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Disney-Fox deal may create a new nerdy nirvana

Sat, 16 Dec 2017 06:41:40 UT

MENLO PARK, California (AP) — The coming union of the Disney and Fox media empires is set to create a new nirvana for fanboys and -girls, one that reunites superheroes and sci-fi characters long separated by an energy barrier of corporate legalism. Take, for instance, the fractured world of Marvel superheroes. For years, the X-Men (Wolverine, Storm, Professor X and the crew) and the Fantastic Four (Thing, Invisible Woman, et al) have battled bad dudes from the studios of 20th Century Fox. Meanwhile Iron Man, Black Widow and other Avengers vanquished villains in another corner of the galaxy run by Disney. Almost ne'er the twain did meet — though that could soon change.



Inflammatory letter sheds light on Uber's alleged misconduct

Sat, 16 Dec 2017 06:34:41 UT

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A former Uber security specialist accused the company of dispatching a team of spies to steal its rivals' trade secrets and using shady tactics to thwart its competition in the ride-hailing market, according an inflammatory letter unsealed Friday by a federal judge. Those tactics allegedly included impersonating other people, illegally recording conversations and hacking into computers. Former Uber manager Richard Jacobs, who was fired earlier this year, made the explosive claims in a 37-page letter that sought a big payoff for being forced out of the company.



NASA drops replica Orion spacecraft to test parachutes

Sat, 16 Dec 2017 01:18:51 UT

YUMA, Ariz. (AP) — NASA on Friday successfully dropped a replica Orion spacecraft from an Air Force transport aircraft to a southwestern Arizona desert site to test the craft's ability to cope with a partial parachute failure. The test used two of Orion's three main parachutes to simulate the failure of the third and still sufficiently slowed the spacecraft for a landing. Previous attempts were thwarted by a failure of the C-17 plane's cargo doors to open at the drop altitude of 35,000 feet (10,668 meters) on Wednesday and by high winds on Thursday. Jim McMichael, a NASA systems engineer, said the 10-ton (10.



Facebook: Social media scrolling can make you feel bad

Sat, 16 Dec 2017 00:15:47 UT

MENLO PARK, Calif. (AP) — It's not quite like tobacco companies warning about the dangers of smoking, but Facebook is acknowledging something many already know: Using social media can be bad for your health. The social media giant whose platform has become a daily addiction for hundreds of millions of people sheds light in a blog post Friday on what it says are two sides of the issue. It notes research showing an increase in teen depression with technology use. It also points to its own research that shows improvements in well-being from interacting with close friends online. Facebook, of course, thrives when people engage with its platform.



Amazon making nice, prepares sales of Apple TV, Chromecast

Fri, 15 Dec 2017 23:24:44 UT

MENLO PARK, Calif. (AP) — Amazon is angling for a truce in its two-year battle with Apple and Google over streaming gadgets: It says it is preparing to put Apple TV and Chromecast back on sale. A spokeswoman for Amazon confirmed Friday it is preparing to sell the devices. However, fresh links for the products that went live on Thursday indicate they are still unavailable. Amazon stopped selling Apple TV streaming devices in late 2015 in retaliation for Apple not making Amazon's Prime Video app available on Apple TVs. It said at the time the move was to reduce possible confusion caused by items sold on its store not playing videos bundled with its Prime shipping plan.



Italy says Amazon will pay $118 million to end tax dispute

Fri, 15 Dec 2017 20:04:18 UT

MILAN (AP) — Italian tax authorities say Amazon will pay 100 million euros ($118 million) to end a dispute over its tax payments from 2011-2015. The agreement announced Friday comes as many European countries seek to close loopholes in tax payments by major multinationals. Amazon confirmed the agreement in a statement, without disclosing the amount it would pay. The internet retailer headquartered in the U.S. state of Washington said it set up an Italian branch in May 2015 "with all retail revenues, expenses, profits and taxes due now accounted for in Italy." It further said it had invested more than 800 million euros in Italy and created 3,000 jobs since 2010. Italian tax authorities have reached similar deals with Google and Apple.




What the FCC rollback of 'net neutrality' means to you

Fri, 15 Dec 2017 15:12:58 UT

Now that the federal government has rolled back the internet protections it put in place two years ago, the big question is: What does the repeal of "net neutrality' rules mean to you? In the short term, the answer is simple: Not much. But over time, your ability to watch what you want to watch online and to use the apps that you prefer could start to change. Your mobile carrier, for instance, might start offering you terrific deals for signing up to its own video service, just as your YouTube app starts suffering unexpected connection errors. Or you could wake one day to learn that your broadband provider is having a tiff with Amazon, and has slowed down its shopping site in order to extract business concessions.



German government says it backs 'open and free internet'

Fri, 15 Dec 2017 12:54:18 UT

BERLIN (AP) — The German government says it backs an "open and free internet" following the U.S. decision to repeal net neutrality rules. A spokeswoman for the Economy Ministry said Friday that Germany had "taken note" of the U.S. move but declined to comment directly on it. However, spokeswoman Beate Baron said the German government supports rules introduced across the European Union last year forbidding discriminatory access to the internet. Baron told reporters in Berlin that "an open and free internet is indispensable for the successful development of a digital society that everyone wants to take part in." The Republican-controlled U.S.



