel provides an excellent commentary on the this dubious and worrisome streak.

A NASA press release pointed out "Earth's 2016 surface temperatures were the warmest since modern recordkeeping began in 1880, according to independent analyses by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)." 16 of the warmest 17 warmest years on record have been observed since 2001. A recent independent study confirmed that NOAA's assertion that there had been no "pause" in warming since 1998 was correct.

With this new record, there will undoubtedly be a few voice that raise questions about the data or point out things that are obvious to any well-trained climate scientists (the climate changes naturally, the Earth has been warmer in the past, cities can bias the data and so forth). All of these things have been explained by climatologists but live on as "zombie theories." So how do we know 2016 was really the warmest year on record?

Consilience. Two of the leading agencies that monitor Earth's climate, NASA and NOAA, stated that their data confirmed the record. Both agencies use slightly different methodologies. NASA uses 6,300 surface temperature measurements from weather stations, ships, and buoys. They also use temperature data from polar research locations. Their analysis also accounts for spacing of the stations and urban heat island effects that climatologists have long understood. They compare their results to a baseline period of 1951 to 1980. NOAA uses a different baseline period and considers polar contributions in a different way. Even with such differences, both agencies arrived at similar conclusions about 2016.

More importantly, the record is not just confirmed by U.S. science agencies or surface-based datasets. The United Kingdom's Met Office was consistent with NASA data and showed an increase over 2015. The Japanese Meteorological Agency (JMA) also crowned 2016 the warmest year on record based on its data analysis and techniques. Heck, even the University of Alabama-Huntsville, which uses satellite based estimates, conceded that 2016 was the warmest year in its nearly 40-year database. This is significant because there has been an ongoing dispute between research groups that use surface and satellite-based methods for temperature measurement. Multiple threads of evidence from different approaches arriving at similar conclusions is the very essence of consilience.

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Source: Forbes

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01-20-2017 Science&Technology
How Steve Jobs broke the carriers’ backs with Apple’s first iPhone

Much has been said about the original iPhone’s success factors: an innovative multi-touch interface, a never-seen-before combination of cell phone, iPod, and internet “navigator.” All good, but missing one crucial element: removing the carrier’s control on the iPhone’s features and content.

The iPhone’s 10th birthday was a happy opportunity to look once again at Steve Jobs’ masterclass in storytelling and positioning, and to contemplate, with incredulous gratitude, the enormity of the consequences. As Horace Dediu, our nonpareil tech historian and poet, recently remarked with his trademark humor, “The First Trillion Dollars is Always the Hardest” [as always, edits and emphasis mine]: In its first 10 years, the iPhone will have sold at least 1.2 billion units, making it the most successful product of all time. The iPhone also enabled the iOS empire which includes the iPod touch, the iPad, the Apple Watch and Apple TV whose combined total unit sales will reach 1.75 billion units over 10 years. This total is likely to top 2 billion units by the end of 2018. […] iOS will have generated over $1 trillion in revenues for Apple sometime this year. In addition, developers building apps for iOS have been paid $60 billion. The rate of payments has now reached $20 billion/yr. No one saw it coming, Apple execs included. For their part, the high tech incumbents made many infelicitous statements, only to be steamrolled when the iPhone and, later, Android changed everything. The Smartphone 2.0 wasn’t just a one-to-one communication device, it influenced media creation and consumption, transformed everyday commerce with in-phone wallets and touch ID, turned social networking into a ubiquitous tool. It even forced Enterprise information systems to completely rethink and retool their infrastructure?—?this wasn’t simply a computer with a “smaller form factor.” In retrospect, the ascendency of Smartphone 2.0 and the way it has shaped our culture seems obvious and natural. But the celebration and contemplation overlooks a crucial sine qua non, a necessary (but not sufficient) condition: Unlocking the carriers’ grip on handset specifications, marketing, and content distribution. More specifically, we owe Steve Jobs an enormous debt of gratitude for breaking the carriers’ backs (to avoid a more colorful phrase). Before the iPhone, handsets received the same treatment as containers of yogurt in a supermarket chain. The central purchasing office told the yogurt makers which flavors to ship, when, where, at what price, with payment at some point in the future after we’re sure there are no more returns. And don’t forget to send your people to make sure the labels line up on the shelves..

