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From The Editors Science

China Launches Lunar Rover in an Extraordinary Mission to the Dark Side of the Moon

China is on the verge of creating space history after it launched its Chang’e-4 rover on a never-before-attempted mission to the far side of the Moon – the side that we never get to see from Earth.

Although the far side is also referred to as the dark side, you should know that it’s a kind of a misnomer, as it receives as much sunlight as the near side does.

Launched atop a Long March 3B rocket, which blasted off from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center (XSLC) in the wee hours of Saturday morning (1:23 p.m. EST Friday), the lunar lander is well on its way for an early January rendezvous with the so-called dark side of Earth’s Moon.

While humans have glimpsed, and even mapped, this untrodden lunar ground in the past – thanks to NASA’s Apollo 8 mission half a century ago and the Soviet Luna 3 mission a decade prior to that – no spacecraft has ever touched down on that side of our planet’s only known natural satellite.

Well, if all goes according to plan, Chang’e-4 is going to change all of that when it makes a soft landing on the Von Kármán crater, sometime between January 1 and 3.

In the past decade. or so, China has been making rapid advances in space technology and is the only country in the world to have soft-landed a space vehicle on the Moon since the then Soviet Union’s Luna 24 mission to retrieve samples of lunar soil in 1976.

China achieved the feat in December 2013, landing its Chang’e-3 rover on Mare Imbrium –  a vast lava plain within the Imbrium Basin on the near side of the Moon, becoming only the third country after Russia and the United States to have achieved a lunar touchdown.

Encouraged by Chang’e-3’s success, China stepped up its lunar program for an even bigger mission – the one it set in motion with the Friday launch of Chang’e-3’s repurposed successor, Chang’e-4.

Comprising of a lander and a small rover, Chang’e-4 was, in fact, a backup spacecraft manufactured with the Chang’e-3.

It was as recently as 2015 when China announced that the spare space vehicle was going to be used to achieve something so complex that it has never been attempted before.

The nearly four-metric-ton Chang’e-4 is carrying with it eight scientific instruments, four each on the lander and the rover.

The lander is equipped with the Landing Camera (LCAM), the Terrain Camera (TCAM), the Low-Frequency Spectrometer (LFS), and the Lunar Lander Neutrons and Dosimetry (LND).

And, the rover is carrying the Panoramic Camera (PCAM), the Lunar Penetrating Radar (LPR), the Visible and Near-Infrared Imaging Spectrometer (VNIS), and the Advanced Small Analyzer for Neutrals (ASAN).

The huge amounts of science data and information these state-of-the-art space contraptions are capable of garnering will go a long way in helping researchers understand why the far side of our Moon is so vastly different from the side we’re familiar with.

For example, the lunar terrain on the tidally-locked near side is largely dark basaltic plains called the lunar maria, while the far side is mountainous and rugged and, hence, difficult to land anything on.

Since the Moon takes the same amount of time (28 days) to orbit our planet as it does to rotate once on its axis, we always get to see the same side of the natural satellite, with the opposite side forever hidden from view.

Chang’e 4 is also carrying a small experimental payload consisting of silkworm eggs and seeds to check how they develop in the lunar atmosphere.

Landing a spacecraft on the far side is a complex undertaking in itself, leave alone communicating with it, what with the Moon’s entire mass blocking the exchange of direct signals to and from Earth.

Obviously, China had to find a workaround to this problem before it could attempt the far side lunar landing, which it did by launching the Queqiao satellite in May.

The satellite is now placed in its orbit at the Earth-moon Lagrange point 2 beyond the Moon, ideally located to facilitate unobstructed communication between the mission control on Earth and Chang’e 4.

Lagrange points are basically orbital spots between two large celestial bodies where a smaller body is held in its orbital path by the opposing gravitational forces of the two larger bodies acting on it; to put it simply, it provides gravitational stability to relatively smaller objects.

China’s next lunar run will be the Chang’e 5 sample-retrieval mission, which the China National Space Administration (CNSA) started preparing for in October 2014 when it launched the Chang’e 5T1 mission to run atmospheric re-entry tests on the Chang’e 5 capsule.

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From The Editors

Morgan Freeman Apologizes Following Allegations of Harassment and Inappropriate Behavior

A CNN exclusive has revealed that veteran Hollywood actor, Morgan Freeman, has been accused by eight different women of sexual innuendo and inappropriate behavior on different occasions.

The 80-year-old Oscar winner apologized in a Thursday statement, saying that it was not in his nature to deliberately offend people and that he was sorry if he had inadvertently made anyone feel “uncomfortable or disrespected.”

“Anyone who knows me or has worked with me knows I am not someone who would intentionally offend or knowingly make anyone feel uneasy,” said the host of the documentary series, ‘The Story of God with Morgan Freeman.’

