Technology

CNN slammed for glowing puff piece about Kim Jong Un’s sister at Olympics

CNN is getting dragged online for writing a glowing puff piece about North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s sister appearing at the Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea — with a headline claiming she was “stealing the show.” The article, published Saturday afternoon, began with these cooing words about the woman who gave South Korean President Moon Jae-in an invite to visit North Korea: “If ‘diplomatic dance’ were an event at the Winter Olympics, Kim Jong Un’s younger sister would be favored to win gold. With a smile, a handshake and a warm message in South Korea’s presidential guest book, Kim Yo Jong has struck a chord with the public just one day into the PyeongChang Games.” It barely referenced the North Korean regime’s murderous ways — and critics called out CNN for it. Still, despite the almost-immediate backlash from people on both sides of the political aisle, CNN has not taken down its story. When Fox News reached out for comment, CNN would not say whether it would remove the story or discipline any editors over the controversial article. CNN anchor Chris Cuomo defended his left-leaning network by throwing in a dig at President Donald Trump. He tweeted to one reader, “You don’t think having a President who lies about what is ‘fake’ and actively maligns the free press out of convenience is a bigger reason for animosity toward us than how some decide to cover this?” He also bashed a Reuters story on Kim Yo Jong, writing, “This is a murderous regime that is stifling a population. Progress has to be evidenced by a lot more than this no?” Jonathan Chait, writer for New York magazine, mockingly cheered the CNN piece: “Also stealing her country’s meager wealth to live in opulence while they starve. But doing it in style. You go, girl!” Conservative commentator Michelle Malkin chimed in, tweeting: “Next up: An EXCLUSIVE @CNN investigative report on Kim Jong Un’s sister’s workout playlist, favorite boba tea flavors, and nighttime skin care routine. #SLAYGIRLFRIEND” Fox News’ Brit Hume tweeted: “Does this puff piece mean she’s gotten over her dictator brother’s murder of her other brother?” Speaking for the millennial audience, David Mack of BuzzFeed tweeted: “yasss kweeen! werk it as you oppress your people! gettttt that crime against humanity, gurlllll!” The CNN piece did mention at one point that Kim Yo Jong’s brother, the North Korean Supreme Leader, “has ruled with an iron fist since coming to power,” running prison camps and killing senior officers to preserve his power. The article did not mention the reign of terror brought about by their father, Kim Jong Il.

Black box set to revolutionize the search for life beyond Earth

In the world’s driest desert, an unassuming black box called “Espresso” is about to begin a very big mission: scouring the universe for planets like ours to find signs of life beyond Earth. Espresso, an instrument known as a spectrograph, has a humble appearance that belies its cutting-edge technology: it is the most precise instrument of its kind ever built, 10 times stronger than its most powerful predecessor. In the Atacama desert, in northern Chile, Espresso will be hooked up to four telescopes so big that scientists simply named them the Very Large Telescope, or VLT. Together, they will search the skies for exoplanets — those outside our own solar system — looking for ones that are similar to Earth. The Atacama is a particularly good place for this kind of exploration. Its skies are completely cloudless most of the year, which is why the highly respected European Southern Observatory, which runs the VLT program, set up shop there in the first place. In fact, many of the world’s major telescopes are located in the area. By 2020, the Atacama is expected to be home to about 70 percent of the world’s astronomy infrastructure. Espresso stands for Echelle Spectrograph for Rocky Exoplanet and Stable Spectroscopic Observations. It will analyze the light of the stars observed by the VLT, enabling it to determine whether planets orbit around them, and important information about those planets themselves: what their atmosphere is like, whether they have oxygen, nitrogen and carbon dioxide, and whether there is water — all essential for supporting life. “Espresso will be available on all four telescopes at once, which is something that had never been done before. That means the likelihood of finding planets similar to Earth in mass and size, or the conditions for life, are greater,” said Italian astronomer Gaspare Lo Curto.

