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12-06-2016 Science&Technology
Boston Dynamics' Atlas Robot Can Now Chase You Down Even On Rough Grounds But...

You Don't Have To Worry.

Boston Dynamics has already developed a robot that can maintain its balance in uneven terrain involving a four-legged robot called BigDog. Now, the company through a third-party technology has just achieved the same feat but this time it involves a humanoid robot.

IHMC Algorithm The new development is attributed to an algorithm developed by the Institute for Human and Machine Cognition Robotics Lab in Florida, which allows humanoid robots advanced control techniques in order to maintain balance.

The robotic project is part of the IHMC's entry to the DARPA Robotics Challenge, a competition seeking to advance robotics in the area of disaster response.

The technology has enabled the bipedal robot called Atlas to balance itself not just on an uneven surface but on one that is constituted by different shapes and sizes .

"While great strides have recently been made in robotics, robots still cannot get to the same places that people can," the IHMC said. "Our humanoid projects are focused on enabling our bipedal humanoids handle rough terrain without requiring onboard sensors to build a model of the terrain."

The Science Behind Robotic Balance And Control The researchers addressed the challenge of bipedal walking by having the robot explore the surface first.

"After a step is taken, the robot explores the new contact surface by attempting to shift the center of pressure around the foot," the researchers stated in a published paper detailing the walking technique. "The available foothold is inferred by the way in which the foot rotates about contact edges and/or by the achieved center of pressure locations on the foot during exploration."

Atlas Robot In Action The video below demonstrates how the robot walks and balances itself atop cinder blocks. It initially looks easy but the efficacy and even grace by which Atlas navigates the surface is astounding given two factors.

First, the robot weighs 330 pounds, so that act of balancing itself via the workings of gears and bolts on its joints and the effect of gravity on such weight makes the feat quite impressive, indeed.

Second, there is the fact that the robot has no prior knowledge of the surface. It is effectively navigating the path for the first time and it was achieved without toppling over.

The DARPA competition that the IHMC is participating in does not require the robot to be humanoid as long as it will be compatible with human operators and useful in disaster relief operations. IHMC researchers, however, decided to use Atlas because his human-like form is best suited for environments built for humans.

Source: Tech Times

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12-07-2016 General
At Dakota pipeline protest, activists gird for fight ahead

Thousands of protesters in North Dakota celebrated the federal government's ruling against a controversial pipeline project but girded for a protracted struggle as president-elect Donald Trump's transition team said on Monday it supports the project and would review it after he takes office.

The company building the pipeline, Energy Transfer Partners, said late on Sunday that it had no plans to reroute the line, and expected to complete the project.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said on Sunday it rejected an application for the Dakota Access Pipeline to tunnel under Lake Oahe, a reservoir formed by a dam on the Missouri River.

Native Americans and activists protesting the project have argued that the 1,172-mile (1,885-km) Dakota Access Pipeline would damage sacred lands and could contaminate the tribe's water source.

Late on Sunday, Energy Transfer Partners said in a joint statement with its partner Sunoco Logistics Partners that it does not intend to reroute the line and called the Obama administration's decision a "political action."

Protesters at the Oceti Sakowin camp in Cannon Ball, North Dakota, turned upbeat after the Army Corps of Engineers announcement on Sunday but expressed trepidation that the celebration would be short-lived.

"This is a temporary celebration. I think this is just a rest," Charlotte Bad Cob, 30, of the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, said on Sunday. "With a new government it could turn and we could be at it again."

The pipeline is complete except for a 1-mile (1.61 km)segment that was to run under Lake Oahe, which required permission from federal authorities.

The protest camp's numbers swelled in recent days as hundreds of U.S. veterans joined the protesters.

Several veterans who recently arrived at the camp told Reuters that they thought Sunday's decision was a tactic to get protesters to leave. They said they had no plans to leave because they anticipate heated opposition from Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) and the incoming administration.

"That drill is still on the drill pad. Until that's gone, this is not over," said veteran Matthew Crane, 32, from Buffalo, New York.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said it would analyze possible alternate routes, but any other route also is likely to cross the Missouri River.



