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Enlarge / Intel-powered Tag Heuer smartwatch. Intel was once moving full-steam ahead into wearables, but that effort has apparently come to an end. Reports at the end of last year claimed the company was looking to step back from wearables, but Intel denied that rumor. Now a report from CNBC cites a source that claims Intel completely shut down its wearable division about two weeks ago. The report refers to the Basis group, which was made up of employees from the wearable company that Intel bought for about $100 million. The source also claims 80 percent of those in the Basis group were let go in November 2016, but many were given the option to assume other roles within Intel. The company's New Technologies Group is reportedly focusing on AI now more than ever. We don't know what this will mean for Intel's Curie chip in the long-term, but it's still being promoted on Intel's website. It's possible that Intel isn't putting any more effort into creating its own wearable devices, but will continue to provide technology like Curie to partners. Currently Intel lists Tag Heuer, New Balance, and Oakley as some of its partners on the Curie webpage. Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge Specs at a glance: Blue Ella Driver Type Planar magnetic Impedance 50 ohms Passive, 10 ohms Active Frequency response 20Hz-20kHz Amplifier Output power: 250mW THD+N: < 1% (94 dB SPL, from 20 Hz to 20 kHz) Frequency response: 20Hz-20kHz SNR: >101 dB Noise: < 20 uV Battery 1000mAh Weight 481g (16.97 oz) Size Outer dimensions (closed): 21cm x 14cm x 12cm Outer dimensions (open): 18cm x 29cm x 12cm Other perks Soft carry case 1.2-meter audio cable with Apple iPhone/iPad controls and microphone 3 metre audio cable 3.5mm to 1/4” adaptor Price £675 / $700 Planar magnetic headphones, which use a thin film suspended between neodymium magnets to deliver sound quite unlike that of typical dynamic and balanced armature headphones, are traditionally the reserve of the well-heeled audiophile. The sound quality is, according to fans, clearer, sharper, and more detailed and only surpassed by electrostatic headphones, which use electricity instead of magnets to vibrate a thin film to push sound to the ears. Both technologies are more complex to manufacture than traditional dynamic drivers, and both require more volume to function. The result is that planar magnetic headphones like those from US-based MrSpeakers cost well over £1,000/$1,000, while the headphone amps required to drive them cost hundreds if not thousands of pounds more on top. Blue, famous for its line of podcast microphones, hopes to make planar magnetic technology less intimidating with its Ella headphones (buy here). At £675/$699, Ella is hardly cheap (and there are sets like the Oppo PM-3 that are cheaper at £350). But they combine the coveted headphone technology with an internal amplifier (250mW) that allows them to be used with everyday devices like smartphones and laptops, as well as with a high-end audio setup. Read 12 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge (credit: Chesnot/Getty Images) Google's dispute with France's privacy watchdog over a call to apply "right to be forgotten" rules globally to some Web links will be weighed by Europe's top court—three years after it told the ad giant to comply with an order to remove old, out of date, or irrelevant listings from its powerful search index, so long as they weren't found to be in the public interest. French data regulator, the CNIL (Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertés), previously called on Google to globally delist certain search results, in a move that inflamed a row over the European Union's right to be forgotten landmark 2014 ruling. Last year, the multinational said it would appeal against CNIL's order, which included a €100,000 fine for failing to remove certain links from its global search results. On Wednesday, it was confirmed that the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) will rule on whether certain links should be scrubbed from search engine results worldwide, across the EU, or on a country-by-country basis. It comes after France's supreme administrative court—the Conseil d’Etat—had asked the CJEU to intervene in the fracas between Google and CNIL. Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Elle Cayabyab Gitlin NEW YORK—On July 15 and 16, the fledgling sport of Formula E racing managed something its older, bigger, much richer sibling never managed: racing with the Statue of Liberty and the downtown Manhattan skyline as a backdrop. After races in Miami (2015) and Long Beach, California (2015, 2016), the Big Apple became the third US venue to host an ePrix, and it should provide the electric racing series a home for some time to come thanks to a 10-year contract with the city. Before a sold-out crowd of 18,000, DS Virgin Racing's Sam Bird stepped up to the pressure and took two wins from two races. And with championship leader Sebastien Buemi absent—the Swiss driver was committed to racing in Germany in the World Endurance Championship the same weekend—ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport's Lucas di Grassi made up ground in the title fight, narrowing the gap to just 10 points with two races left to go. Given all the excitement (and the fact NYC qualifies as the closest stop on the Formula E calendar), Ars took to the grandstands to see how one of our favorite racing series is starting to mature. Read 31 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge (credit: US State Department) Most world leaders reacted with horror to President Trump's decision to pull out of the Paris climate accords. French President Emmanuel Macron responded with what was largely considered a troll: a short address in which he invites scientists and entrepreneurs to move to France and "make our planet great again." But it turned out to be more than just a troll; France has put research funding on the table and has apparently been drawing lots of interest from scientists. Macron's invitation was more than simply a troll from the start. It involved Business France, a government agency that's dedicated to promoting French businesses overseas. The organization put together a Make Our Planet Great Again website, in which it declared "France has always led fights for human rights. Today, more than ever, we are determined to lead (and win!) this battle on climate change." If you follow the link that indicates you want to contribute to planetary greatness, it takes you to a short survey that seems to indicate France is looking for entrepreneurs, students, teachers, and researchers. (You can also apparently be an NGO or "other" and complete the survey.) Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge (credit: Sergey Galyonkin) A Chinese video game studio accused of making a very similar version of League of Legends has recently fired back in a statement, saying that "some media and competitors who have spread the unreal information and rumors against us, [and] we reserve the right to protect ourselves and pursue legal actions." The company, Moonton, which makes the Magic Rush and Mobile Legends games, did not immediately respond to Ars’ request for comment. Earlier this month, Riot Games, the maker of League of Legends, sued Moonton in federal court in Los Angeles, accusing the Chinese company of copyright and trademark infringement. The lawsuit, which was first reported by Techdirt and Dot Esports, lays out a compelling argument. Riot Games says that in 2016, it discovered Magic Rush. When that title was first released, "[it] contained a number of playable heroes or champions, each of which was a near carbon copy of one of LoL’s champions," Riot notes. Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / The federal courthouse in Marshall, Texas. (credit: Photo by Mario Villafuerte/Bloomberg via Getty Images) The top US patent court has been asked to consider an urgent appeal from a manufacturer of supercomputers that's desperate to escape an upcoming trial in the patent hotspot of East Texas. The Eastern District of Texas has become known as a haven for the type of litigation shops sometimes derided as "patent trolls," but the district's strict discovery rules and tendency to favor jury trials has attracted operating companies seeking to enforce their patents, as well. In 2015, Raytheon filed a patent lawsuit in East Texas accusing Seattle-based supercomputer maker Cray Inc. of infringing four Raytheon patents related to supercomputer hardware and software. Cray filed a motion to have the case dismissed, arguing that the venue was inappropriate. In April, US District Judge Rodney Gilstrap ruled against Cray, noting that the company sold an XC40 supercomputer to the Texas Advanced Computing Center, or TACC, which is located outside the Eastern District, in Austin. Read 19 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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In May, we published a story about how police body cams can be employed in the worst way—for planting evidence, or staging a crime scene. In what was among the first instances of its kind, we revealed that a Colorado cop had staged the body cam footage of the search of a vehicle in which he is seen finding drugs and cash. Pueblo prosecutors dropped the drug charges, and the Pueblo Police Department said it disciplined the officer, as an internal matter. No charges against the officer were lodged. Now there's word of another such incident in Baltimore, related to video from a January drug arrest. The officer's trickery was revealed by the fact that his body cam retained footage for 30 seconds before it was activated to begin recording. During that time, according to the footage and the Baltimore public defender's office, officer Richard Pinheiro puts a bag of pills in a can in an alley and walks out of the alley. The Axon cam's initial 30 seconds of footage, by default, doesn't have sound. After 30 seconds, viewers of the video can both see and hear the officer looking for drugs in the alley. Lo and behold, he finds them in the same soup can that he placed them in, according to the footage, which was released Wednesday. Pinheiro can then be heard yelling "yo" to his fellow officers, telling them he found drugs in the alley. Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / Ars Technica's Creative Director Aurich Lawson is on vacation. When that's the case, this is what happens to our "art department." (credit: id Software / Sam Machkovech) Multiple Doom-related stories landed on the nerd newswire on Wednesday, and they focused on decidedly different eras of the decades-old series. Bethesda announced a significant freebie for the game's 2016 version, while original Doom fans received a pretty random trivia reveal from none other than John Romero himself. The shooting series' co-creator and level designer took to his official blog on Wednesday as a response to an informal Twitter poll he'd posted days earlier. Romero had asked fans which of his old game series they'd like to hear "a piece of trivia" about, and 40 percent of roughly 2,000 votes were cast for Doom. He responded by unearthing a previously unrevealed story about the game's cover art, which he can personally vouch for. More precisely, Romero revealed that he was the model for the helmeted, devil-blasting "Doomguy" on its iconic box cover. Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / Cows. (credit: Getty | KARL-JOSEF HILDENBRAND) An 11-year-old cow in Alabama tested positive for an “atypical” strain of the prion disease Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), also known as mad cow disease, according to the US Department of Agriculture. The cow tested positive for the strain, called L-type BSE, during routine surveillance at a livestock market where the animal had started exhibiting clinical signs. The USDA stressed that the case posed no health threat and would not change the country’s international risk status, and thus it would not cause any beef trade issues. “This animal never entered slaughter channels and at no time presented a risk to the food supply or to human health in the United States,” the USDA said in a statement. Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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The Shape of Water looks magical, disturbing, and weirdly romantic. Though Guillermo del Toro took Hollywood by storm with movies like Hellboy and Pacific Rim, he truly made his mark with gothic indies like the Oscar-winning Pan's Labyrinth and the sumptuous Crimson Peak. Now he's back with The Shape of Water, another intimate look at the inner lives of monsters and the humans who love them. Anyone who has been immersed in del Toro's lush, magical films knows he's a master of design, especially when it comes to creatures. Nearly all of his movies deal with the idea that monsters are better people than their human counterparts, and he always manages to get us to identify with giant hellbeasts and gore-soaked ghosts. Though del Toro's monsters have always been mesmerizing and gorgeous, The Shape of Water is the first of his movies to deal overtly with a human falling in love with one of these otherworldly creatures. Like Pan's Labyrinth and Crimson Peak, The Shape of Water is also a period piece. Set in the early 1960s during the Cold War, it's about Elisa (Sally Hawkins), a mute janitor working at what seems to be a top-secret government facility. She's assigned to clean a lab where the government has imprisoned a beautiful, intelligent fish-like man (Doug Jones), sort of a glimmering cross between the Creature from the Black Lagoon and Aquaman. Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / Lyndon Rive, right, and Peter Rive, fellow co-founders of SolarCity. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images (credit: Getty Images) Peter Rive, the co-founder and CTO of solar panel company SolarCity, will leave Tesla to focus on other projects and spend more time with his family, according to the company. His departure comes just eight months after SolarCity was purchased by Tesla for $2.6 billion in stock and two months after Tesla opened up pre-orders for the Solar Roof, which puts solar panel components in glass tiles for a more camouflaged look. Rive was at SolarCity for 11 years prior to the company’s sale to Tesla, and it eventually became the largest solar panel maker in the US. Prior to SolarCity’s sale, it was in the process of building a solar panel “gigafactory” in Buffalo, New York, much like Tesla’s electric vehicle and battery Gigafactory in Nevada. Lyndon Rive, Peter’s brother and the other co-founder of SolarCity, also left Tesla in May, reportedly to explore other opportunities in entrepreneurship. Tesla CEO Elon Musk is the cousin of both Rives. Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Much of what happens in North Korea remains hidden from the outside world. But commercial satellite imagery and Google Earth mapping software are helping a human-rights organization take inventory of the worst offenses of the North Korean regime and identify sites for future investigation of crimes against humanity. A new report from the South Korea-based Transitional Justice Working Group (TJWG)—a non-governmental organization that tracks human-rights abuses and crimes against humanity by the world's most oppressive regimes—details how the organization's researchers used Google Earth in interviews with defectors from North Korea to identify sites associated with mass killings by the North Korean regime. Google Earth imagery was used to help witnesses to killings and mass burials orient themselves and precisely point out the locations of those events. Entitled “Mapping Crimes Against Humanity in North Korea: Mass Graves, Killing Sites and Documentary Evidence,” the report does not include the actual locations of what the researchers deemed to be sensitive sites out of concern that the North Korean regime would move evidence from those sites. But it does provide location data of other sites with potential documentary evidence of crimes, including police stations and other government facilities that may have records of atrocities. Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge Apple released a slew of software updates today for nearly all of its systems; you can now download macOS Sierra 10.12.6, iOS 10.3.3, watchOS 3.2.3, and tvOS 10.2.2 to any of your compatible devices. The updates appear to be minor, as most of them focus on bug fixes. MacOS Sierra 10.12.6 is the sixth update to this version of Apple's operating system, and it may very well be the last before the introduction of macOS High Sierra. As per Apple's usual refresher schedule, macOS High Sierra should be pushed out to users this fall. According to Apple's information page, macOS Sierra 10.12.6 improves the "security, stability, and compatibility" of Mac systems and tackles three main issues: "Resolves an issue that prevents making certain SMB connections from the Finder." "Fixes an issue that causes Xsan clients to unexpectedly restart when moving a file within a relation point on a Quantum StorNext File System." "Improves the stability of Terminal app." That's the extent of the details provided for any of these updates. Neither iOS 10.3.3 nor watchOS 3.2.3 lists any new features, but they do mention general "improvements" and "bug fixes." Similarly to macOS, the operating systems for iPhones, iPads, and Apple Watches will be totally revamped when iOS 11 and watchOS 4 launch. Both of those updates are expected to come out alongside macOS High Sierra in the fall. Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Buick MILFORD, Mich.—When Buick's invite to witness the unveiling of its new 2018 Regal GS hit our inbox, we didn't have to think long before replying in the affirmative. For one thing, despite a punishing travel schedule of late, the reveal would take place at General Motors' Milford Proving Ground. Any chance one gets to visit one of these asphalt and concrete automotive playgrounds is an opportunity to be seized; the grounds are normally off-limits to members of the press, as they're home to numerous prototypes being tested away from public glare. For another, Buick is a rather enigmatic automaker. Not as brash or flashy as Cadillac but more refined than the blue-collared Chevrolet, it's ploughing the same ground as Mazda—a small brand with upwardly mobile aspirations. Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge (credit: Gordon Plant) We wrote on Monday that Microsoft was branding the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update as the "Autumn Creators Update" in countries such as the UK and India, where the season between summer and winter isn't called "fall." Microsoft was using this British English branding on its English-language sites where British English prevails over American English. The company has informed us today that this was a "mistranslation"—yes, between English and English—and that the update will, in fact, be called the "Fall Creators Update" everywhere. The use of British English branding for British English speakers was a mistake. Similarly, the update will retain this branding for those living in the southern hemisphere, where it isn't fall or autumn, because it's spring. Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / SpaceX seems to no longer be planning to land its Dragon spacecraft on Mars. (credit: SpaceX) In recent weeks, there have been rumors that SpaceX is no longer planning to send an uncrewed version of its Dragon spacecraft to Mars in 2020, or later. Now those rumors about the Red Dragon concept have been largely confirmed. The company had planned to use the propulsive landing capabilities on the Dragon 2 spacecraft—originally developed for the commercial crew variant to land on Earth—for Mars landings in 2018 or 2020. Previously, it had signed an agreement with NASA to use some of its expertise for such a mission and access its deep-space communications network. On Tuesday, however, during a House science subcommittee hearing concerning future NASA planetary science missions, Florida Representative Bill Posey asked what the agency was doing to support privately developed planetary science programs. Jim Green, who directs NASA's planetary science division, mentioned several plans about the Moon and asteroids, but he conspicuously did not mention Red Dragon. Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Greetings, Arsians! Courtesy of our friends at TechBargains, we're back to share a bunch of new deals. Of note are two high-end PCs—now you can get a Dell XPS 8920 tower desktop with a Core i7 processor and 16GB of Optane memory for $714.99. You can also get an HP Omen gaming laptop with a 4K display, Core i7 CPU, GTX 1070 GPU, and a 512GB SSD for just $1,349.99. Both are powerful systems that let you work and play as hard as you want, whenever you want. Check out the full list of links below. Ars Technica may earn compensation for sales from links on this post through affiliate programs. Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Mark Vartanyan, seen here in 2014. (credit: Mark Vartanyan / Instagram) A Russian man who helped create and spread the notorious Citadel malware back in 2011 was sentenced Wednesday to five years in prison by a federal judge in Atlanta. According to the Associated Press, Mark Vartanyan will receive two years' credit for time already served in Norway, where he had been living previously. He was extradited to the United States in December 2016 and was arraigned and pleaded guilty to hacking charges in March 2017. Vartanyan had apparently been helping prosecutors with their investigation "from the start." In September 2015, another Russian man, Dimitry Belorossov, was sentenced to 4.5 years on similar charges. In 2014, Ars reported how the malware was being used to target password managers and financial data. Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / The catalyst in question. (credit: John Timmer) The carbon dioxide we're currently dumping into the atmosphere started out as atmospheric carbon dioxide hundreds of millions of years ago. It took lots of plants and millions of years of geological activity to convert it to fossil fuels. One obvious way of dealing with our atmospheric carbon is to shorten that cycle, finding a way to quickly convert carbon dioxide into a usable fuel. Unfortunately, carbon dioxide is a very stable molecule, so it takes a lot of energy to split it. Most reactions that do so end up producing carbon monoxide, which is more reactive and a useful starting material, but it's far from a fuel. Now, though, researchers have discovered a catalyst that, with a little help from light, can take CO2 and make methane, the primary fuel in natural gas. While the reaction is slow and inefficient, there are a number of ways it could be optimized. Unexpected methane The work started out with a catalyst that converts carbon dioxide to carbon monoxide when supplied with a source of electrons. The catalyst is a complex ring of carbon-based molecules that latch on to an iron atom at the center. The iron interacts with carbon dioxide, allowing hydrogen atoms from water to break one of the carbon-oxygen bonds, liberating water. The iron loses some electrons in the process, and these have to be re-supplied for the cycle to start again. Typically, that supply comes in the form of a separate chemical that readily gives up some electrons. Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / This is not Nintendo's solution for voice chat on the Switch, but it's closer than you might think. Our recent review of Splatoon 2 wasn't able to test Nintendo's unorthodox new voice-chat app for the Nintendo Switch, which requires a separate smartphone to let you talk to your teammates during a match. That app launched on the iOS and Android app stores today, and while we'll have a full review after more extensive testing, we wanted to point out one baffling design decision immediately. As Nintendo points out in the app's official FAQ, voice chat cannot run in the background while using your phone for other purposes such as "texts, social media, etc.": The voice chat will disconnect while you're talking on the phone or using another application, but your voice chat will restart in the same room once you open the Nintendo Switch Online application again as long as the game session is still ongoing. What's more, early testing confirms that the app won't work if your phone goes into power-saving "sleep mode," with the screen inactive. And don't bother trying to use the app to chat with your Switch friends while away from the system, either: you can only join chat rooms with people when you're actively playing a specific, supported game with them. Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / The hardware Bixby button on the Galaxy S8. (credit: Ron Amadeo) It has been almost three months since the launch of the Galaxy S8, and Samsung is finally ready to unleash an English-speaking version of Bixby on the world—well, on the US at least. Samsung announced today that its voice assistant can finally speak English, and it's rolling out to the Galaxy S8 and S8+ now. The UK, Australia, Canada, and other English-speaking nations still don't have Bixby, however. When the Galaxy S8 was announced at the end of March, Bixby was a heavily promoted part of the phone. Samsung considered Bixby so core to the Galaxy S8 software package that Samsung actually added a hardware "Bixby" button to the side of the Galaxy S8—it looks just like a second power button and lives below the volume rocker. Bixby launched in Samsung's home of Korea along with the Galaxy S8, but integrating English proved too hard of a task for Bixby to master in time for the Galaxy S8's April US launch. With no Bixby to use on their Bixby button, Galaxy S8 customers started remapping the button with third-party apps, turning it into a Blackberry-style "convenience key" that could be configured to launch anything. Samsung has been aggressively disabling these mods with software updates, insisting that the Bixby button is only to be used for Bixby. Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge Amazon encourages product discovery in many ways, including all those customized product lists on the site's homepage that are based on your search history and wish lists. Now the company is taking a different approach with a new feature called Amazon Spark. Tucked into the "Programs and Features" section of the Amazon iOS app is the Spark social network, in which Prime members can post photos to an Instagram-like feed. Users can tag products available on Amazon so anyone browsing the photo feed can instantly find and buy those items. The one catch to Spark is that you must be a Prime member to post images to the social network, but any Amazon user can browse the Spark feed. If you want to post to Spark, you first have to set up an account of sorts by choosing five or more things that interest you from a word cloud. These topics range from "books" to "strange finds" to "TV binge-watching" and your choices influence the types of photos you'll see once you start using Spark. Once you confirm a username (by default it's the name associated with your current Amazon account, but you can change it) the Spark feed populates with posts from other users. Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / President Donald Trump. (credit: Getty Images News | Pool) The Trump administration supports the Federal Communications Commission effort to overturn net neutrality rules passed during the Obama years, a White House spokesperson said yesterday. "The previous administration went about this the wrong way by imposing rules on ISPs through the FCC's Title II rulemaking power,"White House Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters yesterday. "We support the FCC chair's efforts to review and consider rolling back these rules and believe that the best way to get fair rules for everyone is for Congress to take action and create regulatory and economic certainty." The net neutrality rules passed in 2015 are enforced with the FCC's Title II authority over common carriers; a previous version of the rules that did not rely upon Title II was thrown out in court. Under Chairman Ajit Pai's leadership, the Republican-controlled FCC took a preliminary vote to undo the Title II classification and the net neutrality rules in May. Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket launches the EchoStar 23 satellite in March, 2017. (credit: SpaceX) The seas were calm in early December 2010 when a spacecraft fell out of the sky, deployed its parachutes, and splashed down in the Pacific Ocean. No American spacecraft had returned this way to Earth in 35 years, not since the splashdown of the final Apollo mission. The Dragon bobbing in the blue water didn’t carry any astronauts, just a whimsical payload of Le Brouère cheese. But it had made history all the same, as no private company had ever launched a spacecraft into orbit and safely returned it to Earth. Just two years earlier, Elon Musk’s SpaceX had been left for dead. Like so many other new space ventures that had come before, it had made big promises but delivered few payoffs. Bankruptcy would certainly have swallowed SpaceX had NASA not thrown Musk a $1.6 billion lifeline two days before Christmas in 2008—a contract for a dozen cargo delivery flights to the International Space Station. For some critics, SpaceX seemed just another company standing in line for a government handout. NASA didn’t see it this way. In the months after the Dragon’s historic flight, NASA studied the cost of developing the Falcon 9 rocket, SpaceX's booster with nine engines that had lifted the Dragon spacecraft into orbit. The analysis concluded that had NASA developed the rocket through its traditional means, it would have cost taxpayers about $4 billion. Read 38 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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