Moon to Get Its Own Mobile Network

Several high-tech companies are teaming up on a plan to put a mobile phone network on the moon next year. Vodaphone Germany, Nokia, and Audi are working on a mobile network and robotic vehicles that are part of a private expedition to the moon, timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary year of the first manned lunar landing. The project with PTScientists in Germany would use a 4G network to send high-definition information from rovers back to a lunar lander, which would then be able to communicate it back to Earth.  Project scientists say the system uses less energy than having rovers speak directly to Earth, leaving more power for scientific activities.  They plan to launch the vehicles from Cape Canaveral next year on a Space X Falcon 9 rocket.  …

Californians Bash Trump for Bid to End Climate Change Plan

California stands in “complete opposition” to a Trump administration plan to scrap a policy slashing climate-changing emissions from power plants, its top air official said Wednesday at a U.S. hearing in a state helping lead the fight against global warming. State officials joined hundreds of other opponents, including technology billionaire Tom Steyer, in speaking out against ending the Obama-era Clean Power Plan at the hearing in San Francisco, billed as the latest in a series of national “listening sessions” by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.“I know this is a listening session, and I’m asking you, who are you listening to? The voices of outdated technology of the past?” Mary Nichols, chairwoman of California’s Air Resources Board, asked EPA officials.  “California is in complete opposition to the EPA’s proposal,” said Nichols, one of the highest-ranking officials speaking for Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration. It has pushed state programs that roll back reliance on coal-powered electrical plants, gas and diesel automobiles, and other carbon-burners. “Now more than ever is the time for the United States to be a leader and a partner on this,” Nichols said. “Not to walk away from this.” Brown’s standing as one of the global leaders in the fight against climate change has put California, with the biggest economy and population of any state, at odds with Trump and EPA leader Scott Pruitt, who say they want to help coal-powered plants make a comeback. Under Brown, California has committed to getting at least half its electricity from renewable …

ISS Astronauts Will Soon Get a Personal Assistant

Astronauts aboard the International Space Station will soon get a personal assistant, similar to Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri, but so smart that astronauts prefer to call it a “colleague.” Its official name is CIMON, short for Crew Interactive Mobile Companion, and it will partially live in a five-kilogram ball built by Airbus. It has a video screen with rudimentary face features, cameras with face recognition, microphones and speakers. CIMON will move freely within the space station; however, its brain will be on Earth in IBM’s supercomputer, named Watson, loaded with a huge amount of scientific knowledge. CIMON’s main human companion will be German astronaut Alexander Gerst, who will bring it onboard ISS in June. The two are currently training together, as CIMON will have to be able to recognize Gerst’s voice and face, and also to navigate within the complicated interior of the spacecraft. For starters, Gerst and CIMON will cooperate in experiments with crystals, a complex medical experiment, and also try to solve the Rubik’s magic cube using only videos. A larger experiment will be the interaction between human and artificial intelligence, especially in view of future deep-space missions. CIMON’s developers would like to see whether an intelligent interactive assistant will help reduce astronauts’ stress during long flights and improve their efficiency. …

Could Winning Super Bowl Play be Winning Marketing Ploy?

A company’s value is often tied to the message it portrays to customers. But what happens when other companies try to take advantage of your brand? Take the Philadelphia Eagles, for instance. The American football team wants to exclusively own the phrase: “Philly Special.” That was the trick play that helped them win the Super Bowl, and the Philly Special is, by far, the most talked-about play of the Super Bowl. Watch the play here: It is a gutsy move. In football-speak, it is a direct-snap reverse pass to quarterback Nick Foles, who usually throws the ball. But the coach gives the OK, and Foles tells his teammates the plan in the huddle. The team lines up, Foles runs up the field. Tight end Trey Burton throws the football, and Foles catches it in the end zone for a touchdown. “Play of the century” Now, the phrase, ‘Philly Special,’ has turned into a city-wide phenomena. Bakeries are making Philly Special pastries. Some people are getting the words or even a sketch of the play tattooed on themselves. And stores, like Ashley Peel’s Philadelphia Independents, cannot keep enough Philly Special T-shirts in stock. “It’s the ‘Nick Foles play of the century,’ as I’m dubbing it from the Super Bowl,” Peel said. “It has a layout of the [specifics] from the play. We just got it in and we’re almost already sold out of it. It’s definitely moving well.” It’s moving well, even as several entrepreneurs are competing to be awarded a …

Artificial Intelligence Poses Big Threat to Society, Warn Leading Scientists

Artificial Intelligence is on the cusp of transforming our world in ways many of us can barely imagine. While there is much excitement about emerging technologies, a new report by 26 of the world’s leading AI researchers warns of the potential dangers that could emerge over the coming decade, as AI systems begin to surpass levels of human performance. Henry Ridgwell reports from London …