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Source: Reuters

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12-07-2016 General
At Dakota pipeline protest, activists gird for fight ahead

Thousands of protesters in North Dakota celebrated the federal government's ruling against a controversial pipeline project but girded for a protracted struggle as president-elect Donald Trump's transition team said on Monday it supports the project and would review it after he takes office.

The company building the pipeline, Energy Transfer Partners, said late on Sunday that it had no plans to reroute the line, and expected to complete the project.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said on Sunday it rejected an application for the Dakota Access Pipeline to tunnel under Lake Oahe, a reservoir formed by a dam on the Missouri River.

Native Americans and activists protesting the project have argued that the 1,172-mile (1,885-km) Dakota Access Pipeline would damage sacred lands and could contaminate the tribe's water source.

Late on Sunday, Energy Transfer Partners said in a joint statement with its partner Sunoco Logistics Partners that it does not intend to reroute the line and called the Obama administration's decision a "political action."

Protesters at the Oceti Sakowin camp in Cannon Ball, North Dakota, turned upbeat after the Army Corps of Engineers announcement on Sunday but expressed trepidation that the celebration would be short-lived.

"This is a temporary celebration. I think this is just a rest," Charlotte Bad Cob, 30, of the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, said on Sunday. "With a new government it could turn and we could be at it again."

The pipeline is complete except for a 1-mile (1.61 km)segment that was to run under Lake Oahe, which required permission from federal authorities.

The protest camp's numbers swelled in recent days as hundreds of U.S. veterans joined the protesters.

Several veterans who recently arrived at the camp told Reuters that they thought Sunday's decision was a tactic to get protesters to leave. They said they had no plans to leave because they anticipate heated opposition from Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) and the incoming administration.

"That drill is still on the drill pad. Until that's gone, this is not over," said veteran Matthew Crane, 32, from Buffalo, New York.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said it would analyze possible alternate routes, but any other route also is likely to cross the Missouri River.



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Source: Reuters

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12-06-2016 Politics
Trump nominated Carson to lead U.S. housing, urban policy

President-elect Donald Trump nominated retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson to run the Department of Housing and Urban Development, an unconventional choice that underscores Trump’s willingness to forgo traditional policy expertise in some Cabinet positions to surround himself with allies.

Carson — who ran against Trump in the wide field of Republican presidential primary candidates and has never held political office — is the president-elect’s highest profile African American supporter and confidant. A conservative political celebrity, the 65-year-old Carson recently cast doubt on his suitability for a Cabinet role, saying he would be “like a fish out of water” as a federal bureaucrat.

“I am thrilled to nominate Dr. Ben Carson as our next Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Ben Carson has a brilliant mind and is passionate about strengthening communities and families within those communities,” Trump is quoted as saying in a statement released by his transition team Monday.

A review of some of Carson’s political commentary on housing policy reveals his views to be at odds with some of the anti-segregation policies championed by minority groups, including the NAACP. On at least one occasion, he criticized efforts by the Obama administration to use its regulatory powers to improve racial integration in housing.

If confirmed by the Senate, Carson will be enlisted to serve as Trump’s unofficial envoy to African Americans and to lead the charge to reform what Trump has described as America’s blighted and dangerous inner cities, a dystopian, racially charged image criticized as frequently at odds with reality. He will also lead Trump’s efforts in an arena where Trump and members of his family have been accused of flouting the law in their own business ventures.

Trump is also expected on Monday to formally name retired Marine Gen. James N. Mattis as his defense secretary. Trump shared his intentions Thursday during a raucous “thank you” rally in Cincinnati.

Carson’s lack of experience in the housing sphere raised concerns among advocates for vulnerable Americans.

“With many qualified Republicans to choose from with deep knowledge of, and commitment to, affordable housing solutions for the poorest families, and with the housing crisis reaching new heights across the country, Dr. Carson’s nomination to serve as HUD Secretary is surprising and concerning,” Diane Yentel, president of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, said in a statement.



