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11-15-2019 Politics
‘Evo, I hope your exile is short’: Roger Waters sends message of support to Bolivia’s Morales (VIDEO

Bolivian President Evo Morales was “ripped away from his people by greed,” former Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters said in a message of support to the exiled leader, ousted in a coup and forced to seek asylum in Mexico. “Evo Morales, if you see this, more power to you. I hope your exile is short, your people need you. They need a leader like you,” Waters said in the video posted online, adding that the socialist leader had done a “great job” as the country’s first indigenous leader. “You’ve pulled so many of your people out of poverty and gave them a sense of dignity,” the rock ‘n’ roll legend said. You have right and history on your side and the sooner you are able to come home to your beloved Bolivia, the better it would be for the people and for you… but also for the rest of us. Waters said he was not a religious man, but if he were, he would be “praying for that moment.” Bolivia has fallen into the hands of “thugs and fascists and totalitarianism” since the coup which forced Morales to resign this week, the British musician said. Waters is a lifelong left-wing political activist and opponent of US imperialism around the world. He has also spoken out about the jailing of former Brazilian President Lula da Silva and has been a staunch advocate for jailed Australian journalist Julian Assange. Morales fled Bolivia on Tuesday after being pressured by to step down following weeks of protests over election results that the opposition claimed were tampered with. Meanwhile, unelected opposition politician Jeanine Anez declared herself “interim president” on Wednesday.

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11-15-2019 Science&Technology
The Rivalry Continues: Apple Airpods 2 VS Samsung Galaxy Buds

The fight continues between the Apple AirPods 2 vs Samsung Galaxy Buds. Contrary to popular belief, Samsung actually beat Apple on the race to release the first truly wireless earpiece in the market. However, the Samsung Gear IconX, which released almost half a year ahead of Apple's AirPods, immediately got buried by the AirPods' superior quality and design. In response to the AirPods' popularity, Samsung continued to improve its gear. The tech company eventually released the newly-Christened Samsung Galaxy Buds February this year. It released alongside its flagship smartphone device, the Samsung Galaxy S10. Rumors and leaks about the upcoming release of the Galaxy S11 is also paired with similar rumors about the successor to Samsung's wireless earphones. It looks just like the S10—the S11 will be released alongside a new version of the Samsung Galaxy Buds. Matching the Competition The Apple AirPods 2 was released this March with an improved bluetooth connection and came with an optional charging case. It easily got over the by-then newly-released Galaxy Buds. The AirPods 2's best feature is its noise-cancellation, a feature that the Galaxy Buds notably lacked. Trying to play catch up with the competition, Samsung seems to be working towards the implementation of noise-cancellation on the new Galaxy Buds. SamMobile, a leading authority on Samsung devices, reported that the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 are in the works. They also reported that the new earpiece will finally have noise-cancellation features. Given the timing of its leak, it's easy to assume that the Galaxy Buds 2 will be released alongside the S11, just like how the first Buds released with the S10. Hands-free Headsets Of course, Samsung and Apple don't hold a monopoly on wireless earphones, despite being the most popular choices. There are a few alternatives that consumers could consider buying if they're not willing to shell out fortunes. The 1MORE Stylish earphones are a great alternative. Not only does it cost half than the Apple AirPods, but it also delivers good quality sound over the airwaves. It lasts just as long as the Galaxy Buds would at 6 hours, and it also comes with a charging case, which extends its usage to up to 24 hours. If you're looking for something you could take to treks, check out JLab's Epic Air Sport. It has multiple configurations that help you find the perfect fit to your ear, although it clinging to your ears might be a deal-breaker. Its charging case allows the earpieces to stay usable for about 70 hours, perfect for long trips and treks where you'd go days without electric access. It's slightly more expensive than the Galaxy Buds, but the extra juice it offers pretty much makes up for it. ...

