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Found 11 results

  1. Astronomers on Monday added 219 candidates to the growing list of planets beyond the solar system, 10 of which may be about the same size and temperature as Earth, boosting the chances for life. Scientists found the planet candidates in a final batch of NASA's Kepler Space Telescope observations of 200,000 sample stars in the constellation Cygnus. The candidates include 10 newly discovered rocky worlds that are properly distanced from their parent stars for water, if it exists, to pool on their surfaces. Scientists believe liquid water is a key ingredient for life. ?An important question for us is, ?Are we alone?'" Kepler program scientist Mario Perez said in a conference call with reporters. ?Maybe Kepler today is telling us indirectly ... that we are not alone.? The National Aeronautics and Space Administration launched the Kepler telescope in 2009 to learn if Earth-like planets are common or rare. With the final analysis of Kepler data in hand, scientists said they will now work on answering that question, a key step in assessing the chance that life exists beyond Earth. During a four-year mission, Kepler found 2,335 confirmed planets and another 1,699 candidates, bringing its tally to 4,034. That number includes about 50 worlds that may be about the same size and temperature as Earth. Including other telescope surveys, scientists have confirmed the existence of nearly 3,500 planets beyond the solar system. Kepler?s data also provided a new way to assess whether a planet has a solid surface, like Earth, or is made mostly of gas, like Neptune. The distinction will help scientists home in on potential Earth-like planets and better the odds for finding life. The Kepler team found that planets which are about 1.75 times the size of Earth and smaller tend to be rocky, while those two- to 3.5 times the size of Earth become gas-shrouded worlds like Neptune. ?It?s like finding what we thought was a single species of animal is really two different things,? said Benjamin Fulton, a graduate student in astronomy who analysed the Kepler data. So far, these planets, which scientists refer to as ?super-Earths? and ?mini-Neptunes,? have not been found in Earth?s solar system, though scientists are on the hunt for a potential ninth planet far beyond Pluto. ?It is interesting that we don?t have what appears to be the most common type of planet in the galaxy,? Fulton said.
  2. ISLAMABAD: Shahzeb Khanzada in his programme on Geo News Wednesday summed up the possible questions Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif could be asked during his appearance before the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) and his possible replies to these questions. Today (Thursday) is a historic day when an elected prime minister is going to appear before the country?s institutions to give reply to the allegations and questions raised on him. But what will be or can be the possible questions and their answers. Shahzeb Khanzada said we lay before you the position the government has taken recently outside and inside the Supreme Court. When the Panama case landed at the SC, the issue of conflicting statements in speeches of the prime minister was raised. The JIT can ask the prime minister about these conflicting statements and say that you have not mentioned the letter from the Qatari prince in your speeches. The team can tell the prime minister that you say different things about how the flats in London were purchased and why did you not mention Qatar in your speeches? An important point in this regard is that in the three to two-member decision of the five-member bench, the SC has already rejected disqualification of the prime minister on the basis of these conflicting statements and then the JIT was formed to investigate the matter further. Will the prime minister endorses the PML-N position that there are no contradictions in his speeches and that he mentioned some points at a certain venue and did not mention some points at another venue. The JIT will ask the prime minister how did he sell Gulf Steel Mills, Dubai, and then make an investment in Qatar. It will also ask the PM about the transfer of money from Qatar to Jeddah and from Jeddah to London. The PM can obviously, as has been the stance of his party in recent days, take benefit of the law, telling the JIT that he will not reveal what he is not required to under the law. The PM can also say that all these affairs are about his father and assets were transferred to his children from his father, hence he has nothing to do with it. He can say that he has announced his disassociation from his business since he joined politics; hence, he is not liable to answer these questions. He can also say that he is not bound to make explanations about his accounts older than five years. The prime minister can also repeat the argument his son Hussain Nawaz? lawyers placed before the court about the sale of Dubai mills, investment in Qatar, dispatch of the letter of Qatari prince and how all these matters were settled down. The important point is that the PML-N and Sharif family lawyers had mentioned the Qatari letter in their arguments. What the PM will say about why did he not mention the Qatari letter in his speeches? Sharif family lawyers have made it clear that permission for mentioning of the letter was not sought from the Qatari family and it was not mentioned in the speeches because of business deals with them. However, when the matter landed in the court, the letter was put on the record with prior permission from the Qatari family. The PM will be asked about the accumulation of assets of his children when their ages were very low. The PML-N has taken a position that the PM can also adopt saying that all these assets were transferred to his children from his