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Source: The Washington Post

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12-06-2016 Science&Technology
SpaceX, Hyperloop, Tesla Founder Elon Musk Is A Huge Start Up Role Model

Elon Musk is known for his ventures in SpaceX, Hyperloop and Tesla. Aside from his vision to improve transportation in the next few decades through Hyperloop and to put humans on Mars, many look to him as a leader in technology.

But Elon Musk is not just any leader, according to a survey that consists of hundreds of start up founders, 23 percent of them admitted that they admired the SpaceX and Tesla leader.

The survey was put together by the First Round Capital for the State of Start Ups. Over seven hundred start up founders were included in the survey, cites Fortune. These start up founders come from different industries, from investment to technology. And they were asked questions about investments and growth. This year, the State of Start Ups survey revealed that Elon Musk is the most admired business leader in 2015.

Accounting for his various milestones, Elon Musk pushed out the Tesla Model 3, his vision to colonize Mars and his dream of creating a revolutionary transportation system through Hyperloop. All three were under his direction last year.

According to the start up leaders, they found that the start up platform has improved since 2015. Noting that 2015 was still a year that America is recovering from the economic collapse, 9 out of 10 founders said that it is a great time to put up a start up company. For many, Elon Musk is one of the key leaders who embody this possibility.

Aside from Elon Musk, the survey reveals Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO came in second with 10 percent and Mark Zuckerberg who founded Facebook scored 6 percent in the report. Apple co-founder Steve Jobs even made the list with 5 percent.

Do you have a role model in mind? Is it Elon Musk? Tell us how he or she inspired you in the comments section!

Source: University Herald

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12-06-2016 Science&Technology
What is the Apple Car? Even Apple doesn’t know.

If Apple’s letter to federal automobile regulators clears up anything, it is that Apple has not given up on its car ambitions.

But there is a danger in reading too much into each little step in the process.

Just because Apple shuffled things around a couple months ago didn’t mean it was out of the car business. This letter doesn’t mean the Apple Car is now a thing.

The smart read, for now, is that Apple remains interested in cars and probably will be for the foreseeable future. And that interest translates to significant investment, hiring and testing of concepts. At the same time, it hasn’t figured out just where or if it will play.

Getting into a whole new business will require years of investments, explorations and adjustments. Apple is clearly in that process, though the result is far from certain.

That said, here are a few things that are clear:

Apple needs a next big thing. It doesn’t have to be the Apple Car, but it has to be something. Iterating on the phone, tablet and computer are find and dandy, but for Apple to justify its market capitalization it needs to enter and grab a significant share of a significant market. Apple can’t take forever to decide if the car is that thing. Even though it's a long game, many companies that are serious about creating the cars of tomorrow are making fairly big and public investments, striking deals and setting deadlines. Also, it matters when it comes to hiring and retaining the best people: Workers want to know they are building a real thing. Just the threat of Apple in the car space is probably a good thing, spurring the entire industry to move faster and smarter.



Source: Recode

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12-06-2016 General
Mobsters ran a fake U.S. Embassy in Ghana for 10 years, flying the flag and issuing visas for $6,000

For a decade, an American flag flew outside a battered pink building in Ghana’s capital city, welcoming out-of-town visitors who, once inside, found a photo of President Obama hanging on the wall. Signs confirmed to travelers — who had been bused in from the most remote parts of West Africa — that they had arrived at the U.S. Embassy in Accra.

The “consular officers” working there were not Americans, but they spoke English and Dutch and issued official-looking visas and identification papers. They charged their customers $6,000.

Billboards and fliers advertised the official services.

But there was nothing official about them. The real U.S. Embassy in Accra is white, not pink, and it sits on a large piece of land inside security fences in one of the city’s wealthiest neighborhoods.

The battered building with the flag and Obama picture was a fake — ran by Ghanaian and Turkish organized crime rings and a Ghanaian lawyer practicing immigration and criminal law, the State Department said in a statement.

