posted 7 days ago on ars technica
Websites focused on the involuntary publication of nude photos already had the attention of lawmakers in recent years, even before last month's leak of stolen photos of various celebrities. Now the United Kingdom is ready to pass the first national law banning the practice, making it punishable by up to two years in jail. "The fact that there are individuals who are cruelly distributing intimate pictures of their former partners without their consent is almost beyond belief," said Justice Secretary Chris Grayling in a statement. "We want those who fall victim to this type of disgusting behavior to know that we are on their side and will do everything we can to bring offenders to justice." Grayling's statement also notes that depending on circumstances, distribution of nude photos without a subject's consent may already violate other British laws, including the Communications Act of 2003. Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 7 days ago on ars technica
We're now close to two weeks into the game industry's critical holiday quarter, and if your wallet isn't crying yet, it likely will be when the flood of games continues through November and into December. A new offer from Microsoft has the potential to cushion that blow a little bit, offering $15 in Xbox Live Rewards for Xbox 360 and Xbox One games pre-ordered through the Microsoft Store website. To get the deal, you have to link your Xbox Live account to the Xbox Live Rewards program, which gives additional online store credit for other online activities. Use that Rewards account e-mail when pre-ordering Xbox games on MicrosoftStore.com starting today and you'll get 15,000 Reward points, worth $15 in Xbox Live store credit, for each of up to three pre-orders. After that, you can still take advantage of the same $10 gift card or Xbox Live credit being offered to anyone who pre-orders from the site. More details are available on Xbox Wire and on the Xbox Live Rewards site. It's not clear how long the bonus rewards offer will last, so if you're planning on pre-ordering an Xbox game anyway, you might as well take advantage sooner than later. Read on Ars Technica | Comments

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posted 7 days ago on ars technica
If you can't beat 'em... @Snappening An Indianapolis-based events planning search engine startup is seeing huge upticks in Web traffic and social media activity this week, attracting thousands of new visitors from over 150 countries—though not because it knocked its marketing goals out of the park. In the midst of a campaign to roll out nationally, Snappening has been getting a lot more eyeballs, and most of them are searching for something other than a wedding planner. Since the Snapchat photo leak that was dubbed “the Snappening” on 4Chan last week, Snappening has seen 100,000 new visitors to its site. Evidently a few trolling posters on 4Chan offered up the company's website as the location for gigabytes of stolen Snapchat photos pulled from the website SnapSaved.com. Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 7 days ago on ars technica
LAPD in action. Flickr user: John Liu This piece originally appeared in Pro Publica. In 2007, as it pushed to build a state-of-the-art surveillance facility, the Los Angeles Police Department cast an acquisitive eye on software being developed by Palantir, a startup funded in part by the Central Intelligence Agency's venture capital arm. Originally designed for spy agencies, Palantir's technology allowed users to track individuals with unprecedented reach, connecting information from conventional sources like crime reports with more controversial data gathered by surveillance cameras and license plate readers that automatically, and indiscriminately, photographed passing cars. Read 61 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 7 days ago on ars technica
xlibber For the first time, the government is removing seven Americans from the no-fly list to comport with a federal judge's ruling that the methods to challenge placement on the watch list were "wholly ineffective." Federal authorities notified the American Civil Liberties Union—which is representing 13 people who sued to get off the list—of its decision (PDF) late Friday. The government has until January to deal with the other six plaintiffs the ACLU is handling. The government's actions are in response to a June decision by US District Judge Anna Brown of Oregon, who ruled that the Traveler Redress Inquiry Program run by the Department of Homeland Security was unconstitutional and does not provide "a meaningful mechanism for travelers who have been denied boarding to correct erroneous information in the government's terrorism databases." Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 7 days ago on ars technica
Every second, the Earth is being struck by cosmic rays, high energy particles that slam into the atmosphere. Understanding where they come from and how they're generated could provide information about some of the most energetic processes in the Universe. But Earth's atmosphere protects us from them, ensuring that they don't make it to the surface. Instead, we have to look for the shower of photons and particles that the cosmic rays create when they hit the atmosphere. Even large detectors, however, only capture a few traces of the high energy particles that reach the Earth, meaning that careful studies of their origin can take years, possibly even decades. So some researchers decided it might be possible to take advantage of a large population of non-specialized detectors that are pre-positioned all over the world: cell phone cameras. The researchers from the University of California have drafted a paper in which they describe testing whether a smartphone camera can detect high energy photons and particles of the sort produced by cosmic rays. Testing with radioactive isotopes of radium, cobalt, and cesium showed that the detector easily picked up gamma rays (and you didn't even have to point the phones at the source!). They also put a phone inside a lead box and showed that they could detect high energy particles. Finally, they took a phone up on a commercial flight and were able to obtain a particle track across the detector. Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 7 days ago on ars technica