father and they had made an investment in Qatar after selling mills in Dubai, which continued multiplying later. Hussain Nawaz had told the Panama bench how these assets continued multiplying and then how they were settled in the shape of London flats. He had also told the bench how the Qatari family paid expenses incurred by Hassan Nawaz and how the rent of flats was adjusted in this regard. The PML-N has already taken this position. The prime minister can, however, tell the JIT that he is not bound under the law to answer this question. The JIT?s fourth question could be about investments made by Hussain Nawaz and the companies owned by Hassan Nawaz. How this huge investment was made in Saudi Arabia and how Hassan Nawaz made so many assets in the UK. The PM can say that his children adults and he is not bound to put up a reply on their behalf. He can also endorse the reply submitted by his children, not least Hussain Nawaz, mentioning that a bit of investment was transferred from Qatar to Saudi Arabia to set up a mill there, whose profit was transferred to the UK. The JIT can ask the PM about the costly gifts he received from Hussain Nawaz. This is a fresh issue as money came to the PM?s accounts from his son. The PM cannot say that he is not bound to answer this question. He can, however, rely on the answer Hussain Nawaz submitted in the court stating that all the transactions were made through official banking channels and all the money has been duly audited and taxed in Saudi Arabia. He had stated that this money was surplus in his company which is proven through audit. The PM will be asked about Hudaibia Paper Mills case. The JIT has sought and reviewed all documents about this case already. Questions could be asked of the PM about the investigations launched by the FIA and NAB. The JIT has raised a lot of objections on the PM?s House and Sharif family has raised a lot of objections on the JIT. The SC has given no judgement on this matter so far. Khanzada asked Talat Hussain what could be the possible outcome of the PM?s appearance before the JIT today. Talat Hussain replied that he cannot speculate about the outcome but today is a historic day for Nawaz Sharif. He said it is the most important day in the political career of Nawaz Sharif in his opinion. He said as much as he could get from the close circles of the government, the PM will not make any lengthy statement as per advice of his lawyers. He is an elected prime minister, a MNA and his reliance will be on the process of scrutiny of assets in the electoral process. He said conduct of election and his going through all the process of scrutiny can be his strongest defence. A MNA, much less a PM, goes through all the scrutiny of assets during the electoral process, he said. If his papers were accepted for contesting elections, then no more questions could be asked of him. Talat Hussain said he thinks that he will not talk on behalf of his sons, who already have appeared before the JIT. He said there will be an outpour of a lot of heat outside the JIT. Not only the PM and his family, the JIT has included in the annexure the newspaper articles they thought are a cause of stress or part of blackmailing campaign against them, adding that one of his articles is also mentioned in this category. Hussain said it is a different topic if the JIT should do it or not. Khanzada said the JIT has also included in the annexure the editorials he quoted in his programme and the tweets somebody uploaded on social media. Talat Hussain replied that there are too many sacred cows in Pakistan and another sacred cow is in the making about which you cannot express your opinion. He said there is talk of gag orders on freedom of expression. He said interesting is the fact that the JIT will cross question the PM after his statement that he may give in writing or be in the shape of notes. He said we do not know the length and duration of this cross-questioning. He said it remains to be seen if the PM will carry with him his protocol or not as it is essential to secure the premises where he is going. He said you know security and intelligence detail of the PM and it is not a tradition in Pakistan for a PM to carry his own bag along. He said environment of the inquiry room will be of interest to the people as the leaked picture of the PM?s son has created a debate though it is of little value in the eyes of learned judges. He said it needs to be viewed whether the PM will be made to sit like an accused or will he be treated like a PM, which he obviously is. He cannot take leave for three hours and it will be seen if he carries his protocol and detail with him or not, said Talat Hussain. Khanzada thanked Talat Hussain. He said it is important, as Talat Hussain said, to see if the PM is made subject to cross questioning or not. He said if the PM says he will not speak on behalf of his children and father, even then he will be cross-questioned or not? He said the sight of PM going to JIT with security detail and protocol or without it will be seen today but it is interesting to see what happened in the court in response to the criticism of JIT. Shahzeb Khanzada analyses that the situation is very interesting. Levelling allegations is on its peak. Strong statements are appearing. The JIT?s severe charges have also appeared after the allegations of the government. In this scenario, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will appear before the JIT today (Thursday), will answer the JIT?s questions and will appear before the same JIT about which the N-League has raised serious objections, has issued strong statements and the important thing is the JIT too has levelled serious allegations against the Prime Minister House and its subordinate institutions. But there is an important question: whether Prime Nawaz Sharif?s statement would also be recorded. In this connection, the Supreme Court?s special bench has reserved its judgment on the objections of the PML-N, which could be announced any time. Now would it be announced today before the prime minister?s appearance (before the JIT)? During the hearing of Hussain Nawaz? objections yesterday (Wednesday), Khawaja Haris, the counsel for Hussain Nawaz, argued that the JIT has confessed to having leaked the picture. A commission should be formed on the issue, which should determine the responsible. Khawaja Haris further said that there should be no video recording during the interview before the JIT. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is to appear today. What is the guarantee that the video of the prime minister?s interview would not be leaked? Who would be responsible if the prime minister?s video recording surfaced on social media? Video could also be tampered with and tomorrow this recording may also be used against us. If video is leaked, its effects would be more than that of the current situation. Justice Azmat Saeed asked what damage you suffered due to leakage of the picture. Justice Ejaz-ul-Ahsan said video recording would rather protect you than causing damage. Besides the lawyer for Hussain Nawaz, the attorney general also opposed the video recording of those appearing in person and informed the court that there is no mention of video recording in the law. The court has reserved the verdict after hearing the arguments. Now when this judgment would be announced? Whether Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif?s statement would also be recorded? Reservations are already being expressed what would happen if it is leaked. Hussain Nawaz has submitted his reply in connection with the video recording to the Supreme Court, in which it is argued that the allegations levelled against him are based upon lies and ill intentions. The JIT members cannot escape the responsibility of leaking the image. The JIT has no authority to formulate SOPs different to the law. The manner in which the statements were recorded shows the JIT?s ill intentions. Hussain Nawaz wrote this in his reply and levelled the charge of ill intention. The JIT didn?t follow the professional ethics during recording the statements. The investigation by JIT into the leaked photo is illegal. The Supreme Court will now give its verdict on video recording. But if this judgment is not given before the prime minister?s interview then the chances are that the prime minister?s statement would also be recorded. Apart from it, the court gave strict remarks over complaint of the JIT. The bench head Justice Ijaz Afzal remarked that obstructing the working of the JIT is violation of court orders. These hurdles will not at all be tolerated, he remarked and ordered that the completion of investigation within 60 days at any cost. Justice Ijaz Afzal also directed the attorney general to look into the reservations of the JIT and submit his reply by today. The court would continue hearing today also. The recent comments of the JIT have invited reaction. The JIT had told the Supreme Court that the SECP, NAB, IB and the law ministry were obstructing its work and tampering with the record. Meanwhile, an accusation was levelled about the Prime Minister?s House that it was pressurising witnesses. The law ministry dismissed the JIT accusation. Its spokesman said the impression of delay in issuing notification of powers to the JIT is wrong. He said the court orders were implemented within two days. The Supreme Court order was forwarded in writing by the attorney general the same day. In view of the urgency of the matter, the summary was forwarded to the cabinet on May 17 for approval. The Cabinet Division informed the very next day regarding approval of the cabinet. A copy of the notification was also sent to the JIT chairman who acknowledged receipt of the notification on May 18. Action on every order of the JIT was taken as soon as possible. Besides, the FBR also rejected the JIT accusations in its press release and took the stance that the JIT sought record four times on May 8, 25, 29 and June 8 which was provided on time. The record of one person from 1972 was demanded and was furnished on June 12. The JIT was told that the available record was sent. The JIT was given record in parts because it was sought as such. Some record was not furnished to the JIT which has its own reasons. According to law, the FBR is bound to keep the record for up to six years. For access to the record older than this, the FBR wrote to its field officers to search the record which they did. Apart from this, the JIT levelled most serious accusations on the SECP to which the SECP maintained that the JIT had sought the record of the Chaudhry Sugar Mills and details of correspondence with the British organisations which were provided on May 17, 2017. The JIT was told that more record was being searched. After further investigation, the record of Ramzan Sugar Mills was handed over to the JIT on May 19. On June 2, some missing documents about Brothers Steel Mills, Ittifaq Foundry and HDA Security were found in Lahore which were forthwith provided to the JIT. On June 9 at 7pm, the record of some 45 companies was sought from the SECP which was given to the JIT on June 13 by collecting it during the weekly holiday. The SECP further wrote in its reply that declaring nomination of Ali Azeem Akram mala fide was inaccurate. Similarly, it is not right to accuse the chairman over the WhatsApp call dispute. It is still unknown whether these calls were made by the Supreme Court registrar or someone else. An investigation into the matter can reveal the reality. This story was originally published in The News
