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'We are one,' says PM Ardern as New Zealand mourns with prayers, silence

4 heures 31 minutes ago

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern led an estimated 5,000 people standing quietly at Hagley Park in front of the Al Noor mosque, where most of the victims died. "New Zealand mourns with you. Most victims of New Zealand's worst mass shooting were migrants or refugees from countries such as Pakistan, India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Turkey, Somalia, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.


T-Mobile unveils home broadband service that could expand after Sprint merger

8 heures 21 minutes ago

T-Mobile on Thursday unveiled a limited home internet service that it plans to pilot for 50,000 mobile customers at $50 a month, with the company promising it could build on that, and eventually offer a lot more once its $26.5 billion merger with Sprint finally goes through.For now, the new invitation-only service will focus on areas where the carrier can deliver high-speed internet access to connect up to 50,000 homes in rural and underserved parts of the country. Once it merges with Sprint, however, T-Mobile says it should be able to cover more than half of the US with broadband service by 2024.This seems to be one attempt by T-Mobile to push back against critics of the proposed merger who worry it will leave customers with less choice and the potential for prices to rise. "We're walking the walk and laying the foundation for a world where we can take the fight to Big Cable on behalf of consumers and offer real choice, competition and savings to Americans nationwide," T-Mobile CEO John Legere about the home broadband pilot.The service will be offered only in areas where T-Mobile expects to deliver speeds of around 50 Mbps through fixed unlimited wireless service over LTE, with no data caps. The carrier points to one economist's estimate that showed while customers today pay around $80 a month for wired in-home broadband service, "the new T-Mobile will save customers up to $13.65 billion a year on home broadband by 2024".As context for why it decided to pursue the new service, T-Mobile went on to note in its announcement that almost half of Americans today have no competitive choice for high-speed in-home broadband. "The New T-Mobile," the company declares, "will be armed with spectrum and network assets that will build the highest capacity wireless network in US history, covering millions with 5G, not just a few people in a few blocks of a few cities like the other guys."If you're eligible to participate in the home broadband pilot, T-Mobile plans to start sending out invitations by email and regular mail this week.We mentioned T-Mobile's pending merger with Sprint, and it's also worth pointing out, as a reminder, that it's still under review by federal regulators. T-Mobile has said it feels optimistic everything will be approved in the first half of this year.


Missouri governor declares state of emergency amid rising floodwaters in Midwestern U.S.

9 heures 16 minutes ago

Flooding triggered by last week's so-called "bomb cyclone" storm has already inflicted damage estimated at nearly $1.5 billion in Nebraska, killed at least four people in Nebraska and Iowa and left a man missing below Nebraska's collapsed Spencer Dam. "The rising floodwaters are affecting more Missouri communities and farms, closing more roads and threatening levees, water treatment plants and other critical infrastructure," Governor Mike Parson said in issuing his emergency declaration. "We will continue to work closely with our local partners to assess needs and provide resources to help as Missourians continue this flood fight and as we work to assist one another," Parson said.


Report claims Boeing has been forced to delay first Starliner launch by months

9 heures 23 minutes ago

NASA needs a way to get astronauts to the International Space Station that doesn't involve paying Russia heaps of money, so it struck deals with both SpaceX and Boeing to build crew capsules capable of fulfilling that need. Earlier this month, SpaceX successfully sent its Crew Dragon capsule to the International Space Station, paving the way for crew tests to be conducted within months, but what about Boeing?A new report from Reuters suggests that Boeing is having a much, much harder time getting its Starliner spacecraft ready for its first big test. Boeing, which analysts thought would beat SpaceX's Crew Dragon to delivery by a significant margin, has now reportedly pushed back its maiden flight to the space station by several months, and the first crewed flights won't happen until close to the end of the year, if they happen in 2019 at all.The report, which cites unnamed sources, claims that the first unmanned test flight of Starliner has been delayed by three months. Adjusting the timeline based on that new information, Boeing's first crewed flight of the spacecraft wouldn't be ready until November, and that's assuming everything goes perfectly from here on out.Both Crew Dragon and Starliner have been plagued by delays over the past couple of years, forcing NASA to strike new deals with Russian space agency Roscosmos to fly NASA crew members to the ISS and back. The clock is ticking, and right now it's clear that SpaceX is much closer to delivering NASA much-needed crew-capable spacecraft than Boeing is.In the meantime, NASA is doing its best to prepare for a worst-case scenario in which one or potentially both programs fail to deliver before the end of 2019. The agency is mulling the decision to throw more money at Russia to ensure its astronauts can make it to the ISS throughout 2019 and into 2020, but no decisions have been finalized as of yet.