“I apologize to anyone who felt uncomfortable or disrespected — that was never my intent,” said the tainted octogenarian.

Eight of the sixteen people CNN spoke to over the course of their months-long investigation into the actor’s alleged sexual misdemeanors, said that they had been subjected to what some of them described as “inappropriate behavior,” while others called it “harassment.”

However, all the sixteen interviewees were in agreement over a behavioral pattern of inappropriateness on Freeman’s part during his on-set interactions with them, and also at his production company Revelations Entertainment.

Revelations Entertainment co-founder Lori McCreary, who was also among the sixteen interviewed, admitted to being witness to, at least, one incident of harassment and inappropriate behavior that prevailed at Revelations Entertainment, courtesy Mr. Morgan Freeman.

McCreary recalled another incident in which Freeman publicly demeaned her; however, one interviewee accused McCreary of making a derogatory comment about a female job aspirant at the Producers Guild of America, which McCreary is the co-president of.

CNN reports that a budding production assistant, who was thrilled to have joined the team of ‘Going in Style’ – the action-comedy film starring Freeman, Michael Caine and Alan Arkin, under-production at the time – did not imagine that her dream job was going to subject her to months of harassment of a sexual nature.

She has accused Freeman of touching her inappropriately and even going to the extent of trying to lift her skirt and wanting to know if she was wearing underwear, in one such incident of, alleged, sexual misconduct by the eighty-year-old.

After several attempts at lifting up her skirt, which she kept avoiding by moving away each time he tried, he was ticked off by fellow-actor Arkin who asked the seemingly salacious actor to stop.

“Alan [Arkin] made a comment telling him to stop. Morgan got freaked out and didn’t know what to say,” the young production told CNN.

Not only did the allegations against Freeman come from the sixteen, but other sources who spoke to the news network, also, gave credence to the accusations.

One woman, who worked with the production unit of ‘Now You See Me,’ in 2012, said that Freeman had made inappropriate remarks about her and her female assistant’s bodies on, not one, not two, but multiple occasions.

“He did comment on our bodies… We knew that if he was coming by … not to wear any top that would show our breasts, not to wear anything that would show our bottoms, meaning not wearing clothes that [were] fitted,” the lady told CNN.

Repeated emails by CNN to draw a response to the multiple allegations from Freeman’s spokesperson went unanswered and it was only after CNN made the story public that Mr. Freeman released a statement of apology.

Allegations of Freeman’s licentious behavior stretch way beyond the confines of Revelations Entertainment and movie sets, with entertainment reporters telling CNN that the aging actor had not even spared them at press events.

As a matter of fact, Chloe Melas – a CNN entertainment reporter and one of the co-authors of the article that exposed the, allegedly, naughty actor – has, herself, been a victim of the man’s inappropriate behaviour when he subjected her to undesirable comments at a press junket for ‘Going in Style.’

Melas, who was six months pregnant at the time, reported the incident to her channel’s HR department and they, in turn, informed the Warner Bros. HR team about it but they were unable to “corroborate the account because only one of Freeman’s remarks was on the video.”

Following the incident, Melas spoke to several women and came to know that Freeman was a regular and habitual offender in this regard and that hers was not a one-off case, by any means.

Thus began her months-long quest, along with her co-author, to expose the man in front of his adoring fans and admirers and, in fact, the world.

Allegations against the winner of last year’s lifetime achievement award are also being investigated by actors’ union SAG-AFTRA.

“These are compelling and devastating allegations which are absolutely contrary to all the steps that we are taking to ensure a safe work environment for the professionals in this industry,” a union spokesperson said.

“Any accused person has the right to due process, but it is our starting point to believe the courageous voices who come forward to report incidents of harassment. Given Mr.
Freeman recently received one of our union’s most prestigious honors recognizing his body of work, we are therefore reviewing what corrective actions may be warranted at this time,” added the SAG-AFTRA representative.

Vancouver transit authority, Translink, withdrew a Freeman-voiced Visa Canada ad campaign meant for the transit system after the allegations against him came to light on Thursday.

In a statement released on Thursday morning, TransLink said:

“In light of information we’ve learned through news stories this morning of serious allegations against actor Morgan Freeman, TransLink has decided to pause his voice announcements as part of a Visa ad campaign on the transit system.”

Revelations Entertainment came into existence in 1996, founded by Freeman and Lori McCreary on the premise of exposing the truth behind serious issues that afflicted society; apparently, their mission was to entertain people through revelations – hence the name.

