Actualidad weekly headlines Actualidad News Sun, 26 Mar 2017 09:08:11 GMT The Daily 202: Trump’s health care ultimatum is straight out of ‘The Art of the Deal.’ THE BIG IDEA: If you read Donald Trump’s “The Art of the Deal,” substituting “conservatives" for "contractors," the president’s ultimatum to House Republicans on health care is not at all surprising.<P><iframe width="320" height="180" src="ver.cfm?id=12852&tipo=9&vv=V_33rJcSdIg" frameBorder="0" scrolling="NO"></iframe><P> “You have to be very rough and very tough with most contractors or they’ll take the shirt right off your back,” Trump wrote in the 1987 business classic.<P>As a businessman, Trump bragged about his ability to drive a hard bargain to win favorable terms and make lots of money. "I also protect myself by being flexible,” he explained. “I never get too attached to one deal or one approach. … I keep a lot of balls in the air, because most deals fall out, no matter how promising they seem at first."<P>One theme he kept coming back to is that you’ve got to be willing to walk away or, more precisely, convince the people you’re negotiating with that you are. Trump recalled a 1981 meeting with the attorney general and the head of gaming enforcement for New Jersey in which he threatened to walk away from Atlantic City — despite already making huge investments on the Boardwalk there — if he didn’t get certain concessions.<P> Sat, 25 Mar 2017 03:00:00 GMT Apple says CIA’s arsenal of iPhone and Mac exploits is outdated Yesterday morning, Wikileaks released a treasure trove of documents detailing the arsenal of software tools the CIA uses to hack into targeted iPhones and Macs. While most of the reported exploits require physical access to a particular device, the document dump naturally generated no shortage of fear-inducing headlines about the state of security of various Apple products.<P>In an effort to address and alleviate such concerns, Apple late last night issued statement to TechCrunch assuring both Mac and iPhone users that all of the CIA exploits recently brought to light by Wikileaks are old and outdated. In fact, Apple notes that a handful of the newly disclosed exploits were patched nearly seven years ago.<P>Apple’s statement on the matter reads as follows:<P>"We have preliminarily assessed the Wikileaks disclosures from this morning. Based on our initial analysis, the alleged iPhone vulnerability affected iPhone 3G only and was fixed in 2009 when iPhone 3GS was released. Additionally, our preliminary assessment shows the alleged Mac vulnerabilities were previously fixed in all Macs launched after 2013.<P>We have not negotiated with Wikileaks for any information. We have given them instructions to submit any information they wish through our normal process under our standard terms. Thus far, we have not received any information from them that isn’t in the public domain. We are tireless defenders of our users’ security and privacy, but we do not condone theft or coordinate with those that threaten to harm our users."<P>The tidbit about not negotiating with Wikileaks is worth highlighting as it comes hot on the heels of a report claiming that Wikileaks was withholding access to the technical details of the CIA’s hacking tools unless tech companies like Apple and Google agreed to “sign off on a series of conditions.”<P>In any event, you can bet good money that the CIA’s collection of iPhone and Mac hacking tools is far more sophisticated today than it was a few years back. And while Apple has undoubtedly improved iOS security by leaps and bounds over the last few years, the fact remains that no piece of software is ever 100% bulletproof.<P>Just this past summer, for example, security researchers discovered an extremely advanced piece of iOS spyware capable of remotely spying on a targeted device’s phone calls, texts, emails, location and more. Dubbed Pegasus and developed by an Israeli security company called the NSO Group, the software prompted Apple to quickly roll out a software patch for the handful of zero-day exploits Pegasus relied upon. Sat, 25 Mar 2017 03:00:00 GMT 2017 Tesla Model 3: Elon Musk teases 'release candidate' Model 3 on Twitter Tesla's CEO takes to Twitter with a short clip of a near production ready Model 3, ahead of the finished car's full debut later this year<P>Tesla CEO Elon Musk has provided us with our first glimpse at a “release candidate” version of the upcoming Model 3 – an all-electric BMW 3 Series rival that will arrive on the roads late in 2017 as Tesla’s most affordable model yet.<P><iframe width="320" height="180" src="ver.cfm?id=12850&tipo=9&vv=FbSu9l_eh4I" frameBorder="0" scrolling="NO"></iframe><P>• Best electric cars on sale 2017<P>The six second clip posted by Musk on Twitter isn’t ground-breaking, but it does reveal that the production Model 3 will stay very true to the pre-production prototype unveiled last March in terms of exterior design. More importantly, it’s a fresh, tantalising glimpse at the new car that will no-doubt whet the appetite of the near 400,000 deposit holders Tesla has secured for its most important vehicle yet.<P> Musk frequently uses Twitter to discuss and tease the Model 3, and the new video clip isn’t the only fresh inside line from the Tesla boss. He has also confirmed that early Model 3s will be rear-wheel-drive only – buyers holding out for the all-wheel-drive dual-motor version will have to wait a little while. Musk explained that in order to keep the production ramp on schedule, the first cars will be the simpler rear-wheel-drive versions. Tesla Model 3: all the details<P>The Tesla Model 3 is one of the most anticipated new cars of 2017, and it’s a potential game-changer for the California based electric car company – it’s the firm’s cheapest offering yet, and also its first attempt at creating a mass production EV with true mainstream appeal.<P>The Model 3 is a compact saloon sitting underneath the Model S in Tesla’s range, and comes with a BMW 330e baiting price tag. £35,000 is the magic number, and Tesla plans for first deliveries of the vehicle to take place in Q4 2017.<P>• Most economical cars on sale<P>The latest update from the carmaker is good news for the 400,000 or so customers who have placed a £1,000 deposit on the Model 3. Tesla expects to be in a position to produce around 5,000 Model 3 per week towards the end of this year, with production of the new car ramping up to 10,000 per week at some point in 2018.<P>Production delays have hampered Tesla launches in the past, but this latest update reveals the company is on track with the Model 3. Limited production will begin in July, with volume production by September. Across all three of its vehicles, Tesla aims to be capable of making 500,000 cars a year in 2018.<P><a href="" target="_blank">Read full story</a> Sat, 25 Mar 2017 03:00:00 GMT Five questions that MUST be answered about the London terror attack It's now more than 48 hours after the London terror attack which struck at the heart of British democracy in Westminster.<P>But it seems there are more questions than answers as to how and why Khalid Masood mowed down innocent people - Brits and tourists from 12 countries - before knifing to death PC Keith Palmer at an entrance to the Houses of Parliament.