“For about a decade it operated unhindered,” the statement said. “The criminals running the operation were able to pay off corrupt officials to look the other way, as well as obtain legitimate blank documents to be doctored.”

Officials said they shut down the fraudulent operation during the summer after an informant tipped off the assistant investigator for the Regional Security Office. The investigation in Ghana stemmed from a larger State Department initiative, Operation Spartan Vanguard, which was created by the RSO to “address trafficking and fraud plaguing the U.S. Embassy and the region,” according to the statement.

The State Department released information about the investigation Nov. 2, but the news is being widely reported only now. The story seems to have been first reported by Ghanaian media last week, and it cites the statement from one month ago on the State Department website. The information was not contained in a news release from the State Department or its Bureau of Diplomatic Security, but in a “behind the scenes” article written by diplomatic security staff.

In it, officials did not say how many people, if any, may have entered the United States illegally with documentation from the fake embassy or how the crime ring got hold of what the state department called “fraudulently obtained, legitimate U.S. visas.”

State Department officials in Ghana deferred questions to the media office in Washington, which did not immediately respond to a request for more information.



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Source: Washington Post

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12-06-2016 Science&Technology
OCULUS TOUCH REVIEW: THE OCULUS RIFT IS FINALLY COMPLETE

When the Oculus Rift reawakened our fascination with virtual reality in 2012, it was largely a visual medium. People imagined their average VR experience as a more exciting and immersive version of a traditional game or movie, something that gave the same familiar interactions a whole new feel. So controllers that mimicked movable virtual hands, like the Razer Hydra, just seemed like a fascinating but even geekier sub-field of an already geeky technology. But a few years later, motion controls have reinvented VR, and Oculus’ new Touch controllers are turning the Rift into the system it was always meant to be.

Touch, which ships to preorder customers December 6th, is Oculus playing catch-up. The HTC Vive put motion controls front and center in early 2015, transforming how people thought about VR. Suddenly, holding a gamepad paled next to painting, shooting, making sandwiches, or catching cute animals with your own two hands. Motion controls turned out to be one of the best arguments for calling virtual reality a new medium, not just a new kind of screen.

Oculus unveiled Touch a few months after the Vive appeared, but it wasn’t ready to ship with the Rift. Instead, Oculus included an Xbox One gamepad. It was everything the company had originally promised, but by then, that didn’t feel like enough. Although I loved the Rift’s hardware design, it was relegated to second-class status at some point after the Vive’s official consumer release, and third-class once PlayStation VR came out with a strong slate of both gamepad and motion-control titles.

This week, that could change. The $199 Oculus Touch package, which includes two controllers and an additional tracking camera, is a pricey addition to the $599 Rift. But it’s exactly what the Rift needs to retake its place as one of the most interesting and innovative VR headsets.

Hand-tracking peripherals like Microsoft’s Kinect, Nintendo’s Wiimote, and Sony’s (pre-VR) PlayStation Move are nothing new. But matching your movements to a separate screen is usually a little alienating, and most games never passed the novelty stage. Virtual reality removes that layer of abstraction, because it makes perfect sense to reach out and grab things that look like they really exist. Some products use pure Minority Report-style hand tracking, but physical controllers still tend to provide better feedback and greater reliability.



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Source: The Verge

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12-05-2016 Politics
Italy Votes in Landmark Referendum

ROME—Italians went to the polls Sunday in a pivotal referendum that pits the country’s center-left prime minister, Matteo Renzi, against a surging populist movement.

The ballot, on proposed changes to the country’s constitution, is effectively a vote on Mr. Renzi’s overall performance and comes as mainstream politicians across Europe face challenges from antiestablishment forces fueled by economic discontent and unease over immigration.

Austrians were also voting Sunday in a tight presidential contest between the far-right Norbert Hofer and center-left candidate Alexander Van der Bellen. If Mr. Hofer comes out on top, he would be the first right-wing populist head of state in Europe since World War II.

Europe is facing a prolonged period of political upheaval, with elections also slated for 2017 in Germany, France and the Netherlands.