The company went on to make several films, covering subjects such as apartheid, religion, stem cell research, astronomy, and others, including the film ‘Along Came a Spider’ and the popular CBS show ‘Madam Secretary’ – ironically, both the films had women in the lead roles

A former employee at Revelations Entertainment – a female, it goes without saying – who first met Freeman on the set of the film, ‘Through the Wormhole,’ told CNN that the actor asked her about her impressions on sexual harassment while eyeing her “up and down.”

“I was stunned,” she said. “This is the person that I worked for, this is his company, I didn’t expect it at all … I said timidly, ‘I love it’ in a sarcastic way hoping to make light of the situation because I was so confused and then he turned to the guys on the crew … and said, ‘See guys, this is how you do it’.”

Another woman – a former manager at the company – told the news channel that Freeman would sometimes approach her desk to say hi and stand there ogling her breasts.

“If I ever passed him he would stare at me in an awkward way, would look me up and down sometimes stopping and just staring,” she told CNN.

“One time he stopped, looked me up and down as I walked into a room of people, and everyone burst out laughing. And I literally froze feeling very uncomfortable and one of the people in the office said, ‘Don’t worry, that’s just Morgan’.”

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From The Editors

Bill Cosby Found Guilty As Charged in Sexual Assault Retrial

Bill Cosby has been found guilty of drugging and sexually assaulting ex-basketball player Andrea Constand, 45, at his Pennsylvania home in 2004, putting an end to any doubt anybody might have had about his guilt.

The 80-year old actor’s fall-from-grace is a done deal, so to speak.

The jury’s verdict came on Thursday, the second day of deliberations at the Montgomery Court House when he was pronounced guilty of three counts of aggravated indecent assault against Constand, who was a Temple University employee at the time.

While he faces a maximum of 10 years in jail for each of the three counts he’s been found guilty of, as well as a fine of up to $25,000, the quantum of punishment will be announced after the sentencing trial, which will happen within 90 days, until which time the octogenarian will remain out of jail.

Arguing in favor of revoking Cosby’s $1 million bail, Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele reasoned with the judge that being a man of “unlimited wealth” there was a strong likelihood of Cosby fleeing the country on his private plane.

Cosby’s expletive-filled reaction was instantaneous and explosive. “He doesn’t have a plane, you asshole! I’m sick of it, you asshole!” he lashed out.

Judge Steven O’Neil turned down the bail cancellation citing Cosby’s age and medical condition.

“I am not going to simply lock him up,” he ruled, ordering Cosby to surrender his passport and stay confined in his home.

Cosby, who has been accused of dozens of sexual misdemeanours, spanning decades, sat back in his chair and stared down after the jury’s ‘guilty as charged’ verdict was announced, while Ms. Constand, who had silently watched the court proceedings until then, stood up and was hugged by supporters, including her lawyer.

“I truly hope that his long list of victims will now be able to find some kind of peace,” said Gloria Allred – the lawyer who represents a number of Cosby’s accusers, who stood behind her, arm around each other, as their lawyer spoke to reporters following the verdict.

Lili Bernard, who once appeared as a guest on the 1980s sitcom “The Cosby Show” is also one of Cosby’s accusers and was present in court on Tuesday when the verdict was read out.

Unlike Constand, Bernard couldn’t get a hold of her emotions and started sobbing uncontrollably, prompting court personnel to lead her out of the courtroom.

“I feel like my faith in humanity is restored,” a teary-eyed Bernard said outside the courthouse.

“We are very disappointed by the verdict,” said Tom Mesereau, Cosby’s lead attorney. “We don’t think Mr. Cosby’s guilty of anything, and the fight is not over.”

Speaking at a news conference, District Attorney Steele praised Constand for her bravery in the face of adversity, all these years, saying that the “most important person in this is Andrea Constand — 14 years later, it may be easy to forget that she was the first courageous person that stood up in public,” while Constand stood silently with folded hands.

“Her quiet courage and her actions through this have helped victims stand up,” the D.A. said. “I hope and I pray that our actions have shown that we will stand up with those victims.”

Janice Baker-Kinney, who said in her testimony that Cosby had given her Quaaludes before assaulting her sexually, told MSNBC after the verdict that she was “shaking with relief” and that she couldn’t stop sobbing.

According to the star witness for the defense, who had been a senior academic adviser at Temple University, Constand had told her in 2004 that there was money to be made by falsely accusing a known personality of sexual misconduct.

In a 2006 civil settlement, Cosby had paid $3.38 million to Constand, it was revealed at the start of the retrial.

Five other women, who were also, allegedly, drugged and sexually assaulted by Cosby, testified as witnesses for the prosecution.

“He preyed on Andrea Constand the same way he preyed on all those five women,” Assistant District Attorney Kristen Feden said.

The Thursday verdict was the culmination of a long drawn case that spanned 18 years, two trials and numerous investigations by law enforcement authorities.