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Source: Quartz

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01-20-2017 Environment
Primates facing 'extinction crisis'

The world's primates face an "extinction crisis" with 60% of species now threatened with extinction, according to research. A global study, involving more than 30 scientists, assessed the conservation status of more than 500 individual species. This also revealed that 75% of species have populations that are declining. The findings are published in the journal Science Advances. Professor Jo Setchell from Durham University, a member of the team, explained that the main threats were "massive habitat loss" and illegal hunting. "Forests are destroyed when primate habitat is converted to industrial agriculture, leaving primates with nowhere to live," she told BBC News. "And primates are hunted for meat and trade, either as pets or as body parts." Other threats - all driven by human behaviour - are forest clearance for livestock and cattle ranching; oil and gas drilling and mining. "The short answer is that we must reduce human domination of the planet, and learn to share space with other species," Prof Setchell commented. No alternative

The study also cited poverty and civil unrest as a driving force for hunting - in the poorest parts of the world many people are being driven to hunting primates in order to feed themselves. "We need to focus on the development of these parts of the world and make sure people have an alternative source of protein," said Prof Serge Wich from Liverpool John Moores University. He pointed out that the loss of primate species represented the loss of forests that are essential for the future of our own species. "These forests provide essential services for people," he told BBC News. "They help in being carbon stocks to mitigate climate change; they help in providing clean water and providing pollination services for people, so they can grow their crops." The researchers also pointed to some personal choices that people could make as consumers, particularly in the west, to avoid contributing to tropical deforestation. "Simple examples are don't buy tropical timber, don't eat palm oil," said Prof Setchell. But more broadly, "we need to raise local, regional and global public awareness of the plight of the world's primates and what this means for ecosystem health, human culture, and ultimately human survival. "In industrialised nations, we must decrease our demand for resources that we don't need, and stop confusing wants with needs."

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Source: BBC

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01-20-2017 Cars
2018 Ford Mustang: V8 Engine, New Styling And More

It's 2017 and Ford is not in the mood to wait until next year to launch its Mustang. In a surprise move, Ford has unveiled its 2018 Mustang, which happens to be a revamped version of the iconic pony car that hit the roads in 2015.

Mustang, as Ford explained, is already the best-selling sports car in the U.S. and around the globe. It now hopes that the 2018 model will attract the young, diverse, international customers who have already expressed a keen interest in the brand.

If reports are to be believed, Ford is planning to do an overall redesign of the new 2018 Mustang, which is estimated to attract many female buyers.

New Design And Specs The new 2018 Mustang comes with a redesigned exterior which is not just purely aesthetic but is aerodynamic in nature as revealed by Corey Holter, marketing manager of Ford for North America. The car is also equipped with a lower, sleeker hood and squinty new LED headlights.

"Daily driver that you can go to a track with and have fun," remarks Holter about his company's new variants.

Holter added that since the car is more aerodynamic in nature it will help in lowering the fuel economy number. Ford has reportedly retired the V6 and introduced the two engine lineup that boasts a torquier version of the current 2.3-liter turbocharged EcoBoost four-cylinder and a new 5.0-liter V8 on GT.

According to the press release, both the EcoBoost and GT engines are extra powerful. Moreover, the V8 engine has been thoroughly reworked. It also says that the 2018 Mustang will be more powerful than any other Mustang GT, primarily because it consists of a dual-fuel, high-pressure direct injection and a low-pressure port fuel injection.

The 2018 Mustangs are the first models to feature the 10-speed automatic transmission. Both the variants EcoBoost Mustang and GT Mustang will sport a 12-inch, customizable digital instrument cluster just above the steering wheel, with displays for normal, sport and track mode.

Apart from this, drivers will also be able to alter suspension with steering preferences.

The sound of the exhaust system can be adjusted in the GT model. Both the variants will feature lane departure warning, collision warning capability, lane keeping assist and distance alert.

Holter revealed that 350,000 cars have been sold all over the world after the release of the 2015 Mustang. The countries which have Mustang clubs and fans will witness a huge sale when they receive the vehicle directly from the factory instead through the gray market import.