U.S. farmers face devastation following Midwest floods

11 heures 31 minutes ago

WINSLOW, Neb./CHICAGO (Reuters) - Midwestern farmers have been gambling they could ride out the U.S.-China trade war by storing their corn and soybeans anywhere they could - in bins, plastic tubes, in barns or even outside. Record floods have devastated a wide swath of the Farm Belt across Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and several other states. Early estimates of lost crops and livestock are approaching $1 billion in Nebraska alone.


New Zealand’s swift change to gun laws highlights 25 years of US inaction

11 heures 53 minutes ago

Sweeping new ban that came just six days after mass shooting in Christchurch is a stark contrast to the political stalemate in the US Vigil at Forsyth Barr Stadium on Thursday in Dunedin, New Zealand for 50 people killed when a gunman opened fire at the Al Noor and Linwood mosques in Christchurch on 15 March. Photograph: Dianne Manson/Getty Images New Zealand’s sweeping new ban on a range of semi-automatic rifles and large ammunition magazines, which came just six days after a mass shooting in Christchurch, has been hailed as the “fastest response ever by a government after a tragedy”. In the US, where conservative politicians have blocked even moderate gun control for 25 years, New Zealand’s swift action was greeted as a powerful inspiration – and a reminder of how far behind the country is. “Sandy Hook happened six years ago and we can’t even get the Senate to hold a vote on universal background checks,” Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the New York congresswoman, wrote on Twitter, referring to the 2012 shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, that left 20 children and six educators dead. Sandy Hook happened 6 years ago and we can’t even get the Senate to hold a vote on universal background checks w/ #HR8.Christchurch happened, and within days New Zealand acted to get weapons of war out of the consumer market.This is what leadership looks like ⬇️ https://t.co/TcdR63anBt— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) March 21, 2019 “This is what leadership looks like,” David Hogg, one of the students from Parkland, Florida, who founded the March for Our Lives movement for gun control after a shooting at their school last February, tweeted, sharing a video of the announcement by New Zealand’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern. Some Democratic presidential candidates have already pledged to support a ban on assault weapons – though one that would probably be much more limited that New Zealand’s. “We must follow New Zealand’s lead, take on the NRA and ban the sale and distribution of assault weapons in the United States,” tweeted the Vermont senator Bernie Sanders, a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate who has been attacked for his mixed record on gun control in the past. “We had an assault weapons ban once, and we should have it again,” Senator Kamala Harris of California, tweeted a few days after the Christchurch attacks. “These weapons of war do not belong on our streets, in our schools, or at our houses of worship. This is a fight I will take on as president.” Pro-gun activists in the United States said that New Zealand’s aggressive action to ban ownership of previously legal guns, and enact a mandatory buyback, would never be viable in the United States. “The US isn’t New Zealand,” Dana Loesch, a prominent gun rights activist and National Rifle Association spokeswoman, tweeted. “They do not have an inalienable right to bear arms and to self-defense, we do.” In another tweet, she wrote: “To ‘follow these examples’ the US would need to repeal the Second Amendment, ban all semi-auto, force gun stores to show all purchases to gov’t, and spend $200 million taxpayer dollars to confiscate firearms.” I sure see a lot of people who like to say "nobody is coming for your guns" celebrating this confiscation effort. https://t.co/e3quZ8v7gi— Stephen Gutowski (@StephenGutowski) March 21, 2019 Rebecca Peters, who helped lead the successful campaign to reform Australia’s gun laws in the 1990s, said she believed New Zealand’s government action was the “fastest response ever” by government officials after a mass shooting. It took the British government seven months after the massacre of 16 children in Dunblane, Scotland, in March 1996, to announce a partial ban on handguns, which parents of the children had demanded as part of the Snowdrop Campaign. It took the Australian government 10 days after the Port Arthur massacre in April 1996 to announce the National Firearms Agreement. New Zealand announced the new ban on military-style weapons – one with broad support from the prime minister and the opposition – after only six days. “It’s a small parliament. It’s a small country. And obviously, they have very high support for it,” Peters said. In a press conference on Thursday, Ardern promised increased penalties for continued ownership of the banned weapons. New Zealand’s minister of police said police were “gearing up” to enable military-style weapons to be taken out of circulation. Police will be supported by the New Zealand defense force, he said, and would consult gun licensing records. Ardern promised the country would continue to consider broader gun control measures on Monday, including issues such as licensing, registration and storage. New Zealand’s swift action is a stark contrast to the political stalemate in the US, where conservative politicians have blocked any substantial gun control laws for 25 years, despite frequent high-casualty mass shootings. The US’s last substantial action on gun control, in 1994, was a federal ban on military-style “assault weapons”. But the ban was written to expire in 10 years, and did not require Americans who already owned military-style guns to give up their weapons – it simply tried to regulate the manufacture and sale of new guns. When it expired in 2004, an in-depth evaluation of the loophole-ridden legislation found that it could not be clearly credited with any of the nation’s drop in violence. The consensus among Democratic politicians was that the ban had backfired politically against their party, and that gun control was not a winning issue for the American left. They largely abandoned the issue for more than a decade. Since the ban lifted, military-style rifles have become popular high-end acquisitions for American gun owners, and have become popular for target shooting, even as they have become infamous as the mass shooter’s weapon of choice. Some gun rights advocates argue that military-style rifles are necessary for self-defense, including self-defense in the home. While there are restrictions on “assault weapons” in some parts of the US, in many places today, Americans can buy an AR-15-style rifle before they are legally allowed to buy a beer.


