Category Archives: News

worldwide news

Twitter, Facebook Lawyers to Testify Before Congress on Russia Election Meddling

Lawyers for the social media companies Twitter and Facebook will testify next month at hearings before congressional committees investigating what, if any, effect Russian trolls may have had on the 2016 election.

Google also will send a representative to the hearings, though it has not yet said who would represent the company. Facebook and Twitter will send their general counsels, Colin Stretch and Sean Edgett, respectively.

The lawyers will testify before the Senate and House intelligence committees — two of the congressional panels searching for evidence that Russia sought to interfere in the U.S. election or potentially colluded with the Donald Trump campaign.

Trump has repeatedly denied any collusion with the Russians, and to date, no evidence has emerged to suggest there was collusion. U.S. officials also have said Russia’s alleged meddling didn’t go so far as to change any votes in the election.

Facebook revealed last month that a group with alleged ties to the Russian government ran $100,000 worth of ads on the platform promoting “divisive” causes like Black Lives Matter. U.S. media reports also indicate Russians purchased similar ads on Google.

Facebook has turned the alleged Russian ads over to Congress, and last week, the company’s Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg said she “absolutely” supports the public release of the advertisements.

In releasing the ads to Congress, Sandberg said, “It’s important that [the investigators] get the whole picture and explain that to the American people.”

In response to the Russian ad buys, Sandberg said Facebook is hiring 4,000 new employees to oversee ads and content. She said the company also is using “machine learning and automation” to target fake accounts that spread fake news.

In addition, Twitter has taken action against suspected Russian troll accounts, suspending 22 accounts that corresponded with fake accounts used on Facebook.

your ad here

Iridium to Rely on Used SpaceX Boosters for Next 2 Launches

Iridium Communications says its next two launches of new-generation satellites will use refurbished SpaceX Falcon 9 first-stage boosters that have flown previously.

The announcement Thursday is another step in SpaceX’s effort to reduce launch costs.

 

The company has launched a few used boosters and is trying to expand acceptance of reusability across the industry.

Hawthorne, California-based SpaceX has had successful landings of Falcon 9 first stages after launches from both coasts.

Iridium is in the midst of seven launches to replace its satellite fleet that provides global mobile voice and data communications.

The McLean, Virginia, company says insurers confirmed there is no increase in premiums for “flight-proven” rocket use.

Thirty new satellites are in orbit and the fourth launch is scheduled for Dec. 22 at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.

your ad here

Workers at iPhone Supplier in China Protest Unpaid Bonuses

Hundreds of workers streamed through dark streets, blocking an entrance to an Apple iPhone supplier’s factory in eastern China to protest unpaid bonuses and factory reassignments, two witnesses and China Labor Watch, a New York based non-profit group, said Thursday.

The protest Wednesday night at Jabil Inc.’s Green Point factory in Wuxi city prompted Apple to launch an investigation and vow to redress the payment discrepancies. “We are requiring Jabil to send a comprehensive employee survey to ascertain where gaps exist in payment and they must create an action plan that ensures all employees are paid for the promised bonus immediately,” Apple said Thursday in an email to China Labor Watch.

The incident highlights the complexity of overseeing global supply chains that can involve hundreds of manufacturers and subcontractors, as well as third-party labor brokers — and their subcontractors — that are tasked with recruiting workers for those factories. Companies differ in the amount of responsibility they are willing to take on. Apple stepped up oversight and disclosure following a spate of negative reports about worker suicides and injuries at suppliers.

After Tim Cook took over as chief executive, in 2011, Apple began publicly identifying top suppliers. It also publishes annual audits detailing labor and human rights performance throughout its global web of suppliers. Apple said it did comprehensive audits of 705 sites last year and documented significant improvements in compliance with its supplier code of conduct.

“About 600 workers went protesting for failing to get their bonus,” a worker who asked that only his family name, Zhang, be published for fear of retribution, said Thursday. He said that like many of his colleagues, he was promised a bonus of up to 7,000 yuan ($1,056) if he stayed for 45 days when he signed up for the job through a labor broker. “It has already been over three months but I still haven’t got the money,” he said.

Tu Changli, a security guard at Jabil’s Green Point factory, said a labor broker promised him 2,000 yuan ($302) if he stayed for two months. “I didn’t get it at all,” he said. He also said he saw hundreds of workers protesting. The company he said he works for, Wu Tai Security Co., declined comment.