Apple Pay is the most important thing to launch with iOS 8.1. Apple 9to5Mac has received training materials “from a reliable source” that were given out by Apple to acquaint its employees with the ins and outs of the company's forthcoming Apple Pay service. These training materials have some interesting new details about the service, specifically mentioning that expired credit cards will be updated automatically in Apple Pay by the card issuer. Keeping credit card information current shows an interesting level of commitment from banks to making Apple Pay work. On competing platforms, once a credit card has expired, that card will be declined until the updated information is entered manually. The leaked document also shows that Apple Pay will be closely integrated with Apple's Passbook app. “Apple Pay can be set up via the Passbook application through both the initial iOS 8 setup process or in a new Settings.app tab called Passbook & Apple Pay,” 9to5Mac reports. Passbook will apparently take cards that are already on file through iTunes, or users can upload card details by taking a picture of the card. Users can then store up to eight debit or credit cards, which they will be able to select at checkout when using Apple Pay. Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 7 days ago on ars technica
Netflix's payments to Verizon for a direct connection to its network didn't result in immediate improvements for the companies' joint subscribers, but they're finally paying off with better video performance. Verizon FiOS actually topped all other major ISPs in Netflix performance in September with an average stream rate of 3.17Mbps, Netflix said today. Netflix Although Verizon FiOS led all large ISPs in Netflix performance, Google Fiber is still No. 1 among all ISPs regardless of size with a 3.54Mbps average in September. In August, Netflix streamed at an average of 2.41Mbps on Verizon FiOS, ranking tenth out of 16 major ISPs. In July, Netflix speed on Verizon FiOS was 1.61Mbps and in June it was 1.58Mbps, ranking 12th in both months. The Netflix/Verizon deal was announced in late April. When performance continued to get worse after the interconnection agreement, Verizon said it might take until the end of 2014 to get all the proper network connections in place to speed up video. Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 8 days ago on ars technica
Posters to 4Chan’s /b/ forum continue to pore over the contents of thousands of images taken by users of the Snapchat messaging service that were recently leaked from a third-party website. Meanwhile, the developer behind that site, SnapSaved.com, used a Facebook post to say it was hacked because of a misconfigured Apache server. The statement also gets into the extent of the breach, while playing down reports that personal information from the users involved was also taken. “I sincerely apologize on behalf of SnapSaved.com,” the developer’s spokesperson wrote. “We did not wish to cause Snapchat or their users harm, we only wished to provide a unique service.” SnapSaved’s developer said there was no substance to claims by some 4Chan posters that a searchable database of the images stolen from the service’s server was being developed. “The recent rumors about the snappening are a hoax,” the developer wrote. “The hacker does not have sufficient information to live up to his claims of creating a searchable database.” The developer also said that the service actively “tried to cleanse the database of inappropriate images as often as possible…SnapSaved has always tried to fight child pornography, [and] we have even gone as far as reporting some of our users to the Swedish and Norwegian authorities.” Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 8 days ago on ars technica
Everywhere you look in this game, there's another stunning vista. Even though it only has two games to its name, Borderlands was already kind of feeling set in its ways. The 2012 sequel to the 2009 original largely provided more of the same mix of shooting action, RPG-style leveling, and a ridiculously huge selection of ever-more-powerful guns. It's not that the Borderlands games are bad—on the contrary, they provide some of the most finely tuned, all-out shooting insanity this side of the Serious Sam series, especially when played cooperatively with friends. It's just that, even after only two games, Borderlands was already feeling like the kind of franchise that was going to stick to a predictable, proven formula, perhaps for decades—the kind of series where if you'd played one game, you'd feel like you played them all. Read 21 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 8 days ago on ars technica
The U.S. National Security Agency has worked with companies to weaken encryption products at the same time it infiltrated firms to gain access to sensitive systems, according to a purportedly leaked classified document outlined in an article on The Intercept. The document, allegedly leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, appears to be a highly classified summary intended for a very small group of vetted national security officials according to details included in The Intercept article, which was published this weekend. The document outlines six programs at the core of the NSA's mission, collected under the name Sentry Eagle. The Intercept claims the document states "The facts contained in [the Sentry Eagle] program constitute a combination of the greatest number of highly sensitive facts related to NSA/CSS’s overall cryptologic mission." Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 8 days ago on ars technica