Giant Retailer Dick’s Sporting Goods Ends Sales of Assault-Style Weapons

Dick’s Sporting Goods, one of the largest sports retailers in the U.S., will immediately end the sale of assault-style rifles in its stores and stop selling guns of any type to anyone under age 21. The company made the announcement Wednesday, precisely two weeks after a school shooting in Parkland, Florida. “We deeply believe that this country’s most precious gift is our children. They are our future. We must keep them safe. Beginning today, DICK’S Sporting Goods is committed to the following: http://d.sg/RTC,” the company said in a post on Twitter. “We need to make a statement,” chairman and CEO Edward Stack said in an interview Wednesday on CNN. “We don’t want to be part of this story any longer.” Stack said the Florida shooting suspect, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, legally purchased an AR-15 assault rifle from Dick’s in November, but it was not the one used to kill 14 students and 3 staff members at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Stack, who said he remains a strong advocate of the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment, asserted the nation’s gun laws do not prevent dangerous people from buying guns and that lawmakers must act to strengthen those laws. The executive called on elected officials to ban assault-style firearms, high-capacity magazines and “bump stocks,” which are devices that enable semi-automatic rifles to fire hundreds of rounds per minute. Stack also proposed raising the minimum age to buy guns to 21. He said Dick’s, which also stopped selling high-capacity magazines, is prepared for any …

Walmart, Dick’s Sporting Goods Crack Down on Gun Sales  

Two major U.S. retailers changed their gun sales policies Wednesday in the fallout over a Florida high school massacre. Walmart, the country’s biggest retailer, announced it is raising the age restriction for buying guns and ammunition to 21. “We take seriously our obligation to be a responsible seller,” it said in a statement.  Walmart is also dropping toys and other items that resemble assault-style weapons from its website. The retail giant stopped selling assault-style guns in 2015 and does not sell handguns except for its stores in Alaska. Earlier Wednesday, Dick’s Sporting Goods announced it would no longer sell assault-style rifles or any gun to anyone younger than 21. The chain went one step further and urged Congress to ban assault-style weapons and raise the minimum age. The alleged Parkland high school shooter, Nikolas Cruz, used an AR-15. Dick’s says Cruz had bought a shotgun at one of its stores after going though all the proper procedures, but stressed it was not the exact weapon or the type allegedly used in the Feb. 14 massacre.  Both Walmart and Dick’s say they are committed to serving sportsmen, hunters, and the majority of gun owners whom they call law-abiding citizens. WATCH: Dick’s Sporting Goods CEO: ‘We Don’t Want to be a Part of This Story’   The mass shooting of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School has had an impact on the corporate world, which is seemingly taking a close look at nationwide polls that overwhelmingly favor tighter gun laws. …

Dengue Fever Vaccine Causing Panic, Political Strife in Philippines

A faulty dengue fever vaccine has set off mass panic over immunization shots and a political storm in the Philippines following the deaths of three children. The dengue fever vaccine Dengvaxia poses health risks to more than 700,000 schoolchildren who were inoculated, the Philippine House of Representatives public affairs bureau said Monday as it opened hearings on the issue.   The mosquito-borne disease has killed three children despite use of the vaccine, which the government ultimately banned, media outlets in the Southeast Asian country say. Manila also has asked French vaccine manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur for a refund.   Ex-president Benigno Aquino, whose government approved the 3.5 billion-peso ($67,000) purchase that took place half a year before he stepped down due to term limits in June 2016, attended a congressional hearing Monday along with former budget and health secretaries.   Filipinos have quit vaccinating their children until they get clearer information about what happened, said Renato Reyes, secretary general of the Manila-based Bagong Alyansang Makabaya alliance of social causes.   “It’s a serious issue, given that kids who had no previous experience with dengue may develop a severe form of dengue if they get infected now after the vaccination,” Reyes said.   “It has become a great cause of concern, so much so that one of the unintended consequences of the whole issue is there’s been a drop in people availing themselves of the vaccination program, because there’s like fear that all kinds of vaccine, not just the dengue vaccination, will …

Indexes Point to Cooling Growth in China This Year 

Growth in China’s manufacturing sector in February cooled to the weakest in more than 11/2 years, raising concerns of a sharper-than-expected slowdown in the world’s second biggest economy this year as regulators tighten the screws on financial risks. The weakness was driven by disruption to business activity by the Lunar New Year holidays and curbs to factory output from tougher pollution rules, but there are worries of a bigger loss in momentum. “Although a recovery looks possible in the short-run as the anti-pollution campaign winds down, the risk is still that the economy fares worse this year than is generally expected,” said Julian Evans-Pritchard, senior China Economist at Capital Economics. Index raises concern The official Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) released Wednesday fell to 50.3 in February, from 51.3 in January. But it remained above the 50-point mark that separates growth from contraction on a monthly basis, the 19th straight month of expansion. The drop may raise some concerns for China’s leaders as they prepare for the start of the National People’s Congress (NPC) next week where Beijing will unveil its economic targets for this year. Globally, solid demand has kept many export-reliant economies humming over the past year or so, though a move toward tighter policy in advanced nations could cut into growth this year. The latest PMI’s subindex of new export orders fell to 49.0, the lowest in at least a year, as the yuan currency appreciated against the dollar. Chen Zhongtao, an official with China Logistics Information Center …