<P>The Metropolitan Police said this morning that their investigation - codenamed Operation Classific - is focused on "understanding his motivation, preparation and his associates".<P>More detail emerged overnight about 52-year-old Masood's background, upbringing and previous criminal history after it emerged that he was born in Kent and grew up in leafy Middle England - and among other aliases was known as Adrian Elms and Adrian Russell Ajao.<P>There have been a number of raids across the UK - and a total of 11 arrests - but it's still believed not known whether Masood acted as a 'lone wolf' attacker or was assisted with his plot to wreak devastation on the streets of the capital.<P>Here are the questions that the investigation will be focused on - and MUST answer:<P>1. Who else knew about the attack?<P>Even if Masood - who has also gone by the name of Adrian Ajao, Adrian Elms and Khalid Chowdhury in the past - acted alone, it could be that there are individuals who knew about the attack or sensed that something evil was about to happen.<P>If they did, then why didn't they contact the emergency or intelligence services?<P>They could be family members, they could be friends. Very little has emerged in terms of a picture of Masood's social circle - although it's been reported that he was a married father-of-three who worried about the wellbeing of his parents.<P>Islamic State has claimed that Masood is one of their 'soldiers' who was inspired by their rhetoric.<P>ISIS has previously claimed responsibility for - and gloated over - attacks for which it had no prior knowledge.<P>But an attack like this would have required both money and planning - so was he assisted in any way with either?<P>Hiring the Hyundai 4x4 car for the attack would have cost money, as would prior 'scouting' of the planned attack which Masood is likely to have undertaken in advance.<P>Masood claimed he was an English teacher - but it's claimed he had no teaching experience in any state schools.<P>So where did his income come from - both to live and for the attack?<P>Also evidence is emerging this afternoon that Masood was using the messaging app Whatsapp moments before the attack - who was he in touch with and what did he message them?<P><a href="" target="_blank">Read full story</a> Sat, 25 Mar 2017 03:00:00 GMT Every Rumor About the iPhone 8 That buzz you're hearing? It's the constant game of broken smartphone we're playing that surrounds the upcoming release of the iPhone 8. Apple revealed today that they are releasing PRODUCT(RED) versions of the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus at the end of the week to help fund AIDS/HIV research on the heels of weeks of rumors. However, we still have months to go before we find out which of the rumors of its successor are true. To keep up with the geek gossip, here is a quick refresher on the main rumors circulating about your future tech BFF.<P>1. It might come in all glass<P>Here is where we advise you to keep your friends close and your iPhone 8s closer. A case of butterfingers and a glass device don't fare well, as we learned from the iPhone 4. The aluminum casings currently on offer seem to be relatively resilient, so we'll have to wait to evaluate whether glass is a structural downgrade or not.<P>2. There probably won't be a home button<P>As an all-glass device, the iPhone 8 is slated to eschew the one-man-band home button in favor of a "function area" resembling the new MacBook Pro's Touch Bar.<P>3. It might use facial recognition<P>Yup, you read that right. Wear a Halloween mask, and your phone might have no idea who you are, thereby locking you out! But real talk, it's Apple's latest biosecurity measure attempt, which is arguably more robust) than a passcode.<P>4. It could come in three sizes<P>Reading this on your iPhone 7? It comes in either a 4.7- or 5.5-inch version. The iPhone 8 is expected to offer a happy compromise at 5 inches.<P>5. Its screen might dominate the size of the iPhone 7<P>If it gets any bigger, we might as well call it a laptop. But alas, with the (hopeful) promise of a curved organic light-emitting diode (OLED) screen, it might be worth the sacrifice. <P>6. You might have to shell out big bucks for it<P>With all the aforementioned bells and whistles, it's no surprise (though no less of a disappointment) that the iPhone 8 could cost you up to $1,000. One renowned tech expert predicts Apple will market it as a 10th anniversary novelty item, and that despite its hefty price tag, sales could venture well into the 60 millions.<P>7. It could have a USB-C connector<P>If Apple removes the Lightning connector in favor of the USB-C port, that could streamline your charging tremendously, saving you time spent sifting through all your thousands of wires. Tech pundits note it's plausible since their new MacBook line includes the change.<P>8. There might not be an iPhone 8 at all<P>Are we getting excited over nothing? Is Apple toying with us? The plot thickens! Actually, one hit-or-miss Japanese tech site says that it won't be called the iPhone 8 or even iPhone X, but the iPhone Edition. This type of branding is more in line with their Apple Watch Edition line, Forbes theorizes.<P>Sure, rumors can be a source of frustration, but they definitely get us talking — and eager to update our devices just to see what Apple drums up Sat, 25 Mar 2017 03:00:00 GMT Small Sample of iCloud Credentials Provided By Hackers Are Valid, But Questions Remain On Wednesday we reported that Apple had become the target of a ransom threat, with hackers claiming to have access to more than 600 million iCloud accounts. A group known as the "Turkish Crime Family" said they would reset and wipe the accounts unless Apple paid them $150,000 in Bitcoin by April 7.<P>Apple responded to the threat by stating that there had not been any breach of its systems, and that if hackers did have access to iCloud accounts then it could only be because of compromised third-party services.<P>Yesterday, ZDNet said it had received a set of 54 account credentials from the hacker group for "verification" and subsequently reported that all of the accounts were valid, based on a check using Apple's online password reset function.<P>The accounts include addresses dating back to 2011, as well as legacy and domains from as early as 2000. The list of credentials is said to contain email addresses and plain-text passwords separated by a colon. According to Troy Hunt, data breach expert and owner of notification site Have I Been Pwned, this would suggest the data could have been aggregated from various sources.<P>ZDNet worked to contact each account holder via iMessage to confirm their password, and found that many of the accounts are no longer registered with Apple's messaging platform. However, of those that could be contacted, 10 people – all based in the U.K. – confirmed that the passwords were accurate, and they have changed them as a result.<P>When pressed about the original source of the data, the hackers claimed that it was "handled in groups" without explaining how or why. The hackers also refused to hand over a U.S.