Very cool!!   🙂

Apple HomePod release date may be near, rumors say

Amazon’s Echo smart speaker is about to get a hot new rival – the Apple HomePod. The device was originally supposed to go on sale last year and was ultimately delayed, but latest rumors suggest a HomePod release date is just around the corner. The HomePod is a direct rival to the Amazon Echo and Google Home smart speakers. It’s powered by Apple’s Siri virtual assistant, and can be controlled by voice commands. Just like the Echo, HomePod will perform tasks like playing music or telling you about the weather. The speaker is a small, white cylindrical pod that measures about seven inches tall. Inside you’ll find seven tweeters, each of which has its own audio driver. There’s also a 4-inch woofer that fires bass upwards, for good measure. A six-microphone array captures your voice, activating when you say “Hey, Siri” aloud – just like an iPhone. It’s powered by an A8 chip, which is the same processor that Apple used for the iPhone 6. There are also touch controls on top, so you can still control some HomePod features without using your voice. In June 2017, Apple used its Worldwide Developers Conference to show off a bold Amazon Echo rival – the HomePod. The plan was to launch the speaker in December 2017, but announced in November that this would no longer be the case. At the time, an Apple spokesperson said: “We can’t wait for people to experience HomePod, Apple’s breakthrough wireless speaker for the home.” “But we need a little more time before it’s ready for our customers.” Apple added that it would “start shipping in the US, UK and Australia in early 2018”, but failed to give a specific date. The Sun spoke to GBH Insights’ Daniel Ives, who helped explain the missed launch: “We believe technical and production hiccups are the reason for the delay, as Apple needed to iron out the issues before HomePod hit the market.” “The delay was disappointing as the window of opportunity around the holiday season came and went with Echo being the star of the show.” In January, a report from the Taipei Times quoted an Apple supplier as saying that HomePod speakers are already being shipped to Apple. The initial shipment is rumoured to total around one million speakers, but Apple is expected to have between 10-12 million by the end of the year. Sadly, Apple isn’t giving an official date for launch, but expert analyst Imran Choudhary tells us the pressure is on Apple to catch up. “If this report is to be believed, it looks more than likely that Apple are finally getting closer to the point where they can start selling HomePod.” “Apple will want to make up for lost time and a first-quarter (January-March) release would look likely at this moment in time.” He says if this opportunity is missed then he expects a launch in April or May “at the latest”. Apple is going to sell the HomePod for $349 in the USA, which means we can probably expect a £349 price tag in the UK – although that’s not confirmed.

Apple CEO: Trump Tax Plan ‘Will Result in Job Creation and a Faster Growing Economy’

Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a recent interview that President Trump’s tax plan would result in a faster-growing economy and greater job creation. In an interview with ABC News, Cook discussed a number of recent announcements by Apple, including their plan to invest $350 billion in the U.S. economy over the next five years and how President Trump’s tax plan will help the U.S. economy. Cook refused to “take a position” on how the new tax plan will affect individual Americans but commented on the corporate tax saying, “I do believe the corporate side will result in job creation and a faster growing economy.” Cook added that under Obama’s tax plan, the $38 billion tax payment the company plans to make as part of repatriating offshore cash would not have been paid. “I hope — I have that faith — that it will be used for great purpose for the country,” said Cook, “whether that’s infrastructure or education, or what have you, that will further supply jobs in the U.S.” Cook criticised the Obama-era tax plans saying that he “never thought” that the old tax system was “good for the United States.” Cook stated that he believed the harsh tax restrictions forced “people to invest elsewhere instead of within the country.” Cook also believes that a company like Apple could only have been founded in America and they have a responsibility to give back to the country, “one of the ways to do that is to create jobs,” said Cook. Cook also discussed the company’s decision to pay employees $2500 in stock grants, “We’re one of the few — we’re probably the only company of our size where every person is an owner in the company,” Cook said. “… Instead of a onetime kind of bonus, we wanted to do something that lasts a longer period of time.” Apple will reportedly be focusing on three areas in the future: direct employment by Apple, spending and investment with U.S. suppliers and manufacturers, and helping to grow the thriving app-store economy. “We believe deeply in the power of American ingenuity,” said Cook, “and we are focusing our investments in areas where we can have a direct impact on job creation and job preparedness. We have a deep sense of responsibility to give back to our country and the people who help make our success possible,” Cook said in a press release.

