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    NASA is vehemently denying the Russian claim that the International Space Station has suffered 'bad' cracks on the Zarya module. 'There are currently no issues impacting crew or normal International Space Station operations, and no new potential leak sites have been identified,' a NASA spokesperson told DailyMail.com via email. 'We are in regular coordination for station operations with all our international partners, including Roscosmos.' On Monday, Vladimir Solovyov, chief engineer of Russian rocket and space corporation Energia, said 'superficial fissures' were discovered in some places on the Zarya module, also known as the Functional Cargo Block.  NASA is vehemently denying the Russian claim that the International Space Station has suffered 'bad' cracks on the Zarya module, DailyMail.com has learned The chief engineer of Energia recently said 'bad' 'superficial fissures' were discovered on the module and could spread over time 'This is bad and suggests that the fissures will begin to spread over time,' Solovyov told Russian state-owned news agency RIA. Solovyov added that a significant portion of the equipment on the ISS is aging, having previously warned there could be an...
    Zion Williamson. Nick Wass/AP Images Zion Williamson said he loves playing in New York and is glad to talk about how much likes it. The NBA world immediately started drawing connections to Williamson and the Knicks. Williamson is at least three years removed from being able to force his way to the Knicks.  Visit Insider's homepage for more stories. New Orleans Pelicans star Zion Williamson on Sunday made an eyebrow-raising comment that has piqued the interest of the NBA world. After a 122-112 overtime loss to the New York Knicks, Williamson was asked what it was like playing his first NBA game at Madison Square Garden. "I'm glad you asked that,'' Williamson said. "New York is the mecca of basketball. I love playing here. I played here in college [at Duke]. This is my first time playing in the pros. This atmosphere, whether they're cheering for you or booing you, it's amazing. Outside of New Orleans, obviously, this might be my favorite place to play. I can't lie to you.''—Kazeem Famuyide ???? (@Kazeem) April 18, 2021Williamson's sentiment...
    Quickly turning around results of the process to detect the new 'super-covid' variant 'isn't an urgent need,' because the findings won't change how the US handles the pandemic, a CDC official told DailyMail.com.  'For less urgent sequencing, when there isn't an urgent need to get the data turned around quickly, it's much more efficient to batch them when it's [for the purpose of] large surveillance data,' Dr Dr Greg Armstrong, director of the CDC's Office of Advanced Molecular Detection, told DailyMail.com when asked why it takes the CDC up to two weeks to tell states whether samples contain the new variant.  At least seven states have confirmed cases of the 70 percent more infectious variant, dubbed B117, though two have only confirmed their cases to the CDC and not announced them publicly. So far, at least 37 cases of 'super-covid' have been confirmed in the US.   'We assumed it was already here in the US, given how strong the economic ties are between here and the UK, so we figured we'd be able to find it relatively quickly. We're aware of...
    David Alandete FOLLOW Washington Correspondent Updated: 11/18/2020 03:27 AM Save Donald Trump fired the director of the US government’s cybersecurity agency on Tuesday because a week ago he endorsed the integrity and legitimacy of the November 3 elections, against the president’s criteria. In a message on Twitter, Trump said that Christopher Krebs he was wrong to defend that the elections were safe, and therefore he was struck down in a final way. The truth is that Krebs expected the dismissal. Despite the persistent allegations of fraud by the president, the Executive Committee of the Council for the Coordination of Electoral Infrastructure, which depends on the Ministry of National Security, issued a statement last week in which it said that “there is no evidence that any voting systems there deleted or lost votes, has changed votes or has been manipulated in any way. That same committee added in a statement authorized by Krebs that “the November 3 elections they were the safest in US history.. Right now, across the country, officials are reviewing and checking...
    BERLIN (AP) — The U.N. nuclear agency says slightly elevated levels of radioactivity that have been detected in northern Europe pose no risk to human health or to the environment but it's still unclear what the cause was. The Finnish, Norwegian and Swedish radiation and nuclear safety watchdogs said last week that they had spotted small amounts of radioactive isotopes in parts of Finland, southern Scandinavia and the Arctic. The International Atomic Energy Agency's director general, Rafael Grossi, said in a statement late Monday that “the levels reported to the IAEA are very low and pose no risk to human health and the environment.” The Vienna-based agency contacted European countries on Saturday to request information. It said that, by Monday afternoon, 29 had voluntarily reported that nothing had happened on their territory that might have caused the concentrations of isotopes in the air. A few countries outside Europe reported similar findings. Russia wasn’t on the list of countries that had reported back to the IAEA by Monday. "“I expect more member states to provide relevant information and data to us,...
