Category: United States

US bans companies from selling chips to Huawei


The Trump administration plans to block shipments of semiconductors to Huawei, ramping up tensions between the US and China. The new rules will force foreign semiconductor manufacturers that use US technology to get a license from American officials before shipping products to Huawei. That’ll be a big blow to the Chinese tech giant, which needs semiconductors produced overseas for its smartphones and telecoms equipment. The US commerce department said the restrictions were a response to Huawei and its semiconductor subsidiary HiSilicon skirting export controls introduced last year. [Read: Trump extends the Huawei ban to 2021] “This is not how a responsible global corporate…

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The US Senate just voted to let the FBI access your browser history without a warrant


In a major blow to citizens’ privacy, the US Senate voted today to give law enforcement agencies such as the FBI and CIA the power to look into your browser history without a warrant. Thanks, Mitch McConnell. Senators Ron Wyden from Oregan and Senator Steve Daines of Montana led the charge to insert privacy protections into the Patriot Act, which gives law enforcement agencies power for surveillance in order to maintain national security. However, the privacy protection amendment fell short by just one vote, as many senators who may have voted in favor of it didn’t show up. [Read: Using ‘personalized…

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Democrats counter Trump’s fake coronavirus news with AI that fought ISIS propaganda


An anti-Trump political organization is using AI originally designed to tackle Islamic State propaganda to counter coronavirus disinformation spread by the president. The system has been repurposed to spot comments from Trump that are about to go viral. It will then identify the most popular counter-narratives, and invite a network of more than 3.4 million influencers “to share these highly visual and emotional narratives from real people in unison and at scale.” The initiative is being led by Defeat Disinfo, a political action committee (PAC) advised by retired general Stanley McChrystal, who commanded US and NATO forces during the Afghanistan war. The PAC claims that it won’t use any…

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UPS drones to deliver prescriptions to Florida retirement community


UPS will use drones to fly prescription medications to residents of The Villages in Florida, a retirement community of more than 1350,000 people. The service is scheduled to take off on May 4, and will use drones developed by Matternet, a California-based aerial delivery company. The first flights will be less than half a mile long, and end when the drones drop off the parcels at a location near The Villages. A UPS ground vehicle will then complete the delivery to the resident’s door. [Read: ‘Pandemic drones’ are flying over the US to detect coronavirus symptoms] The program is a partnership between…

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LAPD ditches predictive policing program accused of racial bias


The Los Angeles Police Department is dumping a controversial predictive policing program that forecasts where property crimes will happen. The PredPol system has been accused of magnifying racial bias, but the LAPD said its ditching it to cut costs amid the coronavirus pandemic. “That is a hard decision,” said Police Chief Michel Moore, according to the LA Times. “It’s a strategy we used, but the cost projections of hundreds of thousands of dollars to spend on that right now versus finding that money and directing that money to other more central activities is what I have to do.” Civil liberties campaigners…

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‘Pandemic drones’ are flying over the US to detect coronavirus symptoms


Aerospace firm Draganfly has conducted the first US test flights of its “pandemic drones,” the company announced today. The drones are fitted with sensors and computer vision systems that measure body temperature, breathing, and heart rates from up to 190 feet. They can also spot if someone’s sneezing, coughing, or following social distancing rules. The test flights were conducted in Westport, Connecticut, which became a coronavirus hotspot following a private party where dozens of people were exposed to the virus. According to Draganfly, Westport will use the tech to protect at-risk groups, such as seniors and crowds gathering in public places. [Read: Gamers…

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New Yorkers can now get married over Zoom and… yeah, sure, why not?


New York governor Andrew Cuomo announced over the weekend that a new executive order allowing New York citizens to circumvent social distancing and wed their sweethearts via video call. It’s not much, but at least it’s something pleasant to do while things are looking grim and we’re all having to stay home. NEW: I am issuing an Executive Order allowing New Yorkers to obtain a marriage license remotely and allowing clerks to perform ceremonies via video conference. — Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) April 18, 2020 Cuomo confirmed via Twitter that the affianced will be able to obtain licenses and have a…

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Amazon is pausing grocery orders in the US amidst the coronavirus crisis


With more than half a million coronavirus cases registered in the US, people are confined to their homes and heavily dependent on online retailers to get their groceries. However, if you were thinking of ordering something from Amazon, you might have to wait a good while, as the company has decided to pause new grocery orders for now. [Read: Many of India’s IT employees are still working from offices amid coronavirus to keep the world turning] A report from Reuters suggested that the ecommerce giant is putting new grocery orders on a waitlist, and restricting operating hours at Whole Food outlets…

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US Senate reportedly bars its members from using Zoom


Popular video conferencing app Zoom seems to be having a hard time convincing organizations that it’s secure to use. Just after Google banned its employees from using the app, the US Senate has forbidden its members from utilizing Zoom. A report from the Financial Times noted that the Senate’s sergeant at arms has warned people against using the service. Earlier this week, Reuters reported the Department of Homeland Security said in a memo that Zoom is responding to security concerns swiftly. Pentagon told FT that it’ll continue allowing its employees to use the service. Other governments across the world have…

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Trump calls dibs on outer space with his latest executive order


Donald Trump‘s latest executive order comes straight out of science fiction: He’s officially called dibs on outer space. All of it. The order, titled “Encouraging International Support for the Recovery and Use of Space Resources,” calls for an international effort to determine how we should all divvy up outer space. On the surface that sounds like a good idea. The US is on the verge of setting up a permanent Moon base and now seems like a great time to sort out the economical and financial logistics. Per a White House statement describing the order: Supportive policy regarding the recovery…

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