  3. US President Donald Trump - AFP File Photo WASHINGTON: The special counsel overseeing the probe into Russia's alleged meddling in the US election is looking at whether President Donald Trump tried to obstruct justice, The Washington Post reported Wednesday, citing unnamed officials. In a pivotal shift in the investigation that has riveted Americans like no other in decades, senior intelligence officials have agreed to be interviewed by investigators working for the special counsel, Robert Mueller, the Post said. It quoted five people briefed on the requests and said those who have agreed to be interviewed are Daniel Coats, the director of national intelligence, Admiral Mike Rogers, head of the National Security Agency, and his recently departed deputy, Richard Ledgett. The interviews could come as early as this week, the Post said. The newspaper's story was met with a furious reaction from Trump´s personal lawyer and the Republican National Committee. The shift toward investigating the US president began days after Trump fired James Comey as FBI director on May 9, the Post said. The stated focus has been Russia´s alleged efforts to tilt last November´s presidential election Trump´s way, and whether the winner´s campaign was involved in any way. Trump vehemently denies any collusion between himself or any of his associates and Russia. Mueller, himself a widely respected former head of the FBI, has now taken up the angle of possible efforts by Trump to obstruct justice in the investigation, the Post said. Quoting officials, the newspaper said one event of interest to Mueller is an exchange on March 22, when Coats told associates that Trump had asked him to intervene with Comey to get him to back off the focus on Trump´s former national security advisor Mike Flynn as part of the FBI probe of the Russia affair. A few days after the March 22 meeting, Trump spoke separately with Coats and Rogers and asked them to issue public statements to the effect that there was no evidence of coordination between his campaign and Russia. The Post said both men refused the president´s request. Trump´s personal lawyer Marc Kasowitz issued a statement saying the FBI was behind the Post story and called the leak "outrageous, inexcusable and illegal." The lawyer did not deny the story, however. Mueller briefed Senators Wednesday on his work. "I'm going to acknowledge we had a meeting with the special counsel Mueller, but I´m not going to get into the contents," Mark Warner, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, told reporters later. Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel called the accusation in the Post unfounded and said it "changes nothing." "There´s still no evidence of obstruction, and current and former leaders in the intelligence community have repeatedly said there´s been no effort to impede the investigation in any way. The continued illegal leaks are the only crime here," McDaniel said in a statement.
  4. NEW YORK: Chris Cornell, an emblematic grunge rock singer whose sweeping voice masked lifelong struggles with drugs and depression, died after a concert in a possible suicide, police said Thursday. He was 52. Hours after he played in Detroit with his main band Soundgarden on Wednesday evening, first responders rushed to his room at the MGM Grand hotel after being alerted by his family, a police spokeswoman said. Cornell was found unresponsive and his death "is being treated as a possible suicide," Officer Jennifer Moreno said. The Detroit Free Press reported that a band was found around Cornell´s neck. The rocker´s wife, Vicky Karayiannis Cornell, and the rest of the family "were shocked to learn of his sudden and unexpected passing, and they will be working closely with the medical examiner to determine the cause," the singer´s publicist Brian Bumbery said in a statement. "They would like to thank his fans for their continuous love and loyalty and ask that their privacy be respected at this time," he said. Cornell, with little formal training, possessed one of the music world´s most wide-ranging voices which could swing nearly four octaves, moving from a deep baritone to a screechingly high tenor with a chilling vibrato. With his flowing curly hair and often bare chest, Cornell showed off his vocal skills on Soundgarden hits such as "Black Hole Sun," set to dissonant minor chord progressions on guitar. The death closes another chapter in grunge, the subgenre that emerged in Seattle in the late 1980s and combined the rough edges of punk rock with a gloomy introspection. Frontman Kurt Cobain of Nirvana, who towered over the grunge scene, killed himself in 1994 and Stone Temple Pilots singer Scott Weiland died on a tour bus in 2015 from a drug overdose. Pop legend Elton John said he was "shocked and saddened" by the death of Cornell, calling him "a great singer, songwriter and the loveliest man." Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page tweeted: "RIP Chris Cornell. Incredibly Talented. Incredibly Young. Incredibly Missed." This file photo taken on January 20, 2017 shows singer Chris Cornell performing - AFP Drug user since 13 Soundgarden had one of the heaviest sounds in grunge with trappings of heavy metal, even though Cornell cited The Beatles, to whom he listened constantly as a child, as his biggest influence. Cornell, a Seattle native, wrestled with heroin and other drugs as well as depression most of his life, once even calling a metal magazine to confirm a tour cancellation from a payphone at a rehab clinic. In a 1994 interview with Rolling Stone, Cornell said he had used drugs daily from age 13. He never completed high school and said he barely talked to anyone for two years as a teenager. He found his outlet in music, first as a drummer and then a singer and guitarist as he joined guitarist Kim Thayil and bassist Hiro Yamamoto to form Soundgarden. His songs such as "Fell on Black Days" and "The Day I Tried to Live" appeared to touch on his darkness, but