In Italy, Mr. Renzi has pursued a program of easing regulation, including labor laws, and making it easier for companies to do business in an effort to reinvigorate the eurozone’s third-largest economy. But unemployment has stayed stubbornly high and a nascent recovery petered out earlier this year.

Mr. Renzi has said he would resign in the event of a “no” vote—an eventuality that some politicians worry could trigger a chain reaction that ultimately threatens the integrity of the eurozone and its common currency.

Leading the campaign against Mr. Renzi is the populist 5 Star Movement, which says deeper changes are needed than those the premier is proposing.

The movement, led by former comedian Beppe Grillo, has called for a nonbinding referendum on the country’s euro membership. The party wants to abandon EU budget strictures and offer a guaranteed income to citizens. It has also said it might favor printing a parallel currency.

“Don’t vote with your head. Vote with your gut,” said Beppe Grillo, founder of the 5 Star Movement during the campaign against the reform. “This [reform] is a fraud.”

Public-opinion surveys indicate that roughly 30% of Italians would back 5 Star candidates if parliamentary elections were held now. That puts it neck-and-neck with Mr. Renzi’s Democratic Party and means it will have an influential voice and could even end up in power if fresh elections were held.

That prospect has caused concern among investors, who will be watching the outcome of the vote closely.

Capital has flowed out of Italy steadily for much of this year. In recent weeks, concerns have sent the gap between Italian and German 10-year government bonds to their highest level since 2014, while Italy’s stock market has been among Europe’s worst performers this year.



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Source: The Wall Street Journal

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12-05-2016 Science&Technology
Pentagon says Raytheon making progress on satellite control station

Raytheon Co is making progress on a long-delayed program for new ground control stations for next-generation GPS satellites, although it is lagging a remedial schedule agreed with military officials, the Pentagon's chief arms buyer said.

"It's actually making progress," Defense Undersecretary Frank Kendall told Reuters during the annual Reagan National Defense Forum in southern California.

"They've lost some schedule from what we had targeted for them, but not a dramatic amount. I believe they will get there."

Kendall said he would meet Raytheon Chief Executive Tom Kennedy for another high-level quarterly review of the program next month.

Kendall decided in October to continue work on Raytheon's Operational Control System (OCX) program after a mandatory live-or-die review triggered when the program breached critical cost thresholds earlier this year.

At the time, Kendall said he concluded the program was needed for national security and there were no alternatives that offered acceptable capability to meet requirements at less cost.

Raytheon has vowed to continue working closely with the Air Force and the Pentagon to ensure the success of the program, which saw costs increase sharply due to increased cybersecurity equipment and other technical issues.

Kendall's latest comments were more upbeat than in July, when he told reporters that Raytheon's work on the program was "a mixed bag", showing progress in some areas but continuing problems in others.

The Pentagon earlier this year said the estimated cost of the OCX program has rise 16.3 percent, or $586.4 million, to $4.2 billion in 2015, even before a two-year delay that would further inflate costs.

Source: Reuters

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12-05-2016 Science&Technology
ESA Funding Approved Despite Schiaparelli Setback

Fund crunch will no longer hamper the European Space Agency's Mars program. The same holds true on the skepticism that had seeped in after the crash of the module Schiaparelli from the first phase and battered faith in the ESA project's future.

This follows the ministerial meeting in Lucerne, Switzerland on Dec. 1, where space ministers of 22 member countries along with Slovenia and Canada pledged to contribute the remaining €436 million ($465 million) to take the project forward.

"The Agency is encouraged to strive to reap the benefits expected from the significant investments made through the ExoMars program, including those earmarked for the successful completion of the second ExoMars mission," European officials said in a resolution.

Filling Up The Financial Shortfall The ExoMars mission as a whole has been facing budget overruns. At the meeting, ministers reasserted their faith in the mission and agreed to fill up the financial shortfall. Among the top contributors are Italy and the UK with €171 million ($182 million) and €82 million ($87 million) respectively.

This will help ESA move ahead to put a UK-assembled robotic rover on the surface of Mars in 2021.