The previous jury had failed to reach a verdict in June last year.
Some reactions to the verdict:

https://twitter.com/PopPorky/status/989563788855668736

https://twitter.com/RobertWLewis98/status/989588977463316482

https://twitter.com/TracevaToons/status/989602076618575873

https://twitter.com/Diorbankxxz/status/989596753656770566

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Uncategorized

Amazon is Now Delivering Packages Inside Parked Vehicles in 37 U.S. Cities

In another first, Amazon announced Tuesday that it is now going to deliver your packages inside your car, which, really, is an expansion of the retail behemoth’s in-house delivery system launched last year, giving the company’s delivery guys access to your home to drop those packages you ordered.

While the ‘Amazon Key’ makes it possible for couriers to unlock your front door using keypads and smart locks and connected cameras along with the Amazon Key app, its car version – the ‘Amazon Key In-Car’ will use the connected onboard technologies on select vehicles for in-car package deliveries.

Launched in collaboration with automobile giants General Motors and Volvo, the Amazon Key In-Car service is being made available to Amazon Prime subscribers who have 2015 or newer models of Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, Cadillac, or Volvo vehicles along with active OnStar or Volvo On Call accounts.

You can check your eligibility here

https://www.amazon.com/b?node=17051031011#eligibility

Interested customers who meet the company’s qualification criteria can register their vehicles through the Amazon Key app, which will allow them to select their car as the delivery spot while shopping on Amazon.

Of course, certain conditions apply, like, for instance, the car has to be parked within a two-mile range of the specified address.
Also, the car can’t be parked in restricted-access parking areas, multi-level setups, or basements.

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“Customers have also told us they love features like keyless guest access and being able to monitor their front door from anywhere with the Amazon Key App,” said Peter Larsen, Amazon’s vice president of delivery technology.

“In-car delivery gives customers that same peace of mind and allows them to take the Amazon experience with them. And, with no additional hardware or devices required, customers can start ordering in-car delivery today.”

Wary of the security lapses it experienced with Amazon Key, this time around Amazon has built in those additional safety features to avoid any repeats of what, for example, happened in February this year, when a customer got a rude shock to find a company delivery person in his bedroom.

Also, in November, researchers noted a flaw in the Amazon Key camera that could potentially render it ineffective in the event of an attack.

The good thing with the Amazon Key In-Car is that there is no enabled keypad and camera involved here that you need to spend good money on, as you have to do with the Amazon Key in-house delivery service.

All you need, as mentioned, is a vehicle that qualifies and the mandatory OnStar or Volvo On Call and, don’t forget, you have to be in one of the 37 specified cities where the program is being made accessible.

The service allows you to track the stages of your package delivery from your own smartphone device, and your request to unlock your vehicle for delivery goes through Amazon, on to Volvo On Call, or OnStar, before it is actioned.

Delivery dudes have to scan the package to confirm delivery and relock the vehicle before they are allowed to move on to their next delivery.

Amazon and its partners, General Motors, and Volvo have all assured that the delivery staff will not be able to control any electrical feature of the vehicle once they’ve unlocked the car, with Volvo saying that it’s On Call service would still need a physical key to be able to start the car.

In the case of OnStar, the lock and unlock options allowed to the delivery people are totally isolated from the rest of the OnStar services.

This is how the process goes step by step

  • Download the Amazon Key app
  • Confirm vehicle compatibility to proceed
  • Provide your vehicle’s color and license plate number
  • App tells you to park your car within a two-block radius from the delivery address on a street-level location (no restricted-access
    parking spaces, no multi-level, or basement parking)
  • Provide a backup delivery address or request for a second in-car delivery attempt the following day
  • Once your car is set up on the app, the next time you want the in-car service, all you need to do is select the “in-car delivery” option and you’ll get an Amazon delivery notification on your mobile not only on the delivery day but the previous day as well.

While the delivery driver can unlock and lock vehicles through the Amazon Key app, customers can only do that through the OnStar or On Call app through secure encryptions and users do have the option of blocking a car delivery, should the situation demand.

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From The Editors Technology

HTC is Set to Ship Out New-Generation VR Headset – the HTC Vive Pro for $799

After unveiling the new Vive Pro HMD at the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January this year, HTC has now announced that the upgraded higher-resolution VR headset is ready for pre-order with immediate effect for $799. The orders will start shipping out from April 5.

Also, the company has dropped the price of the existing HTC Vive kit for the second time by $100, bringing it down to $499. So, in effect, the price of the HTC Vive has dropped by $200 from its launch price of $699.

What is important to note here is the fact that the company is selling the current HTC Vive for $499, which is the price for the entire kit, including two handheld controllers as well as two base stations for tracking.

