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Enlarge / The charred remains of Walter Huang's Tesla Model X. (credit: S. Engleman / NTSB) The National Transportation Safety Board on Thursday provided new details about a March crash in Mountain View, California, that claimed the life of engineer Walter Huang. The Model X had its Autopilot driver assistance system engaged, and, according to the NTSB, the car "began a left steering movement" seven seconds before the crash that put it on a collision course with a concrete lane divider. Then, in the last three seconds before the crash, "the Tesla’s speed increased from 62mph to 70.8mph, with no precrash braking or evasive steering movement detected." This isn't the only recent case where Autopilot steered a Tesla vehicle directly into a stationary object—though thankfully the others didn't get anyone killed. Back in January, firefighters in Culver City, California, said that a Tesla with Autopilot engaged had plowed into the back of a fire truck at 65mph. In an eerily similar incident last month, a Tesla Model S with Autopilot active crashed into a fire truck at 60mph in the suburbs of Salt Lake City. A natural reaction to these incidents is to assume that there must be something seriously wrong with Tesla's Autopilot system. After all, you might expect that avoiding collisions with large, stationary objects like fire engines and concrete lane dividers would be one of the most basic functions of a car's automatic emergency braking technology. Read 29 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge (credit: NOAA) When studying populations of a flounder-like North Sea fish called plaice in the early 1900’s, a man named Heincke noticed that older, larger fish are found more deeply in the water than younger, smaller fish. The same phenomenon was subsequently found for other North Atlantic species like cod, haddock, pollock, and some species of flatfish; it was thus dubbed Heincke’s Law and treated as an established fact. Biologists assumed it was ontogenic in nature, meaning that it must be connected to how the fish age and mature. All the species in which older, bigger fish are found in deeper water have something else in common: we eat them. Could it be, some Canadian scientists wondered, that all the big fish are found in deeper water because we fished them out of shallower water? Apparently (and somewhat astonishingly) this possibility had never been evaluated. And the scientists found that not only could this be the case—it in fact was. Explaining the law Starting in the 1990s, a number of hypotheses were posited to explain Heincke’s Law. One is that larger, older fish gravitate down to cooler waters where the diminished metabolic demands can increase their lifespans. Another suggested that all fish prefer to be in shallower water, but when the population gets too big, the seniors get shunted out of prime territory by the youngsters and have to live in deeper waters. A third holds that juveniles hide in shallower waters from the threatening adults down in the depths. Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / Google's logo for the Android P Developer Preview. (credit: Google) With the launch of Android 8.0 last year, Google released Project Treble into the world. Treble was one of Android's biggest engineering projects ever, modularizing the Android operating system away from the hardware and greatly reducing the amount of work needed to update a device. The goal here is nothing short of fixing Android's continual fragmentation problem, and now, six months later, it seems like the plan is actually working. At Google I/O this year, you could see signs of the Treble revolution all over the show. The Android P beta launched, but it wasn't just on Google's own Pixel devices—for the first time ever, an Android Developer Preview launched simultaneously on devices from Google, Nokia, OnePlus, Xiaomi, Essential, Vivo, Sony, and Oppo, all thanks to Project Treble compatibility. Even car makers—some of the slowest adopters of technology on Earth—were on the Project Treble train. Dodge and Volvo both had prototype cars running Android as the infotainment system, and both were running Android P. As is becoming custom for our annual trip to Google I/O, we were able to sit down with some core members of the Android Team: Iliyan Malchev, the head of Project Treble, and Dave Burke, Android's VP of engineering. (We quoted Iliyan Malchev a million times during the Android 8.0 review, so it was nice to get information from him first hand, and Dave Burke has been through the Ars interview gauntlet several times now.) And through this lengthy chat, we got a better understanding of what life is like now that Project Treble is seeing some uptake from OEMs. Read 88 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / We need your help to produce a new newsletter to chronicle the dynamic launch industry. (credit: Aurich Lawson/background image United Launch Alliance) Welcome to Edition 1.03 of the Rocket Report! This collaborative effort with readers of Ars Technica seeks to diversify our coverage of the blossoming launch industry. The Rocket Report publishes as a newsletter on