Connect with us

Tech

Astronauts Make History for NASA with All-Female Space Walk

Published

on

(l-r) Astronauts Jessica Meir and Christina Koch made the first all-female space walk together to repair a battery on the International Space Station (ISS) for NASA for roughly five hours Friday. Photo: NASA.

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (FNN NEWS) – Two women took a giant leap into the history books with the first all-female space walk for NASA at the International Space Station.

Fifty years ago, men walked in space. Today, NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir made history during the 421st spacewalk. NASA originally postponed their mission to repair a broken battery charger (BCDU) due to NASA not having space suits small enough for their women astronauts. NASA sent new suits and this morning the female pair stepped out of the structure of the International Space Station working to fix the broken part. Watch this historical event live.

_____________________________________________________

Sara-Beth Colon Jeffrey is the Associate Editor Education & Technology for Florida National News. | tech@floridanationalnews.com

Business

Twitter-Musk Takeover Dispute Heading for an October Trial

Published

on

FILE - Tesla and SpaceX Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk speaks at the SATELLITE Conference and Exhibition in Washington on March 9, 2020. An epic legal fight between Musk and Twitter began in earnest in a Delaware court on Tuesday, July 19, 2022, as lawyers for both sides fought over when to start the trial. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

Tesla CEO Elon Musk lost his fight to delay Twitter’s lawsuit against him as a Delaware judge on Tuesday set an October trial, citing the “cloud of uncertainty” over the social media company after the billionaire backed out of a deal to buy it.

“Delay threatens irreparable harm,” said Chancellor Kathaleen St. Jude McCormick, the head judge of Delaware’s Court of Chancery, which handles many high-profile business disputes. “The longer the delay, the greater the risk.”

 

 

Twitter had asked for an expedited trial in September, while Musk’s team called for waiting until early next year because of the complexity of the case. McCormick said Musk’s team underestimated the Delaware court’s ability to “quickly process complex litigation.”

Twitter is trying to force the billionaire to make good on his April promise to buy the social media giant for $44 billion — and the company wants it to happen quickly because it says the ongoing dispute is harming its business.

“It’s a very favorable ruling for Twitter in terms of moving things along,” said Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond. “She seemed very concerned about the argument that delay would seriously harm the company, and I think that’s true.”

Musk, the world’s richest man, pledged to pay $54.20 a share for Twitter, but informed the company in July that he wants to back out of the agreement.

“It’s attempted sabotage. He’s doing his best to run Twitter down,” said attorney William Savitt, representing Twitter before McCormick on Tuesday. The hearing was held virtually after McCormick said she tested positive for COVID-19.

Musk has claimed the company has failed to provide adequate information about the number of fake, or “spam bot,” Twitter accounts, and that it has breached its obligations under the deal by firing top managers and laying off a significant number of employees. Musk’s team expects more information about the bot numbers to be revealed in the trial court discovery process, when both sides must hand over evidence.

Twitter argues that Musk’s reasons for backing out are just a cover for buyer’s remorse after agreeing to pay 38% above Twitter’s stock price shortly before the stock market stumbled and shares of the electric-car maker Tesla, where most of Musk’s personal wealth resides, lost more than $100 billion of their value.

Savitt said the contested merger agreement and Musk’s tweets disparaging the company were inflicting harm on the business and questioned Musk’s request for a delayed trial, asking “whether the real plan is to run out the clock.”

“He’s banking on wriggling out of the deal he signed,” Savitt said.

But the idea the Tesla CEO is trying to damage Twitter is “preposterous. He has no interest in damaging the company,” said Musk attorney Andrew Rossman, noting he is Twitter’s second largest shareholder with a “far larger stake” than the company’s entire board of directors.

Savitt emphasized the importance of an expedited trial starting in September for Twitter to be able to make important business decisions affecting everything from employee retention to relationships with suppliers and customers.

Rossman said more time is needed because it is “one of the largest take-private deals in history” involving a “company that has a massive amount of data that has to be analyzed. Billions of actions on their platform have to be analyzed.”

Tobias said it’s still possible that Musk and Twitter will settle the case before it goes to trial, since both might find a drawn-out fight or the judge’s final decisions costly to their businesses and reputations. One option is that Musk could pay the $1 billion breakup fee both he and Twitter agreed to if either was deemed responsible for the deal falling through. Or Twitter could push for him to pay more to make up for damages – just not the full $44 billion acquisition.

“Does Musk really want to run that company? Do they really want Musk to run that company?” Tobias said. “They could always settle somewhere in between.”