-based sample of accounts.<P>All of the people with compromised accounts said that until now, they had never changed their iCloud passwords before. One person said that the password he confirmed with ZDNet was no longer in use as of about two years ago, which narrows down the possible date of a breach or multiple breaches to somewhere between 2011 and 2015. <P>Most of the people confirmed that they used their iCloud email address and password on other sites, such as Facebook and Twitter. However, three people said that their iCloud email address and password were unique to iCloud, and were not used on any other site. Also, two people claimed someone had tried to reset their iCloud passwords in the past day. <P>It's unclear if the sample provided is representative of the wider pool of credentials the hackers claim to have, but based on its communications with the group, ZDNet suspects that its members are "naïve and inexperienced" and primarily seeking publicity. <P><a href="" target="_blank">Read full story</a> Sat, 25 Mar 2017 03:00:00 GMT Outlast 2 Coming To Australia After Classification Review We recently learned that Outlast 2 was denied release in Australia due to the game’s instances of sexual violence, which were deemed too disturbing by the country’s rating board. <P><iframe width="320" height="180" src="ver.cfm?id=12846&tipo=9&vv=mdEKzMY1FHU" frameBorder="0" scrolling="NO"></iframe><P>However, the game has since been reevaluated by the same rating board and it managed to received the R18+ rating that it failed to receive previously.<P>The game will launch in Australia on April 26th, which is one day after it releases everywhere else, and it now has its own page on the rating board’s website. This would seem to suggest that developer Red Barrels went back and made some alterations to the game, though they claim there will be only one version of the game. The developer said in a statement that “Outlast 2 has been rated R18+ by the Classification Branch in Australia and will be released 26th April 2017. There will be only one version of Outlast 2 available worldwide.”<P>As for what the original controversy was all about, there’s apparently a scene in the game where a ritual is going on where sexual violence is depicted. The Australian rating’s board came to the conclusion that the game presented a “depiction of implied sexual violence and therefore cannot be accommodated within the R18+ classification category and the game is therefore Refused Classification.”<P>Despite the developer saying that there will be one version of the game that will be released worldwide, the rating’s board said that they’re “satisfied that the original version of the game that was refused classification has been modified to allow the game to be classified R18+.” This could mean that the developer decided to alter all versions of the game, though we won’t know for sure until its launch next month.<P>Outlast 2 will launch for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC on April 25th. A collection of the sequel along with the first game and its expansion will also launch on the same day, which is called Outlast Trinity.<P> Sat, 25 Mar 2017 03:00:00 GMT Moto G5 Plus review: The best budget smartphone Motorola, under Lenovo ownership, has a good thing going with the Moto G series. You'd think its simple goal – give consumers the best phone possible for a reasonable price – would be more prevalent in the mobile world. <P><iframe width="320" height="180" src="ver.cfm?id=12845&tipo=9&vv=2IicEseTsbc" frameBorder="0" scrolling="NO"></iframe><P>As it stands, though, that consumer-friendly blend of quality and cost makes the Moto G5 Plus stand out in a thicket of phones that are most often either expensive beasts or underwhelming cheapies. <P>A first for the Moto G line, the G5 Plus has a metal panel on its back: It's still a far cry from the premium designs you often get in $600+ flagships (Motorola's edges are still plastic), but any touch of premium materials on a $230+ phone is a welcome and unexpected bonus.<P>While this makes the phone look more premium, your more-sensitive fingertips will typically rest on the plastic edges of the phone, while less-sensitive parts of your hand and fingers will usually grip the aluminum back. So in regular use, it will probably feel a bit less high-end than it looks. (Though if you slap a case on, it won't matter either way.)<P>It gives you a high-quality 1080p display, mostly-stock Android Nougat (a big differentiator between the Moto G and many other phones in this price range, which often have bloated custom UIs) and pleasantly-smooth, lag-free performance. Note, though, that we reviewed the $300 version with 4 GB RAM; the $229 model only has 2 GB and we can't comment on its performance.<P>Its camera (which is the same on both models) is solid for this price range, but we pitted it against the iPhone 7 and, predictably, Apple's current flagship came out way ahead in most settings. While the Moto G5 Plus has an impressive ƒ/1.8 aperture, which can lead to better low-lit shots, the iPhone – with flash turned off – lit the scene much better in a nearly-pitch-black room:<P>The Moto G5 Plus came in closer in brightly-lit outdoor shots, though the iPhone had noticeably better contrast and color range. Flash shots in the same dark room were the only place where we didn't see the Moto falling clearly behind the iPhone.<P>Of course nobody expects the camera in a $230 phone to beat one of the top $650 flagship cameras, but it does accentuate that there's a big difference between Motorola offering a surprisingly good camera for this price range and being a direct competitor to the best flagship shooters out there. It clearly isn't.<P><a href="" target="_blank">Read full story</a> Sat, 25 Mar 2017 03:00:00 GMT Tension and confusion in GOP health care talks President Donald Trump and Republican leaders are still scrambling Thursday for a deal and looking for votes on their landmark bill to repeal and replace Obamacare.<P><iframe width="320" height="180" src="ver.cfm?id=12844&tipo=9&vv=aEGW78Rm33M" frameBorder="0" scrolling="NO"></iframe><P> House GOP leaders have already postponed their 9 a.m. meeting of the entire Republican conference, and Speaker Paul Ryan moved his regular press conference back several hours until late afternoon. The conservative House Freedom Caucus, whose members appear to hold the key to any agreement on a final bill, will meet at the White House later Thursday morning.<P>Obamacare's 10 essential health benefits <ul><li>Ambulatory patient services</li> <li>Emergency services</li> <li>Hospitalization</li> <li>Maternity and newborn care</li> <li>Mental health and substance use disorder services including behavioral health treatment</li> <li>Prescription drugs</li> <li>Rehabilitative and habilitative services and devices</li> <li>Laboratory services</li> <li>Preventive and wellnes services and chronic disease management</li> <li>Pediatric services, including oral and vision care</li></ul><P>"This bill is collapsing," one House Republican who declined to speak on the record told CNN.