Look closely at the large chip near the middle of the board—it's fuzzy, but it says "A8X." Apple.club.tw We're three days out from Apple's next event, which means it's time for the supply chain and rumor mill to go into overdrive. Over the weekend, Taiwanese blog apple.club.tw republished photos of what are supposedly components from a new iPad, including shots of the TouchID button and cable and the logic board. The logic board shot revealed an interesting detail, assuming it's genuine—Apple is apparently building a new "A8X" processor to power at least one of its new tablets. When the iPad went Retina back in 2012, Apple needed to amp up its processors’ graphics power to account for the higher-resolution screens. The result was the A5X, which used the same CPU cores as the A5 but included more GPU cores and a wider, 128-bit memory interface. The A6X did the same thing to the A6 in the iPhone 5. It’s safe to assume the A8X would upgrade the Apple A8 in the same way. The existence of an A8X would come as a surprise. Last year Apple was able to standardize on the A7 across the iPhone and iPad lineup, which had obvious benefits—the company only had to design one chip, and that chip used less silicon than would a larger A7X. Ordering one part instead of two increases volume discounts and simplifies the supply chain, too. Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 8 days ago on ars technica
Ready to rock? My Electric Loog arrives, just shy of a year after the Kickstarter launch—and after a long stay in a container at the Port of Los Angeles. Sean Gallagher A little less than a year ago, I backed a Kickstarter project launched by Rafael Atijas, a New York based designer. The project was the Electric Loog, a small, three-string electric guitar designed for children (and adults) to jam with. It seemed like a perfect project—Atijas created the Loog as part of a master's thesis at NYU, and he was working on refining the design for production. The risks seemed minimal. Atijas already successfully executed an acoustic version of the Loog in 2011, and that knocked its funding goal out of the park. This time, for $150, I'd get an instrument for my collection with plenty of upside. I could build the Loog and share it with my daughter. Maybe I could even take it along with me while I travel for Ars, jamming in hotel rooms with headphones on. I happily said "Shut up and take my money," then sat back and waited for an anticipated May delivery.CN.dart.call("xrailTop", {sz:"300x250", kws:["top"], collapse: true}); This past week, after a series of twists, turns and delays, my Loog arrived. Following Atijas' updates along the way has been the equivalent of reading a business case study in why it's so hard to execute what is essentially a "maker" project as a mass-produced product. The Loog encountered manufacturing problems in China, a port strike in Los Angeles, and quality control issues during production ramp-up that resulted in a few small flaws in the delivered guitars. Atijas had to make what he characterized as a "flash" trip to China just last week when the latest issues emerged. Now his New York company is unboxing everything left in the first shipment to check for issues, and Atijas is preparing to ship out replacements to backers with flawed guitars in order to make-good on his promise. Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 8 days ago on ars technica
Megan Geuss Two weeks ago, I heard about a new company called Yondr that was making lightweight smartphone socks-with-locks that prevent the smartphone's user from accessing the device during a concert, movie, or party. At the time, Yondr had quietly teamed up with two Bay Area music venues—Milk Bar in San Francisco and Stork Club in Oakland—for a pair of trial runs in which concert-goers would be asked to place their phones in the Yondr case before entering the venue in order to create a phone-free space. I was curious—would people even go for this? Preventing fans from accessing their phones during a show might seem like an extraordinary step, especially in tech-centric San Francisco. But even the most compulsive texters among us can say that they've seen That Person: the guy in front of you at the concert who holds up his iPhone to record eight minutes of video, forcing you to watch your favorite band through his tiny screen, or the girl whose phone lights up with texts while you're in the theater trying to watch an important scene. Read 51 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 8 days ago on ars technica
"Play. Create. Share" has long been the three-word slogan for the charming, if a bit well-worn, LittleBigPlanet games. For most players it's likely more than a motto, it's an actual schedule of events as well. You play the game to get a feel for what's possible, then mess around with the creation tools, and finally share it with the community in the hope that it's worth the effort. About a year after LittleBigPlanet's 2008 release, Microsoft tried its own hand at the design-your-own-game game with Kodu Game Lab, a $5 download doomed to the backwater of the Xbox 360's Indie Games program. I spent $5 and an ounce of curiosity on that release back in the day, and I can't say I came away impressed. I was expecting a magic wand to impart knowledge and power in the wizardry of "coding" in a way that I could understand as someone with no real experience in programming or game design. Instead, Kodu was a bare bones logic learning tool that threw me in to the deep end of ifs, thens, and whens with little guidance and little ability to build anything with real depth. Project Spark, the free-to-play design lab that Microsoft first showed at its E3 2013 press conference, is everything I wanted Kodu to be at the time. Spark is a learning tool, sure, but it's also a genuine platform for making games. Read 14 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 9 days ago on ars technica