Donald Trump announces US should recognise Israeli annexation of Golan Heights

12 heures 8 minutes ago

Donald Trump has announced it is time for the US to recognise Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights, handing Benjamin Netanyahu a major diplomatic victory less than three weeks before the Israeli elections.  The US and all other Western nations have always refused to recognise Israeli sovereignty in the Golan, the strategic high ground which Israel captured from Syria in 1967 and annexed in 1981.  Mr Trump cast that policy aside on Thursday with an announcement on Twitter. “After 52 years it is time for the United States to fully recognize Israel’s Sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which is of critical strategic and security importance to the State of Israel and Regional Stability!” The Israeli prime minister responded minutes later with a Twitter post of his own. “At a time when Iran seeks to use Syria as a platform to destroy Israel, President Trump boldly recognizes Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. Thank you President Trump!”  Like the decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem, Mr Trump’s announcement puts US policy at odds with the UK and other European allies, who consider the Golan Heights to be under Israeli occupation.  After 52 years it is time for the United States to fully recognize Israel’s Sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which is of critical strategic and security importance to the State of Israel and Regional Stability!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 21, 2019 The move will enrage the Syrian regime but also puts America’s Arab allies in an awkward diplomatic position, where they must be seen to oppose Israel’s annexation of Arab territory while avoiding directly criticising Mr Trump. There was no formal announcement from the White House and it was not clear if US policy was changing immediately or at a future date.  Mr Netanyahu’s opponents in Blue & White, a centrist coalition, have feared for weeks that Mr Trump would try to tilt the election in the prime minister’s favour by announcing the Golan decision shortly before voters head to the polls.    Mr Netanyahu has made his close relationship with Mr Trump a centrepiece of his campaign for a fifth term in office. One of his campaign posters shows the two men grinning and shaking hands.  An election campaign billboard shows Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, and US President Donald Trump in Jerusalem Credit: AP Photo/Oded Balilty Mr Trump posted a picture of the poster on his own Instagram account in what was widely seen as an endorsement of Mr Netanyahu’s re-election bid. The two leaders will meet at the White House next week where Mr Trump is expected to further lavish praise of the Israeli leader.  Polls show Mr Netanyahu’s Likud Party running even with Blue & White, with both forecast to win around 30 seats in the 120-member Israeli parliament. Israel captured the Golan Heights after defeating Syrian forces during the Six Day War in 1967. In 1999, Israel came close to returning the high ground to Syria during negotiations with Hafez al-Assad, the father of Bashar al-Assad, but the talks collapsed. Since the Syrian war broke out in 2011, public opinion in Israel has hardened on the issue and there is a broad political consensus in Israel that the Golan should never be returned to Syria.  The Golan Heights is a strategic highground captured from Syria in 1967 Credit: BAZ RATNER/AFP/Getty Images The Israeli occupation of the Golan has been less controversial than the occupation of the West Bank partly because the Golan is sparsely populated.  Around 27,000 members of the Druze sect, a small Arabic speaking minority, live in the Golan. Most are residents of Israel but not full citizens.   Many of the Golan Druze continue to swear loyalty to Syria, partly out of fear that if the Golan were ever returned to Damascus they could face reprisals from the Assad regime if they were seen to have collaborated with Israel.  But some younger Druze have accepted they are likely to live forever under Israeli control and have taken steps to learn Hebrew and integrate into Israeli society.  Roughly 20,000 Israelis now also live in the Golan, enjoying dramatic mountain views and plentiful vineyards but also enduring occasional rocket fire from Syria or Lebanon.   The US had offered several hints that a decision on the Golan may be coming. Last week, the State Department dropped a reference to the Golan being under Israeli occupation. The US ambassador also recently accompanied Mr Netanyahu on a visit to the area.  Mr Trump made the announcement while Mike Pompeo, the US Secretary of State, was in Jerusalem for meetings with the Israeli prime minister.  Despite taking a series of pro-Israel moves, the White House insists that it is still able to broker peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. The White House is expected to unveil a peace plan after Israel’s elections. Expectations for success are low, partly because the Palestinians have cut off all political contact with the US in protest at Mr Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.