Although the pricing of both the variants is not yet revealed, reports suggest that the car will go up for sale during the latter half of 2017.

Source: Tech Times

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01-19-2017 Politics
Chelsea Manning: Obama reduces sentence of Wikileaks source

US President Barack Obama has commuted Chelsea Manning's sentence for leaking documents to Wikileaks in 2010. The 29-year-old transgender US Army private, born Bradley Manning, will be freed on 17 May instead of her scheduled 2045 release.

She was sentenced to 35 years in 2013 for her role in leaking diplomatic cables to the anti-secrecy group. The leak was one of the largest breaches of classified material in US history. The commutation reduces Manning's sentence but is not a pardon, which some campaigners had called for.

Manning's uncle, Kevin Fox, referring to Chelsea as a man, told the BBC the family was "over the moon". "It's sooner than we expected - we didn't expect his case even to be looked at for another three or four years," Mr Fox said. Manning lived for four years as a teenager in Wales. Her Welsh family said in a statement that they were "overjoyed", adding that there would "always be a welcome for her here in Wales". Manning twice attempted suicide last year at the male military prison where she is being held at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. She also went on a hunger strike last year, which she ended after the military agreed to provide her with gender transition treatment.

Mr Obama granted commutation of sentences to 209 individuals and pardons to 64 others, in one of his final acts as president. Edward Snowden, a former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor who leaked information on mass surveillance programmes before fleeing the US, was not granted a pardon. Russian authorities said on Wednesday that Mr Snowden had been granted a two-year extension to his temporary asylum in the country.

What's the reaction? Manning's lawyer, David Coombs, told the BBC the decision would be a great relief to his client. "It really is a great act of mercy by President Obama," said Mr Coombs. Journalist Glenn Greenwald, who broke the story of Edward Snowden's leaks, told the BBC: "I don't think she (Manning) should have spent a single day in prison." He said she was "heroic and has inspired millions of people around the world".

Writing on Twitter, Mr Snowden said: "Let it be said here in earnest, with good heart: Thanks, Obama." But Republican Senator John McCain said the decision was "a grave mistake that I fear will encourage further acts of espionage". And House Speaker Paul Ryan, also a Republican, called it "outrageous". What was in the leaked cables? The US Army charged Manning with 22 counts relating to the unauthorised possession and distribution of more than 700,000 secret diplomatic and military documents and video. Included in those files was video footage of an Apache helicopter killing 12 civilians in Baghdad in 2007.

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Source: BBC

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01-19-2017 Science&Technology
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg takes stand in $2 billion lawsuit claiming Oculus theft

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified in a Dallas court Tuesday to defend his company in a $2 billion case that accuses Facebook’s virtual reality company of corporate theft, employee poaching and an attempted coverup.

The case deals with Oculus’ Rift headset, which was first introduced in a 2012 Kickstarter campaign. Facebook bought the company in 2014 for $2 billion; the headset continued in development before going on sale in 2016. ZeniMax Media, a major game publisher known for games such as “Doom” and “Fallout,” says it has proof that Oculus executives in 2013 stole ZeniMax code and other documents necessary to build the Oculus Rift headset.

“That evidence includes the theft of trade secrets and highly confidential information, including computer code,” said ZeniMax in a statement ahead of Zuckerberg’s testimony. The company said it also has proof of “intentional destruction of evidence to cover up their wrongdoing.”

Most of the case, ZeniMax Media Inc. v. Oculus VR Inc, centers on Oculus and Chief Technology Officer John Carmack — one of the industry’s most revered game programmers, who is perhaps best-known for the “Doom” franchise. Carmack left ZeniMax in 2013 for Oculus. According to Zenimax, he not only took “thousands of pages of ZeniMax’s confidential documents” but also broke an agreement not to recruit ZeniMax employees.

But the publisher is also going after Facebook itself, trying to prove it ignored signs that Oculus wasn’t being truthful about its technology.