    BERLIN (AP) — The U.N. nuclear agency says slightly elevated levels of radioactivity that have been detected in northern Europe pose no risk to human health or to the environment but it’s still unclear what the cause was. The Finnish, Norwegian and Swedish radiation and nuclear safety watchdogs said last week that they had spotted small amounts of radioactive isotopes in parts of Finland, southern Scandinavia and the Arctic. The International Atomic Energy Agency’s director general, Rafael Grossi, said in a statement late Monday that “the levels reported to the IAEA are very low and pose no risk to human health and the environment.” The Vienna-based agency contacted European countries on Saturday to request information. It said that, by Monday afternoon, 29 had voluntarily reported that nothing had happened on their territory that might have caused the concentrations of isotopes in the air. A few countries outside Europe reported similar findings. Russia wasn’t on the list of countries that had reported back to the IAEA by Monday. ““I expect more member states to provide relevant information and data...
    (CNN) For an intelligence service that is supposed to operate in the shadows, the GRU seems to attract a lot of headlines.The GRU -- formally known as Main Directorate of the General Staff -- has long been accused by the West of orchestrating brazen and high-profile attacks, including the hacking of Democratic Party email accounts during the 2016 US presidential election and the 2018 nerve agent attack in Salisbury, England. Now the spy agency is again at the center of international attention, after reports that US intelligence concluded GRU operatives offered cash incentives to the Taliban to kill American and British troops in Afghanistan. The news has already caused a political storm in Washington, with congressional leaders demanding answers from the Trump administration. But observers also wonder why the Russian intelligence agency would run an operation that potentially conflicts with Russia's own stated goals to bring warring parties to the table in Afghanistan and avoid a precipitous collapse of the central government.From pandering to Putin to abusing allies and ignoring his own advisers, Trumps phone calls alarm US officials Kremlin...
    For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis and more, subscribe to Mother Jones' newsletters. Here’s another Supreme Court case from this morning: The Supreme Court on Monday made it easier for the president to get rid of the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, but allowed the watchdog agency created in the wake of the global financial crisis to stand. ….In its 5-4 ruling Monday, the court majority said the structure of the investigative and enforcement agency violates the Constitution by “concentrating power in a unilateral actor insulated from Presidential control,” wrote Roberts, who was joined Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel A. Alito Jr., Neil M. Gorsuch and Brett M. Kavanaugh. Think about this. The question at hand is whether the president has the inherent right to fire the head of an agency even if Congress restricts that ability. In fact, it’s even more arcane than that: it’s whether the president has the inherent right to fire the head of an agency run by a single person, rather than a multi-person board. And yet, the decision ended up being decided...
    The Supreme Court on Monday ruled that the federal law which created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) during the Obama administration unconstitutionally limited the reasons for which the president could fire its director -- but in doing so allowed the agency to continue operating, saying that the part of the law requiring certain reasons for the director's removal is "severable" from the rest. The CFPB is partially the brain-child of former Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren. D-Mass., and was signed into law by former President Obama in the wake of the 2008 recession and mortgage crisis. The ruling from the high court could affect the authority of dozens of other federal agencies with quasi-independent status, like the Federal Reserve and the Social Security Administration. "We therefore hold that the structure of the CFPB violates the separation of powers. We go on to hold that the CFPB Director’s removal protection is severable from the other statutory provisions bearing on the CFPB’s authority. The agency may therefore continue to operate, but its Director, in light of our decision, must be removable by the President...
    BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — The Crow Tribe of Indians reported a weekend homicide in Crow Agency. The incident involved two tribal members and happened at about 5 p.m. Sunday at a convenience store, the tribe said in a news release. The names of those involved were not released. The tribe’s newly formed police department responded and secured the scene, but federal agencies will investigate the death. The FBI has jurisdiction over major crimes on Indian reservations. Officials did not release any information on what led to the homicide, The Billings Gazette reported. Tribal Chairman A.J. Not Afraid had announced on Friday that the new Crow Tribe Police Department would be in full operation starting on Saturday. Not Afraid said the tribe was ending its police protection agreement with the Bureau of Indian Affairs because tribal residents “deserved better." The Crow Tribe “no longer seeks to lead the nation in missing and murdered indigenous people and the Crow Tribe will no longer allow drug and human trafficking cases to go unprosecuted and uninvestigated," Not Afraid said. Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All...
    CAPE HATTERAS, N.C. (AP) — The U.S. Coast Guard has suspended its search for a crewmember of a tanker ship who went overboard approximately 400 miles east of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. The agency said in a news release Friday night that Coast Guard aircrews flew 22 sorties for a period of 45 combined hours over a search area of approximately 4,000 square miles. Two good Samaritan vessels also assisted in the search. The agency on Wednesday said a man was reported overboard from the tanker ship Hellas Gladiator. The Hellas Gladiator was headed to the Netherlands, The Virginian-Pilot previously reported. It sails under the flag of Malta. Copyright © 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.
    A new backlog of Minnesota vehicle registration renewals has sprung up as a result of coronavirus restrictions, officials revealed Friday. Mail-in tab renewals that require extra work to process … well, anything mail related gets complicated when workers are telecommuting. Here’s how the state’s Division of Driver and Vehicles Services, aka “the DMV,” described the problem Friday: “When a mailed-in renewal includes payment for the wrong amount, requires an address change or is missing information, the renewal requires additional processing. During the stay at home order, DVS staff was unable to process these particular renewals because staff was telecommuting and did not have access to the mailed-in documents.” About 7,700 mail-in applications dating back to May 11 are affected by the delays, the agency said, noting that’s only a fraction of the 94,000 mail-in applications that DVS has successfully processed, on average, per month since January. STOPGAP SOLUTION In response, the agency said it will mail letters to folks stuck in the backlog. That letter each person gets will serve as proof of registration until the situation is sorted out....
    ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Alaska’s state investment corporation has approved a $1 million survey plan that will help fund work on a road to reach a mining project. The board of the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority voted Wednesday to approve spending up to $500,000 this year for survey work on the so-called Ambler Access Project, The Anchorage Daily News reported. The funds will be matched by Ambler Metals LLC, which envisions digging mines in the area served by the 211-mile (340-kilometer) road in the Brooks Range mountains. The funds will pay for aerial surveys along a portion of the road’s planned route in northern Alaska, authority officials said. The agency placed $35 million in its Arctic Infrastructure Development Fund earlier this year. The survey work will use funds from that account and the Ambler Metals contribution. Officials at the development and export authority, a public corporation owned by the state, said they envision the mining firm will extend the funding to the rest of the road’s pre-development work. The authority and the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public...
    Artificial intelligence will help scientists search for signs of ancient life on Mars and other planets thanks to work by NASA scientists in training the system.  The European Space Agency (ESA) Rosalind Franklin 'ExoMars' rover will be the first to have the new AI system when it leaves for the Red Planet in 2022/2023. Allowing these intelligent systems to choose both what to analyse and what to tell us back on Earth will overcome severe limits on how information is transmitted over huge distances in the search for life from distant planets.  The system is being tested on Mars but has been designed to be used in future missions to the icy moons of Jupiter and Saturn where distance is more of an issue.  The European Space Agency (ESA) Rosalind Franklin 'ExoMars' rover will be the first to have the new AI system when it leaves for the Red Planet in 2022/2023 Presenting the work at the Goldschmidt Geochemistry conference, lead researcher Victoria Da Poian from NASA said this was a 'visionary step in space exploration'. Giving AI the...
    Tehran (AFP) – A gas tank explosion rocked Tehran overnight near a military complex that had come under scrutiny five years ago from the UN nuclear watchdog, Iran’s defence ministry said Friday. The tanks blew up at around midnight, with Fars news agency saying “a number of social media users reported seeing an orange light” in the east of the Iranian capital. Amateur footage aired on state television showed what appeared to be a massive orange fireball on the horizon in the middle of the night. It showed what it said was the aftermath of the explosion in daylight, with at least two large cylindrical tanks damaged by fire along with a scorched nearby field. The gas tanks “exploded in the Parchin public area. Thank God, there were no casualties,” said defence ministry spokesman Brigadier General Davoud Abdi. “The incident took place in the southeast of Tehran due to leaking gas tanks which occurred in the public area of Parchin and caused the explosion.” The blaze was brought under control by firefighters, and investigations were under way to determine the...
    NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Calls to cut the NYPD budget come as the city faces a $10 billion budget gap, and Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council have just five days to solve the fiscal crisis. The streets could get dirtier. There could be fewer firefighters on trucks and possible cuts in the classroom. None of those include de Blasio’s threat to layoff 22,000 people. RELATED STORY: Growing Concern Pandemic Could Cause Spike In Homeless Population Facing the June 30 budget deadline, the mayor and City Council are far apart on how to solve the coronavirus fiscal crisis. The council wants to cut the fat, slashing agency budgets by 5-7%. The mayor wants $1 billion in union givebacks, or he’ll take an ax to the workforce. “We’re really in a jam,” said de Blasio. CBS2 political reporter Marcia Kramer asked him where the job cuts could come from. “Literally every agency and I hate saying that. I’m not saying that with anything but pain,” said de Blasio.   Council finance chair Daniel Dromm told CBS2 that cutting the NYPD...
    Despite a gut punch to its budget, BART plans no layoffs or fare hikes as it navigates the financial crisis amid a global coronavirus pandemic that has chased hundreds of thousands of riders from the Bay Area’s core transit system. The annual budget that BART’s board approved Thursday morning also sets the stage for a debate this fall over the role played by its police department, asking whether traditional armed officers are the right response to problems of homelessness, mental health and drug addiction. Uncertainty permeates the $915 million spending plan, which agency officials are calling “balanced but precarious.” The agency estimates rider fares, normally its primary source of income, will be less than a third of pre-pandemic levels, though the amount could end up being far lower or higher depending on how the coronavirus crisis pans out. Passengers have begun slowly returning to BART and other transit systems, but ridership has barely crept above one-tenth of what trains were carrying before COVID-19 closed down the Bay Area. Sales taxes, another key revenue stream, are uncertain due to the economic...
    OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — An audit of Oklahoma’s Medicaid agency released on Thursday found income eligibility was not verified for about 37% of its recipients. State Auditor & Inspector Cindy Byrd conducted the audit of the Oklahoma Health Care Authority at the request of Gov. Kevin Stitt. The audit projected an estimated $845 million in claims were paid to recipients whose income was not verified, although that does not mean the recipients did not qualify for services. “It’s critical that OHCA use every electronic, digital, or other means of data available to both verify income eligibility at the time of application and to regularly confirm continued eligibility while enrolled in the program,” Byrd said in a statement. Oklahoma Health Care Authority CEO Kevin Corbett said he plans to implement the audit recommendations to enhance the existing verification processes. Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Tags: Oklahoma
    WASHINGTON (AP) — A government whistleblower ousted from a leading role in battling COVID-19 alleged Thursday that the Trump administration has intensified its campaign to punish him for revealing shortcomings in the U.S. response. Dr. Rick Bright, former director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, said in an amended complaint filed with a federal watchdog agency that he has been relegated to a lesser role in his new assignment at the National Institutes of Health, unable to lend his full expertise to the battle against COVID-19. The complaint also said Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar is leading a “coordinated effort” to undermine Bright in his new role, and it formally requests that Azar remove himself from dealing with the case. Bright, a vaccine expert, was supposed to be working on virus diagnostic tests at NIH. But he “is cut off from all vaccine work, cut off from all therapeutic work, and has a very limited role in the diagnostic work,” said the complaint. “His extremely narrow role is confined to making contracts with diagnostics companies that...
    Nearly twice as many passengers passed through BART turnstiles last week as did during the transit agency’s lowest ridership of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. But overall ridership remains a fraction of what it once was, with many once-frequent riders finding other methods of transportation or staying home. The agency surveyed a random sample of 1,268 people who previously identified as using the BART, which connects San Francisco, San Mateo, Contra Costa, Alameda and Santa Clara counties. Five of six respondents said they’re no longer riding BART trains, and only 8% said they were riding at least three times a week. Ridership has been slowly ticking up since the beginning of May, but it was still nearly 90% lower than normal last week. But that’s up from a low of 6% ridership during the first week of April. The passengers the agency serves have shifted since the pandemic and ensuing stay-at-home orders. Those who still regularly use BART are overwhelmingly men and people of color in lower-income brackets. The majority (60%) of those still commuting via BART claim high school as...
    AMMAN, Jordan (AP) — Growing desperation in Syria could trigger another mass exodus unless donor countries send more funds to alleviate hunger and the international community ensures aid shipments can reach the war-ravaged country, the head of the U.N. food agency said Thursday. World Food Program Executive Director David Beasley said it’s critical to keep aid flowing through border crossings, at a time when growing numbers of people are “literally on the brink of starvation.” He spoke to The Associated Press ahead of next week’s donor conference for Syria, hosted by European Union in Brussels. The conference attempts to raise several billion dollars each year to alleviate the fallout from Syria’s nine-year-old war, which has displaced millions of people. Actual payouts typically fall short of pledges made at such gatherings. The WFP Syria operation faces a funding shortfall of $200 million this year. The conference next Tuesday comes amid a global economic recession brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, and an economic meltdown in Syria where the local currency has spiraled out of control. Syria’s economic turmoil has been...
    This story was produced by ProPublica, a Pulitzer Prize-winning nonprofit investigative newsroom. It has become a familiar pattern: President Donald Trump says something that doesn’t line up with the facts held by scientists and other experts at government agencies. Then, instead of pushing back, federal officials scramble to reconcile the fiction with their own public statements. It happened in March, when Trump pushed his opinion that antimalarial drugs could treat COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an unusual directive that lent credence to the president’s perspective: “Although optimal dosing and duration of hydroxychloroquine for treatment of COVID-19 are unknown, some U.S. clinicians have reported anecdotally” on specific dosages that the CDC then lists. The CDC’s language — which the agency later retracted — shocked experts, who said the drug needed to be treated with caution. The CDC told Reuters the agency had prepared the guidance at the behest of the White House. Perhaps the best known example of an agency twisting itself into a pretzel stems from “Sharpiegate.” After the National Weather Service’s Birmingham, Alabama, office contradicted Trump’s...
    CARYVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — An east Tennessee man has pleaded guilty to illegally killing an elk that was part of a university study, wildlife officials said. Sean Doney, 33, pleaded guilty Tuesday to breaking hunting-related state laws in the December killing of a cow elk in the North Cumberland Wildlife Management Area, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency said in a news release The elk was found in a food plot in the wildlife management area on Dec. 23. The elk was wearing a GPS collar as part of a three-year research study by the University of Tennessee Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries, the agency said. The university's College of Veterinary Medicine found the elk was shot. Doney, of Caryville, was arrested after he was identified by members of the public after rewards were offered by outdoor recreation groups, the agency said. He faces 30 days in jail. Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Tags: Tennessee
    The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is preparing to furlough nearly 70 percent of its workforce as the agency faces budget shortfalls amid the coronavirus pandemic, a spokesperson for the agency said Wednesday.  About 13,400 of the agency’s 20,000 employees will receive notice that they will be furloughed starting Aug. 3 if the agency does not receive additional funding from Congress, the spokesperson said in a statement.  The agency is primarily funded by fees from new immigration applications, but has suspended in-person services amid the coronavirus pandemic.  The spokesperson said USCIS has seen a 50 percent drop in receipts and incoming fees since March, and estimates that application and petition receipts will drop by about 61 percent through the end of fiscal year 2020.  "This dramatic drop in revenue has made it impossible for our agency to operate at full capacity," the spokesperson reportedly said in a statement. "Without additional funding from Congress before Aug. 3, USCIS has no choice but to administratively furlough a substantial portion of our workforce." Last month the agency notified Congress of a projected...