Read Original Article     ON:   Tech Times

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11-15-2019 Science&Technology
Elon Musk's Worldwide Internet Connectivity Project Adds 60 More Satellites

On Monday, Nov. 11, Elon Musk's plan to bring internet connectivity to everyone became one step closer as SpaceX, Musk's Aerospace company, launched 60 mini-satellites as part of its Starlink project. The mini-satellites, in a mission named Starlink 1, were carried abroad a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, the semi-reusable launch rocket continuously being developed by the company since 2010. The rocket took off from Cape Canaveral in Florida at 14:56 UTC. It released its payload at an altitude of 280km from the ground and successfully deployed all 60 of its payloads. However, SpaceX has not communicated when and where the Falcon 9 will return to back to earth. Previous Starlink launches This is the third successful launch of Starlink Satellites by SpaceX. On February 22 2018, the first launch sent two test satellites into space. Nicknamed Tintin A and B, these were launched alongside the Spanish satellite Paz owned by Hispasat. With the successful test launch of Tintin A and B, SpaceX finally confirmed the viability of doing so and proceeded to launch more satellites the following year. On May 24, the first batch of Starlink satellites were launched into orbit. These satellites did not have inter-satellite communications and were only able to communicate with ground-based antennas. Another mission (designated Starlink 2) is planned to launch late November. SpaceX's ambitious plans Starlink was publicly announced in a SpaceX event in 2015. Elon Musk's original plan was to deploy enough satellites to create internet linkages to underserved areas in the planet, as well as to create competition in highly urban cities where internet services are either expensive and slow or dominated by one or two entities. SpaceX plans to release as many satellites as possible, with around 12,000 satellites already approved by the US Federal Communication Commission (FCC). The company also plans to build around a million satellite earth stations that will communicate with the launch of the satellites in low-orbit space. SpaceX plans to use the revenue from the completed Starlink project to fund further development of the system. The company hopes to use this technology in future Mars expeditions and missions to create internet linkages without the traditional need to set up land-based cellular sites. Not a perfect project The plan has been met with some criticism. Astronomers claim that once the project is in full swing, the number of visible satellites will clutter the sky and thus will impact scientific observations on extraterrestrial bodies. The spacecraft will supposedly also add radio noise, thus making ground-based observations much more difficult. There are also concerns about how the company will handle space junk relating to the project, as it is not uncommon for satellites to fail while in orbit.

Read Original Article     ON:   Tech Times

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11-15-2019 Cars
Tesla obtains manufacturing license for Gigafactory 3 — production is imminent

Tesla has finally obtained its manufacturing license to start production at Gigafactory 3 in Shanghai — indicating that production is imminent at the new factory. During its earnings last month, the automaker confirmed that it has produced full vehicles at the new factory as part of its trial production: We are already producing full vehicles on a trial basis, from body, to paint and to general assembly, at Gigafactory Shanghai. We have cleared initial milestones toward our manufacturing license and are working toward finalizing the license and meeting other governmental requirements before we begin ramping production and delivery of vehicles from Shanghai. Last week, Chairman Robyn Denholm confirmed that Tesla is indeed still looking for a “manufacturing certification,” and they expect to get it by the end of the year: We’re working with the local government to get our manufacturing certification, which we hope we will be able to get by the end of the year. Based on those recent comments, it sounds like Tesla is mainly waiting for regulatory approval to start production. Today, the government has updated its list of approved road vehicle production on the website of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. Recent drone flyovers showed that Tesla has been producing several Model 3 vehicles out of the factory, and last week, Tesla unveiled some of the first Model 3 vehicles made-in-China and gave media test drives. Electrek’s Take It’s not entirely clear, but it sounds like it was the last hurdle to officially start production and sales of the made-in-China Model 3. Tesla might not be exactly ready for mass production, but they are clearly producing some cars, and they needed government approval to sell them. Now it sounds like they have that, and we expect an announcement from the company about starting official production any day now. As we previously reported, the start of production is going to be a major milestone since it’s going to be the first electric vehicle factory wholly owned by a foreign automaker in China, and Tesla’s second electric vehicle production factory.

Read Original Article     ON:   Electrek

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11-15-2019 Science&Technology
Facebook says it removed 3.2 billion fake accounts

