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Former CIA agent wants to buy Twitter to kick Trump off

Wed, 23 Aug 2017 23:36:24 UT

WASHINGTON (AP) — Former undercover CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson is looking to crowdfund enough money to buy Twitter so President Donald Trump can't use it. Wilson launched the fundraiser last week, tweeting: "If @Twitter executives won't shut down Trump's violence and hate, then it's up to us. #BuyTwitter #BanTrump." The GoFundMe page for the fundraiser says Trump's tweets "damage the country and put people in harm's way." As of Wednesday morning, she had raised less than $6,000 of her $1 billion goal. In an emailed statement, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the low total shows that the American people like the Republican president's use of Twitter.



Judge allows money laundering charges against Backpage execs

Wed, 23 Aug 2017 22:34:33 UT

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California prosecutors can bring money laundering charges against the creators of a website that prosecutors label an online brothel, a judge ruled Wednesday. But he dismissed other charges months after another judge threw out the entire case as violating free speech and federal protections. Prosecutors filed new and expanded charges against Backpage.com chief executive Carl Ferrer and website founders Michael Lacey and James Larkin this spring. The three pleaded not guilty after the judge allowed the money laundering charges. Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Larry Brown also dismissed 15 pimping conspiracy and other charges against Backpage.com's operators.



SpaceX unveils sleek, white spacesuit for astronaut travel

Wed, 23 Aug 2017 22:13:55 UT

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — SpaceX has unveiled a sleek white spacesuit for astronauts on its crewed flights coming up next year. Chief executive Elon Musk made the big reveal via Instagram on Wednesday. He says it's not him in the new suit, rather a SpaceX engineer. SpaceX is developing a crew version of its Dragon cargo capsule for NASA astronauts. Boeing is also working to get U.S. astronauts flying again from home soil. Boeing is going blue for spacesuits for its Starliner capsules. U.S. astronauts last rocketed away from Cape Canaveral, Florida, in 2011. They've since been riding Russian rockets to get to the International Space Station. Musk says the new SpaceX suit has been tested on Earth — and works.



Regulators, Whole Foods shareholders approve Amazon deal

Wed, 23 Aug 2017 21:15:49 UT

NEW YORK (AP) — Whole Foods shareholders and federal regulators approved Amazon's $13.7 billion acquisition of the organic grocer, a deal that could bring big changes to the supermarket industry and how people order groceries online. By buying Whole Foods, Amazon is taking a bold step into brick-and-mortar, with more than 460 stores and potentially very lucrative data about how shoppers behave offline. Two moves forward came Wednesday. Whole Foods shareholders gave their blessing to a union that its CEO had called "love at first sight." And the Federal Trade Commission said in a brief statement that it had looked into competition concerns and would not block the deal.



Up from the ashes: Samsung unveils successor to Note 7 phone

Wed, 23 Aug 2017 20:03:38 UT

NEW YORK (AP) — Samsung is trying to move past last year's disastrous Galaxy Note 7 launch with a successor sporting a dual-lens camera, animated messages, expanded note-taking — and lower battery capacity. The South Korean tech giant is no longer trying to squeeze more battery power into each phone. Last year's Note 7 had to be recalled after dozens spontaneously caught fire because of defective batteries. Samsung responded by subjecting new phones to multiple inspections and giving the battery more physical protection, taking up room normally available for the charge.



Walmart joins forces with Google on voice-activated shopping

Wed, 23 Aug 2017 16:58:58 UT

NEW YORK (AP) — Walmart is diving into voice-activated shopping. But unlike online leader Amazon, it's not doing it alone. The world's largest retailer said Wednesday it's working with Google to offer hundreds of thousands of items from laundry detergent to Legos for voice shopping through Google Assistant. The capability will be available in late September. It's Google's biggest retail partnership — and the most personalized shopping experience it offers — as it tries to broaden the reach of its voice-activated assistant Home speaker. And it underscores Walmart's drive to compete in an area dominated by Amazon's Alexa-powered Echo device.



Studies: Automated safety systems are preventing car crashes

Wed, 23 Aug 2017 04:06:41 UT

WASHINGTON (AP) — Safety systems to prevent cars from drifting into another lane or that warn drivers of vehicles in their blind spots are beginning to live up to their potential to significantly reduce crashes, according to two studies released Wednesday. At the same time, research by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety raises concern that drivers may be less vigilant when relying on automated safety systems or become distracted by dashboard displays that monitor how the systems are performing. The two institute studies found that lane-keeping systems, some of which even nudge the vehicle back into its lane for the driver, and blind spot monitoring systems had lower crash rates than the same vehicles without the systems.