The $799 HTC Vive Pro, on the other hand, will be shipped minus the controllers and base stations, which indicates that the company is largely expecting users of the Vive to upgrade to the Pro, in which case it makes sense not to ship the new Vive Pro as a complete kit, because existing users will have the controllers and base stations in their possession.

This means that Vive Pro buyers who don’t already own a Vive will be required to shell out an additional $135 and $130 for a single base station and a single controller, respectively.

It also means that if you are looking for a complete kit, with two base stations and two controllers, you will be set back by $1,329 ($799 + $135 + $135 + $130 + $130), making it a very expensive product, indeed.

Another point worth noting is the huge disparity between the U.S. and Europe prices. The Vive kit sells in Europe for €599, or $737, which is a good $238 higher than the Kit’s U.S. price, and at €879 ($1,082) the Vive Pro is costing $283 more than what it does in the U.S.

“The Vive Pro comes with dual-OLED displays, making for a crisper image resolution of 2880 by 1600 combined, a 78 percent increase in resolution over the current Vive HMD,” HTC said.

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“In addition to visuals, Vive Pro also features integrated, high-performance headphones with a built-in amplifier that creates a heightened sense of presence and sound through noise cancellation capabilities. These improved graphics and audio allow for users to experience VR with enhanced clarity, making it the most realistic and immersive VR experience on the market today,” said the company.

“With the Vive Pro we are delivering the best quality display and visual experience to the most discerning VR enthusiasts,” Vive GM, United States, Daniel O’Brien, said.

“Our goal has always been to offer the most premium VR platform available and to drive adoption for VR.

“By lowering the price of the current Vive, we are making VR more accessible while expanding the potential market for developers.

Whether you’re a VR enthusiast or new to the platform, there’s never been a better time to join the most complete VR platform available,” O’Brien added.

Speaking to Polygon the Vive GM said that the higher pixel density will give users the ability to read in VR.

“We’ve had a lot of enterprise and professional use cases where they want to design a car or design a dashboard layout, and they need a higher resolution or pixel density in order to do that,” he said.

“So now that you can do that with this headset, we’re really excited about those scenarios and how game developers will take advantage of it, as well as the professional market,” O’Brien added.

Here’s a side by side comparison between the new HTC Vive Pro and the standard HTC Vive

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From The Editors Technology

Amazon Reinvents the Alarm Clock with its Latest Alexa Device: The Echo Spot

Spot, the newest addition to Amazon’s line of Echo speakers, is not only a near-perfect alarm clock and everything else you would associate with an Alexa-enabled Echo device but is also pleasing to the visual faculty, an area its predecessors were found wanting in.

At the expense of being somewhat unkind to Amazon, one has to say that the Echo Spot looks more like a product you would expect out of an Apple facility, rather than what we’re used to seeing from Amazon, aesthetically speaking, of course.

Gone is the unsightly retro look of the previous line of Echo smart speakers!

It is the ideal cross between the Echo Show and the Echo Dot, retaining all the goodness of both in a stylishly compact half-hemispherical design, the size of a softball that blends in perfectly in your home.

With a price tag of $130, the Spot is not only expected to give similar Apple and Google products a run for their money, it can potentially topple its own.

Designed to resemble an alarm clock, it’s the perfect bedside companion – not that it looks out of place elsewhere in the home environment.

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With the announcement of the new alarm feature for all Alexa-powered devices last week, the Echo Spot’s release has been perfectly timed.

The new feature allows you to set your alarm to wake you up with music from the streaming service of your choice, be it Amazon’s own Prime Music Unlimited or third party services supported by Alexa-powered devices such as iHeartRadio, Pandora, Spotify, TuneIn, and SiriusXM.

Read more about that feature here:

“Alexa Can Now Wake You Up Shaking a Leg to Your Favorite Tune” (https://timelybuzz.com/alexa-can-now-wake-shaking-leg-favorite-tune/)

Here are some of the main features of the Amazon Echo Spot.

Designed to blend in perfectly anywhere in your home, the Echo Spot’s second-generation far-field voice recognition allows you to watch video flash briefings, see music lyrics, weather forecasts, shopping and to-do lists, browse and listen to Audible audiobooks, and more.

All you need to do is ask Alexa – a cloud-based voice service. It’s the ultimate hands-free experience.

Just ask the Alexa-powered Echo Spot to play music by song, artists, or genre, and see lyrics with Amazon Music and even stream music and books from Pandora, Spotify, TuneIn, iHeartRadio, and Audible, using Spot’s built-in speaker or connecting to other speakers via Bluetooth or 3.5 mm stereo cable. With multi-room music, you can play music on your Echo devices in different rooms.