Cornell would play down deeper meanings that listeners heard in his lyrics. Sobriety and creative energy Besides Soundgarden, Cornell founded the early grunge band Temple of the Dog and also sang with Audioslave -- a supergroup with members of Rage Against the Machine in which Cornell took a leftist political slant. Cornell had sobered up by the mid-2000s. His final decade marked a resurgence of creative energy, with Cornell reuniting Soundgarden and releasing a series of solo albums. Showing a new range, he wrote a theme song for the James Bond film "Casino Royale" and covered Michael Jackson´s "Billie Jean." Asked about his past addictions, Cornell often remarked that drug problems were overlooked among non-famous people. After Weiland´s death, Cornell told a radio station there was a long history culturally of "not deifying, but glamorising a little bit, ´the dead guy,´ whether it´s a rock star or a famous actor." Cornell is survived by three children. Two are with his second wife Karayiannis, a Greek music publicist whom the singer met when she was working in Paris. His last song, "The Promise," was the theme to Christian Bale´s film of the same name about the Armenian genocide, a term rejected by Turkey. "One promise that always remains / No matter the price," Cornell sings. "A promise to survive, persevere and thrive."
  5. Cyber security researchers have found technical evidence they said could link North Korea with the global WannaCry "ransomware" cyber attack that has infected more than 300,000 computers in 150 countries since Friday. Symantec (SYMC.O) and Kaspersky Lab said on Monday that some code in an earlier version of the WannaCry software had also appeared in programs used by the Lazarus Group, which researchers from many companies have identified as a North Korea-run hacking operation. "This is the best clue we have seen to date as to the origins of WannaCry," Kaspersky Lab researcher Kurt Baumgartner told Reuters. Both firms said it was too early to tell whether North Korea was involved in the attacks, based on the evidence that was published on Twitter by Google security researcher Neel Mehta. The attacks, which slowed on Monday, are among the fastest-spreading extortion campaigns on record. The research will be closely followed by law enforcement agencies around the world, including Washington, where President Donald Trump's homeland security adviser said on Monday that both foreign nations and cyber criminals were possible culprits. The two security firms said they needed to study the code more and asked for others to help with the analysis. Hackers do reuse code from other operations, so even copied lines fall well short of proof. U.S. and European security officials told Reuters on condition of anonymity that it was too early to say who might be behind the attacks, but they did not rule out North Korea as a suspect. FireEye Inc (FEYE.O), another large cyber security firm, said it was also investigating a possible link. "The similarities we see between malware linked to that group and WannaCry are not unique enough to be strongly suggestive of a common operator," FireEye researcher John Miller said. The Lazarus hackers, acting for impoverished North Korea, have been more brazen in pursuit of financial gain than others, and have been blamed for the theft of $81 million from the Bangladesh central bank, according to some cyber security firms. The North Korean mission to the United Nations was not immediately available for comment. Regardless of the source of the attack, investors piled into cyber security stocks on Monday, betting that governments and corporations will spend more to upgrade their defenses. The perpetrators had raised less than $70,000 from users paying to regain access to their computers, according to Trump homeland security adviser Tom Bossert. "We are not aware if payments have led to any data recovery," Bossert said, adding that no U.S. federal government systems had been affected. WannaCry demanded ransoms starting at $300, in line with many cyber extortion campaigns, which keep pricing low so more victims will pay. Still, some security experts said they were not sure if the motive of WannaCry was primarily to make money, noting that large cyber extortion campaigns typically generate millions of dollars of revenue. “I believe that this was spread for the purpose of causing as much damage as possible,” said Matthew Hickey, a co-founder of British cyber consulting firm Hacker House. The countries most affected by WannaCry to date are Russia, Taiwan, Ukraine, and India, according to Czech security firm Avast. The number of infections has fallen dramatically since Friday’s peak when more than 9,000 computers were being hit per hour. Earlier on Monday, Chinese traffic police and schools reported they had been targeted as the attack rolled into Asia for the new work week, but no there were no major disruptions. Authorities in Europe and the United States turned their attention to preventing hackers from spreading new versions of the virus. Shares in firms that provide cyber security services rose sharply, led by Israel's Cyren Ltd (CYRN.O) and U.S.