Thursday and on this website every Friday morning. We welcome reader submissions, and if you don't want to miss an issue, please subscribe in the box below. Each report will include information on small-, medium-, and heavy-lift rockets as well as a quick look ahead at the next three launches on the calendar. Virgin Orbit "months" away from first rocket launch. In an in-depth feature on Virgin Orbit, the company's VP of special projects, Will Pomerantz, told Ars that the LauncherOne rocket is nearing completion. "We are getting pretty darn close," Pomerantz said when Ars visited Virgin Orbit recently for a tour of the factory. "I'm always hesitant to put dates on it, because we're always wrong, like everyone in the industry. But I think we're months away." Read 26 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Review cars long enough and a pattern emerges. Car is dropped off, people find out what you're driving, ask a couple of cursory questions, and that's it. That's because while most of the crossovers and SUVs I review are compelling in their own way, they are still yet-another SUV. Not so with the Maserati Levante S GranSport. No car that I've driven has garnered as many looks and questions as Maserati's $80,000+ SUV, and for good reason. It's a stunner. Maserati has a long and storied history. Founded in 1914, the company is probably best known these days for making fast, expensive, and luxurious cars that are easy on the eyes. The Levante is no exception. It's all sleek, gentle curves on the outside with the hood in perfect proportion to the cabin. Although it's a two-row SUV, it's only 2 inches (5cm) shorter than three-row SUVs like the Audi Q7 and Mazda CX-9 and about 5 inches (12.5cm) longer than a Q5 or BMW X5. From the side, the exterior is adorned only with the iconic trident on the C pillar and three vents right as the hood slopes into the windshield. From the front, the trident sits dead center in the large grille with a large air intake below. Read 20 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Facebook disclosed a new privacy blunder on Thursday in a statement that said the site accidentally made the posts of 14 million users public even when they designated the posts to be shared with only a limited number of contacts. The mixup was the result of a bug that automatically suggested posts be set to public, meaning the posts could be viewed by anyone, including people not logged on to Facebook. As a result, from May 18 to May 27, as many as 14 million users who intended posts to be available only to select individuals were, in fact, accessible to anyone on the Internet. “We have fixed this issue, and, starting today, we are letting everyone affected know and asking them to review any posts they made during that time,” Facebook Chief Privacy Officer Erin Egan said in the statement. “To be clear, this bug did not impact anything people had posted before–and they could still choose their audience just as they always have. We’d like to apologize for this mistake.” Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / We'll test Shaq Fu: A Legend Reborn during this week's episode of Ars Frontlog, along with two other 2D video games. (credit: Saber Interactive) Ars Technica's experimental foray into Twitch live-streaming continues today with our second episode of Ars Frontlog. The short version: tune into our official Twitch channel today (Thursday, June 7) at 8:30pm ET/5:30pm PT to watch me play games and join me in the chat room. If you missed last week's premiere, the show concept sees us picking out modern games, anywhere between a week and a couple of years old, that we might otherwise have skipped for the sake of an article (or have substantially changed since launching). While we strive to dedicate time to playing, reviewing, and writing about games that our readers care about, some games in the modern software deluge fall through the cracks, including ones we love and ones we don't. Thus, we're testing Twitch as a compromise: you can see us play and talk about "spillover" games during a live feed, and ask questions while one of us is live on a mic, or you can come back later for an archived video and a brief text summary of what we thought. Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / From left to right: current GitHub CEO Chris Wanstrath, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, and former Xamarin CEO, soon-to-be GitHub CEO Nat Friedman (credit: Microsoft) As part of Microsoft's $7.5 billion purchase of cloud source code repository GitHub, the company is installing a new CEO. Once the deal closes (which is expected to happen later this year), out will go GitHub co-founder Chris Wanstrath and in will come Nat Friedman. Friedman is the former CEO of Xamarin, the cross-platform .NET implementation that Microsoft bought in 2016. Friedman brings solid open-source bona fides: core parts of the Xamarin stack were open source, and Friedman's previous company, Ximian, was created to develop the open-source GNOME project. His appointment should quell many of the fears that open-source developers have about the takeover. To engage with the community further, Friedman today did a Reddit AMA to answer questions about the acquisition. The main thrust of his replies? Microsoft doesn't really intend to change much at GitHub. When asked if GitHub users should expect any big alterations, Friedman answered that Microsoft is "buying GitHub because [it] likes GitHub" and intends to "make GitHub better at being GitHub." Although there will be "full integration" between GitHub and Visual Studio Team Services, there won't be any radical changes in trajectory or service offerings. Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / A high-level concept diagram of how cloud gaming works. (credit: Venngage) Better start saving up for that PlayStation 5, Xbox Two, or Nintendo Swatch (that last follow-up name idea is a freebie, by the way). That generation of consoles might be the last one ever, according to Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot. After that, he predicts cheap local boxes could provide easier access to ever-evolving high-end gaming streamed to the masses from cloud-based servers. "I think we will see another generation, but there is a good chance that step-by-step we will see less and less hardware," Guillemot said in a recent interview with Variety. "With time, I think streaming will become more accessible to many players and make it not necessary to have big hardware at home. There will be one more console generation and then after that, we will be streaming, all of us." That relatively quick shift to a streaming-centric gaming marketplace might seem hard to believe from the vantage point of 2018, where even streaming a high-end game from a console inside your own house comes with plenty of headaches. And while workable streaming services like PlayStation Now and GeForce Now have their niches, they don't seem in imminent danger of replacing high-end local gaming hardware altogether any time soon Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Greetings, Arsians! Courtesy of our friends at TechBargains, we have another round of deals to share. Today's list is led by a deal on a pair of affordable wireless exercise headphones from Anker, the company best known for its line of popular portable batteries. The Soundcore Spirit X, as the earbuds are called, are going for $30 on Amazon. That's a $10 drop from their usual price. The Spirit X launched last month, so there aren't many reviews for them just yet, but the Dealmaster himself has been using them in recent weeks and feels comfortable recommending them. Now, they're still cheap headphones, so you can't expect the world. But the Spirit X are lightweight, their hook design has helped them fit snugly in our ears, and they're IPX7-rated water-resistant, which should help them withstand workouts. They also use Bluetooth 5, which should make them a bit more efficient with newer phones that also support the spec. Anker says the earphones get 12 hours of battery life, which is about right. And while you can definitely get better sound from pricier earbuds, they should satisfy the kind of people who'd pay $30 for a pair of earbuds. They give a massive boost to the bass, which some may not prefer, but they're largely clean and inoffensive otherwise. They also come with an 18-month warranty if things go bad. Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge (credit: Qihoo 360) As browser makers make it increasingly hard to exploit vulnerabilities in Adobe Flash and other plugins, hackers targeting diplomats in the Middle East tried a new approach this month: using Microsoft Office to remotely load Flash content that used a potent zero-day flaw to take control of computers. On Thursday, Adobe published a patch for the critical vulnerability, indexed as CVE-2018-5002. The stack-based buffer overflow was being triggered in an Office document that embedded a link to a Flash file stored on people.dohabayt.com. Once executed, the malicious file then downloaded a malicious payload from the same domain. That’s according to researchers from security firms Icebrg and Qihoo 360, which independently discovered the attacks and privately reported them to Adobe and wrote about it here and here. Over the past few years, browser makers have begun to block Flash content by default, a change that has gone a long way to preventing drive-by attacks that exploit critical vulnerabilities in Adobe’s widely used media player. By contrast, at least some versions of Microsoft Office still download Flash with little or no user interaction, Icebrg CEO William Peteroy told Ars. To prevent downloads, users should ensure their installations prevent Flash from loading at all or at least don’t load Flash without explicit permission. Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge (credit: Miguel Navarro / Getty Images) Compared to a typical CPU, a brain is remarkably energy-efficient, in part because it combines memory, communications, and processing in a single execution unit, the neuron. A brain also has lots of them, which lets it handle lots of tasks in parallel. Attempts to run neural networks on traditional CPUs run up against these fundamental mismatches. Only a few things can be executed at a time, and shuffling data to memory is a slow process. As a result, neural networks have tended to be both computationally and energy intensive. A few years back, IBM announced a new processor design that was a bit closer to a collection of neurons and could execute neural networks far more efficiently. But this didn't help much with training the networks in the first place. Now, IBM is back with a hardware design that's specialized for training neural networks. And it does this in part by directly executing the training in a specialized type of memory. Read 15 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / US Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) answers questions during his weekly press conference on April 12, 2018 in Washington, D.C. (credit: Getty Images | Win McNamee ) With net neutrality rules scheduled to be repealed on Monday, Senate Democrats are calling on House Speaker Paul Ryan to schedule a vote that could preserve the broadband regulations. The US Senate voted on May 16 to reverse the Federal Communications Commission's repeal of net neutrality rules, but a House vote—and President Trump's signature—is still needed. Today, the entire Senate Democratic Caucus wrote a letter to Ryan urging him to allow a vote on the House floor. "The rules that this resolution would restore were enacted by the FCC in 2015 to prevent broadband providers from blocking, slowing down, prioritizing, or otherwise unfairly discriminating against Internet traffic that flows across their networks," the letter said. "Without these protections, broadband providers can decide what content gets through to consumers at what speeds and could use this power to discriminate against their competitors or other content." The letter was spearheaded by Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), and Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii). Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / Since 2012, NASA's Curiosity rover has been trying to find organic molecules. Now, it has succeeded. (credit: NASA) After more than four decades of searching for organic molecules on the surface of Mars, scientists have conclusively found them in mudstones on the lower slopes of Mount Sharp. A variety of organic compounds were discovered by NASA's Curiosity rover, which heated the Martian rocks to 500° Celsius to release the chemicals. The finding is significant—for life to have ever existed on Mars there would almost certainly need to be organic molecules to get it started; they're the basic building blocks of life as we know it. And if life did get started, it would have left organic molecules behind. However the confirmation of organics on Mars raises more questions than it answers. Based upon the information scientists have gleaned so far, they cannot determine whether these organics were produced by life, delivered to the surface of Mars by meteorites, or are the byproduct of geological processes on Mars. The Viking landers reached the surface of Mars during the summer of 1976 amid some expectation that they might find evidence of past life, if not life itself. However, when Viking landers sampled the Martian soil they found no past life, nor did their gas chromatograph mass spectrometers find any organic molecules. Nada. Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge (credit: Microsoft) Windows 10's S Mode, the locked-down mode that permits only applications from the Microsoft Store, started out as a separate edition of Windows 10 that was locked down as soon as it was installed and had a one-time irreversible upgrade to unrestricted Windows 10 Pro. In Windows 10 version 1803, that changed to an install-time option for both Windows 10 Home and Pro. Again, this offered an irrevocable upgrade to the corresponding unrestricted version after installation. The latest Windows 10 Insider Preview suggests that S Mode is changing again, and this time it looks like it's going to be a regular option that can be set at any time. Build 17686 includes a "Switch to S Mode" search item in the Settings app. The actual switch to enable S Mode isn't present in this build, so we can't be entirely certain of how it will work, but this is a strong suggestion that it will now be possible to put a machine into S Mode after the initial installation. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / The insanely colorful Android P Easter Egg. (credit: Android) Android P Developer Preview 3 came out yesterday, and we're here to break down all the changes in Google's latest in-development Android release. After Preview 2 was deemed a beta, Google is calling this release "Beta 2." There aren't a ton of changes in this release, mostly a bit of polish and some bug fixes. The latest release is currently available for Google's Pixel phones, while beta-compatible devices from Essential, Nokia, OnePlus, Oppo, Sony, Vivo, and Xiaomi will be updated in the coming weeks. Just as has been the case for every major Android release for the past few years, it seems like Android P will come with a full version number bump. After Android 8.0 Oreo last year, Preview 3 of Android P refers to the OS as "Android 9" in the settings. "Android 9" would be a bit of a change from the usual "x.0" format. Google is also declaring the