The first part of the program had placed a satellite for probing trace gases in the atmosphere, presumably from organisms somewhere on the planet. While ESA and Russian partner Roscosmos were able to complete the first phase of the mission to the Red Planet, the space agencies were unable to successfully land the Schiaparelli technology demonstration landing module.

Part two of the ExoMars mission will be a combo of rover and surface platform. Already the Trace Gas Orbiter from the first phase is locked in orbit and acting as a relay module for the 2020 mission.

The rover mission will be the soul of the second phase of ExoMars. It will make subsurface drilling explorations on Mars' dusty surface to detect traces of life.

ESA Demand The ESA sought funding amounting to €11 billion ($12 billion) for meeting various activities, ranging from rocket development and Earth observation to satellite navigation.

Ministers from ESA's 22 member states plus Slovenia and Canada allocated €10.3 billion (US$10.9 billion) for space activities based on the "vision of a United Space in Europe in the era of Space 4.0."

"This is a big amount of money that really allows us to go forward," said Jan Woerner, the director general of ESA.

Support for ISS At the summit, ministers in charge of space matters declared support for Woerner's vision for Europe in space and the development of ESA.

The meeting also decided to extend the European participation in the International Space Station until 2024, bringing ESA at par with the United States, Russia, Japan and Canada. This was welcomed by NASA.

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Source: Tech Times

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12-05-2016 Entertainment
Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite Gameplay Kicks Out

Following Sony’s announcement of Marvel vs Capcom Infinite at the PlayStation Experience press conference earlier today, we now have our first look at actual Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite gameplay!

Same as in the announcement video, Ryu, Mega Man goes up against Iron-Man and Captain Marvel. Watch super moves get unleashed, Infinity Stones used (yep, like in the Marvel Super Heroes fighting game made by Capcom way back then) and lots more! Prepare for sensory overload, folks! If you missed it earlier, here’s what to expect from this 2-on-2 brawler: Features

Reborn Rivalries: Universes collide once again in this all-new crossover clash for the ages, where players select their favorite Marvel and Capcom characters and engage in accessible and action-packed 2v2 partner battles. Infinite Power: Pulled from classic Marvel lore, unique and game-changing Infinity Stones can be implemented into players’ strategies as a way to influence the outcome of battle. Each Infinity Stone provides a unique advantage to the player and represents a different aspect of the universe: power, space, time, reality, soul, and mind. Iconic Heroes: Choose from a diverse roster of fan favorite characters pulled from Marvel and Capcom universes, including Iron Man and Captain America from the Marvel side, and Ryu and Mega Man X from Capcom. Many more playable characters will be revealed in the future. Cinematic Story: Heroes and villains battle for supremacy in a timeless struggle set in the Marvel and Capcom universes. The original storyline answers the questions regarding the new clash and lets players step into the shoes of classic characters from both sides as they wage war against powerful forces in an attempt to defeat a new villain. Accessible Single Player Content: In addition to the cinematic story experience, players can hone their skills in a variety of accessible single player modes, including Training, Mission and Arcade modes. Vast Multiplayer Features: Robust online modes and content including ranked and casual matches, global leaderboards, and online lobbies with spectator mode deepen the overall experience. Graphics: Unreal Engine 4 technology pushes the cinematic visuals and next-gen realism into a new era. Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite will hit the PS4, Xbox One and PC in 2017.

Source: Play Station Lifestyle

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12-02-2016 Health
Why Can't We Bring Down The Number Of New HIV Cases?

While the HIV/AIDS epidemic no longer looks as menacing as it did in the 1980s and '90s, efforts to stop the spread of the disease have hit a brick wall.

The number of people getting infected with HIV each year peaked in 1997 at about 3.5 million. Prevention efforts — including HIV education campaigns, testing programs and the distribution of billions of condoms — have slashed that figure dramatically. But progress stalled around 2010. Since then the world has tallied about 2 million new cases a year with no end in sight.