Make it read the news, answer questions, and control your smart home devices by simply asking Alexa to lock your doors, turn on your lights, show baby monitors and front door cameras, as well as control your TV, thermostats, garage doors, sprinklers, and more – to give a few examples of its handiness.

You can use voice commands to request an Uber ride, order your favorite pizza, make hands-free calls, or connect to family and friends through video calls or instantly connect to other Echo devices in your home.

With tens of thousands of Alexa skills and growing, the sky is the limit when it comes to the Spot’s usefulness!

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From The Editors Technology

Voices against FCC Proposal to Dismantle Net Neutrality Regulations is Building to a Crescendo

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced on Tuesday that it was going ahead on December 14 with its plan to vote in favor of the FCC-proposed rollback of net neutrality rules, put in place by the Obama administration in 2015.

Democrat FCC commissioner, Jessica Rosenworcel, has appealed to the people via a Wednesday tweet to “call foul” and “raise a ruckus” in order to save net neutrality. She is one of two Democrats among five FCC commissioners.

So, with two other Republicans on the Commission to vote with him, Pai has a clear majority of three against two in the FCC. But that’s about it!

Hillary Clinton tweeted her support to Rosenworcel’s plea, writing, “You go girl! This is important; costs will go up, & powerful companies will get more powerful. We can’t let it slip through the cracks.”

The concept of net neutrality faced its first real challenge in May when the FCC voted in favor of repealing/reversing the Internet neutrality law passed by the previous government. The FCC, by the way, is headed by Trump appointee Ajit Pai who, with a majority, has been moving aggressively toward repealing the rule against Internet interference by ISPs.

In July, more than 80,000 websites including tech giants Google, Amazon, and many others had called for a “Day of Action” – in support of net neutrality which the FCC is hell-bent on doing away with.

The protest involved the coming together of tens of thousands of online activists and businesses, big and small, to inform users about the Trump administration’s plans to hand over control of how we access the internet today, to a handful of service providers.

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Dismantling the regulations that ensure discrimination-free internet access to all, will give too much power to ISPs (Internet Service Providers) such as Comcast, AT&T, Verizon, and Charter, who will be able to determine and control what users can see online, and at what price and speed. Companies like AT&T are already smacking their lips in anticipation.

AT&T Vice President Joan Marsh’s comment in support of the FCC proposal, therefore, comes as no surprise at all.

“This action will return broadband in the U.S. to a regulatory regime that emphasizes private investment and innovation over lumbering government intervention,” Marsh said.

However, her statement is in contradiction to the change in stance on the Internet neutrality issue that AT&T had shown back in July, stating in a blog post that it would be joining “Day of Action” with TV and print advertisements.

“We agree that no company should be allowed to block content or throttle the download speeds of content in a discriminatory manner,” Bob Quinn, senior executive vice president of external and legislative affairs, had said in the post. “So, we are joining this effort because it’s consistent with AT&T’s proud history of championing our customers’ right to an open Internet.”

The organizers of the “Day of Action,” however, did not buy into it.

“This is so ridiculous I’m laughing out loud,” Evan Greer, campaign director for Fight for the Future had said in an e-mail when he was asked for his reaction. “AT&T and other companies like Comcast and Verizon have waged an all-out war on net neutrality protections because they want to be able to charge Internet users and startups extra fees, and squeeze all of us for more money for less Internet.”

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out that financially strong companies, capable of paying a higher premium to these ISPs, will be given preference over lesser entities – so to speak – in terms of speedier access to their domains and other related advantages.

What’s worse is that the service providers will be in a position to even block or slow down data of rivals with the purpose of hurting them – in a business sense, of course – or with the unethical intention of easing competition for affiliated websites – read paying websites.

Here are some reactions to the ongoing net neutrality issue

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Entertainment From The Editors

Prince Harry and Girlfriend Meghan Markle Meet the Queen Over Afternoon Tea | Do We Hear Wedding Bells?

Prince Harry, who “desperately” wanted his grandmother to meet his actor, model, humanitarian girlfriend Meghan Markle, took his lady love to Buckingham Palace for a “deliberately informal” afternoon tea with the Queen of England on Thursday the 12th, reported the Daily Mail.

The reason for keeping it private and informal was to avoid wide publicity at this stage in his relationship with the 36-year-old “Suits” star and, probably, because of any butterflies Markle may have had in anticipation of meeting her beau’s royal grandmother.

The couple is reported to have arrived at the palace at 5:00 pm in a Ford Galaxy station wagon with dark tinted windows – another obvious attempt to keep everything as discreet as possible, for the time being, at least.