Germany extends facial recognition test at rail station

Fri, 15 Dec 2017 12:38:26 UT

BERLIN (AP) — Germany's top security official is extending tests of automatic facial recognition technology after an initial six-month trial showed the system had a good success rate. The tests used high-quality pictures of more than 200 volunteers to identify them as they passed through Berlin's Suedkreuz railway station. Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said Friday that cameras spotted the volunteers more than 70 percent of the time, with the wrong person flagged in less than 1 percent of cases. De Maiziere said a second six-month trial will test whether the system can recognize a person as effectively using lower-quality images, such as when no police mug shot of a fugitive is available.



US prosecutors move to cash in on $8.5M in seized bitcoin

Fri, 15 Dec 2017 06:39:15 UT

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — U.S. attorneys in Utah prosecuting a multimillion-dollar opioid drug-ring are moving quickly to sell seized bitcoin that's exploded in value to about $8.5 million since the alleged ringleader's arrest a year ago. The U.S. Attorney's Office for Utah cites the digital currency's volatility in court documents pressing for the sale. The bitcoin cache was worth less than $500,000 when Aaron Shamo was arrested on drug charges, but the value of the digital currency has skyrocketed since then. Bitcoin was created as a digital alternative to the traditional banking system, and is prone to swings in value based on what people believe its worth.



The Latest: States warming up net-neutrality lawsuits

Thu, 14 Dec 2017 23:36:24 UT

NEW YORK (AP) — The Latest on the FCC's vote on eliminating net-neutrality protections for the internet (all times local): 2:10 p.m. State attorneys general are threatening lawsuits against the federal government's repeal of "net neutrality" rules. New York's attorney general says he'll lead a multistate lawsuit to stop the Federal Communications Commission's rollback of rules that guaranteed equal access to the internet. Democrat Eric Schneiderman has been investigating fake public comments submitted to the FCC during the net neutrality comment process. Schneiderman says his analysis shows 2 million comments stole the identities of real Americans, including dead people and children.



FCC votes along party lines to end 'net neutrality'

Thu, 14 Dec 2017 23:21:01 UT

The Federal Communications Commission repealed the Obama-era "net neutrality" rules Thursday, giving internet service providers like Verizon, Comcast and AT&T a free hand to slow or block websites and apps as they see fit or charge more for faster speeds. In a straight party-line vote of 3-2, the Republican-controlled FCC junked the longtime principle that said all web traffic must be treated equally. The move represents a radical departure from more than a decade of federal oversight. The big telecommunications companies had lobbied hard to overturn the rules, contending they are heavy-handed and discourage investment in broadband networks. "What is the FCC doing today?" asked FCC chairman Ajit Pai, a Republican.



Disney buying much of Fox, will help it compete with Netflix

Thu, 14 Dec 2017 22:19:17 UT

NEW YORK (AP) — Disney is buying a large part of Fox, including its movie and television studios, for about $52.4 billion, as the home of Mickey Mouse tries to meet competition from technology companies in the entertainment business. Disney's all-stock deal for the Murdoch family's 21st Century Fox gives it the studios that produce the Avatar movies, "The Simpsons" and "Modern Family." Murdoch will form a new company to keep the U.S. television networks, including Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network and Fox Broadcasting. "The Simpsons" will continue to air on Murdoch's Fox stations. The deal also brings Marvel characters such as X-Men and The Avengers under one roof — Disney's.



Eighth planet found in faraway solar system, matching ours

Thu, 14 Dec 2017 22:17:28 UT

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — A record-tying eighth planet has been found in a faraway solar system, matching our own in number. Even more amazing, machines and not humans made the discovery. NASA joined with Google on Thursday to announce the finding. This eighth planet orbits the star known as Kepler-90. Like Earth, this new planet, Kepler-90i, is the third rock from its sun. But it's much closer to its sun — orbiting in just 14 days — and therefore a scorching 800 degrees Fahrenheit (427 Celsius) at the surface. In fact, all eight planets are scrunched up around this star, orbiting closer than Earth does to our sun.



The Latest: Trump supports Disney's 21st Century Fox deal

Thu, 14 Dec 2017 20:23:33 UT

BURBANK, Calif. (AP) — The Latest on Disney's deal for large part of Fox (all times local) 12:20 p.m. The White House says President Donald Trump supports Disney's purchase of much of 21st Century Fox. White House press secretary Sarah Sanders says Trump called media magnate Rupert Murdoch to congratulate him on the deal. Disney is buying the Murdoch family's Fox movie and television studios and some cable and international TV businesses for about $52.4 billion. Sanders says Trump thinks the deal "could be a great thing for jobs." ___ 7:10 a.m. Rupert Murdoch says selling much of the 21st Century Fox entertainment businesses to Disney allows what remains of his family's business to focus on American news and sports.