Major kudos to Tim Cook and Apple for this breathtaking investment in our economy.  Wow!!     🙂

Apple announces plans to repatriate billions in overseas cash, says it will ‘contribute’ $350 billion to the US economy over the next 5 years

Apple on Wednesday made a slew of announcements about its investment in and contribution to the U.S. economy. The headline from Apple is that it will “contribute” $350 billion in the U.S. economy over the next five years, although it’s unclear exactly how the company came to that number. But the company promised to create 20,000 new jobs and a new campus thanks, in part, to the prospect of tax reform. It anticipates a $38 billion tax bill for repatriated cash, as a result of the new tax bill. This implies it will bring back virtually all of its $250 billion in overseas cash. Apple also said it would spend over $30 billion in capital expenditures over the next five years. About $10 billion in capital expenditures will be investments in U.S. data centers, the company said. Apple also says it will spend $5 billion as part of an innovation fund, up from the $1 billion it previously announced CNBC’s “Mad Money.” The job creation will focus on direct employment, but also suppliers and its app business, which it had already planned to grow substantially. The new campus will focus on customer support. The announcement raises the bar for the world’s most valuable company — now a huge driver of the economy — to continue its dominance and growth in the wake of political pressure on big tech companies. The plan calls for Apple to keep up 2018’s $55 billion spending rate with domestic suppliers and manufacturers. “We have a deep sense of responsibility to give back to our country and the people who help make our success possible,” chief executive Tim Cook said in a statement. In 2016, then president-elect Donald Trump publicly called out Apple’s reliance on its Chinese supply chain, telling The New York Times that he would “get Apple to build a big plant in the United States, or many big plants in the United States.” Wednesday’s announcement indicates that Apple will still have hundreds of billions of dollars in cash. It could spend that money on buybacks, dividends or acquisitions or moonshot projects. Apple shares were up about half a percent after the announcement, adding about $5.6 billion to the company’s market capitalization after the stock opened Wednesday’s trading session down 0.3 percent. Click here to see the full release.

 

Apple investors urge tech giant to help curb iPhone addiction among kids

Two of Apple’s biggest investors sent an open letter to the tech giant on Saturday urging the company to take prompt action to curb what they see as a growing smartphone addiction among children. Amid numerous reports about a mounting health crisis – both physical and mental – related to the entrancing qualities of smartphones, activist investor Jana Partners LLC and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System have asked Apple to create new ways for parents to restrict children’s access to their iPhones. “There is a developing consensus around the world including Silicon Valley that the potential long-term consequences of new technologies need to be factored in at the outset, and no company can outsource that responsibility,” the letter said. “Apple can play a defining role in signaling to the industry that paying special attention to the health and development of the next generation is both good business and the right thing to do.” The two investors collectively control $2 billion worth of Apple shares. Among their proposals to Apple: establish an expert committee including child development specialists; offer Apple’s vast information to researchers; and enhance mobile device software so that parents have more options to protect their children’s health. The letter cited various studies and surveys on how the heavy usage of smartphones and social media negatively affects children’s mental and physical health. Examples include distractions by digital technologies in the classroom, a decreased ability of students to focus on educational tasks, and higher risks of suicide and depression. The letter from investors comes at a time of mounting criticism about the long-term health impact of heavy usage of smartphones and social media – especially among children. While tech companies like Apple have remained mum about the addictiveness of their products, many Silicon Valley insiders have started to speak openly about the issue.

I think I feel dumber for having read that piece courtesy of the lazy and liberal Associated Press (AP).  How on earth is it Apple’s responsibility and/or fault if a kid is addicted to their iPhone?!?  Here’s a novel thought…  How about parents step up to the plate and be, well.. parents?!!  It is the PARENT’S responsibility to ensure their little rug rats are becoming zombies and wasting away their youth with iPhones, XBOXes, and so on.  The article suggested that Apple can’t “outsource” the responsibility.  Of course it can.  It can outsource it right back to the actual responsible parents.  Unreal…   Anyway, if you wish to read more of this mind-numbing article, and maybe lose a few IQ points in the process, click on the text above.