They were immediately “whisked up to the Queen’s private sitting room,” which overlooks the palace gardens and Constitution Hill, for the discreet meeting which lasted an hour. Prince Philip was conspicuously absent from the meeting.

Both the palaces, Kingston and Buckingham, have declined to comment on the reports.

By the way, Markle who had been filming in Canada for the television show “Suits” has opted out of it, which some speculate is a step forward in the direction of a life of royalty in England.

Later that Thursday, looking dapper in a dark suit and bowtie, the 33-year-old Prince accepted a posthumous award from the LGBT magazine ATTITUDE on behalf of his mother, Princess Diana. The late Princess was honored at the event for her groundbreaking contributions in challenging the fear and taboo attached to HIV and AIDS in the 1980s and 90s.

Less than a month ago, the couple had made their first joint public appearance at the INVICTUS Games in Toronto, Canada, where they were seen holding hands, seemingly at bliss in each other’s company, and even indulged in some PDA at the closing ceremony of the games on September 25.

Following the INVICTUS Games, which happens to be a Prince Harry initiative, a source told E! News, that the couple was “as good as engaged.”

“Harry left Toronto yesterday on a high and can’t wait to see Meghan next. She has a packed schedule between now and November with Suits, but after that will be an exciting time for them and a new chapter in their relationship,” E! News quoted the source.

“While Meghan may not be wearing a ring or a formal engagement announced, it’s fair to say they’re as good as engaged now. They’ve spoken about their marriage plans openly with each other and friends and family around them are pretty much thinking about wedding attire already!” the source is reported to have added.

“I can tell you that at the end of the day I think it’s really simple,” Markle told VANITY FAIR recently, speaking with reference to the intense publicity her relationship with Prince Harry has attracted.

“We’re two people who are really happy and in love. We were very quietly dating for about six months before it became news, and I was working during that whole time, and the only thing that changed was people’s perception. Nothing about me changed. I’m still the same person that I am, and I’ve never defined myself by my relationship.”

A source has told PEOPLE, “If Harry asks for something, she would say yes as she adores him.” So, any speculations or concerns about Prince Harry not getting the Queen’s royal consent should be put aside.

PEOPLE also reports that if the wedding does take place, or should we say when it takes place, it would be at the St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle.

Categories
Entertainment From The Editors

Spiderman: Homecoming Web-slings its Way to a Box-Office Bonanza

After a string of mediocre to the utterly ridiculous Spiderman films the audiences have been subjected to over the years – not to forget a whole lot of TV series and spin-offs – Spiderman: Homecoming is refreshingly and welcomingly different from the mundane B.S. we have been exposed to all this while.

It is not only about special effects and swinging and web-slinging through the city skyline doing away with the bad guys. Well, while it does have all of that, it is more about the heart and soul of a teenage boy who is going through a tough transition to adulthood – he’s stubborn; he cries; and there’s an endearing vulnerability about the character that makes it so realistic and acceptable – he’s, after all, a human – a kid really – who happens to possess superhero powers, not by his own doing.

Peter Parker’s is seen soaring and swinging in his new suit equipped with all these super hi-tech gizmos – which we got a glimpse of in Captain America: Civil War – and then completely making a mess of the landing – like any other overly enthusiastic clumsy teenager would do in real life situations.

He averts disasters in spectacular and thrilling displays of his superhero skills but, more often than not, the situation he’s trying to correct is the result of his own doing – certainly, the director has put his mark on the film with these masterful touches– great job Mr. Watts!

Meanwhile, Tom Holland has done full justice, as much to Peter Parker, the confused teenager, as to his alter ego Spidey the Spiderman. As young as he is, Holland has handled the demands of the role, or should we say roles, with great maturity and quite masterfully. His portrayal of a teenager with his joys and anxieties and apprehensions is near perfect without being melodramatic.

He is by far the best Spiderman we have seen on screen, big or small, to date. In all likelihood, Spiderman: Homecoming is going to be Holland’s stepping stone into the big league.

As of Friday, Spiderman: Homecoming showed box office collections somewhere near the 120 million mark, expected to become the second-highest domestic opening ever for Sony.

While the overall reviews and critiques have been generally positive – and deservingly so – there are some who do not agree in totality. Here they are:

Critiques

Rotten Tomatoes – Rotten Tomatoes, the review aggregator website, has given the film an approval rating of 93% based on 166 reviews with an average rating of 7.6/10. “Spider-Man: Homecoming does whatever a second reboot can, delivering a colorful, fun adventure that fits snugly in the sprawling MCU without getting bogged down in franchise-building” reads the site’s critical consensus.

Metacritic – According to Metacritic’s weighted average rating, the film has scored 73 out of 100, based on 49 critics, indicating “generally favorable reviews”.