Facebook said it removed 3.2 billion fake accounts from its service from April to September, up slightly from 3 billion in the previous six months. Nearly all of the bogus accounts were caught before they had a chance to become "active" users of the social network, so they are not counted in the user figures the company reports regularly. Facebook estimates that about 5% of its 2.45 billion user accounts are fake. The company said in a report Wednesday that it also removed 18.5 million instances of child nudity and sexual exploitation from its main platform in the April-September period, up from 13 million in the previous six months. It said the increase was due to improvements in detection. In addition, Facebook said it removed 11.4 million instances of hate speech during the period, up from 7.5 million in the previous six months. The company said it is beginning to remove hate speech proactively, the way it does with some extremist content, child-exploitation and other material. Facebook expanded the data it shares on its removal of terrorist propaganda. Its earlier reports only included data on al-Qaida, ISIS and their affiliates. The latest report shows Facebook detects material posted by non-ISIS or al-Qaida extremist groups at a lower rate than those two organizations. The report is Facebook's fourth on standards enforcement and the first to include data from Instagram in areas such as child nudity, illicit firearm and drug sales, and terrorist propaganda. The company said it removed 1.3 million instances of child nudity and child sexual exploitation from Instagram during the reported period, much of it before people saw it. In addition to fighting fake accounts, Facebook has unveiled new safety and transparency protocols in order to better safeguard the U.S. election process and ensure the misinformation campaign that rocked the 2016 election is not repeated. Facebook was just one of the key players in the Russian effort to sow discord and dissension in the U.S. during the 2016 race. In the lead-up to the 2016 elections, Russian troll farms were allowed to troll and spread misinformation on Facebook's sites, with various actors using the platform to target vulnerable populations, discourage voting and stir white nationalism. The company received widespread criticism for not better preventing acts of foreign influence in the democratic process. According to testimony by top intelligence chiefs, U.S. officials believed the Kremlin sought to directly interfere in the U.S. election and pave the way for a Trump presidency, and one tactic of the multi-pronged attack was a wave of misinformation.

Read Original Article     ON:   CBS News

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11-15-2019 Politics
Impeachment hearing breaks into laughter after Democrat invites Trump to testify

Democrats watching the first public impeachment hearing Wednesday laughed after Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) invited President Trump to testify. “I say to my colleague, I’d be glad to have the person who started it all come in and testify. President Trump is welcome to take a seat right there,” Welch said. His comment was in response to Rep. Jim Jordan’s (R-Ohio) claim that House Democrats are keeping the “guy that started it all,” referring to the whistleblower, from testifying as part of the hearings. “Now there is one witness, one witness that they won't bring in front of us. They won’t bring in front of the American people, and that’s the guy that started it all: the whistleblower,” Jordan said. Republicans have requested the whistleblower’s testimony, but House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) has repeatedly said the whistleblower will not testify and he will not allow questions that could lead to the whistleblower's identity being revealed.

Read Original Article     ON:   The Hill

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11-15-2019 Science&Technology
Google redesigns the Play Store for Wear OS – it’s slightly better now

Thanks to some updates, Google’s Wear OS has been getting slightly better over the past several months, but not to the extent it needs to. In its latest attempt to improve things, Google has redesigned the Play Store for Wear OS with some welcome tweaks. Spotted on Reddit and by one of our tipsters, Google appears to have widely rolled out a Play Store update for all Wear OS users. At first glance, it’s not a radical redesign, but it makes a lot of changes for the better. Firstly, it ditches the pull-down menu that’s been very annoying for quite some time. In the previous design, the menu indicator often covered the search button. The options that were in that menu have now been moved to the app’s main screen. There are new buttons for My Apps, Accounts, and Settings right at the bottom of the list. The rest of the Play Store for Wear OS doesn’t appear to have changed much. App listings, for example, are basically unchanged, but I think they now have a darker background. To be honest, it’s hard to tell the difference unless you look side-by-side. Apps on Wear OS aren’t great, so I don’t open the Play Store there very often. As mentioned, it appears the update is pretty widespread. I’ve got it on my Diesel Axial watch, and my wife’s Kate Spade Sport (pictured above) has it as well.

Read Original Article     ON:   9to5google

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11-15-2019 Science&Technology
WinX DVD Ripper Platinum with Level-3 Hardware Acceleration Can Rip a DVD in 5 Minutes