<P>The challenge for leaders as they count their votes is daunting: give conservatives too much of what they want and risk losing the moderates, but keep the moderates on board and conservatives could walk.<P>Leadership is keenly aware that every vote counts: Republicans can't lose more than 21 of their caucus and still pass the bill, since no Democrats are expected to support it. According to CNN's ongoing whip count, 24 House Republicans have said they will vote against the bill, and four more have indicated they are likely to oppose it, though negotiations were ongoing Thursday. <P>Trump defends wild claims: 'I'm president, and you're not'<P>Trump is now seeing and feeling first hand what it is like to work with the Freedom Caucus, a top GOP source said, that they are incredibly frustrating because they don't really want to get to yes -- and keep moving the goalposts.<P>Alabama GOP Rep. Bradley Byrne, emerging from a meeting with top House leaders, blasted the move to continue talks with the hard right in the Freedom Caucus while leaving the bulk of other members in the dark.<P>"I think the window for making decisions is rapidly closing. We need a vote or go home," said Byrne, a member of a large group of fiscal conservatives, the Republican Study Committee.<P><a href="" target="_blank">Read full story</a> Fri, 24 Mar 2017 03:00:00 GMT Hands-on with Android O—A million new settings and an awesome snooze feature My favorite new feature in Android O is the ability to do system-wide notification snoozing. <P><iframe width="320" height="180" src="ver.cfm?id=12843&tipo=9&vv=U0iAAdWD9vs" frameBorder="0" scrolling="NO"></iframe><P>If you don't want to deal with a notification right now, just pull it to the side a bit, which will unveil a new "clock" icon. Tap it, and the notification will be automatically snoozed for 15 minutes. You can tap on the drop-down menu to increase the time to 30 minutes or an hour. This is really handy, but I'd like to be able to customize the times here. I'm sure some people would like a few hours, or maybe a "tomorrow" option. A "type in your time" option would be fine, too.<P>The top of the notification panel has been reworked yet again. The status bar isn't shown when the notification panel is open, but in Android O, there are now a few status bar elements at the top of the notification panel. You'll see your Wi-Fi, cellular, and battery status, along with the settings gear and the expand button.<P>We noticed in Google's announcement that a new thing called "Notification Channels" would be in Android O, and now we actually have a good example of them. You can long-press on a notification or dig through the settings and tap on an app's "notification categories" settings, and system UI actually has a working version. Before, you could only block all or none of the System UI notifications, but in Android O, you get separate controls over notifications for screenshots and storage, along with more ambiguous items like "Alerts," "General Messages," and "Miscellaneous."<P>Pull down the notification panel to reveal the Quick Settings and you'll see even more changes. The triple-function Quick Settings buttons are back—tapping on the icon does one thing, tapping on the text does a second function, and long pressing on the icon does a third thing. Take Wi-Fi, for instance: A tap on the icon turns Wi-Fi on and off, while a long-press opens the full Wi-Fi settings. A tap on the bottom Wi-Fi text will open the Wi-Fi panel. It's complicated and hard to remember. Google started this Quick Settings layout in Lollipop, got rid of it in Marshmallow and Nougat, and now it's back in Android O.<P>A new Ambient Display design is a big regression over the old design. Ambient Display is a low-power notification mode that kicks in when the screen is "off." When a notification comes in, or when the device is moved or tapped on, the screen will light up briefly with a white-on-black UI and show you your new notifications. The older method was great—it was just a black-and-white version of the notification panel. This new version is a custom design that shows much less information when a notification first comes in and even less on subsequent viewings.<P><a href="" target="_blank">Read full story</a> Fri, 24 Mar 2017 03:00:00 GMT WikiLeaks releases new CIA documents describing Mac exploits WikiLeaks just shared a few new documents as part of the CIA Vault 7 data dump. These documents describe hacking methods used by the agency to access Apple devices and upload data. <P><iframe width="320" height="180" src="ver.cfm?id=12842&tipo=9&vv=5LYSjLwkAo4" frameBorder="0" scrolling="NO"></iframe><P>Most of today’s exploits are related to the Mac platform. It’s interesting to see the CIA’s old hacking techniques. It’s unclear if some of them still work today.<P>Sonic Screwdriver v1.0<P>This 2012 hack is quite neat as it uses a peripheral device to infect your Mac. In particular, the CIA was installing the malware on Thunderbolt-to-Ethernet adaptors.<P>After the CIA had flashed the dongle, it was quite easy to execute. By powering on the Mac, the code would automatically execute on the accessory and infect the firmware with something like Der Starke (see below).<P>It’s a silent attack and it would fool anyone. The accessory remains infected so you could end up attacking multiple Macs with the same device.<P>Does this sound familiar? Because when I read this, I instantly remembered Thunderstrike 2. Xeno Kovah and Trammell Hudson described the exact same exploit at Black Hat in 2015, three years after the CIA’s document.<P>Apple has fixed the exploit around the same time, so you should be fine.<P>Key lessons: Always update to the latest version of macOS to get the most recent security fixes Don’t buy a Thunderbolt accessory on eBay<P>Triton v1.3 & Der Starke v1.4<P>Triton is quite a powerful malware. Once installed, the CIA can get files and folders from your computer. The CIA can install it from anywhere as long as they can mount your hard drive to their /Volumes folder. If that sounds scary, Der Starke is another beast altogether.<P>Der Starke v1.4 released in 2013 was working perfectly fine on Macs released in 2013 running OS X 10.7. It’s more or less the same thing as Triton, but much more sneaky.<P>First, it’s a diskless malware, meaning that you won’t be able to find it on your hard drive. Der Starke infects your Mac firmware and works well with the Sonic Screwdriver exploit for instance — when you combine multiple exploits, you can do dangerous things. You can also install it from a USB thumb drive or hard drive.<P>Like Triton, the CIA can get data from your computer, but it remains as silent as possible. When it uploads data, it mimics a browser process so that it looks like you’re just uploading a photo to Facebook. Apps like Little Snitch can’t even detect it.<P>It’s unclear if Triton and Der Starke still work today. I’ve reached out to Apple and will update this post when the company gets back to me.