Apple’s event on Monday could revolutionize the way we watch TV

12 heures 23 minutes ago

Next week, Apple will hold a special media event in California where the company is expected to, at long last, unveil its brand new TV service. The event should be particularly interesting given that we've seen all sorts of information, at often times conflicting, regarding Apple's plans in the media space.What we do know is that Apple has been investing a lot of money into developing original TV programming, but what remains unclear is how Apple plans to make said content available. Will it be free to all iOS users? Or, perhaps, will it be available as part of a broad and all-encompassing plan that includes the company's rumored digital publication subscription service? At the core, though, Apple's overarching plans in the TV space remain a bit hazy.Shedding a bit more light on the new service -- with some sketchy rumors claiming it will be called Front Row \-- Peter Kafka of Recode relays that Apple's TV ambitions will not currently entail taking on industry heavyweights like Netflix and Hulu."Instead," Kafka writes, "Apple's main focus -- at least for now -- will be helping other people sell streaming video subscriptions, and taking a cut of the transaction. Apple may also sell its own shows, at least as part of a bundle of other services. But for now, Apple's original shows and movies should be considered very expensive giveaways, not the core product."One of the more intriguing strategies we may see from Apple involves offering users the ability to sign up for a bundle of premium channels at a discount. Imagine, for example, being able to sign up for a HBO and Showtime bundle at a cost that is less than what one would pay signing up for them individually. It's a novel strategy, but it's worth noting that Netflix recently indicated it won't be part of Apple's TV initiative.Still, such a service has the potential to be a huge game-changer, especially when we take the massive iOS user base into account. In effect, Apple would be the gatekeeper for all subscription services. Users could simply pay Apple a subscription fee for access to all the other subscription services. Personally, for example, I've never been a Starz subscriber; but if I could get a Stars/Showtime/HBO bundle at a discount, that all of a sudden becomes an attractive proposition.All that said, it's probably wise for Apple not to take on Netflix head-on at this point. After all, who would pay a monthly subscription fee for a TV service with just about two dozen offerings to choose from. Truth be told, if Apple really wants to compete with Netflix -- and at this point there's no indication that this is the company's strategy -- it would have to strike licensing deals with a multitude of third-party content creators. Recall, some of Netflix's most popular shows like The Office and Friends are not Netflix originals.


Trump says US will recognise Israel’s sovereignty over Golan Heights

13 heures 3 minutes ago

President Donald Trump said it’s time to recognise Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights. In a tweet on Thursday, Mr Trump said that after 52 years it’s important for the United States to fully recognise Israel’s control over what he said is an area of “critical strategic and security importance to ... Israel and regional stability”. The recognition of the disputed area would mark a major shift in US policy, a week before Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrives in Washington to meet with Mr Trump and address the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.


Latam critics of Venezuela's Maduro meet in Chile; try to launch regional bloc

13 heures 12 minutes ago

Maduro was not among the leaders invited to meet in the Chilean capital Santiago on Friday to discuss forming a new regional political group called "Prosur." Heads of state from Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, Paraguay and Peru will join the summit, with Chile and Colombia looking to sign countries up to the new political bloc after criticism over Unasur's lack of action on the Venezuela. Some leaders have criticized the organizers for leaving out Maduro and instead inviting Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, recognized by many countries as the interim leader.


Hezbollah sanctions harming Lebanon, says President Aoun

13 heures 28 minutes ago

U.S. sanctions on Hezbollah are harming Lebanon as a whole, President Michel Aoun said on Thursday ahead of a visit to the country by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. The United States deems the heavily armed, Iran-backed Hezbollah group a terrorist organization and has been steadily increasing financial sanctions against it as part of efforts to counter Iran. Shi'ite Muslim Hezbollah has a large armed militia that has helped Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in his eight-year war against rebels, but it is also a political party in Lebanon with seats in the parliament and cabinet.


Watchdog Probing Boeing, FAA to Testify to Senate Aviation Panel

14 heures 3 minutes ago

Calvin Scovel, the Transportation Department’s inspector general, will testify along with FAA Acting Administrator Daniel Elwell and National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Robert Sumwalt, the Senate Commerce Committee said on its website. The committee also intends to hear from Boeing executives, pilots and other aviation industry groups in a second hearing in the near future, the panel said.


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