Facebook has said in statements that ZeniMax’s claims, first filed in 2014, are outrageous and untrue. It has also said that the publisher never seemed to care about Carmack’s supposed theft until it got wind of Facebook’s planned $2 billion acquisition deal — after earlier rejecting an early opportunity to invest in Oculus.

In a statement ahead of Thursday’s trial, Oculus said: “We’re disappointed that another company is using wasteful litigation to attempt to take credit for technology that it did not have the vision, expertise, or patience to build.” The company has also said in previous statements that today’s version of the Rift does not contain a single line of code that can be traced to ZeniMax.

On the stand, Zuckerberg said that ZeniMax had come “out of the woodwork” with its claims once it realized how valuable the company could be, New York Times reporter Mike Isaac tweeted from the courtroom.

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Source: The Mercury News

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01-19-2017 Society
Abortion In The US Falls To Historic Low

The rate of abortion in the United States has fallen to its lowest since the Supreme Court decision on Roe v. Wade in 1973 legalized the procedure, a new report has revealed.

The new survey by the Guttmacher Institute discovered that in 2014, there were 14.6 abortions for every 1,000 women with the childbearing ages of 15 to 44 — the biggest recorded drop since the landmark Supreme Court ruling.

For the first time, too, the annual number of abortions in the country fell to under one million for the first time since the mid-1970s. Abortion rates soared to a peak of over 1.6 million in 1990.

Why At An All-Time Low? The survey, authored by Rachel Jones and Jenna Jerman, was commissioned for the institute that supports legalized abortion.

The authors did not directly probe the reasons for the rate decline but attributed it to better contraception and a wave of abortion restrictions in some states over the past five years.

“Abortion restrictions and clinic closures mean that patients may need to travel greater distances to access services,” said Jones, pointing to 75 percent of abortion patients as poor or low-income and almost two-thirds are already parents who needed to arrange time off from work and child care to undergo the service.

Interestingly, there was no correlation made between the number of abortion clinics and the dwindling rates. In the Midwest, for instance, the number of clinics dropped 22 percent during the survey period, while the abortion rate in the region decreased 9 percent. The number of clinics in the Northeast climbed 14 percent, while its abortion rate dropped 11 percent from 2011 to 2014.

Different Groups Speak Out Megan Donovan, senior policy manager at Guttmacher, reminded that enabling women to prevent unintended pregnancies and pursue family planning is a “human rights priority” as well as a “smart public health policy.”

For Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards, the findings are fresh proof that better access to contraception is reaping the benefits via fewer abortions.

"It shows that we're finally doing a better job of helping women get access to birth control that's affordable and that's high quality," said Richards in an NBC News report.

Anti-abortion groups such as Americans United for Life, however, said that cracking down on abortion clinics and creating laws that require women to get ultrasounds provide a “real, measurable impact” on the matter of abortion.

The findings are discussed in the journal Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health.

The survey was released months after the CDC pointed out that birth rates in black and Hispanic teens are still three times likely as in their white peers, but they have dramatically dropped in the past decade.

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Source: Tech Times

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01-19-2017 Science&Technology
Now we know what Microsoft’s upcoming ‘Game Mode’ for Windows 10 will do

A few weeks ago, sharp-eyed users spotted something new in a Windows 10 Insider Preview build — reference to a new “Game Mode.” Discussions on what the feature might do, or how it could improve performance, have made the rounds since. But a new investigation suggests the new feature won’t make much difference for the vast majority of Windows 10 gamers.

PCGamesN has details on the latest Insider Preview build (15007) and what it exposes in the OS. While Game Mode can’t be enabled yet, you can read the description of what it’s going to do. Basically, it performs some low-level services tailoring to make the system work smarter when you’re actively using Microsoft’s GameDVR function.

This is more-or-less as expected, and fairly worthless in any case. Both Nvidia and AMD have shipped software solutions with their own, low-level DVR capture capability, with a minimum impact on their own hardware. Microsoft’s decision to bake in its own solution is probably a boon to Intel gamers or to people who aren’t aware of Radeon ReLive or Nvidia ShadowPlay, but it’s not much benefit to anyone else. If you want to get back the performance improvement of Game Mode before Microsoft ships the feature, you can disable the DVR altogether using these instructions.