Scott K. Johnson A view from Potholes Coulee, with a pond fed by irrigation runoff. 25 more images in gallery .related-stories { display: none !important; } It's hard to believe the desert-like Scablands neighbors the rest of lush Washington state. Just ask J Harlen Bretz; he spent the better part of a century trying to convince his colleagues this landscape wasn't always so dry. As Ars writer Scott Johnson discovered, the Scablands are essentially wounds, still unhealed by time and erosion. These canyons were carved into the land after a series of unfathomably large floods unleashed by the catastrophic draining of great glacial lakes—half the volume of Lake Michigan splashed onto this land in less than a week. Johnson crammed supplies into his backpack and attempted to survey the lands that Bretz obsessed over (and dedicated his life to studying). His feature outlines both the past and present experiences of exploring The Scablands, but there simply wasn't enough room for all the images he took of the breathtaking scene. So like the excess of water that led to its creation, an excess of visuals led to another Scablands birth (this time, only a gallery). Read on Ars Technica | Comments

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posted 9 days ago on ars technica
EASTERN WASHINGTON—Traveling from the verdant, mossy coastal belt of the Pacific Northwest, one could be forgiven for feeling that the defining characteristic of Eastern Washington is its dryness. It's a land seemingly starved of rain in the shadow of the Cascade Mountains. But the dry landscape known as the “Scablands” actually tells a story about excess—excess of water, water that was torrential and sudden. The Scablands are essentially wounds, still unhealed by time and erosion. They cut through the land and down into the rock after a series of unfathomably large floods unleashed by the catastrophic draining of great glacial lakes—half the volume of Lake Michigan splashed onto the land in less than a week. If you can imagine that, you’ve got us beat. The story recorded in this landscape is so incredible, it took one geologist decades to convince his colleagues that he was reading it correctly. Inflation of the modern American vernacular has devalued superlatives like “awesome” and “epic,” but we’re going to need them where we’re going. Read 72 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 9 days ago on ars technica
A health care worker in Dallas has become the first person to become infected with the Ebola virus within the US. Reuters is among many outlets that are reporting that a nurse who treated an Ebola patient has now tested positive for the virus. That patient, Thomas Eric Duncan, contracted the virus in Liberia, but travelled to the US while still asymptomatic. He was treated by the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital before dying last week. The newly diagnosed patient was one of the nurses involved in his treatment. According to the BBC, the nurse wore standard protective gear during the treatment: gown, gloves, respiratory mask, and face shield. Nevertheless, the individual began experiencing a low-grade fever, and checked into the same hospital where he or she works; the patient has been kept in isolation since. Authorities are currently preventing anyone from entering the individual's apartment pending a decontamination. Preliminary testing in Dallas indicates an Ebola infection; confirmatory tests from the Centers for Disease Control are pending. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 9 days ago on ars technica
Sebastian Surendar A federal judge has declined to suppress evidence the government is using against the alleged Silk Road mastermind, paving the way for a federal trial set for next month in connection to the website that once sold illicit drugs and hacking tools. US District Judge Katherine Forrest's decision Friday sidestepped the controversial issue of whether federal prosecutors breached defendant Ross Ulbricht's constitutional rights of unlawful search and seizure. Ulbricht's defense team asserts that the Federal Bureau of Investigation or even the National Security Agency somehow unlawfully gained access to Silk Road severs in Iceland, which paved the way for several search warrants of e-mail and social networking accounts the government said belong to Ulbricht. But the New York judge said that it doesn't matter whether the government unlawfully accessed the severs. That's because she ruled that Ulbricht has no right to even challenge the seizure of the servers that ultimately led to his downfall last year. Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 9 days ago on ars technica
On the home screen we've got a fatter action bar, new nav drawer icon, and all the content buttons have new colors. The text is bolder, too. 13 more images in gallery .related-stories { display: none !important; } CN.dart.call("xrailTop", {sz:"300x250", kws:["top"], collapse: true});Android L promises to bring a full redesign to all of Android, but thanks to the unbundled nature of Android, some of it is already trickling out to devices. The latest app to get a Material Design makeover is the Play Store, which now looks more at home in Android L than it does in KitKat. The latest update came out this week, which added most of the new Material Design elements. While it looks mostly done to our eyes, there are one or two details where the new color schemes clearly still need to be implimented, and there are new icons that are in some parts of the app but not others. We think the end result will look pretty close to this new "5.0" version. If you're interested in more Material Design goodness, we've previously given Chrome Beta get the before-and-after Gallery treatment and dug through Google's design documents to get a preview of what L will eventually look like. Read on Ars Technica | Comments