<P>Key lesson: You should install Little Snitch, Little Flocker and BlockBlock<P><a href="" target="_blank">Read full story</a> Fri, 24 Mar 2017 03:00:00 GMT RBS to close 150 branches and axe jobs in digital shift Royal Bank of Scotland is closing more than 150 branches and axing hundreds of jobs in a move to slash costs as more customers switch to digital banking. <P> High quality global journalism requires investment. Please share this article with others using the link below, do not cut & paste the article. See our T&Cs and Copyright Policy for more detail. Email to buy additional rights.<P> The state-backed lender is to cut back its network to just over 1,000 branches after seeing a “dramatic shift” in customer preferences for mobile and online banking rather than over the counter services.<P>As part of the closures, some 774 full time jobs will be cut. Of these, about 300 staff will be redeployed elsewhere in the bank.<P>The measures come after the bank, which is 72 per cent owned by government, reported its ninth consecutive annual loss last month of £7bn.<P>Ross McEwan, chief executive, unveiled a fresh cost-cutting plan at the time in attempt to steer the bank back to profit next year.<P>RBS is aiming to make £750m of cost savings this year, of a total £2bn over the next four years to the end of 2020.<P>Gail Cartmail, acting general secretary of Unite, the union, said: “Banks have a duty to the wider community and that is especially the case for banks like RBS that have large taxpayer-owned shareholdings.”<P>She added: “It’s time for banking regulators and government to intervene, to force banks to maintain an adequate network that properly serves communities across the UK.”<P> High quality global journalism requires investment. Please share this article with others using the link below, do not cut & paste the article. See our T&Cs and Copyright Policy for more detail. Email to buy additional rights.<P> UK banks have closed a total of 1,000 branches over the past two years as pressure mounts on lenders to reduce costs at a time when margins are being squeezed by record-low interest rates.<P>A report by consumer group Which? at the end of last year found HSBC had closed the most branches since the start of 2015, shutting 321, followed by RBS, which had removed 191.<P>RBS said transactions undertaken in branches had plunged 43 per cent since 2010, while online and mobile transactions had increased by more than 400 per cent.<P>But banks have nevertheless come under fire for closing branches at a rapid rate and doing too little to support elderly and small business customers.<P><a href="" target="_blank">Read full story</a> Fri, 24 Mar 2017 03:00:00 GMT Claims for U.S. Jobless Benefits Increase to Seven-Week High Filings for U.S. unemployment benefits rose to a seven-week high, representing a departure from other data showing a solid labor market.<P><iframe width="320" height="180" src="ver.cfm?id=12840&tipo=9&vv=pvNl2jfwDr8" frameBorder="0" scrolling="NO"></iframe><P>Jobless claims increased by 15,000 to 258,000 in the week ended March 18, a Labor Department report showed Thursday. The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey called for 240,000. On an unadjusted basis, applications jumped in Ohio and Kansas.<P>Even with the pickup in claims last week, hiring managers have been slow to dismiss workers as the labor market tightens and job vacancies become harder to fill with skilled and experienced employees. Companies also have been adding to payrolls at a healthy pace and gradually increasing wages.<P>Estimates in the Bloomberg survey ranged from 220,000 to 255,000. The Labor Department revised the prior week’s reading to 243,000 from an initially reported 241,000.<P>Thursday’s report also included annual revisions for both initial and continuing claims back through 2012. The latest reading marked 80 straight weeks of filings below 300,000, the level economists consider consistent with a healthy labor market. Before the annual revisions, the streak had been at 106 weeks.<P>No states were estimated last week and there was nothing unusual in the data, according to the Labor Department. In Ohio, applications climbed 4,260 before seasonal adjustment, while jobless claims in Kansas increased by 2,774.<P>The four-week average for all jobless claims rose to 240,000 from 239,000 in the prior week.<P>The number of people continuing to receive jobless benefits decreased by 39,000 to 2 million in the week ended March 11. The unemployment rate among people eligible for benefits dropped to 1.4 percent from 1.5 percent. These data are reported with a one-week lag. Fri, 24 Mar 2017 03:00:00 GMT iPad (2017) vs. iPad Air 2 Apple has axed the aging iPad Air 2 and replaced it with a refreshed 9.7-inch iPad (just iPad, no suffixes) that's slightly more affordable. The two are nearly indistinguishable from the outside, but their internals vary. Here's how their specs and features stack up. <P>Size When most mobile electronics are rushing to be thinner and lighter, the newer iPad actually adds a bit of thickness (though it's only 1.4 millimeters' worth, or about 0.06 of an inch), perhaps to accommodate its bigger battery. Other dimensions remain the same. <P>Weight The newer tablet is heavier, too. The lightest iPad is nearly 7-percent heavier than the lightest iPad Air 2. <P>Build Nothing to compare here – these tablets have nearly identical aluminum unibodies. <P>Colors They're also available in the same three neutral metallic color variants.<P>Display size The display stands pat – both iPads have the same 9.7-inch diagonal dimension and 4:3 aspect ratio. <P>Display resolution There have not been any significant improvements in display resolution or quality. Supposedly, though, the new model does have a brighter display.<P>Fingerprint sensor Nor are there any new fingerprint sensor tricks – the Touch ID sensor is integrated into the home button on both devices. <P>Cellular connectivity The newer iPad retains the Wi-Fi-only and Wi-Fi + LTE options, so you can still use your cellular data plan to surf the web.<P>Keyboard support The new iPad can connect to Bluetooth keyboard accessories (and should be compatible with most iPad Air 2 keyboards) but it doesn't add any support for OEM snap-in keyboards like with the iPad Pro. (There's no smart connector on either of these.)<P>Stylus Nor does the new entry-level iPad offer Apple Pencil support.<P>Chip In one of the biggest improvements over the Air 2, the 2017 iPad upgrades the older Apple-made A8X chip to a faster A9 processor. The A9 isn't the latest or greatest of Apple's mobile chipsets, but it is still amply capable for most apps and web surfing. <P>Ram Apple hasn't confirmed the amount of memory in the new iPad (the company does not usually post RAM specs for its tablets or smartphones) but it very likely has the same 2 GB of RAM as the Air 2 and the 9.7-inch iPad Pro. <P>Storage Apple is finally doing away with all of its paltry 16 GB mobile devices. The newest iPad doubles the storage capacities of the Air 2. <P>MicroSD Don't expect expandable storage options, however. Apple does not include microSD slots in these or any of its smartphones and tablets.<P>Camera megapixels The camera resolution remains the same as well. It's rare to rely on a tablet for rear-facing photography, but we do wish the 1.2 MP selfie cam was made a little sharper. (iPads are handy for FaceTime or Skype video chat.)