Opinion: How the FCC Can Save the Open Internet

As millions flocked to the web for the first time in the 1990s, President Clinton and a Republican Congress decided “to preserve the vibrant and competitive free market that presently exists for the Internet.” In the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the government called for an internet “unfettered by Federal or State regulation.” The result of that fateful decision was the greatest free-market success story in history. Encouraged by light-touch regulation, private companies invested over $1.5 trillion in nearly two decades to build out American communications networks. Without having to ask anyone’s permission, innovators everywhere used the internet’s open platform to start companies that have transformed how billions of people live and work. But that changed in 2014. Just days after a poor midterm election result, President Obama publicly pressured the Federal Communications Commission to reject the longstanding consensus on a market-based approach to the internet. He instead urged the agency to impose upon internet service providers a creaky regulatory framework called “Title II,” which was designed in the 1930s to tame the Ma Bell telephone monopoly. A few months later, the FCC followed President Obama’s instructions on a party-line vote. I voted “no,” but the agency’s majority chose micromanagement over markets. This burdensome regulation has failed consumers and businesses alike. In the two years after the FCC’s decision, broadband network investment dropped more than 5.6%—the first time a decline has happened outside of a recession. If the current rules are left in place, millions of Americans who are on the wrong side of the digital divide would have to wait years to get more broadband. The effect has been particularly serious for smaller internet service providers. They don’t have the time, money or lawyers to cut through a thicket of complex rules. The Wireless Internet Service Providers Association, which represents small fixed wireless companies that generally operate in rural America, found that more than 80% of its members “incurred additional expense in complying with the Title II rules, had delayed or reduced network expansion, had delayed or reduced services and had allocated budget to comply with the rules.” They aren’t alone. Other small companies have told the FCC that these regulations have forced them to cancel, delay or curtail upgrades to their fiber networks. The uncertainty surrounding the FCC’s onerous rules has also slowed the introduction of new services. One major company reported that it put on hold a project to build out its out-of-home Wi-Fi network partly because it wasn’t sure if the FCC would approve of its business model. Nineteen municipal internet service providers—that is, city-owned nonprofits—told the this past May that they “often delay or hold off from rolling out a new feature or service because we cannot afford to deal with a potential complaint and enforcement action.” This is why I’m proposing today that my colleagues at the Federal Communications Commission repeal President Obama’s heavy-handed internet regulations. Instead the FCC simply would require internet service providers to be transparent so that consumers can buy the plan that’s best for them. And entrepreneurs and other small businesses would have the technical information they need to innovate. The Federal Trade Commission would police ISPs, protect consumers and promote competition, just as it did before 2015. Instead of being flyspecked by lawyers and bureaucrats, the internet would once again thrive under engineers and entrepreneurs. The FCC will vote on this proposal on Dec. 14. If it passes, Washington will return to the bipartisan approach that made the internet what it is today. Consumers will benefit from greater investment in digital infrastructure, which will create jobs, increase competition, and lead to better, faster, and cheaper internet access—especially in rural America. In the next few weeks, anti-market ideologues are going to try to scare the American people. They’ll argue that government control is the only way to assure a free and open internet. They’ll assert that repealing utility-style regulation will destroy the internet as we know it and harm innovation. They’ll allege that free speech online is at risk. Don’t fall for the fearmongering. We have proof that markets work: For almost two decades, the U.S. had a free and open internet without these heavy-handed rules. There was no market failure before 2015. Americans weren’t living in a digital dystopia before the FCC seized power. To the contrary, millions enjoyed an online economy that was the envy of the world. They experienced the most powerful platform ever seen for permission-less innovation and expression. Next month, I hope the FCC will choose to return to the common-sense policies that helped the online world transform the physical one. -Mr. Pai is the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission.

Mr. Pai is 100% right here.  Let’s hope the FCC reverses Obama’s disastrous, and fascist,  big government restrictions that have stifled freedom on the internet.