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SPORT SPORT_NBA

NBA delays reopening; A new approach awaits

The NBA has delayed the possible reopening date of some team practice facilities for at least a week to at least May 8, saying Monday that more time is needed to ensure that players are safe and controlled in an effort to mitigate the threats caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The NBA continues to pursue plans to reopen, but with additional rules. When those facilities are reopened, the rules will be strict, experts say. While the May 8 date is far from firm, the NBA reportedly told teams that “they can delay this time if events warrant it.” The league planned to give teams the option to reopen facilities as early as Friday, although it ultimately decided that it would comply with local government orders to remain close.

When they do open, however, there will be no immediate return to normal. A person with knowledge of the league’s plans said players would have to wear face masks inside the facility, except during exercise, and that any staff member present would have to wear face masks and gloves, as well. They will also require a maximum of 12 people present, all of whom will maintain a distance of six feet from one another. The exception in that 12 foot case would be when medical or athletic training personnel are in contact with players. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the details were not publicly disclosed.

There are many other details of the league’s facility reopening protocols, the person said, including: All equipment used by players in their voluntary training, including basketball, must be disinfected before reuse; Players will not be able to share towels, and teams will not be able to utilize steam rooms, saunas, cold bathtubs, oxygen chambers or cryotherapy chambers in the available facilities; Teams will have to designate a staff member as “Hygiene Officer of Facilities “to oversee all new policies. Players must enter the facilities alone, without family, friends or personal security.

“Our top priority remains everyone’s health and well-being, and we will continue to follow NBA guidelines, as we continue to listen to experts and publicize local government directives,” said Orlando Magic spokesman Joel Glass.

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HOUNDS_Entertainment

Celebs expressing concern in wake of more police murders

Kim Kardashian and Drake have expressed concern over police violence.

After cameras caught footage of the shooting murders of two black men, Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, at the hands of police officers, a lone gunman set out on a mission to “kill white police officers.”

Micah Xavier Johnson, the sniper, shot and killed five Dallas police officers on Thursday.

Castile, who was a kitchen supervisor at a Montessori school, was pulled over for a tail light violation before being shot four times in the chest.

Castile, who had a licensed firearm on his person, was reportedly shot while reaching for his identification.

“This is real and I’m concerned. Concerned for the safety of my family, my friends and any human being that could fall victim to this pattern,” wrote Drake after viewing footage of Sterling being held down by Baton Rouge police and being shot in the chest. “It’s impossible to ignore that the relationship between black and brown communities and law enforcement remains as strained as it was decades ago.”

“I want my children to grow up knowing that their lives matter,” wrote reality star, Kim Kardashian. Kardashian is the mother of two children with African American rapper, Kanye West. “I do not ever want to have to teach my son to be scared of the police, or to tell him that he has †o watch his back because the people we are told to trust – the people who ‘protect and serve’ – may not be protecting him because of the color of his skin.”

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HOUNDS_Entertainment

Chaka Khan on same drug that killed Prince

Chaka Khan is entering rehab for the same medication that killed Prince.

“[I am] battling an addiction to the same medication that led to Prince’s death, ” said Chaka Khan in an interview with the Associated Press. “[I have] voluntarily entered the program to get healthy and stay that way.”

Prince died earlier this year of an overdose of the drug, fentanyl. Chaka Khan did an extremely popular cover of the Prince hit, “I feel for you,” one of her biggest hits.

“[Chaka Khan is] struggling with a dependence on prescription pain medications,” said the Grammy Award winning, 63 year old singer in response to why she was entering rehab. “Doctors have urged her to resume recording mid-July.”

Chaka Khan will postpone multiple tour dates in order to get her health on track.

According to her official website, Chaka Khan looks to return to her regular touring schedule by August 1.

“Unfortunately, I will miss concert appearances over the summer,” said Chaka Khan. “However, it’s vital that I put my health and well-being first. I know that I am disappointing some of my fans, but I also know they would want me to recover and be well and healthy.”

“Thank you everyone for your well wishes,” tweeted Chaka Khan, who entered the rehabilitation program with her sister, Yvonne Stevens. “[We] agreed we would take this journey together and support each other through the recovery.”