Rate Of New HIV Infections, Once In Sharp Decline, Is Leveling Off

The number of new HIV cases worldwide each year peaked at 3.5 million in 1997 and fell to 2.4 million within a decade. But the rate of change has slowed since 2010, falling an average of 1.4 percent each year.

"Two million new infections a year for a disease that is preventable and primarily infecting people at young ages is a lot," says Jennifer Kates, director of HIV policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation.

She says the HIV/AIDS epidemic remains one of the biggest health crises in the world: "It's still quite challenging and still alarming."

Yet a new report from her foundation and UNAIDS shows that global funding to combat HIV declined in 2015 to $7.5 billion from $8.6 billion in 2014.

"I think we are at an odd point," Kates adds. "HIV is still a part of the global dialogue but not at the same intensity that it used to be. And that's a challenge because this epidemic isn't over."

Last year roughly 36 million people around the world were living with HIV, according to UNAIDS. About half of them are on drugs they'll have to take for the rest of their lives.

HIV remains the leading killer of women of reproductive age, according to the World Health Organization, claiming more lives than cancer, childbirth, violence as well as any other infectious disease.

And the future looks grim. On Thursday UNICEF has came out with a report projecting that HIV infections among adolescents — currently 250,000 a year — could rise dramatically over the next 15 years if more isn't done to address sexual transmission among teens. UNICEF executive director Anthony Lake in a statement addressed the current stagnation around HIV/AIDS, saying, "We need to recapture the urgency this issue deserves."



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Source: NPR

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11-30-2016 Science&Technology
NASA Developing Food Bars for Mars Missions

A journey to Mars presents many challenges, not the least of which will be how to feed the astronauts during what is expected to be a six-month journey to the Red Planet.

To that end, the U.S. space agency NASA is working to create lightweight food bars that provide calories without adding a lot of extra weight to the Orion spacecraft and the massive booster needed to get to Mars.

Unlike the International Space Station, where astronauts can choose from more than 200 food items, that’s simply not feasible on a mission to Mars, primarily because the amount of fuel needed to get to Mars means finding ways to save weight in other areas, like food. Also, the ISS is regularly resupplied with various consumables.

The food bars, for now at least, are being developed for breakfast, NASA said.

“When you have 700 to 900 calories of something, it’s going to have some mass regardless of what shape it’s in, so we’ve taken a look at how to get some mass savings by reducing how we’re packaging and stowing what the crew would eat for breakfast for early Orion flights with crew,” said Jessica Vos, deputy health and medical technical authority for Orion. “When you think about multi-week missions in Orion, having just one package for breakfast items for crew will help us limit the space we need to store them.”

While many Americans eat a protein bar in place of a meal from time to time, NASA said those are not good enough for the Mars mission.

“There’s no commercially-available bar right now that meets our needs, so we’ve had to go design something that will work for the crew, while trying to achieve a multi-year shelf-life,” said Takiyah Sirmons, a food scientist with the Advanced Food Technology team at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Some of the flavors being worked on include orange cranberry and barbecue nut.

NASA notes that for other meals, astronauts on their way to and from Mars will have food selection similar to the ISS.

One potential problem with food bars is that they may lower crew morale, as food choice, taste and quality are important on long missions.

So, NASA is also working on other ways to provide food to astronauts, including a vegetable production system like the one on the space station as well as other types of packaged foods.

The first manned launch of the Orion is expected as early as 2021, with manned missions to Mars coming sometime later.



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Source: Voa News

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11-30-2016 Science&Technology
NASA’s Cassini spacecraft is getting ready to skim Saturn’s rings

After 12 years of touring the Saturn system, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft is about to enter a new orbit — one that will take the probe up close to the planet’s famous rings.

These Ring-Grazing Orbits, as NASA is calling them, will bring Cassini within nearly 5,000 miles of Saturn’s F ring, which marks the border of the main ring system. These orbits will allow Cassini to study the particles and gas molecules that linger near the rings, as well as observe the small moons that orbit along the rings’ edges.