Do you need to digitize your entire DVD collection but haven't got the time for it? There are plenty of DVD rippers out there with reviews to guide you, but only WinX DVD Ripper Platinum can make that daunting job a breeze. WinX DVD Ripper Platinum is the only DVD ripper that can extract media from DVDs in 6 minutes while preventing quality loss and keeping the CPU usage at the minimum. How Fast is It? In movies with relatively low qualities, WinX DVD Ripper Platinum can facilitate conversion speed of 500 frames per second in x32 DVD drives. Most movies use 30 frames per second. Therefore, a movie with an average length of 90 minutes has roughly 160,000 frames. Running the numbers can confirm that it can convert an entire film within 6 minutes. Naturally, the duration will vary depending on the frame rate and the resolution of the movie on the DVD. Longer movies with intense special effects and higher resolution will make the conversion take a little longer. For example, developers at Digiarty tried converting a 4K video with 30 frames per second to a 1920x1080 video on i7. It resulted in a 133 frame per second conversion - an astounding 16-minute conversion for what would typically take hours. What Makes It Fast? DVD ripping, also known as digital extraction, is the process of copying media from DVDs on to a computer hard drive. The process consists of three levels, namely decoding, processing, and encoding. WinX DVD Ripper Platinum has Level 3 hardware acceleration. It means that hardware helps accelerate the process in all three levels. Most DVD rippers in the market only have hardware assistance for one or two levels. Having hardware support for all three levels expedites the digital extraction by as much as 50% without making the software crash or the computer freeze. A typical digital extraction without any hardware support can last for an hour or longer, but with hardware assistance on all three levels, it can be a 6-minute hop. A more detailed explanation is available here. For the three levels, WinX DVD Ripper Platinum uses Intel Quick Sync Video, Intel Hyper-Threading Technology, and NVIDIA NVENC/CUDA. This trio of hardware is responsible for the ultra-fast ripping capability of WinX DVD Ripper Platinum. Convenient and Customizable? This DVD ripper is not just speedy; it is also convenient and customizable. With more than a hundred optimized conversion profiles, users can digitally extract media and convert them to whatever format they prefer, and over a wide range of devices. Tailored conversions for devices like smartphones, tablets, even gaming consoles are possible. ...

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11-13-2019 Politics
Democrats will frame impeachment hearing questions to be about 'emotion', Greg Gutfeld says

Greg Gutfeld predicted Democrats interrogating witnesses in Wednesday's public Trump impeachment hearing will try to play to their feelings about the Ukraine situation. On "The Five," Gutfeld said Tuesday the hearing will be less exciting than the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh because the context of a phone call -- in President Trump's case -- is much less emotionally evocative than allegations of sexual misconduct. "So, the Democrats ... are going to do their best to draw out the emotion -- by using questions like 'Did you feel threatened?' 'How did it make you feel?'," he said. "It's going to basically be group therapy in which the shrink is going to be asking the children, 'How mean was your daddy,' and Trump being the daddy." Regarding comparisons between the Kavanaugh hearings and the Trump impeachment proceedings, Gutfeld disagreed with conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh -- who predicted Wednesday's hearing will descend into "a Kavanaugh-style debacle." "I don't think this is going to be like Kavanaugh at all," Gutfeld claimed. "It's not going to be that interesting because it's about a phone call, it's about a president doing his job, and it's about opinions about whether it was appropriate or inappropriate. It's about opinions." During a CNN event, former Vice President Joe Biden also chimed in on the impeachment hearings, dismissing Republicans' claims he should be on Rep. Adam Schiff's, D-Calif., witness list. "There is zero rationale for that to happen," the Democratic presidential candidate said at the Grinnell, Iowa, forum. "This is all a diversion, this is classic 'Trump'." Republicans have been critical of Biden and his son Hunter, in regard to allegations of wrongdoing in Ukraine. CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP The first hearings in the public phase of the impeachment inquiry will feature testimony from State Department official George Kent and top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine Bill Taylor on Wednesday. Later this week, former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovich will appear. “The House’s inquiry into whether grounds exist for President Trump’s impeachment has been, and will continue to be, a sober and rigorous undertaking,” Schiff wrote to both Democrat and Republican members of the committee, vowing that the public hearings will adhere to House rules governing the impeachment process and that participants will be “treated fairly and with respect, mindful of the solemn and historic task before us.”

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11-13-2019 Science&Technology
Patch Tuesday, November 2019 Edition