    (CNN)The federal agency charged with granting immigration benefits, processing visa applications and approving citizenship is preparing to furlough more than half of its workforce unless Congress provides additional funding, according to a spokesperson. US Citizenship and Immigration Services notified Congress of its projected budget shortfall last month. While conversations with the Hill are ongoing, according to the agency's statement, preparation is underway for furloughs.Approximately 13,400 employees will be notified whether they'll be furloughed beginning August 3, an agency spokesperson said. The agency has nearly 20,000 employees. USCIS is primarily fee-funded and typically continues most operations during lapses in funding, such as last year's government shutdown. But during the pandemic, the agency suspended its in-person services, including all interviews and naturalization ceremonies. Because of the pandemic, the US postponed citizenship ceremonies for months. That could keep thousands from voting in 2020"This dramatic drop in revenue has made it impossible for our agency to operate at full capacity," the spokesperson said in a statement. "Without additional funding from Congress before August 3, USCIS has no choice but to administratively furlough a substantial...
    A lawsuit filed in Washington alleges that Michael Pack, the chief executive of the U.S. Agency for Global Media, acted illegally last week when he fired the heads of government-funded international news agencies. The suit filed Tuesday on behalf of the Open Technology Fund, a nonprofit corporation that supports global internet freedom technologies, contends that Pack did not have the legal authority to dismiss Libby Liu, the chief executive of Open Technology, or fire the chiefs of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia and the Middle East Broadcasting Networks. FILE - Michael Pack, President Donald Trump's choice to lead the U.S. Agency for Global Media, is seen at his confirmation hearing, on Capitol Hill, in Washington, Sept. 19, 2019. Pack's nomination was confirmed June 4, 2020.Pack, who took control of USAGM this month, also oversees Voice of America, but the lawsuit pertains to Pack’s dismissals of the heads of the USAGM entities, not his oversight of VOA. Michael Pack is the first Senate-confirmed CEO of USAGM following a major overhaul of the agency’s leadership structure that Congress approved...
    DETROIT (AP) — Complaints that Tesla’s giant touch screens can fail have drawn the attention of U.S. safety regulators. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says in documents that it’s investigating failures in the 2012 through 2015 Tesla Model S. Documents posted Wednesday say the agency has received 11 complaints about the screens over the past 13 months in vehicles that have been in use from 3.9 years to 6.3 years. If the screens fail, the cars will lose the rear camera display, causing reduced visibility. No crashes or injuries have been reported. A message was left early Wednesday seeking comment from Tesla. The probe covers 63,000 Model S vehicles with screens controlled by flash memory devices with finite lifespans based on the number of program and erase cycles, the documents said. The screens can fail prematurely because the memory can wear out. The same screens and processors were used in 159,000 2012 through 2018 Model S and 2016 to 2018 Model X vehicles built through early 2018, the agency said. Failures also cause loss of touch screen features...
    Tesla Model S dual motor all electric sedan on display at Brussels Expo on January 9, 2020 in Brussels, Belgium.Sjoerd van der Wal | Getty Images Complaints that Tesla's giant touch screens can fail have drawn the attention of U.S. safety regulators. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says in documents that it's investigating failures in the 2012 through 2015 Tesla Model S. Documents posted Wednesday say the agency has received 11 complaints about the screens over the past 13 months in vehicles that have been in use from 3.9 years to 6.3 years. If the screens fail, the cars will lose the rear camera display, causing reduced visibility. No crashes or injuries have been reported. A message was left early Wednesday seeking comment from Tesla. The probe covers 63,000 Model S vehicles with screens controlled by flash memory devices with finite lifespans based on the number of program and erase cycles, the documents said. The screens can fail prematurely because the memory can wear out. The same screens and processors were used in 159,000 2012 through 2018 Model S...
    Three employees reportedly quit J.K. Rowling's literary agency following the social media firestorm ignited by the "Harry Potter" scribe's controversial comments about sex and gender. Fox Fisher, a former author of The Blair Partnership, said he and three others left the agency, which represents Rowling, due to its lack of support for the transgender community. The famed author first came under fire after she shared an article titled “Opinion: Creating a more equal post-COVID-19- world for people who menstruate.” Rowling mocked the use of the phrase “people who menstruate,” suggesting that the title should have used the less-inclusive term “women.” Fisher appeared on BBC "Today" this week and said it appears Rowling, 54, has "fallen in with the wrong crowd." CELEBRITIES REACT TO J.K. ROWLING'S COMMENTS ABOUT TRANSGENDER PEOPLE "Transgender women are women. Any statement to the contrary erases the identity and dignity of transgender people and goes against all advice given by professional health care associations who have far more expertise on this subject matter than either Jo or I," Daniel Radcliffe, right, said in response to J.K. Rowling's...