-based FireEye (FEYE.O). Cisco Systems (CSCO.O) closed up 2.3 percent and was the second-biggest gainer in the Dow Jones Industrial Average, as investors focused more on opportunities that the attack presented for technology firms than the risk it posed to corporations. Morgan Stanley, in upgrading the stock, said Cisco should benefit from network spending driven by security needs. Beyond the immediate need to shore up computer defenses, the attack turned cyber security into a political topic in Europe and the United States, including discussion of the role national governments play. In a blog post on Sunday, Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) President Brad Smith confirmed what researchers already widely concluded: The attack made use of a hacking tool built by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) that had leaked online in April. He poured fuel on a long-running debate over how government intelligence services should balance their desire to keep software flaws secret - in order to conduct espionage and cyber warfare - against sharing those flaws with technology companies to better secure the internet. On Monday, Bossert sought to distance the NSA from any blame. "This was not a tool developed by the NSA to hold random data. This was a tool developed by culpable parties, potentially criminals or foreign nation-states, that were put together in such a way as to deliver phishing emails, put it into embedded documents, and cause infection, encryption, and locking," Bossert said. Russian President Vladimir Putin, noting the technology's link to the U.S. spy service, said it should be "discussed immediately on a serious political level." "Once they're let out of the lamp, the genius of this kind, especially those created by intelligence services, can later do damage to their authors and creators," he said.
  6. PESHAWAR: Pakistan Peoples Party co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari on Monday claimed that efforts by his party had enabled everyone in the country to carry out political activities in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas. Addressing FATA convention, Zardari said that the extension of the Political Parties Act to the region was made possible by his party. PPP also increased funds for FATA from Rs3 billion to Rs19 billion, he said. “Whatever we did is in front of everyone,” the former president said. We want FATA to merge in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and not be a slave to a governor and the president, he added. Zardari further said that his party wants the region to have its own high court. Announcing PPP secretariat in FATA, he claimed that he will strengthen his party in the region and will ask its people before distributing party tickers.
  7. Uber Technologies Inc [UBER.UL] goes before a U.S. judge on Wednesday to fight for the right to continue work on its self-driving car program, the latest phase in a courtroom battle over trade secrets that threatens to topple a central pillar of Uber's growth strategy. The ride-services company is contesting a lawsuit by Alphabet Inc's (GOOGL.O) self-driving car unit, Waymo, which accused former Waymo engineer and current Uber executive Anthony Levandowski of taking technical secrets from Waymo and using them to help Uber's self-driving car development. If it were proven that Levandowski and Uber conspired in taking the information, that could have dire consequences for Uber, say legal and ride-hailing industry experts. Uber's $68 billion valuation is propped up in part by investors' belief it will be a dominant player in the emerging business of self-driving cars. At issue on Wednesday is Waymo's demand that U.S. District Court Judge William Alsup in San Francisco issued an injunction barring Uber from using any of the technology that Waymo said was stolen. If Alsup issues a broadly worded order against Uber, it could all but shut down Uber's self-driving car program while court proceedings continue. Alsup is not expected to rule immediately on Wednesday, but he may intimate which way he is leaning. At a hearing last month, Alsup warned Uber that it may face an injunction, saying of the evidence amassed by Waymo: "I've never seen a record this strong in 42 years." Uber Chief Executive Officer Travis Kalanick has said that autonomous vehicles, though still in their infancy, are critical to the company's long-term success and future growth. Indeed, autonomous cars promise to change the economics of the ride-hailing business. Among Uber's biggest expenses is the cost of attracting drivers, who have a high turnover rate. And Uber's ability to expand into suburban and rural markets, and areas with low vehicle ownership, and continue to offer a ride within three minutes, largely hinges on the availability of a network of self-driving vehicles. "This is central to Uber," said Arun Sundararajan, a professor at New York University and author of the book "The Sharing Economy," noting that Uber has more at stake than some of its rivals. "If Google can't launch their self-driving car for 10 years instead of five, this will be a little blip in Google's multibillion-dollar revenue. Uber is the one that really depends on it." Uber has faced a string of setbacks in recent months, including allegations of sexual harassment from a former employee and the public release of a video of Kalanick berating an Uber driver. The company, though still growing strongly, is losing hundreds of millions of dollars a quarter, according to information the company released last month. "Any big setback here would likely hit its valuation hard," said Jan Dawson, an Uber analyst with Jackdaw Research. A blanket ban on Uber's autonomous efforts "would certainly stall its efforts for a while and put it even further behind Waymo and others." Uber has self-driving tests underway in Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Arizona. It started work on the technology six years after Google began. Other industry watchers say that Uber, which has deep pockets and other value propositions such as huge swaths of traffic and rider data, could ride out a negative ruling in the Waymo case. The Waymo lawsuit, filed in February, revolves around a laser-based technology called Lidar that allows cars to "see" their surroundings and detect the location of other cars and pedestrians Waymo said Levandowski, who until last week was head of Uber's self-driving car program, stole more than 14,000 confidential documents before leaving his job at Waymo in January 2016. He