Microsoft today released updates to plug security holes in its software, including patches to fix at least 74 weaknesses in various flavors of Windows and programs that run on top of it. The November updates include patches for a zero-day flaw in Internet Explorer that is currently being exploited in the wild, as well as a sneaky bug in certain versions of Office for Mac that bypasses security protections and was detailed publicly prior to today’s patches. More than a dozen of the flaws tackled in this month’s release are rated “critical,” meaning they involve weaknesses that could be exploited to install malware without any action on the part of the user, except for perhaps browsing to a hacked or malicious Web site or opening a booby-trapped file attachment. Perhaps the most concerning of those critical holes is a zero-day flaw in Internet Exploder Explorer (CVE-2019-1429) that has already seen active exploitation. Today’s updates also address two other critical vulnerabilities in the same Windows component that handles various scripting languages. Microsoft also fixed a flaw in Microsoft Office for Mac (CVE-2019-1457) that could allow attackers to bypass security protections in some versions of the program that could let malicious macros through. Macros are bits of computer code that can be embedded into Office files, and malicious macros are frequently used by malware purveyors to compromise Windows systems. Usually, this takes the form of a prompt urging the user to “enable macros” once they’ve opened a booby-trapped Office document delivered via email. Thus, Office has a feature called “disable all macros without notification.” But Microsoft says all versions of Office still support an older type of macros that do not respect this setting, and can be used as a vector for pushing malware. Will Dornan of CERT/CC reports that while Office 2016 and 2019 for Mac will still prompt the user before executing these older macro types, Office for Mac 2011 fails to warn users before opening them. Other Windows applications or components receiving patches for critical flaws today include Microsoft Exchange and Windows Media Player. In addition, Microsoft also patched nine vulnerabilities — five of them critical — in the Windows Hyper-V, an add-on to the Windows Server OS (and Windows 10 Pro) that allows users to create and run virtual machines (other “guest” operating systems) from within Windows. ...

Read Original Article     ON:   Krebson Security

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11-13-2019 Science&Technology
Apple Set to Launch MacBook Pro With Bigger Screen, New Keyboard

Apple Inc. plans to debut a new MacBook Pro laptop with a larger screen and revamped keyboard as soon as Wednesday, according to people familiar with the situation. This will be the first major update since the MacBook Pro line was redesigned three years ago. Apple is moving from a 15-inch screen to a higher-resolution 16-inch screen, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing unannounced products. The display will likely appeal to video and photo editors, gamers and software developers. The new keyboard is designed to be more reliable. Some MacBook laptops have been criticized by users in recent years for sticky keys and other problems, prompting Apple to start a keyboard repair program. The speakers will be louder. The existing 13-inch model won’t be updated. The 16-inch MacBook Pro will replace the current 15-inch model, which starts at $2,399. The new laptop will cost about the same and is expected to go on sale this week, the people said. It won’t be the last Mac launch of the year. Apple plans to release the revamped Mac Pro desktop computer in December, one of the people said. An Apple spokesman declined to comment. The Mac continues to be a steady seller for Apple, generating roughly $25 billion in annual revenue. This is despite the company pushing more-portable devices such as the iPad and iPad Pro. The MacBook Pro laptop is Apple’s highest-end portable computer and it is differentiated by faster processors and larger screens. The new models will have main processors from Intel Corp., not Apple-made chips that it plans to add to at least some computers as early as next year, Bloomberg News has reported. The MacBook Pro and Mac Pro will cap a year of Apple product releases that also included the iPhone 11 line, Apple Watch Series 5 and AirPods Pro.

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11-13-2019 Entertainment
Disney Plus: Hands-on with the new streaming app

Forget Apple TV Plus and its nine shows: The most anticipated streaming service of the year is Disney Plus. For $6.99 a month, Disney Plus subscribers can watch up to 500 movies and 7,500 TV shows, including high-profile shows and movies like The Mandalorian and Avengers: Endgame. If you're a cord cutter, especially one with children, then Disney Plus is probably a must-have. With only a few notable exceptions, competitor Netflix is losing a host of Disney content to the new service, meaning if you or the little ones want to watch Moana, for example, you'll need a Disney Plus subscription. The big question: Is it worth the money? It's Day 1 of Disney Plus, so let's go hands-on. Unlike the meager selection offered by Apple, Disney is hitting the ground running on its first day, with a ton of Marvel, a boatload of Pixar and a healthy sprinkle of National Geographic (which is owned by Disney). Depending on the content and device there is support for both 4K HDR video and Dolby Atmos surround sound. With so many movies and TV shows already online, it's likely that if you can think of a Disney movie or TV show, it's there. Even before you try searching, the interface serves up suggestions, including a great mix of nostalgia (Turner and Hooch) and princess movies (Moana). And more besides. Disney's '70s period may be denigrated these days, but the service helps resurface some classics that appeared during that time including the Herbie series and Bedknobs and Broomsticks. The interface will reacquaint you with movies that you may have forgotten were Disney, such as Flight of the Navigator. While not everything is there -- the lack of Descendants 3 and new series like Just Roll With It may disappoint young fans -- the search interface works in a similar way to Netflix by suggesting similar content instead. There's no lack of things to watch. Unlike the meager selection offered by Apple, Disney is hitting the ground running on its first day, with a ton of Marvel, a boatload of Pixar and a healthy sprinkle of National Geographic (which is owned by Disney). Depending on the content and device there is support for both 4K HDR video and Dolby Atmos surround sound. With so many movies and TV shows already online, it's likely that if you can think of a Disney movie or TV show, it's there. Even before you try searching, the interface serves up suggestions, including a great mix of nostalgia (Turner and Hooch) and princess movies (Moana). And more besides. Disney's '70s period may be denigrated these days, but the service helps resurface some classics that appeared during that time including the Herbie series and Bedknobs and Broomsticks. The interface will reacquaint you with movies that you may have forgotten were Disney, such as Flight of the Navigator. ...