    By TOM KRISHER, AP Auto Writer DETROIT (AP) — Complaints that Tesla's giant touch screens can fail have drawn the attention of U.S. safety regulators. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says in documents that it's investigating failures in the 2012 through 2015 Tesla Model S. Documents posted Wednesday say the agency has received 11 complaints about the screens over the past 13 months in vehicles that have been in use from 3.9 years to 6.3 years. If the screens fail, the cars will lose the rear camera display, causing reduced visibility. No crashes or injuries have been reported. A message was left early Wednesday seeking comment from Tesla. The probe covers 63,000 Model S vehicles with screens controlled by flash memory devices with finite lifespans based on the number of program and erase cycles, the documents said. The screens can fail prematurely because the memory can wear out. The same screens and processors were used in 159,000 2012 through 2018 Model S and 2016 to 2018 Model X vehicles built through early 2018, the agency said. Failures also cause...
    TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran’s president on Wednesday warned the U.N. nuclear watchdog to expect a “stern response” from his country regarding the agency’s demands for Iran to provide access to sites where Tehran is thought to have stored or used undeclared nuclear material. In a televised speech, President Hassan Rouhani said a stern response “is easy” for Iran but that the country prefers cooperation with the U.N. watchdog. The remarks reflect Tehran’s irritation at a resolution adopted last week by the board of the International Atomic Energy Agency demanding access to the sites. The resolution was proposed by Germany, France and Britain while Russia and China voted against it. Iran has dismissed allegations of nuclear activities at the sites in question. Rouhani said on Wednesday that “Iran is still ready to accept legal surveillance by the (U.N.) agency and would continue close cooperation within the legal framework” of the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers. The IAEA resolution came after the agency’s Director General Rafael Grossi reiterated concerns that Iran had denied for more...
    LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The state of Michigan said it will soon resolve unemployment claims for about 11,800 people who filed before May. The Unemployment Insurance Agency said Tuesday its goal is to clear a backlog that resulted from the coronavirus pandemic and make a determination on older claims by the end of next week. The agency will soon announce a target date to resolve claims filed in May or later. For those still awaiting a decision on their eligibility, the state will pay benefits, determine the claimant is ineligible and communicate why, or deem the person unreachable after multiple attempts to make contact. Unemployment Insurance Agency Director Steve Gray, who will testify before frustrated lawmakers on Wednesday, said while eligible workers have been paid, “the unprecedented number of claims during this crisis means that there are still tens of thousands of real Michiganders needing one-on-one review to pay benefits.” He said the agency is “working around the clock” to eliminate the backlog. Gray said 94.5% of 2.2 million eligible claimants have received or been approved for benefits. Copyright 2020...
    PHOENIX (AP) — The Arizona Motor Vehicle Division says it is having difficulty keeping up with routine business during the coronavirus pandemic and the agency is asking its customers for patience. The MVD's parent agency, the state Department of Transportation, said Tuesday the division's customer service operations are experiencing delays as MVD faces employee absences due to illness and quarantine requirements. Specific impacts cited by the agency include diminished call center operations that mean it can take calls over 30 minutes to reach a representative. Also, the agency says some customers report that registration tabs take longer than expected to arrive in the mail. ADOT Director John Haliekowski said in a statement that officials are “working hard to find new ways to safely and effectively serve the public." According to the statement, the updated status of a customer's vehicle registration or re-registration is recorded as soon as payment is made and that law enforcement agencies have access to MVD's updated database. The agency also said drivers whose licenses expire between March and September of this year have had the expiration...
    CHICAGO (AP) — Chicago’s Civilian Office of Police Accountability recommended the firing of three officers for making false statements regarding their misconduct, the agency announced Tuesday. COPA, which investigates allegations of police misconduct, determined that Officer Clauzell Gause used excessive force in June 2014 against a young man who was brought to a hospital for a mental health evaluation. At the time, Gause said the man was resisting officers when he struck him. But hospital surveillance footage showed Gause punched and shoved the victim, who had punched Gause. Gause was initially charged with felony misconduct for punching the man while he was handcuffed. The charges were dropped because the victim didn't show up to court. In a separate case, COPA determined Officers Carol Weingart and Laura Kuhlmann provided false statements during an officer-involved shooting in December 2015. Kuhlmann fired her weapon at a moving vehicle with other civilians present in violation of department policy. The officers were responding to a public disturbance when they claimed the driver aimed his vehicle at Weingart as he fled the scene, prompting Kuhlmann to...