formed a self-driving truck startup, Otto, which Uber bought in August for $680 million. Uber has said Waymo's claims are false, and in a court filing called the preliminary injunction motion "a misfire." Uber has not denied Levandowski took files from Waymo, but said it never possessed any of the confidential information that Waymo accused Levandowski of stealing. Levandowski himself has invoked his constitutional right against self-incrimination because of the possibility of a future criminal probe. And last week, Levandowski said in an email to Uber employees he would stay at Uber but was stepping down from his work on Lidar. "You're left to assume the worst," said Elizabeth Rowe, an intellectual property professor at University of Florida Levin College of Law. In a deposition of Levandowski last month, attorneys for Waymo also probed Levandowski about Kalanick, whether the CEO encouraged him to take Waymo's confidential material, according to a court transcript. Levandowski invoked the Fifth Amendment. A spokesman for Uber declined to comment on the deposition.
  8. WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump said a major conflict with North Korea was possible over its nuclear and ballistic missile programs, while China said the situation on the Korean peninsula could escalate or slip out of control. Trump, speaking to Reuters on Thursday, said he wanted to peacefully resolve the crisis, possibly through the use of new economic sanctions, although a military option was not off the table. "There is a chance that we could end up having a major, major conflict with North Korea," Trump said in an interview at the Oval Office. "We'd love to solve things diplomatically but it's very difficult," he said, describing North Korea as his biggest global challenge. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said there was a danger that the situation on the Korean peninsula could escalate or slip out of control, according to China's foreign ministry. Wang made the comments in a meeting with a Russian diplomat on Thursday at the United Nations, the ministry said in a statement. China, the only major ally of North Korea, has been increasingly uncomfortable in recent months about its neighbour's pursuit of nuclear weapons and long-range ballistic missiles in violation of UN resolutions. Trump lavished praise on Chinese President Xi Jinping for trying to rein in Pyongyang, calling him "a good man". "I believe he is trying very hard. I know he would like to be able to do something. Perhaps it's possible that he can't. But I think he'd like to be able to do something," Trump said. US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Thursday that China has asked North Korea not to conduct any more nuclear tests. Beijing had warned Pyongyang it would impose unilateral sanctions if it went ahead, he added. "We were told by the Chinese that they informed the regime that if they did conduct further nuclear tests, China would be taking sanctions actions on their own," Tillerson said on Fox News, without specifying what sanctions he was referring to. Tillerson did not say when China made the threat and there was no immediate confirmation from Beijing. He is due to chair a meeting with UN Security Council foreign ministers on Friday, where he said he would stress the need for members to fully implement existing sanctions as well as possible next steps. China banned imports of North Korean coal in February, cutting off its most important export, and Chinese media this month raised the possibility of restricting oil shipments to the North if it unleashed more provocations. MISSILE DEFENSE, CARRIER GROUP In a show of force, the United States is sending the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier group to waters off the Korean peninsula, where it will join the USS Michigan, a nuclear submarine that docked in South Korea on Tuesday. South Korea's navy has said it will hold drills with the US strike group. Admiral Harry Harris, the top US commander in the Pacific, said on Wednesday the carrier was in the Philippine Sea, within two hours' striking distance of North Korea if need be. Harris also said a US missile defence system being deployed in South Korea to ward off any possible North Korean attack would be operational in coming days. However, Beijing has been angered by the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defence system, complaining that its radar can see deep into China and undermines its security. Trump said in the interview he wants South Korea to pay the cost of the THAAD, which he estimated at $1 billion. South Korea, one of Washington's most crucial allies in the region, said the United States would have to bear the cost, pointing to possible friction ahead. Trump has vowed to prevent North Korea from being able to hit the United States with a nuclear missile, a capability experts say Pyongyang could have some time after 2020. North Korea has conducted five nuclear tests and numerous missile tests, including one this month, a day before a summit meeting between Trump and Xi in Florida. Any direct US military action would run the risk of massive North Korean retaliation and huge casualties in Japan and South Korea and among US forces in both countries. Trump, asked if he considered North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to be rational, said he was operating under the assumption that he is rational. He noted that Kim had taken over his country at an early age. "As to whether or not he's rational, I have no opinion on it. I hope he's rational," he said. In Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin and visiting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called on North Korea and other countries on Thursday to avoid behaviour or rhetoric that could increase tensions around Pyongyang's nuclear program.