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11-07-2019 Science&Technology
SpaceX begins Starship launch mount installation at historic Pad 39A in Florida

At the same time as SpaceX’s Boca Chica, Texas team is working around the clock to prepare Starship Mk1 for several major tests, the company is building a second dedicated Starship launch complex at Pad 39A and as of November 4th, that construction effort has reached a symbolic milestone. — Chris B – NSF (@NASASpaceflight) November 4, 2019 According to photos taken by local resident and famed rocket and ship photographer Julia Bergeron on a bus tour of Kennedy Space Center (KSC), SpaceX has officially begun to install a large steel structure at Launch Complex 39A, a pad the company has leased from NASA since 2014. Known as a launch mount, the massive structure will one day support SpaceX’s first East Coast Starship and Super Heavy static fires and test flights. At SpaceX’s Boca Chica, Texas Starship facilities, the company has already made a huge amount of progress fabricating and outfitting a brand new launch mount that will soon support Starship Mk1’s first propellant loading, static fire, and flight tests. The spartan steel structure looks different from anything SpaceX has built in the past for Falcon 9 and is equally unrecognizable alongside the renders of a finished-product launch pad included in an updated Starship launch video. What is undeniable, nevertheless, is the speed with which technicians have taken the Texas launch mount from a group of unconnected, partially-finished parts to a nearly complete structure with the business half of Starship Mk1 installed on top. SpaceX workers have built the mount, completed a large amount of plumbing to connect it to nearby liquid oxygen, methane, nitrogen, and helium reserves, and installed Starship on the mount in less than two months. The final integration of different prefabricated pieces began barely a month before Starship was moved to the pad, as pictured below. TWO PADS, TWO APPROACHES Although Boca Chica’s launch mount is quite large, based on Julia’s photos of Pad 39A, Florida’s nascent launch mount is going to be significantly bigger. The section that SpaceX began installing in the first days of November appears already be much taller than the mount in Texas, and it also looks more like a rectangular corner than anything resembling part of Boca Chica’s hexagonal structure. At the same time, the apparent rectangular corner being worked on in Florida would be a much better fit for the partially-enclosed launch mount structure shown in SpaceX’s official 2019 Starship launch video. ...

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10-31-2019 Environment
'Start Listening': Greta Thunberg Rejects Major Environmental Award

Teenage environmental activist Greta Thunberg has turned down a major environmental prize. "It is a huge honor," Thunberg said of the Nordic Council Environment Prize. "But the climate movement does not need any more awards." "What we need is for our politicians and the people in power to start listening to the current, best available science," she added. The award Thunberg rejected came with prize money of 350,000 Danish kroner — about $52,000. The Swedish activist, who is currently traveling in North America, was also a contender for the Nobel Peace Prize this year. That award ultimately went to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali. The Nordic Council, an organization aimed at promoting cooperation between Nordic governments, awarded Thunberg the prize for "breathing new life into the debate surrounding the environment and climate at a critical moment in world history." "She has stubbornly and persuasively urged the world to listen to research and act on the basis of facts," the council said in a statement. Council president Hans Wallmark said that the body respects both Thunberg's decision to turn down the award "and the reasons for this decision." As for the $52,000 award, Wallmark said the council "will now think carefully about what to do with the prize money." In a statement on Instagram explaining why she declined, Thunberg slammed the council's member countries for not taking firmer action on climate change. "The Nordic countries have a great reputation around the world when it comes to climate and environmental issues," she said. "But when it comes to our actual emissions and our ecological footprints per capita — if we include our consumption, our imports as well as aviation and shipping — then it's a whole other story." Thunberg referenced a recent WWF and Global Footprint Network report that stated Swedes, and other EU residents, are depleting natural ecosystems far faster than they can renew.