<P><a href="" target="_blank">Read full story</a> Fri, 24 Mar 2017 03:00:00 GMT Big US companies pull YouTube ads after extremist content sparks uncertainty The controversy surrounding Google and YouTube advertising and extremist content has spread across the pond. According to a Bloomberg report, some of YouTube's biggest advertising customers, including Verizon and AT&T, have halted spending on display and other non-search advertising on the platform. The news comes days after a stream of UK companies pulled their ads from YouTube and Google's display ad network in response to a report from The Times that cited instances of UK government advertising running over extremist content.<P>Bloomberg reports AT&T and Verizon Communications Inc. have stopped all non-search advertising spending with Google, while Johnson & Johnson stopped all its global advertising on YouTube. AT&T said in a statement that it is concerned that its advertising may have appeared over "YouTube content promoting terrorism and hate," and it will not resume advertising "until Google can ensure this won’t happen again." Verizon has launched an investigation, presumably to find out if any of its ads appeared over extremist content.<P>The original report from The Times cited specific instances in which UK taxpayer-funded advertising ran over hateful, offensive videos, including those by American white nationalist David Duke. That revelation sparked many companies in the UK to remove their ads from Google platforms, forcing Google to examine its ad policies and implement new tools to give advertisers more control over where their ads go. However, there have been no other reports detailing instances in which ads from the companies named above ran over offensive content on YouTube or Google's Display Network.<P>Google stands to lose millions of dollars in advertising revenue thanks to those companies backing out. While search advertising brings in the most ad revenue for Google, companies often spread out their advertising dollars to other Google ad platforms. According to Bloomberg, AT&T funnels a lot of money into Google's video and display ad network: Kantar Media estimates AT&T spent $941.96 million in 2016 on advertising alone.<P>It was only a matter of time before the issue of ads appearing next to offensive content spread from the UK to the US. Google officially responded after The Times report came out and provided more details after many other UK companies pulled their ads. Google will implement stronger control tools for advertisers, allowing companies to further cherry-pick the content they want to be associated with and avoid content they deem offensive. Google will also monitor YouTube content more closely, and it will likely make changes to the YouTube community guidelines that will (hopefully) clearly outline what will be categorized as extremist content or hate speech. It appears these new tools and efforts will make it easier for advertisers to choose the types of content they want their ads to appear on, but it's unclear if they'll truly police YouTube content more effectively than before. Fri, 24 Mar 2017 03:00:00 GMT London Attack Leaves Citizens of 10 Nations Dead or Injured One was a veteran police constable with the Metropolitan Police force in London. Another was a teacher who, according to reports, was walking from her school when she was mowed down by a sport utility vehicle on Westminster Bridge. The third to die was a man from Utah who was on vacation with his wife, celebrating their 25th anniversary.<P>They were among the victims of an assailant who plowed through pedestrians on the bridge, crashed his vehicle into a fence and then emerged with knives, injuring at least 40 others in the heart of the city.<P>Among the wounded, many of them foreign tourists, were 12 Britons, four South Koreans, three French high school students, two Romanians, two Greeks and one citizen each of China, Germany, Ireland, Italy and the United States.<P>On Thursday afternoon local time, the police identified the assailant, who was fatally shot by the police, as Khalid Masood, 52. Prime Minister Theresa May said in Parliament that the suspect was British-born and was previously investigated by MI5, Britain’s domestic counterintelligence agency, for possible ties to violent extremism.<P>The prime minister visited victims at a hospital in London for 40 minutes on Thursday, according to her office. Many of them had not been publicly identified. At a news conference, Mark Rowley, the assistant police commissioner, cited both the police investigation and the need to notify family members as reasons. But information has dribble out.<P>Police Constable Keith Palmer, 48, a 15-year member of the Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command, was patrolling the Parliament building when the assailant emerged from his car and fatally stabbed the officer. Tributes for Constable Palmer have poured in.<P>“He was someone who left for work today expecting to return home at the end of his shift, and he had every right to expect that would happen,” Commissioner Rowley said in a statement.<P>Mayor Sadiq Khan said, “Keith Palmer was killed while bravely doing his duty — protecting our city and the heart of our democracy from those who want to destroy our way of life.”<P>James Cleverly, a lawmaker, said on Twitter that he had served in the Royal Artillery with Constable Palmer, calling him “a lovely man, a friend.” Fri, 24 Mar 2017 03:00:00 GMT ‘You got swamped’: Schwarzenegger calls out Trump’s low approval rating Add another chapter to the ongoing star war between President Trump and Arnold Schwarzenegger. By way of dimly-lit video shot from an urban waterfront, Schwarzenegger mocked the president’s low approval ratings via Twitter on Tuesday. <P><iframe width="320" height="180" src="ver.cfm?id=12836&tipo=9&vv=I6816gvzSkc" frameBorder="0" scrolling="NO"></iframe><P> The former California governor and actor was not above tossing a few barbs in the president’s direction. “Donald, the ratings are in, and you got swamped,” said Schwarzenegger, a Republican but not a Trump supporter. “Wow. Now you’re in the 30s?”<P>Trump’s daily approval rating, per the Gallup poll, hit just 37 percent over the weekend. It marked a new floor for the young presidency and was, in the context of past presidents, dismal. The approval rating was “lower than Barack Obama experienced at any point over the course of his presidency,” as The Washington Post’s Philip Bump pointed out (while noting the Gallup survey represented only one data point from one poll).<P>In the Trump vs. Terminator feud, Twitter appears to be the preferred battleground. And poor ratings are the ammunition. Thu, 23 Mar 2017 03:00:00 GMT Google unveils Android O – and it promises to finally boost battery life Android Nougat, the most up-to-date full version of Google’s mobile operating system, was released in August 2016. Since then it has only reached around three per cent of all Android phones.<P>Despite the slow uptake, the first iteration of Google’s next operating system has already been released to developers. Known as Android O – an official name will be assigned closer to its public launch – the OS has a focus on improving the battery life of your device.