Continue Reading

Space Coast

SpaceX brings 4 astronauts home with midnight splashdown

Published

on

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — SpaceX brought four astronauts home with a midnight splashdown in the Gulf of Mexico on Friday, capping the busiest month yet for Elon Musk’s taxi service.

The three U.S. astronauts and one German in the capsule were bobbing off the Florida coast, near Tampa, less than 24 hours after leaving the International Space Station. NASA expected to have them back in Houston later in the morning.

“That was a great ride,” said Raja Chari, the capsule commander. As for the reintroduction to gravity, he noted: “Only one complaint. These water bottles are super heavy.”

NASA’s Chari, Tom Marshburn and Kayla Barron, and the European Space Agency’s Matthias Maurer, were out of the capsule within an hour of splashdown, waving and giving thumbs-up as they were hustled away on rolling chaises for medical checks.

Their departure from the space station Thursday was bittersweet, as they embraced the seven astronauts remaining there.

“It’s the end of a six-month mission, but I think the space dream lives on,” Maurer said.

SpaceX brought up their U.S. and Italian replacements last week, after completing a charter trip to the station for a trio of businessmen.

That amounts to two crew launches and two splashdowns in barely a month. Musk’s company has now launched 26 people into orbit in less than two years, since it started ferrying astronauts for NASA. Eight of those 26 were space tourists.

SpaceX’s William Gerstenmaier, a vice president, called it “a pretty exciting time.”

“Satellites are nice, but flying people are a little special and a little bit different, and the team here sure understands that,” he told reporters. “There’s a sense of relief and and a sense of accomplishment that you know you’ve done something good.”

NASA is more impressed than ever, given SpaceX’s hectic pace of late. The only problem of note in the latest flight was a mechanical nut that wiggled loose and floated away from the SpaceX capsule following Thursday’s undocking. Officials assured everyone it would not pose a danger to the space station.

“Look at all this work in the last month,” said Kathy Lueders, NASA’s space operations mission chief. “I really want to personally thank SpaceX for just, wow, just performing such seamless operations on all those missions.”

The astronauts said their mission was highlighted by the three visitors and their ex-astronaut escort who dropped by in April, opening up NASA’s side of the station to paying guests after decades of resistance.

On the down side, they had to contend with a dangerous spike in space junk after Russia blew up a satellite in a missile test in mid-November. More than 1,500 pieces of shrapnel spread across Earth’s orbit for years to come.

While the war in Ukraine has caused tensions between the U.S. and Russia, the astronauts have stood by their Russian crewmates, and vice versa. Flight controllers in Houston and Moscow also continued to cooperate as always, according to NASA officials.

As he relinquished command of the space station earlier this week, Marshburn called it “a place of peace” and said international cooperation would likely be its lasting legacy. Russian Oleg Artemyev, the new commander, also emphasized the “peace between our countries, our friendship” in orbit and described his crewmates as brothers and sisters.

Up there now are three Russians, three Americans and one Italian.

It was Marshburn’s third spaceflight, and the first for the three returning with him. Chari and Barron’s next stop could be the moon; they are among 18 U.S. astronauts picked for NASA’s Artemis moon-landing program. Two others in that elite group are now at the space station.

Continue Reading

Business

Big Tech Grapples with Russian State Media, Propaganda

Published

on

FILE - This combination of images shows logos for companies from left, Twitter, YouTube and Facebook. Russia's invasion of Ukraine is forcing big tech companies to decide how to handle state-controlled media outlets that spread propaganda and misinformation on behalf of the invaders. (AP Photo/File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — As Russia’s war in Ukraine plays out for the world on social media, big tech platforms are moving to restrict Russian state media from using their platforms to spread propaganda and misinformation.

After the European Union’s president called for a ban on Russian state media, a wave of tech companies blocked the channels from their platforms.

Google announced Tuesday that it’s blocking the YouTube channels of those outlets in Europe “effective immediately” but acknowledged “it’ll take time for our systems to fully ramp up.” Russia’s RT and Sputnik accounts were also disabled in Europe on China’s TikTok, a video-sharing platform, a company spokesperson confirmed Tuesday. The actions followed Meta’s announcement that it would bar the state media from its platforms, Instagram and Facebook.

Tech companies have also offered more modest changes in other parts of the world so far: limiting the Kremlin’s reach, labeling more of this content so that people know it originated with the Russian government, and cutting Russian state organs off from whatever ad revenue they were previously making.

The changes are a careful balancing act intended to slow the Kremlin from pumping propaganda into social media feeds without angering Russian officials to the point that they yank their citizens’ access to platforms during a time of war, said Katie Harbath, a former public policy director for Facebook.