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posted 10 days ago on ars technica
Last week a man was arrested in Fort Lauderdale, FL when his two credit cards were declined after he spent $600 on bottle service at a nightclub. The story wouldn't be all that interesting were it not for the fact that the man, Don Marcani, had not reached his credit limit that night. In fact, he was able to pay his $1,000 bail the next morning using one of the credit cards that was declined earlier. As Marcani told NBC 6 South Florida, he and his friend used a Wells Fargo credit card to buy $80-worth of drinks at the bar of Cyn Nightclub. Then they decided to move into the VIP section, costing them $600. The waitress took Marcani's credit card, but when she tried to run the credit card later that night, it was declined. Marcani then provided a Capital One credit card, which was also declined. Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 10 days ago on ars technica
Stack Exchange This Q&A is part of a weekly series of posts highlighting common questions encountered by technophiles and answered by users at Stack Exchange, a free, community-powered network of 100+ Q&A sites. here asks: There are many well-known best practices about exception handling in isolation. I know the "do's and don'ts" well enough, but things get complicated when it comes to best practices or patterns in larger environments. "Throw early, catch late" — I've heard many times and it still confuses me. Read 26 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 10 days ago on ars technica
Last weekend, the Seattle Center Exhibition Hall hosted BrickCon, one of the nation's largest and longest-running public exhibitions of LEGO art and dioramas. While Ars' staff suffers from varying levels of LEGO-mania, we all thought this convention's 13th annual iteration might be a cool place to see a range of amateur and professional block creations. This year's show, in particular, caught our eye thanks to a hot tip about a Doom-themed installation, so we rushed in with our camera to snap a few choice hellions, and then we proceeded to catalog much of what we saw at the show. Take a look at our gallery for Technics, trains, war reenactments, pop culture minutiae, castles, space stations, boats, cars, and much more. LEGO, meet DOOM. 63 more images in gallery .related-stories { display: none !important; } Read on Ars Technica | Comments

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posted 10 days ago on ars technica
Army General Keith Alexander. DOD/NSA New financial disclosure documents released this month by the National Security Agency (NSA) show that Keith Alexander, who served as its director from August 2005 until March 2014, had thousands of dollars of investments during his tenure in a handful of technology firms. Each year disclosed has a checked box next to this statement: "Reported financial interests or affiliations are unrelated to assigned or prospective duties, and no conflicts appear to exist." Alexander repeatedly made the public case that the American public is at "greater risk" from a terrorist attack in the wake of the Snowden disclosures. Statements such as those could have a positive impact on the companies he was invested in, which could have eventually helped his personal bottom line. Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 10 days ago on ars technica
The iPhone 6 Plus is coated with glass, not sapphire. Lee Hutchninson Let's go over the GT Advanced Technologies timeline. In late 2013, the company inked a deal with Apple to provide sapphire glass for iPhones and other gadgets—Apple would loan GT the money to build a sapphire manufacturing facility in Arizona, and in exchange, GT would sell that sapphire primarily to Apple. Rumor had it that the then-forthcoming iPhone 6 would use sapphire or sapphire-coated glass to protect their displays from scratches, and it sent GT's stock climbing. On September 9, Apple announced new iPhones with "ion-strengthened glass," not sapphire. This sent GT's stock sliding downward. On Monday, GT filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. And today, GT said in separate filings with the US Bankruptcy Court in New Hampshire that it wants to terminate its contract with Apple and close the Arizona facility. The filing to end the contract with Apple (PDF) states that the terms of GT's contract with Apple are "oppressive and burdensome," and the separate filing requesting to shutter the sapphire plant claims that doing so is the only way to rescue GT's business. Closing the factory will cut 890 jobs (PDF). From the filing: ...the cash burn at GTAT's sapphire manufacturing operations for the benefit of Apple is not sustainable. Therefore, after a careful evaluation of all alternatives, and in consultation with its advisors, GTAT has determined that in order to preserve the value of its estates it must wind down its sapphire manufacturing operations in Mesa, Arizona, and Salem, Massachusetts, with reductions in associated supporting personnel at GTAT's Merrimack, New Hampshire, offices. Concurrently with the filing of this Motion, GTAT has also filed a separate motion seeking to reject a series of Apple agreements related to these operations that will no longer be required. GT may yet pursue additional legal action against Apple, as the company "believes that it has many claims against Apple arising out of its business relationship with Apple." More specific information about "further claims" was not disclosed. Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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