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10-29-2019 Science&Technology
Apple announces AirPods Pro with noise cancellation, coming October 30th

Apple has just launched the rumored noise-canceling AirPods Pro — not with an October product event, but via a press release. The premium earbuds are set for release on October 30th for $249. They’re up for preorder starting today. And yes, they still only come in white. Apple has built microphones into the AirPods Pro that detect external sound, and the earbuds then cancel it out. The system used here sounds very similar to the noise cancellation in the new Beats Solo Pro headphones, just miniaturized to a much smaller form factor. Apple says noise cancellation is adjusted up to 200 times per second. The AirPods Pro feature a transparency mode that will let you hear your surroundings while wearing them. The earbuds have a “force sensor” that you can use to control music playback and activate transparency mode. The company is promising fantastic audio quality from the AirPods Pro for that $249 price. They have a feature called “Adaptive EQ” that “automatically tunes music to the shape of your ear.” Unlike the current AirPods, these will come with flexible ear tips for a more secure, sealed in-ear fit. Three sizes of silicone tips are included in the box. Apple even says there’s a software audio test that can tell you if you’ve chosen the right-sized tip by “measuring the sound level in the ear and comparing it to what is coming from the speaker driver.” This should reduce any guesswork or confusion for customers. Like the second-gen AirPods, the AirPods Pro support wireless charging and hands-free “Hey Siri” voice commands. Apple says they get around 4.5 hours of continuous listening battery life. (You can see that the active noise cancellation takes a bit of a toll there.) But as usual with AirPods, the case has enough extra battery for around 24 hours of total listening time, including those recharges. The AirPods Pro are sweat and water resistant — get ready to start seeing these in gyms everywhere — and they include “an expanded mesh microphone port that improves call clarity in windy situations.” They still charge via the Lightning connector, but they now come with a Lightning to USB-C cable in the box. Apple’s new AirPods come just as noise cancellation — long a convenience offered by over-ear headphones from Bose, Sony, and others — has begun making its way to truly wireless earbuds. Sony’s noise-canceling 1000X M3 earbuds cost $229. And Amazon’s Echo Buds, with Bose noise reduction (not full-on cancellation) technology, are about to hit shelves for $129.99. AirPods have seen a meteoric rise in popularity since they were first released, so it’s safe to assume that Apple is about to have another smash hit on its hands. ...

Read Original Article     ON:   The Verge

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10-24-2019 Science&Technology
Lowlights from Zuckerberg’s Libra testimony in Congress

“I don’t control Libra” was the central theme of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony today in Congress. The House of Representatives unleashed critiques of his approach to cryptocurrency, privacy, encryption and running a giant corporation during six hours of hearings. Zuckerberg tried to assuage their fears while stoking concerns that if Facebook doesn’t build Libra, the world will end up using China’s version. Yet Facebook won’t stop shaking up society, with Zuckerberg saying its News tab feature will be announced this week. During the hearing before the House Financial Services Committee that you can watch here, Zuckerberg recommitted to only releasing Libra with full U.S. regulatory approval. But given the tone of the questioning and Zuckerberg’s lack of fresh answers since Facebook’s David Marcus testified about Libra in July, Libra now looks even less likely to launch in 2020. The hearing started tensely, with Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) declaring that “Perhaps you believe that you’re above the law, and it appears that you are aggressively increasing the size of your company, and are willing to step over anyone, including your competitors, women, people of color, you own users, and even our democracy to get what you want . . . In fact, you have opened up a serious discussion about whether Facebook should be broken up.“ However, some members of Congress used their time to advocate for American dominance instead of heavy regulation. Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC) said “the question is, are we going to spend our time trying to devise ways for government planners to centralize and control as to who, when and how innovators can innovate.” Many Republicans complimented Zuckerberg on his business acumen, though none showed outright support for Libra. With few highlights or positive moments coming from the hearing, here are the major takeaways followed by a chronicle of the top exchanges between Zuckerberg and Congress: ...

Read Original Article     ON:   Tech Crunch

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