<P>At this stage it is possible to run the developer version on the Nexus 5X, 6P, Nexus Players, Pixel C and the two Pixel phones Google released last year.<P>Android cautions this version should only be used by developers and isn’t intended for daily use. “The usual caveats apply: it's early days, there are more features coming, and there's still plenty of stabilisation and performance work ahead of us,” Dave Burke, VP of engineering at Android, said in a blog post.<P>Between now and the public launch, Android O will go through several different versions and be tested by developers and those on Android’s beta scheme. There’s no official launch date for Google O but here’s everything we know about it and the new features so far.<P>Battery life<P>“Building on the work we began in Nougat, Android O puts a big priority on improving a user's battery life and the device's interactive performance,” Android says on its developer blog.<P>To try to improve how long a phone stays alive, Android O will automatically limit what an app can do when it is open in the background. This will stop an application from consistently using data when it is not the main app that is being used. Google says limits will focus on apps broadcasting in the background, services, and location updates.<P>The blog post says: “These changes will make it easier to create apps that have minimal impact on a user's device and battery”.<P> Thu, 23 Mar 2017 03:00:00 GMT UK's first new car factory in a decade: Chinese firm pours £330m into production of electric taxi In a major boost for the UK car industry, the Chinese car firm unveiling a £300million electric black cab factory in Coventry confirmed expansion plans today.<P>In the village of Ansty, manufacturer Geely will produce the new electric London Taxi Cab and create 1,000 jobs, after it pledged to invest a further £30million on top of the £300million cost of the factory.<P>The plant, which is the first new car factory in the UK for a decade, will also build an electric van alongside the world's first purpose-built, mass-market electric taxis as it ditches diesel.<P>Up to 500 more jobs and £30million of investment could be added as a result of the additional electric van project that could see total production peak at 36,000 electric vehicles a year.<P>So far some 600 employees have already been taken on to launch the TX5 electric black cab, with 400 more jobs in the pipeline as production gets under way at the factory, which is the size of five football pitches and powered by solar panels.<P>London Taxi Company chief executive Chris Gubbey said: 'This factory will be a world beater. We're very upbeat about it. It's a national treasure. Today marks the rebirth of the London Taxi Company.'<P>Business Secretary Greg Clark and Transport Minister John Hayes will attend the opening.<P>The Government and Transport for London are expected to provide grants of up to £7,500, through the Office for Low Emission Vehicles to help cabbies buy the 'green' taxis.<P>As well as targeting the capital for sales, the London Taxi Company has also carried out trials in Paris, Berlin, Amsterdam, Barcelona and Oslo ahead of its export drive to Continental Europe. Hong Kong and Singapore have been targeted in the Far East, with Japan not ruled out in the future.<P>From January 2018 all new cabs in London must be pollution free and produce zero-emissions. By 2020 half the 22,500 black cabs in the capital will be electric as the current diesel ones are phased out.<P>Sales to other UK cities that use black cabs, including Coventry, will add to the customer base, says the firm.<P>Gubbey, 60, says even more investment is planned on top of the £300million already committed so far to the project, of which around £55million is the cost of the factory, £45million is product research and the remaining cash spent on developing the electric taxi.<P>He said Geely was fully behind the move, regardless of Brexit.<P><a href="" target="_blank"><B>Read full story</B></a> Thu, 23 Mar 2017 03:00:00 GMT Canada is also considering prohibiting personal electronics onboard flights from Turkey, the Middle Al-Qaeda working to put explosives in batteries led to flight electronics ban<P>The United States and Britain banned larger electronic devices from the passenger cabin on flights from some airports in Turkey, the Middle East and North Africa.<P><iframe width="320" height="180" src="ver.cfm?id=12833&tipo=9&vv=guiXhXr-IPw" frameBorder="0" scrolling="NO"></iframe> <P>Intelligence obtained in recent weeks found that an al Qaeda affiliate was perfecting techniques for hiding explosives in batteries and battery compartments of electronic devices, which compelled the United States and UK to ban electronics in flights.<P>"The discovery that al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula was looking to exploit batteries and their compartments in laptops and other commercial electronic devices led the U.S. and UK to ban devices larger than a cell phone from certain flights, the CNN quoted an U.S. official as saying.<P>The new security restrictions, announced on Tuesday, require airlines based in the Middle East and North Africa to prevent people flying from eight countries from bringing any device bigger than a smart phone on board their aircraft. Instead, those electronics need to be stored in the cargo hold.<P>U.S. officials told CNN that intelligence "indicates terrorist groups continue to target commercial aviation" by "smuggling explosive devices in various consumer items.<P>The US has given nine airlines from eight countries until the weekend to tell travelers to America to pack laptops, tablets and portable game consoles in their hold luggage.<P>This move is likely to affect Indian passengers traveling to US via Middle Eastern countries. Indians transiting through Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Istanbul airports while traveling to US might be affected by these new immigration rules.<P>Commenting on the Trump administration's new move, an official from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) told Hindustan Times, "What we have learned is that airlines are responsible for imposing the ban. Passengers travelling directly to the US from India are not affected."<P>"But if they are travelling via the Gulf or any of the eight countries where the ban is imposed, then the passengers have to keep the electronic devices other than mobile phones in the checked baggage. We are not issuing any advisory as of now," he added.<P>Meanwhile, Canadian government said that it is also considering prohibiting personal electronics onboard flights from Turkey, the Middle East and North Africa after both the US and Britain announced bans, the transportation minister said Tuesday.<P>"We are looking at the information that has been presented to us, we'll look at it carefully and have a fulsome discussion amongst our colleagues," Minister Marc Garneau told reporters.