As for the amount of performance you’ll get back by making these changes, it’s unlikely you’d ever notice. Heck, it’s not even likely that you’d notice if you benchmarked the game. Barring an unusual situation, DVR recording and other background Windows services are meant to run in the background, where they’re unlikely to consume resources or cause issues. Part of the reason why this simply doesn’t matter on modern hardware is because Windows’ hardware specifications have only changed slightly since the introduction of Windows Vista in 2006. (The idea of running Vista on hardware from 1995 would’ve been beyond hilarious, but you can run Windows 10 on equipment sold 11 years ago, if you have to). Microsoft hasn’t done much moving of the goalposts, and later versions of Windows are generally viewed as improvements to Vista, as far as running on low-end hardware.

Don’t get us wrong — if Microsoft is enabling this feature because it has data suggesting that its DVR software doesn’t play nice with specific titles, that’s a fine thing. But we’d prefer the company just say that, as opposed to pushing the idea of a Game Mode that’s going to make most titles run faster. If you’re trying to play modern games on a computer that was cutting-edge in 2008 and hasn’t been upgraded since, DVR support is the least of your worries. If that doesn’t describe you, then these optimizations aren’t likely to matter.

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Source: Extreme Tech

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01-11-2017 Politics
Republicans increasingly worried about Obamacare plan

Washington (CNN)Republicans are preparing to take a major vote this week aimed at repealing Obamacare -- but the drumbeat of concern within GOP ranks about the lack of a replacement is growing louder.

The Senate is poised to vote on a budget resolution later this week, the first in a two-step process of rolling back major parts of the Affordable Care Act. At the same time, GOP lawmakers are speaking out with force, concerned about the political backlash if the GOP is perceived as being reckless given that 20 million Americans have health coverage through Obamacare and there's no clear vision or firm timeline for an alternative.

These early concerns indicate swelling reservations over what's become known as the GOP's "repeal and delay" strategy -- voting on repeal but delaying the repeal from going into effect for several years, buying the party time to craft a replacement plan. Sen. Bob Corker warned fellow Republicans that it would be "problematic," "not very appealing" and "doesn't seem very intelligent" to repeal the law without a replacement. "To me, it's much more prudent to figure out where you're going to go from here, and attempt to do it all at the same time," the Tennessee Republican told CNN. "People will see some of the flaws in just repealing only." Sen. Rand Paul is emerging as one of the most vocal GOP opponents of voting on a repeal bill before coming up with a replacement package, as he argues that the two votes must happen simultaneously. "I will do everything in my power to have a vote on it the day we repeal Obamacare," Paul told CNN's Wolf Blitzer on Monday, noting that Trump personally expressed his support for this approach in a phone call with the senator. The Kentucky senator is planning to unveil replacement legislation in the coming days. His spokesman separately told CNN that Paul plans to vote against the budget resolution this week over budgetary reasons, and wouldn't say whether Paul could vote against a reconciliation bill later this year that would carry the repeal language. 'I want to see the game plan' Republicans are using a fast-track budget mechanism to repeal major portions of Obamacare in order get around a Democratic filibuster in the Senate. But they are keenly aware that passing any replacement package or series of smaller bills afterwards will require 60 votes in the Senate -- in other words, some Democratic support. Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson told CNN Monday: "I want to see the game plan in terms of how you actually enact replacement."

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Source: CNN

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01-10-2017 Entertainment
At Golden Globes, Meryl Streep Takes On Donald Trump

Buzzed-about projects like the musical film La La Land and FX's TV comedy Atlanta won big at Sunday's Golden Globe awards. But the most powerful moment of the night belonged to Meryl Streep, who used her acceptance speech for the honorary Cecil B. deMille Award of the 2017 Golden Globes, to deliver a harsh rebuke of President-elect Donald Trump and to advocate for press freedom.

Recalling the moment Trump mocked a disabled reporter from The New York Times during a campaign rally, Streep labeled it one performance in the past year that "stunned" her.