A spokeswoman for U.S.-based Jabil, Lydia Huang, disputed those accounts, saying only 20 to 40 employees were actually protesting and the rest were night-shift workers trying to enter the factory. “As long as they can present evidence of promises by brokers we will help them to get paid,” she said.

Jabil, in a statement late Thursday, said it was “committed to ensuring every employee is paid fairly and on time.”

Tensions had been running high at Jabil’s Green Point factory. Tu, the security guard, said he saw a worker talked down from the edge of a rooftop in late September. And Zhang said that on Sept. 30, he saw a security guard hit a worker with a wooden stick so hard the stick broke.

Apple in its email to China Labor Watch said both incidents had to do with disputes with security guards, not underpayment, and added that it was working with Jabil “to make sure their security guards are properly trained to avoid and de-escalate situations.”

The current iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 plus had a 2 percent share of the iOS device market nearly a month after their launch, significantly lagging the 5 percent share grabbed by the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 plus at a similar point last year, according to Localytics, a mobile engagement platform that analyzes iPhone adoption rates. Analysts attribute iPhone 8 sluggishness to the pending release of the iPhone X.

 

your ad here

Missouri Proposes Innovation Corridor for Amazon’s 2nd Home

Missouri officials were submitting a bid Thursday for Amazon’s second headquarters that would involve an innovation corridor between Kansas City and St. Louis rather than a single location in one of the state’s major metropolitan areas.

 

That’s proposal is in addition to individual applications submitted by Kansas City and St. Louis, two of a number of North American metropolitan areas vying to become the company’s second home. Amazon in September opened the search for a second headquarters and promised to spend more than $5 billion on the site. The Seattle-based company says it would bring up to 50,000 jobs.

 

Missouri Chief Operating Officer Drew Erdmann said the state’s bid could be aided if it succeeds in landing a high-speed Hyperloop track connecting the cities.

 

 

your ad here

US Unemployment Claims Fall to 222,000, Lowest in 44 Years

The number of Americans collecting unemployment benefits fell last week to the lowest level since Richard Nixon was president.

THE NUMBERS: The Labor Department said Thursday that claims for jobless aid dropped by 22,000 to 222,000, fewest since March 1973. The less volatile four-week average slid by 9,500 to 248,250, lowest since late August.

 

The overall number of Americans collecting unemployment checks dropped to 1.89 million, lowest since December 1973 and down nearly 9 percent from a year ago.

 

THE TAKEAWAY: Unemployment claims are a proxy for layoffs. The low level suggests that employers are confident enough in the economy to hold onto workers.

 

The unemployment rate last month hit a 16-year low 4.2 percent. Employers cut 33,000 jobs in September — the first monthly drop in nearly seven years — but only because Hurricanes Harvey and Irma rattled the economies of Texas and Florida; hiring is expected to bounce back.

 

KEY DRIVERS: The economic impact of Harvey and Irma is fading; claims dropped in Texas and Florida as more people returned to work. But the Labor Department said that Hurricanes Irma and Maria have disrupted the ability of people to file claims in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

 

 

your ad here

Experimental Virtual and Mixed Reality Technologies Can be Applied to Military of the Future

The U.S. Military is looking at technologies such as wearable sensors, virtual and augmented reality to enhance the training of its recruits. At a recent meeting of military personnel and academics at the University of Southern California’s Global Body Computing Conference, commanding officers talked about why there is a need for ever more modern technology. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles on some of the emerging technologies that can help the military.

your ad here

Dow closes above 23,000 for first time; IBM soars

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed above 23,000 for the first time on Wednesday, driven by a jump in IBM after it hinted at a return to revenue growth.

The Dow hit 22,000 on Aug. 2, only 54 trading days earlier and roughly half the time it took the index to move from 21,000 to 22,000. This marks the fourth time this year the Dow has reached a 1,000-point milestone.

“Retail investors continue to pour into the marketplace, and with each headline about a new record, and especially round numbers like that, people tend to feel like they’re missing out and you kind of suck more people into the market,” said Ian Winer, head of equities at Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles.

“Ultimately, the only way you’re going to top is by getting everybody all in. And we’re getting close.”

Investors globally pulled $33.7 billion from U.S. equity funds during the third quarter, according to Thomson Reuters’ Lipper research unit. The funds are on course to post net outflows for the full year.