    The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) delayed the expected furloughs of more than 13,000 employees by at least two weeks as the federal agency seeks to secure $1.2 billion from Congress to stay afloat after the global coronavirus pandemic has dried up immigration revenue. The agency had initially alerted more than two-thirds of the workforce they would be furloughed starting July 20, but now that date has been pushed back to Aug. 3. “Without congressional intervention, USCIS will need to administratively furlough approximately 13,400 employees," USCIS said in a statement to Fox News. "We previously anticipated that the furlough to begin on July 20, but we have received additional revenue and have identified cost savings to extend the potential furlough date to August 3 in the event Congress does not provide emergency funding. We continue to work with Congress to provide the necessary funding to avert this unfortunate consequence.” THOUSANDS OF FEDERAL IMMIGRATION EMPLOYEES BRACE FOR FURLOUGHS USCIS must give employees a 30-day notice of an expected furlough. In a note to employees Tuesday, Joesph Edlow, deputy director for policy at USCIS, said notices are being...
    JERUSALEM (AP) — International donors pledged over $130 million Tuesday to the United Nations agency helping Palestinian refugees, an amount the organization’s head says is encouraging but not enough to keep operations running through the end of the year. The U.N. Relief and Works Agency has faced a financial crisis since the United States pulled all funding in 2018, leaving the organization with a massive budgetary shortfall. Agency Director-General Philippe Lazzarini told reporters following a virtual fundraising conference that despite the “very strong expression of support” by international donors “we are still in the dark and we do not know if our operations will run until the end of the year.” He said the donations covered only a fraction of the roughly $400 million budget gap the agency is facing. UNRWA was established to aid the 700,000 Palestinians who fled or were forced from their homes in the war surrounding Israel’s establishment in 1948. The agency provides food, education, health care and other services for Palestinian refugees and their descendants — now numbering some 5 million — in Lebanon, Syria,...
    ProPublica is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom. Sign up for The Big Story newsletter to receive stories like this one in your inbox. It has become a familiar pattern: President Donald Trump says something that doesn’t line up with the facts held by scientists and other experts at government agencies. Then, instead of pushing back, federal officials scramble to reconcile the fiction with their own public statements. It happened in March, when Trump pushed his opinion that antimalarial drugs could treat COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an unusual directive that lent credence to the president’s perspective: “Although optimal dosing and duration of hydroxychloroquine for treatment of COVID-19 are unknown, some U.S. clinicians have reported anecdotally” on specific dosages that the CDC then lists. The CDC’s language — which the agency later retracted — shocked experts, who said the drug needed to be treated with caution. The CDC told Reuters the agency had prepared the guidance at the behest of the White House. Perhaps the best known example of an agency twisting itself into a pretzel stems...
    WASHINGTON – U.S. defense and spy agencies played a major role in creating the internet, and now the CIA is turning for the first time to online streaming services to recruit spies between the ages of 18 and 35. “It only takes one new piece … of foreign intelligence … and everything can change in an instant,” a CIA officer tells a classroom full of apparent recruits in the opening sequence of a new advert released by the agency on Monday. “Start a career at the CIA and do more for your country than you ever dreamed possible,” the officer concludes the pitch reminiscent of Hollywood films. The online recruitment campaign was conceived before social distancing measures were needed during the novel coronavirus pandemic, Central Intelligence Agency spokeswoman Nicole de Haay said. The agency has typically sought out future spies by targeting college students through “traditional” methods such as job fairs, she said. The agency said in a statement it had cut 90, 60 and 15-second versions to run nationwide on entertainment, news and lifestyle streaming services. More than...
    (CNN)Four authors signed to the same literary agency as "Harry Potter" creator J.K. Rowling have resigned in protest at its refusal to make a statement voicing its commitment to transgender rights.Drew Davies, Fox Fisher and Ugla Stefanía Kristjönudóttir Jónsdóttir (aka Owl) said in a statement that they had invited The Blair Partnership to speak out, but that "they were unable to commit to any action that we thought was appropriate and meaningful."The three authors, who are understood to have resigned along with a fourth who wanted to remain anonymous, said they did not take the decision to leave lightly and were "saddened and disappointed it has come to this."In the statement, published online, they wrote: "Freedom of speech can only be upheld if the structural inequalities that hinder equal opportunities for underrepresented groups are challenged and changed."Lawmakers accuse UK tabloid of glorifying domestic abuse after front-page interview with J.K. Rowlings ex-husband"Affirmations to support LGBTQIA [Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex and Asexual] people as a whole need to be followed up by meaningful and impactful action, both internally and publicly....
    Reuters By Mark Hosenball WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. defense and spy agencies played a major role in creating the internet, and now the CIA is turning for the first time to online streaming services to recruit spies between the ages of 18 and 35. "It only takes one new piece ... of foreign intelligence ... and everything can change in an instant," a CIA officer tells a classroom full of apparent recruits in the opening sequence of a new advert released by the agency on Monday. "Start a career at the CIA and do more for your country than you ever dreamed possible," the officer concludes the pitch reminiscent of Hollywood films. The online recruitment campaign was conceived before social distancing measures were needed during the novel coronavirus pandemic, Central Intelligence Agency spokeswoman Nicole de Haay said. The agency has typically sought out future spies by targeting college students through "traditional" methods such as job fairs, she said. The agency said in a statement it had cut 90, 60 and 15-second versions to run nationwide on entertainment, news and lifestyle...