Android P APIs to be final with this release, so it is giving it the official designation of "API level 28," and Android P apps can now be uploaded to the Play Store. This build is also a bit more consumer-ready and doesn't show as many developer warnings and error messages as previous builds (Google shut off the banned API warnings). Now on to the new stuff... Read 12 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / Carbon Engineering's pilot plant, which captures CO2 from the atmosphere. (credit: Stephen Hui, Pembina Institute) When you spill a drink, you don’t say, “Oh well, the only thing we can do is spill fewer drinks in the future.” You grab a towel. So there’s also a natural attraction to the idea that we should develop a towel that can remove CO2 from the atmosphere. That isn’t as simple as grabbing one from a Home Goods store, however, and cost estimates have not fueled optimism for most methods of doing this. Reforestation is an obvious option, but its potential impact is probably smaller than you think. Other biological schemes could include growing biofuels to burn in power plants that capture emissions and store them underground. Recently, we’ve also seen a couple of working pilot projects that look like a power plant run in reverse—they suck in air and harvest concentrated CO2, ready for storage. One of those plants, located an hour north of Vancouver, British Columbia, is the brainchild of a company called Carbon Engineering. One of the founders of Carbon Engineering is Harvard’s David Keith, a researcher studying this and other conceivable methods of “geoengineering” our planet’s climate. This week, the Carbon Engineering team has published a nuts-and-bolts breakdown of its design, providing the first cost analysis of a working carbon capture plant. Read 13 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / The cracks are beginning to show in Valve's almost-no-curation policy. (credit: Aurich Lawson / Getty) Steam's new laissez-faire content guidelines—which officially allow anything short of illegal activity and "obvious trolling" in games on its store—are an untenable attempt to have it both ways. On the one hand, Valve obviously no longer wants the responsibility of playing arbiter to what kind of content should and should not be considered "acceptable" for a Steam game. On the other hand, Valve also doesn't want the games on the Steam Store to be considered "a reflection of Valve’s values." This attempt to thread an admittedly difficult needle doesn't really hold up to scrutiny. Allowing almost anything on the world's most popular PC gaming storefront is, in itself, "a reflection of Valve's values," and the company can't absolve itself of the responsibility and implicit endorsement of hateful content that will come with that allowance. ...But I defend your right to say it It's not hard to see why giving up on content moderation wholesale might seem appealing to a company like Valve (even beyond explanations that focus on laziness or cheapness). Just in the last month, Valve has faced highly publicized controversies over delisting "erotic" visual novel games while allowing titles like the utterly debauched Agony and school shooting game Active Shooter (which was recently reinstated on the service). Read 21 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / T-Mobile's newly acquired spectrum—this map does not show spectrum the company already owned. (credit: T-Mobile USA) It's been a little more than a year since T-Mobile USA bought enough 600MHz spectrum licenses to cover the entire country, and the carrier has now activated the spectrum band in more than 900 cities and towns in 32 states. In 120 of those cities and towns, it's the first time T-Mobile has offered LTE coverage, the company said in an announcement yesterday. Only a few Samsung, LG, and OnePlus phones are capable of using the new spectrum today, but 600MHz support should eventually become a common feature in new phones. It will also take multiple years for T-Mobile to fully deploy the spectrum across the US. T-Mobile bought this low-band spectrum because it's ideal for covering long distances and penetrating obstacles such as building walls, which have long been problems for T-Mobile's network. Read 13 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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(credit: NTSB) The National Transportation Safety Board has released its preliminary report on the March crash that killed driver Walter Huang in Mountain View. The report provides a second-by-second description of the events that preceded Huang's collision with a concrete lane divider. The report confirms that Autopilot was engaged ahead of the crash, and it appears to confirm that a navigation mistake by Autopilot contributed to Huang's death. Huang's Model X was driving south on US highway 101 just ahead of a point where a left-hand exit split off from the main road. Logs recovered by the NTSB show that eight seconds before the crash, the vehicle was following behind another car, traveling at 65mph. Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / Consulate General of the United States in Guangzhou. (credit: WKDx417) More US diplomats, employees, and their families in China are being medically evaluated and evacuated amid growing accounts of mysterious episodes involving sound and pressure that appear linked to the development of mild traumatic brain injuries, according to reports by The New York Times. Last month, the State Department revealed that one US employee at the US consulate in the city of Guangzhou, just northwest of Hong Kong, reported experiencing “subtle and vague, but abnormal, sensations of sound and pressure” and sustained a mild traumatic brain injury despite no evidence of a blow to the head. The episode drew eerie parallels to the mysterious “health attacks” experienced by diplomats at the US embassy in Cuba, which left 24 Americans with similar brain injuries. That unidentified employee in Guangzhou was evacuated and sent for more medical testing in the US. The State Department, meanwhile, issued a health alert on May 23 for those remaining in China. Though the department suggested vigilance, it added that it was “not aware of any similar situations in China, either inside or outside of the diplomatic community,” suggesting that the episode may have been an isolated event so far. Read 12 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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It's final: the Rockstar patent case will be heard in a court near Google's headquarters in Northern California. (credit: bubbletea1) A strict new real-time disclosure law has forced Google to suspend political advertising in the Evergreen State. "Ads related to ballot measures and state and local elections in the state of Washington, U.S.A., will not be accepted," a new Google policy says. As Geekwire explains, the new rules were enacted by Washington state's Public Disclosure Commission to implement provisions of new campaign finance legislation that was passed in March. The rules require ad brokers like Google to provide information to the public about who is funding political ads and how those ads are being targeted. The rules also require this information to be made available as soon as ads start to run. Google says that it intends to comply with the law, but it doesn't yet have the infrastructure to provide the required information so quickly. Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge (credit: Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images) Special Counsel Robert Mueller has reportedly asked witnesses in the ongoing investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election to hand in their phones to "inspect their encrypted messaging programs and potentially view conversations between associates linked to President Donald Trump." On Monday, Mueller’s office formally accused Paul Manafort of felony witness tampering by using Telegram and WhatsApp, two well-known secure messaging apps. Manafort, who previously served as Trump’s campaign manager during the 2016 presidential race, pleaded not guilty to money laundering, among other charges. Authorities were able to obtain these messages by getting a warrant for Manafort’s iCloud account and also by getting unencrypted messages themselves from the recipients of some of those messages. According to CNBC, since April, the Office of the Special Counsel has been looking at witnesses’ phones for evidence of the use of not only those two apps, but also Confide, Signal, and Dust, which operate in a similar fashion. Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Jeff Dunn Amazon on Thursday announced the Fire TV Cube, the latest device in the tech giant’s family of Fire TV media streamers and the latest to employ its Alexa digital assistant. The new media streamer first leaked after a report from AFTVNews last September. Amazon later confirmed that it was working on a device called the Fire TV Cube, but didn’t reveal any details aside from that. Read 21 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / Russia's plans to develop a newer Soyuz rocket may have hit a funding snag. (credit: NASA) The Russian space program's budget process is not particularly transparent to outsiders, but it does appear likely that Roscosmos will face cuts in the coming years. According to Sputnik, a Russian government-controlled news agency, the Roscosmos state corporation will likely to suffer funding shortages amounting to 150 billion rubles (more than $2 billion) in the next three years, from 2019 to 2021. The consequences of these cuts could be severe for Russia's much-vaunted launch industry. In particular, the reduced budget could forestall a rocket development project intended to compete with SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket and a new super-heavy lift booster. Unnecessary rockets One expert observer of the Russian space program, Ivan Moiseev, the scientific leader of the Russian Space Policy Institute, says this is the case. Cuts in the Roscosmos budget will make it impossible to develop the new Soyuz-5 medium-lift booster, the Falcon 9 competitor, as well as imperil further development of a heavy-lift variant of the Russian Angara rocket. Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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