<P><a href="" target="_blank"><B>Read full story</B Thu, 23 Mar 2017 03:00:00 GMT Hackers threaten to wipe 200 million iCloud accounts unless Apple pays ransom HACKERS who claim to have control of at least 200 million iCloud accounts have issued a public demand to Apple: pay ransom or we wipe them all.<P><iframe width="320" height="180" src="ver.cfm?id=12832&tipo=9&vv=GfhWgE7RYvw" frameBorder="0" scrolling="NO"></iframe> <P>The hacking group calling itself the Turkish Crime Family has provided video evidence of its claims to the tech site Motherboard, with a demand to Apple that it pay the ransom or face the consequences.<P>The hackers have listed the price of the ransom as either US$75,000 ransom in Bitcoin or US$100,000 in iTunes gift cards.<P>While the demands seem both outlandish and alarming, Motherboard confirms it has seen screenshots of emails appearing to be communications between the hackers and Apple’s security team. Thu, 23 Mar 2017 03:00:00 GMT New Alzheimer's test can predict age when disease will appear Scientists have developed a new genetic test for Alzheimer’s risk that can be used to predict the age at which a person will develop the disease.<P>A high score on the test, which is based on 31 genetic markers, can translate to being diagnosed many years earlier than those with a low-risk genetic profile, the study found. Those ranked in the top 10% in terms of risk were more than three times as likely to develop Alzheimer’s during the course of the study, and did so more than a decade before those who ranked in the lowest 10%.<P>Rahul Desikan, of the University of California – who led the international effort, said the test could be used to calculate any individual’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s that year.<P>“That is, if you don’t already have dementia, what is your yearly risk for AD onset, based on your age and genetic information,” he said.<P>The so-called polygenic hazard score test was developed using genetic data from more than 70,000 individuals, including patients with Alzheimer’s disease and healthy elderly people.<P>It is already known that genetics plays a powerful role in Alzheimer’s. Around a quarter of patients have a strong family history of the disease, and scientists have shown this is partly explained by a gene called ApoE, which comes in three versions, and is known to have a powerful influence on the risk of getting the most common late-onset type of Alzheimer’s. One version of ApoE appears to reduce risk by up to 40%, while those with two copies (one from each parent) of the high-risk version can increase risk by 12 times.<P>The latest study takes a new approach, showing that, aside from ApoE, there are thousands of background genetic variations that each have a tiny influence on Alzheimer’s risk, but whose cumulative influence is substantial.<P>The researchers first identified nearly 2,000 single letter differences in the genetic code (known as SNPs) and, after ranking them for influence, developed a test based on 31 of the markers. The test was then used to accurately predict an individual’s risk of getting the disease in an independent patient cohort.<P>In people with the high-risk version of ApoE, those ranked in the top 10% of risk on the new test got Alzheimer’s at an average age of 84 years, compared with 95 years for those ranked in the lowest 10%.<P><a href="" target="_blank"><B>Read full story</B></a> Thu, 23 Mar 2017 03:00:00 GMT Uber Loses Yet Another Top Exec As VP Of Mapping Leaves Perhaps not surprisingly, considering all of the legal turmoil surrounding Uber right now, yet another high-ranking employee just left the company. The most recent departure is that of Brian McClendon, Uber’s former Vice President of Mapping. According to one Uber spokesperson, McClendon is leaving the firm on good terms and will still “be an adviser to the company.” The same representative said that McClendon is actually moving back to his previous state of residency, Kansas, in order to indulge in politics, adding that he has been planning to leave for some time, which indicates that he might not be leaving as a result of the recent scandals involving Uber. McClendon will officially leave the company on March 28.<P>Although the representative did seem to hint that McClendon’s departure has little to do with the claims of sexual harassment and sexism that have been troubling Uber, he was recently named in the lawsuit filed by his former employer against the company. McClendon previously worked in Google’s mapping department for nearly a decade. The suit Alphabet filed against Uber alleges that several former employees stole parts of the design of Alphabet’s self-driving system when they left to join Uber. According to one witness testimony, Uber was “interested in buying the team responsible for the LiDAR” that was developed at Google. While his departure is not necessarily tied directly to the lawsuit, his specified date of departure is also set just after the date Uber is expected to conduct employee reviews and give out appropriate pay bonuses. According to some sources, many other employees may also leave the company once those bonuses have been handed out.<P>Uber is currently under immense pressure to ensure that their self-driving car efforts continue to advance. Following trouble with Alphabet, allegations of sexual harassment, and even some trouble with California’s DMV, it isn’t surprising that many employees are seeking to distance themselves or that the company may be seeking to distance itself from some of those employees. However, no less than nine top employees have left the firm over the past couple of months. That, at the very least, signifies that a significant restructuring is on the horizon. Thu, 23 Mar 2017 03:00:00 GMT Failed North Korean missile exploded 'within seconds,' US says A North Korean missile fired Wednesday exploded "within seconds of launch," according to US Pacific Command.<P><iframe width="320" height="180" src="ver.cfm?id=12829&tipo=9&vv=zTyWpKYK2tU" frameBorder="0" scrolling="NO"></iframe> <P> US officials confirmed North Korea had attempted to launch a missile near Kalma, on the country's east coast, but early reports suggest it failed.<P>"South Korea and the US are aware of the missile launch and to their knowledge North Korea's missile was not successfully launched," South Korea's Ministry of Defense said in a statement.<P>Neither the US nor South Korea have released information on what type of missile was fired, or why it failed. The US Pacific Command said it was working with partners to assess it further.<P>At a daily press briefing Wednesday, China's foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying again called on all parties on the Korean Peninsula, including South Korea and the United States, to "exercise restraint."<P>"The current situation on the peninsula is extremely tense -- 'everyone with his dagger drawn' would be a fair description," she said.<P>The attempted launch comes four days after the North Korea announced it had tested a new rocket engine, describing it as a "great leap forward" in their missile program.<P>US defense officials told CNN the engine could be used for a long-range intercontinental ballistic missile.<P><a href="" target="_blank"><B>Read full story</B></a> Thu, 23 Mar 2017 03:00:00 GMT