“They’re trying to walk this very fine line; they’re doing this dance,” said Harbath, who now serves as director of technology and democracy at the International Republican Institute. “We want to stand up to Russia, but we also don’t want to get shut down in the country. How far can we push this?”

Banning RT and Sputnik won’t shut off the well of disinformation around the war in Ukraine that’s flowing into social media feeds from everyday users, pundits or the Kremlin’s vast network of Facebook pages, trolls and reporters.

But unlike the EU, the U.S. government has not cut off one of the most obvious supplies of wartime propaganda by sanctioning Russian state media or calling on tech companies to ban it, leaving the American-owned tech companies to wrestle with it on their own.

The results have been mixed.

RT and other Russian-state media accounts are still active on Facebook in the U.S. Twitter announced Monday that after seeing more than 45,000 tweets daily from users sharing Russian state-affiliated media links in recent days, it will add labels to content from the Kremlin’s websites. The company also said it would not recommend or direct users to Russian-affiliated websites in its search function.

Over the weekend, the Menlo Park, California-based company announced it was banning ads from Russian state media and had removed a network of 40 fake accounts, pages and groups that published pro-Russian talking points. The network used fictitious persons posing as journalists and experts, but didn’t have much of an audience.

Facebook began labeling state-controlled media outlets in 2020.

Meanwhile, Microsoft announced it wouldn’t display content or ads from RT and Sputnik, or include RT’s apps in its app store. And Google’s YouTube restricted Russian-state media from monetizing the site through ads, although the outlets are still uploading videos every few minutes on the site.

On TikTok, a Chinese platform popular in the U.S. for short, funny videos, state-affiliated media is not labeled as such. And pro-Russian propaganda and misinformation around the war has flourished on its site.

One recent video posted to RT’s TikTok channel, which is still active in the U.S., features a clip of Steve Bannon, a former top adviser to ex-President Donald Trump who now hosts a podcast with a penchant for misinformation and conspiracy theories.

“Ukraine isn’t even a country. It’s kind of a concept,” Bannon said in the clip, echoing a claim by Russian President Vladimir Putin. “So when we talk about sovereignty and self-determination it’s just a corrupt area where the Clintons have turned into a colony where they can steal money.”

Already, Facebook’s efforts to limit Russian state media’s reach have drawn ire from Russia. Last week, Meta officials said they had rebuffed Russia’s request to stop fact-checking or labeling posts made by Russian state media. Kremlin officials responded by restricting access to Facebook.

The company has also denied requests from Ukrainian officials who have asked Meta to remove access to its platforms in Russia. That would prevent everyday Russians from using the platforms to learn about the war, voice their views or organize protests, according to Nick Clegg, recently named the company’s vice president of global affairs

“We believe turning off our services would silence important expression at a crucial time,” Clegg wrote on Twitter Sunday.

More aggressive labeling of state media and moves to de-emphasize their content online might help reduce the spread of harmful material without cutting off a key information source, said Alexandra Givens, CEO of the Center for Democracy and Technology, a Washington non-profit.

“These platforms are a way for dissidents to organize and push back,” Givens said. “The clearest indication of that is the regime has been trying to shut down access to Facebook and Twitter.”

Russia has spent years creating its sprawling propaganda apparatus, which boasts dozens of sites that target millions of people in different languages. That preparation is making it hard for any tech company to mount a rapid response, said Graham Shellenberger at Miburo Solutions, a firm that tracks misinformation and influence campaigns.

“This is a system that has been built over 10 years, especially when it comes to Ukraine,” Shellenberger said. “They’ve created the channels, they’ve created the messengers. And all the sudden now, we’re starting to take action against it.”

Redfish, a Facebook page that is labeled as Russian-state controlled media, has built up a mostly U.S. and liberal-leaning audience of more than 800,000 followers over the years.

The page has in recent days posted anti-U.S. sentiment and sought to downplay Russian’s invasion of Ukraine, calling it a “military operation” and dedicating multiple posts to highlighting anti-war protests across Russia.

One Facebook post also used a picture of a map to highlight airstrikes in other parts of the world.

“Don’t let the mainstream media’s Eurocentrism dictate your moral support for victims of war,” the post read.

Last week, U.S. Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia sent letters to Google, Meta, Reddit, Telegram, TikTok and Twitter urging them to curb such Russian influence campaigns on their websites.

“In addition to Russia’s established use of influence operations as a tool of strategic influence, information warfare constitutes an integral part of Russian military doctrine,” Warner wrote.

Continue Reading

Trending