There was nothing good about it, but it was effective and it did its job. It made its intended audience laugh, and show their teeth. It was that moment when the person asking to sit in the most respected seat in our country imitated a disabled reporter. Someone he outranked in privilege, power and the capacity to fight back. It kind of broke my heart when I saw it, and I still can't get it of out my head, because it wasn't in a movie. It was real life. And this instinct to humiliate, when it's modeled by someone in the public platform, by someone powerful, it filters down into everybody's life, because it kinda gives permission for other people to do the same thing. In what The New York Times described as a brief telephone interview early Monday morning, Trump said he had not watched Streep's remarks. But Trump said he was not surprised he had been criticized by "liberal movie people," and dismissed Streep as a Hillary Clinton supporter.

Trump also denied, as he frequently has, that he intended to mock Times reporter Serge Kovaleski for his disability, the incident to which Streep was apparently referring.

Streep also urged the audience to support the Committee to Protect Journalists to preserve an independent press, and specifically outlined the wide and varied birthplaces of many Golden Globe nominees and winners.

"Hollywood is crawling with outsiders and foreigners," she said. "And if we kick 'em all out you'll have nothing to watch but football and mixed martial arts, which are not the arts."

Streep wasn't the only one to take on the president-elect less than two weeks before his inauguration.

Host Jimmy Fallon joked at the show's start that the Golden Globes were "one of the few places left where America still honors the popular vote."

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Source: NPR

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01-10-2017 Politics
North Korea sends message to Trump amid threat to fire missile 'at any time'

(CNN)North Korea says it could launch an intercontinental ballistic missile "at any time," even as Pyongyang appeared to offer Donald Trump an avenue for future talks.

Tensions on the Korean peninsula have risen considerably since leader Kim Jong Un said in his new year's message that the country was close to testing an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM)capable of delivering a nuclear weapon to the US mainland. In a statement Sunday, a spokesman from North Korea's foreign minister said "the U.S. is wholly to blame" for the development of its missile program. Speaking to NBC's Meet the Press Sunday, Defense Secretary Ash Carter called it a "serious threat" and said the US would shoot down any missile aimed at it or an ally. China and South Korea on Monday denounced the North Korea missile threat, and warned that a test could lead to further sanctions. "If North Korea disregards our warning and launches an ICBM, it will face more powerful and thorough sanctions and pressure by the international community," South Korean Defense Ministry spokesman Moon Sang-gyun said.

Few options Strict international sanctions have so far failed to prevent Pyongyang from developing its nuclear program. In the Sunday statement, the country's foreign ministry alluded to those sanctions and said US officials "spout rubbish" when they assume Obama's policies will be maintained in future. "Anyone who wants to deal with (North Korea) would be well advised to secure a new way of thinking after having clear understanding of it," the statement said. John Delury, assistant professor of international studies at Yonsei University said the statement was "definitely a message to the Trump transition team to say don't go down this dead end (of sanctions)."

Trump talks? Following Pyongyang's apparent nuke threat in Kim's new year's speech, Trump tweeted that "North Korea just stated that it is in the final stages of developing a nuclear weapon capable of reaching parts of the US. It won't happen!" Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway was later asked on "Good Morning America" what the President-elect intended to do to stop North Korea's nukes. "He's not stated that publicly, and he won't before he's inaugurated," Conway said. Analysts have said that Trump, through his own pronouncements and the failure of the Obama administration to prevent North Korea from developing its nuclear arsenal, is left with few options.

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Source: CNN

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01-10-2017 Cars
Volkswagen ID Buzz concept is an electric microbus for the autonomous future

German automaker Volkswagen continues its conceptual push towards an electrified future with the unveiling of the ID Buzz concept van on the eve of the 2017 Detroit auto show.

Just last week at CES, Chrysler -- a brand that knows a things or two about vans -- unveiled its Portal concept minivan. Today, VW unwraps a concept electric minivan of its own with a design based on one of the most iconic vans of all time. Does this mean that the future will be filled with autonomous, electric minivans? If so, count me all the way in!

VW's new concept uses the same core ideas, design language and modular electric drive kit (MEB) architecture as the ID Concept that debuted at the Paris auto show last year. However, the ID Buzz draws its primary inspiration from the Volkswagen Type-2 Microbus, an icon of '60s and '70s automotive design, with a similar v-shape on the front fascia and a silhouette like a loaf of bread.