Uproxx – Mike Ryan of Uproxx has given Homecoming a favorable review: “Spider-Man: Homecoming is the best Spider-Man movie to date. That does come with a caveat that Spider-Man: Homecoming and Spider-Man 2 are going for different things and both are great. But, tonally, I just love this incarnation of a Peter Parker who just loves being Spider-Man.”

The New York Times – Manohla Dargis of the New York Times said, “Mr. Holland looks and sounds more like a teen than the actors who’ve previously suited up for this series, and he has fine support from a cast that includes Jacob Batalon as Peter’s best friend. Other good company includes Donald Glover, as a wrong time, wrong-place criminal, and Martin Starr, who plays his teacher role with perfect deadpan timing.”

The Hollywood Reporter – John DeFore of the Hollywood Reporter observes that the film is “occasionally exciting but often frustrating” and hinted it might have turned out better “had Marvel Studios execs and a half-dozen screenwriters not worked so hard to integrate Peter Parker into their money-minting world.”

The San Francisco Chronicle – San Francisco Chronicle’s Mick LaSalle feels Homecoming “breaks no new ground, and action sequences that were intended to be thrilling – such as an epic battle on the Staten Island Ferry – just sit there on the screen, incapable of stirring a single pulse, but content in their competence.”

  • Produced by – Marvel Studios and Columbia Pictures
  • Directed by – Jon Watts
  • Distributed by – Sony Pictures Releasing
  • Genre – Action & Adventure, Drama, Science Fiction & Fantasy
  • Based on – Spiderman Stan Lee and Steve Ditko
  • Story by – Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley
  • Rating – PG-13 (for sci-fi action violence, some language, and brief suggestive comments)

Main Cast

  • Tom Holland as Peter Parker / Spider-Man
  • Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark / Iron Man
  • Michael Keaton as Adrian Toomes / Vulture
  • Jon Favreau as Harold “Happy” Hogan
  • Zendaya as Michelle “MJ” Jones
  • Donald Glover as Aaron Davis
  • Tyne Daly as Anne Marie Hoag
  • Marisa Tomei as May Parker
Categories
From The Editors Technology

Samsung Chromebook Pro Has a More Powerful Processor Than Chromebook Plus – Launching April

Apart from the processor, an Intel Core m3-6y30, the Samsung Chromebook Pro is identical to the Chromebook Plus which hit the market this month on the twelfth – Chromebook Plus has the less powerful ARM hexa-core chip. Pro, by the way, will be available to customers in March/April.

There is but one more difference in the two Chromebooks – the price. While Plus is priced at $449, Pro will be available for $549 because of the more powerful processor, obviously.

Features of the Samsung Chromebook Plus and Pro:

Two-in-one: Both the Chromebooks, Plus and Pro, can be used as laptops as well as tablets. For example, when working on documents, emails and other similar work, one can switch over to the laptop option and back to the tab mode once done. It all depends on the user’s ease and preference.

Aesthetics: The Chromebooks are aesthetically slim and attractive and all metal; touchscreens with hinges for 360° rotation with two identically shaped panels so that they merge to look like one when in tablet mode. The edges and corners are beautifully rounded off giving them a pleasing appearance.

Stylus Pens: They are equipped with built-in stylus pens that can be pulled out for notes and handwriting-to-text conversion, and slid back home to blend in with the body when not in use. The pen can also be used to take a screenshot, magnify and unlock the screen, and even personalize a photo.

Operating System: Samsung has worked hand-in-hand with Google to include an Operating System in the Samsung Chromebooks Plus and Pro that allows users to run even Android apps from Google’s Play Store thereby giving them access to a vast software library. The earlier Chromebooks did not have the Chrome OS and Android apps on the same platform.

Pre-loaded apps: The Chromebooks Pro and Plus come with a host of pre-loaded apps primarily designed to work with the built-in stylus.

Display Screen: The Plus and Pro boast of 2400×1600 resolution 12.3 inch Quad HD displays made of Gorilla Glass 3 giving them durability and great picture and color quality. When in tablet mode the user can enjoy portrait as well as widescreen viewing with an aspect ratio of 3:2.

Battery: Up to 10 hours of battery life on full charge points towards a powerful battery.

Main Memory: 4GB/LPDDR 3

Storage: 32 GB

Camera: 720p front web cam.

Keyboard: Now, the keyboard may take a little getting used to as some minor compromises have been made to accommodate the form factor. The keyboard is compact-sized with some of the keys smaller than the others such as the back and tab keys which are much smaller than they generally are.

What is missing and would have been a real good addition is backlighting. However, the keyboard is painted with highly reflective ink which makes it visible in the dark with the screen as the only light source.

Trackpad: The trackpad is comfortably large and has a nice click to it.