  9. SAN FRANCISCO: The US Homeland Security Department's inspector general said on Friday he was investigating possible abuse of authority in a case that triggered a lawsuit against the department by Twitter Inc. Inspector General John Roth described the probe in a letter to Senator Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat who had asked for an investigation due to concerns about free speech protections. In a lawsuit on April 6, Twitter disclosed that it received a summons in March from the US Bureau of Customs and Border Protection, an agency within Homeland Security, demanding records about an account on the social media platform identified by the handle @ALT_uscis. The account has featured posts critical of President Donald Trump's immigration policies, leading Twitter to complain in its lawsuit that the summons was an unlawful attempt to suppress dissent. The agency dropped its demand of Twitter the day after the suit was filed. Customs bureau spokesman Mike Friel said on Friday that the bureau requested the inspector general's review and will fully support it. The people behind the Twitter account have not disclosed their identities, but the use of "ALT" with a government agency acronym has led many to assume government employees were behind the tweets critical of Trump. The lawsuit said the account "claims to be" the work of at least one federal immigration employee. USCIS is the acronym of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, a component of Homeland Security. Roth's office is charged with investigating waste, fraud and abuse within Homeland Security. He wrote in his letter that he was looking at whether the summons to Twitter "was improper in any way, including whether CBP abused its authority." "DHS OIG is also reviewing potential broader misuse of summons authority at the department," he added. Wyden's office posted the letter online. A representative for Roth could not immediately be reached for comment. A Twitter spokeswoman declined to comment.
  10. Bandra resident Mohammad Shams Aalam Shaikh, whose life centered around karate, was taken by a storm when he was diagnosed with a tumor in his spine. A black belt holder and a qualified coach with over 40 gold medals to his credit, the mechanical engineer didn’t give up on his life even after being paralyzed and decided to participate in the tournament. Twitter After going through a lot of surgeries, his lower body got paralyzed. But last Saturday he braced the sea and his immobility at Candolim beach in Goa to break his own record for the longest open sea swimming by a paraplegic. "I expected to complete the distance in two or two-and-half hours, but I had to swim against a very strong tide for a larger part of the course," Shaikh said after completing the belt in 4 hours and 4 minutes. "I was assessed with 100% disability in 2012. I didn't even have control over passing urine. Swimming the butterfly helped me a lot and today I don't need a catheter to relieve myself. This is a huge achievement for me and I was assessed as having 72% disability during the latest review, all because of swimming," he told TOI on the sidelines of the first ever wheelchair accessible beach festival being held at the Candolim beach. It was swimming that helped him overcome depression and improve his mobility. Twitter "People with disabilities should motivate themselves to come out of their homes, but for this we need the government's support to make spaces, buildings and transportation accessible," he said. It’s really impressive and inspiring to see his courage and the positivity that he has in his life.
  11. ‘Baba’ is back from his holiday and here to give us major styling goals. Bollywood's official risk-taker and fashion’s experimental frontman, Ranveer Singh, is always aware that the ball is in his court. He can do the unthinkable, carry it off with swag and go beyond the horizon to appear dripping wet in style. Spotted outside a suburban hotel in Mumbai, Mr. Durex was spotted channeling a fashion masterclass of sorts. Cool? - #ranveersingh #bollywood A post shared by DeepVeerYanka (@deepveeryanka) on Mar 22, 2017 at 11:57pm PDT Wearing five key pieces that arguably shouldn't have been paired together (all at once)—a dark-toned blazer, joggers, fedora, multi-coloured trainers and tinted sunglasses, Ranveer Singh has really learnt how to perfect the mismatch. The colour balance is pitch-perfect. The bandholz beard is groomed to perfection. The ‘walk of shame’ sunglasses? Let’s just leave it to that. (Pro-tip: Don’t try this at home!)