Also like the previous ID concept, the Buzz features an all-electric powertrain with a compact e-motor mounted low on the rear axle good for about 201 horsepower. However, the van features a second e-motor on its front axle, giving it on-demand all-wheel drive with an estimated combined output of 275 kW -- about 369 mechanical horsepower. Zero to 60 mph happens in a torquey 5 seconds with all wheels working, but the top speed is governed at just 99 mph.

Energy is stored in a flat battery pack that hides beneath the concept's Silver Birch wood floor and, with a target 111 kWh battery capacity (about three times that of the modern e-Golf), cruising range is estimated at up to 270 miles based on American driving habits and testing methods. (VW estimates about 373 miles on European testing methods.)

A plug-in Combined Charging System (CCS) allows an 80 percent juice boost in just 30 minutes or a 150 kW inductive charging plate allows for slower, wireless charging. The specifics of these technologies aren't really important, this being a concept and all.

ID Buzz's low motors and underfloor batteries mean that there are no heavy drivetrain components above about knee height, which should aid in handling, but more importantly the flatpack powertrain allows the automaker to cram seating capacity for eight people and two luggage compartments into its 194.5-inch length.

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Source: CNet

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1 The New York Times / United States 2 The Guardian / United Kingdom 3 The Daily Mail / United Kingdom 4 The Wall Street Journal / United States
5 The Washington Post / United States 6 The People's Daily / China 7 The Daily Telegraph / United Kingdom 8 USA Today / United States
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29 The Age / Australia 30 Gazeta Wyborcza / Poland 31 The Philadelphia Inquirer / United States 32 The Washington Times / United States
33 Die Zeit / Germany 34 Yomiuri Shimbun / Japan 35 The New Zealand Herald / New Zealand 36 The Onion / United States
37 Milliyet Gazetesi / Turkey 38 Il Sole 24 Ore / Italy 39 The Chicago Sun-Times / United States 40 Al-Ahram / Egypt
41 Le Figaro / France 42 Süddeutsche Zeitung / Germany 43 The Hindu / India 44 Houston Chronicle / United States
45 The Seattle Times / United States 46 Libération / France 47 The Globe and Mail / Canada 48 De Standaard / Belgium
49 The Irish Times / Ireland 50 The Toronto Star / Canada 51 Le Nouvel Observateur / France 52 Mercury News / United States
53 The Australian / Australia 54 The Denver Post / United States 55 The Christian Science Monitor / United States 56 The Dong-a Ilbo / Korea
57 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution / United States 58 Aftonbladet / Sweden 59 Kommersant / Russia 60 Bangkok Post / Thailand
61 Star Tribune / United States 62 The Hollywood Reporter / United States 63 Daily Mirror / United Kingdom 64 Dawn / Pakistan
65 El Universal / Mexico 66 The Miami Herald / United States 67 Mladá fronta Dnes / Czech Republic 68 DNA - Daily News & Analysis / India
69 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette / United States 70 Sports Nippon / Japan 71 L'Equipe / France 72 Die Presse / Austria
73 Detroit Free Press / United States 74 Neue Zürcher Zeitung / Switzerland 75 Clarín / Argentina 76 Chosun Ilbo / Japan
77 The Sacramento Bee / United States 78 China Daily / China 79 Nihon Keizai Shimbun / Japan 80 AS / Spain
81 The Baltimore Sun / United States 82 Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung / Germany 83 La Gazzetta dello Sport / Italy 84 Mainichi Shimbun / Japan
85 Boston Herald / United States 86 The Dallas Morning News / United States 87 The Times / United Kingdom 88 Newsday / United States
89 Orlando Sentinel / United States 90 St. Louis Post-Dispatch / United States 91 Taipei Times / Taiwan 92 The Hindustan Times / India
93 The Economic Times / India 94 Kompas / Indonesia 95 The Observer / United Kingdom 96 Jornal de Notícias / Portugal
97 South Florida Sun-Sentinel / United States 98 ABC / Spain 99 Le Soir / Belgium 100 The Kansas City Star / United States

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