Glam shot gets ugly: Mnuchin wife touts style, slams critic

Tue, 22 Aug 2017 21:53:41 UT

WASHINGTON (AP) — It was a glam shot that got ugly. The wife of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin dove headlong into a social media skirmish this week, blasting a critic of her Instagram post highlighting her high fashion choices. Calling the commenter "adorably out of touch," Louise Linton suggested she and Mnuchin contributed more to the U.S. economy and paid more in taxes than did her critic. After a day of mounting criticism, the Scottish actress issued an apology Tuesday. But she had already assumed a starring role in the continuing story of the Trump administration's enormous wealth.



Verizon tweaks prices, cuts video quality on unlimited plans

Tue, 22 Aug 2017 18:16:13 UT

NEW YORK (AP) — Verizon is raising the price of its unlimited plan while introducing a slightly cheaper, more limited version as wireless carriers battle each other for customers. All major carriers now offer unlimited plans after years of steering people toward paying extra for using more data. Verizon, like its rivals, will start charging more for higher-quality video while hoping to attract cost-conscious customers with a cheaper plan. Verizon's unlimited plan had cost $80 a month for one line for those who sign up for automatic payments with a checking account or debit card. Beginning Wednesday, it'll cost $85 with high-definition video — capped at 720p for phones. Plans with DVD-quality streaming will cost $75.



UFC gets aggressive with technology to enhance its fights

Tue, 22 Aug 2017 17:35:15 UT

The UFC is turning to a high-tech platform that could enhance the way fans watch fights. The world's leading mixed martial arts promotion has reached a partnership with Heed. The joint venture between WME-IMG and AGT International wants to change the way fans connect with sports at home or at a live event through sensor-measured data. WME-IMG bought the UFC last year for more than $4 billion. "Our goal is to revolutionize our sport, our events and ultimately enhance the fan experience," UFC CFO Andrew Schleimer said. Heed also has struck deals with Professional Bull Riders and Euroleague basketball.



Report: Iran says Twitter ready to talk on unblocking site

Tue, 22 Aug 2017 10:58:41 UT

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran's new telecommunications minister says Twitter is ready to talk about unblocking access to the microblogging site. The state-owned IRAN newspaper quoted Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi on Tuesday as saying Twitter has "officially announced readiness to talk with Iran for resolving the problems." San Francisco-based Twitter declined to comment. Iran blocked the site, along with Facebook and YouTube, after mass protests and violence over the 2009 re-election of hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Iran's Supreme Council of Cyberspace, headed by current President Hassan Rouhani, officially is in charge of blocking websites. That council is overseen by Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.



NFL, Electronic Arts unveil Madden '18 competition

Mon, 21 Aug 2017 21:14:35 UT

NEW YORK (AP) — NFL fans and gamers can play their way to the Super Bowl — if they're good enough at the newest edition of "Madden NFL 18." Electronic Arts and the NFL on Monday announced they're teaming up to create an online tournament involving all 32 teams . It makes the NFL the first pro sports league in the U.S. to commit all of its teams to a competitive gaming program, and a massive esports competition. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell calls competitive gaming and esports "one of the most exciting ways to engage a larger, younger and digitally savvy NFL audience." EA CEO Andrew Wilson says his company and the NFL are taking their partnership "to an unprecedented level.



Google to serve next version of Android as 'Oreo"

Mon, 21 Aug 2017 19:57:43 UT

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — An upcoming update to Google's Android software finally has a delectable name. The next version will be known as Oreo, extending Google's tradition of naming each version after a sweet treat. Google anointed the software Monday after spending the past few months referring to it as "Android O." Oreo boasts several new features, including the ability to respond to notifications directly on a phone's home screen and the ability to access apps without installing them on a device. The free software is scheduled to be released this fall, most likely after making its debut on a new Pixel phone that Google is expected to begin selling in October.



Why AI visionary Andrew Ng teaches humans to teach computers

Mon, 21 Aug 2017 17:43:22 UT

PALO ALTO, Calif. (AP) — Andrew Ng has led teams at Google and Baidu that have gone on to create self-learning computer programs used by hundreds of millions of people, including email spam filters and touch-screen keyboards that make typing easier by predicting what you might want to say next. As a way to get machines to learn without supervision, he has trained them to recognize cats in YouTube videos without being told what cats were. And he revolutionized this field, known as artificial intelligence, by adopting graphics chips meant for video games. To push the boundaries of artificial intelligence further, one of the world's most renowned researchers in the field says many more humans need to get involved.



Andrew Ng hates paranoid androids, and other fun facts

Mon, 21 Aug 2017 17:36:34 UT

PALO ALTO, Calif. (AP) — What does artificial intelligence researcher Andrew Ng have in common with a "very depressed robot" from "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy"? Both have huge brains. Here are some fun facts about the man who connected graphics chips to neural networks and has taught millions of artificial intelligence students online. ___ HE NAMED GOOGLE BRAIN Google's deep-learning unit was originally called "Project Marvin" — a possible reference to a morose and paranoid android with a "brain the size of a planet" from "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy." Ng didn't like the association with "this very depressed robot," he says, so he cut to the chase and changed the name to Google Brain.