    Google’s advertising revenue is expected to drop in 2020 amid pandemics and a lull in international travel, according to a report from marketing research agency eMarketer. The drop is due in part to Google’s core search product’s reliance on the travel industry, which took a hit after the coronavirus pandemic effectively shut down travel, according to a forecast from eMarketer, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday. “The biggest single culprit here is the travel industry, which has been both hardest hit by the pandemic generally,” Nicole Perrin, principal analyst at eMarketer, told TheWSJ. (RELATED: ANALYSIS: DOJ Investigators Involved In Antitrust Probe Don’t Appear To Be Scrutinizing Claims Of Bias In Google’s Search) The company’s gross U.S. advertising revenue will likely decline 4%, while the company’s net revenue will drop by 5%, according to eMarketer. Google has grown its ad revenue by double-digits in nearly every year of its 20-year history, WSJ reported. The The travel industry has concentrated “spending on Google in the past,” Perrin said. The potential decline in revenue comes as the Department of Justice has pursuing an...
    A dozen bars in Texas have had their alcohol permits temporarily suspended as of Sunday after they failed to meet health protocols put in place to slow the spread of COVID-19. The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) found evidence to hand down the suspensions for 12 bars located in eight cities, including, Dallas, Houston, Austin, Fort Worth and El Paso, after the public agency conducted undercover investigations of the establishments, according to a release. “Protecting the health and safety of Texans during this pandemic is our top priority,” TABC Executive Director Bentley Nettles said. “We warned businesses TABC will have no tolerance for breaking the rules and now, some bars are paying the price. I hope other establishments will learn from these suspensions.” The bars suspended between Friday to Sunday include Handlebar Houston in Houston, BARge 25 in Seabrook, Harris House of Heroes and Marty’s Live in Dallas, The New PR’s in Fort Worth, UnBARlievable (West 6th), Buford’s Backyard Beer Garden and Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot Icehouse in Austin, Little Woodrow’s in Lubbock, Coconuts and Werk Bar in El Paso...
    Ken Cuccinelli, the acting deputy secretary of Homeland Security, said Friday that President TrumpDonald John TrumpOklahoma venue management asks Trump campaign for health plan ahead of rally Pompeo slams Bolton account as spreading 'lies,' 'fully-spun half-truths' and 'falsehoods' Twitter flags Trump tweet featuring fake CNN chyron as 'manipulated media' MORE ordered the agency to "restart the DACA process" in the wake of the Supreme Court's decision against Trump's order to end the program. Cuccinelli said in a tweet that the review process would be undertaken "in accordance with #scotus’s ruling." The Thursday ruling, written by Chief Justice John Roberts, shot down Trump's 2017 order ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program as "arbitrary and capricious," and for not considering the effects such a drastic policy change would have on beneficiaries. "The administration retains the authority to rescind the program, they just have to be much more deliberate and meet certain steps in order to do so," said Jorge Loweree, policy director at the American Immigration Council. "To do this they would have to lay out a clear justification...
    A Transportation Security Administration official is accusing the agency of failing to adequately protect airport screeners from the new coronavirus, endangering both the officers and the traveling public. The top TSA official in Kansas, Jay Brainard, says the TSA’s actions amount to “gross mismanagement." “TSA staff at airports both became a significant carrier to spread the pandemic and were themselves improperly protected from the pandemic,” Brainard's lawyer, Tom Devine, said in a complaint filed with the Office of Special Counsel, which handles whistleblower complaints. The special counsel has ordered TSA's parent agency, the Homeland Security Department, to conduct an investigation. The special counsel’s office declined to comment. The TSA said in a statement Friday that it has followed guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in deciding protection standards for workers. Spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein said that at the start of the virus outbreak, TSA told employees that masks were optional, then made them mandatory at airport checkpoints in the first week of May. Airport officers are required to wear nitrile gloves when they screen passengers....
    Border agents made several drug trafficking busts at the US-Mexico border in the past week — including the arrest of a US woman who was found with a bundle of drugs hidden in her privates, authorities said. The woman, a 38-year-old US citizen, went over the border at a crossing near El Paso, Texas, at about 5 p.m. on Tuesday, US Customs and Border Patrol said in a statement. She was flagged for an additional screening — where agents found two drug bundles, one in her jacket and another in her “vaginal cavity,” the agency said. About an hour and half later, agents at the same crossing stopped an American man driving a Mini Cooper and X-rayed the car. The agents discovered “several anomalies in the vehicle’s quarter panels,” searched the car and found nearly 15 pounds of meth, according to a Border Patrol statement. “CBP Officers are faced with an array of smuggling attempts and concealment methods,” the agency’s El Paso Director of Field Operations Hector Mancha said in statement. “The Officers’ passion and dedication to our mission...
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