Shares of IBM, which beat expectations on revenue, jumped 8.9 percent and accounted for about 90 points of the day’s 160 point-gain in the blue-chip index.

Solid earnings, stronger economic growth and hopes that President Donald Trump may be able to make progress on tax cuts have helped the market rally this year.

The S&P 500 and Nasdaq also hit record closing highs.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 160.16 points, or 0.7 percent, to end at 23,157.6, the S&P 500 gained 1.9 points, or 0.07 percent, to 2,561.26 and the Nasdaq Composite added 0.56 point, or 0.01 percent, to 6,624.22.

“Today the catalyst is clearly IBM … which appears to have turned the corner. It gave the Dow the boost to stay over 23,000,” said Quincy Krosby, chief market strategist at Prudential Financial in Newark, New Jersey.

The Dow had briefly surpassed the all-time peak on Tuesday but closed just shy of it.

The financial index jumped 0.6 percent, led by bank stocks recovering from recent post-earnings losses. Bullish calls by brokerages helped to support the bank shares.

Bank shares had run up ahead of recent results, which resulted in some selling following the news, Krosby said.

Investors await news on Trump’s decision on the Federal Reserve chair position. The White House said Wednesday Trump will announce his decision in the “coming days.”

Abbott rose 1.3 percent after the company’s profit beat estimates on strong sales in its medical devices business.

After the bell, shares of eBay fell 4 percent following its results.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.09-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.32-to-1 ratio favored advancers. About 5.6 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges, below the 5.9 billion daily average for the past 20 trading days, according to Thomson Reuters data.

 

your ad here

Florida University Braces for Speech by White Nationalist, Protests

The University of Florida campus in Gainesville was on edge Wednesday, a day before white nationalist Richard Spencer is scheduled to speak there.

The school has called in hundreds of law enforcement officers from federal, state, county and city sources in an effort to avoid a repeat of the deadly violence that erupted in August at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.

The University of Florida initially denied Spencer’s request to speak there but later university president Kent Fuchs said the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution required it to allow the event.

Fuchs estimates the school will spend $600,000 on security for Spencer’s speech Thursday.

The National Policy Institute, which is run by Spencer, is paying $10,564 to rent space for the speech.

“I fully understand freedom of speech cannot be burdened legally with the full cost of this, but on the other hand we’re being burdened,” Fuchs said Wednesday. “So taxpayers are subsidizing hate speech.”

In anticipation of trouble, Florida Governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency Monday, saying a “threat of a potential emergency is imminent” in Alachua County, where the school is located.

In his order, Scott cited several Spencer appearances that have resulted in violence and “civil unrest,” including in Charlottesville where a counterdemonstrator was killed.

Carrying torches, Spencer’s supporters were joined by the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis at the “Unite the Right” rally to protest the removal of a statue honoring Confederate General Robert E. Lee. They clashed with local law enforcement officials as well as counterprotesters that included the so-called antifa movement (short for anti-fascists).

After Scott’s emergency declaration, Fuchs said the school received many calls from parents concerned about safety.

“Parents want to know, ‘Why is the governor declaring a state of emergency and yet you, President Fuchs, are saying my son or daughter should be going to class?’ That (announcement) elevated that tension, locally with parents and brought a national visibility to this,” Fuchs said.

Fuchs said he hopes the event will end up bringing the community closer together, and that it can be used to create a dialogue about race.

your ad here

Top GOP Consultant Charged With Illegal Lobbying, Conspiracy

A top Republican political consultant and two former state representatives have been indicted in a corruption scheme in South Carolina’s Legislature.

Solicitor David Pascoe announced Wednesday the State Grand Jury had indicted Richard Quinn with criminal conspiracy and failure to register as a lobbyist. Former Reps. Tracy Edge and Jim Harrison face several charges, including criminal conspiracy and misconduct.

Grand jurors also issued new indictments for two lawmakers already charged. Rep. Rick Quinn, the elder Quinn’s son, was charged with criminal conspiracy. Sen. John Courson was charged with statutory misconduct in office. Both men already faced other misconduct charges.

Richard Quinn is a longtime political consultant who has advised some of South Carolina’s top Republicans. In March, state police agents raided a Columbia office that housed his consulting shop.

 

your ad here