As exciting as this move is, it also marks the beginning of the end for Cassini, which has been traveling through space for 20 years now. NASA says the Ring-Grazing Orbits will serve as the prelude to Cassini’s “Grand Finale” — when the spacecraft will get closer to the planet’s surface, repeatedly diving through the gap between Saturn’s cloud tops and its inner rings. After that, Cassini will perform a death plunge into Saturn’s atmosphere on September 15th, 2017, bringing its long mission to a close.

Things get underway tomorrow, when Cassini performs its second to last flyby of Saturn’s moon Titan. During the maneuver, Cassini will take visible and infrared images of the cloudy moon, as well as map out Titan’s north pole to see if anything has changed since the spacecraft’s last Titan flybys. Cassini will also use its onboard infrared spectrometer to create a temperature map of Titan, allowing scientists to understand the composition of the moon’s atmosphere.

As Cassini gathers data from Titan, the spacecraft will also get a gravity assist from the moon, putting the spacecraft into its Ring-Grazing Orbits. Cassini officially enters this new orbit on November 30th, and will remain on this highly elliptical path until April 2017. During that time, the probe will dive near Saturn’s F ring once a week, 20 times in total.

While Saturn has much fainter rings beyond its main ring system, the F ring serves as the boundary of the primary A, B, and C rings. The F ring is relatively thin compared to its partners — just 500 miles across. It’s also constantly morphing, sprouting “bright streamers, wispy filaments, and dark channels,” according to NASA. Cassini will be able to study the F ring closer than ever before with its Ring-Grazing Orbits, and even get unprecedented views of the A and B rings. The close proximity will allow Cassini to make detailed observations of Saturn’s smaller, lesser known moons — such as Pandora, Pan, Daphnis, and Atlas. And the spacecraft will help investigate never-before-seen moonlets that are thought to orbit inside Saturn’s main rings. Propeller-shaped features inside the rings are believed to indicate the presence of these tiny space rocks.



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Source: The Verge

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11-29-2016 Politics
Donald Trump is making a strong case for a recount of his own 2016 election win

On Sunday morning, President-elect Donald Trump assured us all that a recount of the 2016 election wouldn't change the outcome and was a waste of resources. In a tweetstorm, he quoted Hillary Clinton:

Donald J. Trump ? @realDonaldTrump Trump is going to be our President. We owe him an open mind and the chance to lead." So much time and money will be spent - same result! Sad 10:29 AM - 27 Nov 2016 16,044 16,044 Retweets 66,210 66,210 likes

Later Sunday, though, he made a real case that we should have no confidence in those same election results, alleging massive voter fraud:

Follow Donald J. Trump ? @realDonaldTrump In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally 5:30 PM - 27 Nov 2016 46,484 46,484 Retweets 134,461 134,461 likes Follow Donald J. Trump ? @realDonaldTrump Serious voter fraud in Virginia, New Hampshire and California - so why isn't the media reporting on this? Serious bias - big problem! 9:31 PM - 27 Nov 2016 24,391 24,391 Retweets 74,215 74,215 likes Trump, of course, is pointing only to “fraud” that benefited Clinton; Virginia, New Hampshire and California are all states she won, and the baseless idea that illegal immigrants voted by the millions is supposed to have helped Clinton, given the fact that immigrants — and specifically undocumented ones — overwhelmingly favor Democrats.

Trump was doing this to make the case that he didn't actually lose the popular vote, which has become a Democratic rallying cry following Clinton's loss. It's clearly a sore spot for Trump.

But the president-elect is also, unwittingly and amazingly, calling into question the results of an election that he won nearly three weeks ago. The logical extension of his argument is that all results should not be trusted. In effect, Trump is lending credence to the very same recount effort that he criticized as superfluous.

A caveat on all of this: There is absolutely no evidence of Trump's alleged large-scale voter fraud. And even Clinton's campaign, while joining in recount efforts initiated by Green Party nominee Jill Stein, has acknowledged as much. So I am not saying that there is suddenly a real reason to doubt the fact that Trump won the 2016 election.



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Source: The Washington Post

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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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