“We knew it was time to take action to save our lives,” concluded Chaka Khan.

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NONE SCI Science

5.7-million-year-old “human footprints” stun paleontologists

An analysis of a set of human-like footprints in ancient rock beneath Crete has researchers baffled due to one critical detail: The rock is 5.7 million years old. There were not supposed to be fully evolved humans in Crete—or anywhere on Earth, for that matter—until less than a million years ago, according to the scientific consensus.
Gerard Gierlinski of the Polish Geological Institute found the footprints in 2002 and spent the next decade-and-a-half analyzing them before publishing the results just this month in the latest edition of Proceedings of the Geologists’ Association. The study notes numerous human-like features in the footprint: five toes, including a big toe similar to ours, as well as a distinct ball on the sole. There is also evidence of an upright posture and toenails instead of claws.
None of these features were supposed to appear for another four million years, at least, according to researchers. Also, there were not supposed to be any humans or apelike ancestors of humans anywhere outside Africa.
Until now, the earliest known footprints of hominids that show upright posture date back 3.7 million years ago and are located in present-day Tanzania. There is an earlier set of footprints dating back 4.4 million years ago, but its discoverers said that it very closely resembles an ape’s footprint and shows none of the human-like traits of Gierlinski’s find.
Gierlinski posits that there was another human-like creature that was roaming the Earth eons before any of the known hominids. This creature might have likewise made it to present-day Crete long before any currently known hominids left the African savanna.
“As Crete is some distance outside the known geographical range of pre-Pleistocene (2.5 million to 11,700 years ago) hominins we must also entertain the possibility that they represent a hitherto unknown late Miocene primate that convergently evolved human-like foot anatomy,” the study states.

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Business NONE TECH TECH_Technology

Elon Musk debuts a new electric truck and sports car

Elon Musk presented Tesla’s first-ever electric semi-truck Thursday at a Los Angeles event in which he also showcased a new Tesla sports car. Musk described the new truck as a cheap alternative to diesel trucks, which he said are “economic suicide.”

Musk told his audience that it will cost less to ship freight on a convoy of these trucks than to ship them by train and that they will cost 20% less per mile than diesel trucks. He said that the trucks will also have “thermonuclear explosion-proof” windshields, lane-keeping technology, enhanced autopilot, and battery life that can keep the truck going for up to 500 miles when the truck is traveling at maximum weight and highway speed.

Several trucks appeared before the audience during Musk’s presentation. One truck’s back door opened to let a new Tesla Roadster, Musk’s newest electric car model, drive out of it. While Musk focused on the electric truck for most of his presentation, he also touted the new Roadster’s speed and acceleration, which he said had broken “world records” for production cars.

“The point of doing this is just to give a hardcore smackdown to gasoline cars,” Musk said. “Driving a gasoline sports car is going to feel like a steam engine with a side of quiche.”

Musk added that Tesla expects to start producing the truck by 2019 and the car by 2020. Tesla will additionally build a nationwide network of “supercharger” charging stations.

Tesla is struggling to meet production demands on its existing cars, however. Stock in the company’s Model 3 car fell in October after the company announced that it was able to produce only 220 models in September despite promising to produce 1,500 that month and 2,000 or more a month by December.

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TSC_Global Politics

Saudi air strikes hit Yemen’s rebel-occupied capital

Saudi Arabian jets struck Sanaa, Yemen’s rebel-occupied capital city, late Friday and damaged the city’s ministry of defense and several surrounding properties. Three Yemeni civilians suffered injuries in the strikes.

“I was sitting at home and heard the first strike hit the ministry of defence. Everyone was afraid. Minutes later, another strike hit my neighbor’s house,” resident Mohammed Aatif told Agence France Presse. “My entire house shook.” Aatif added that he and his family fled the neighborhood.

The air strikes followed Houthi rebels’ launch of a missile November 4 into Saudi territory. The missile sailed past the Saudi capital, Riyadh, before Saudi anti-missile defenses shot it down near an airport.

Houthi forces lobbed the missile into Saudi Arabia as payback for Saudi support of the Yemeni government that the rebels have been at war with since 2015. The rebels warned that more attacks will follow against Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which is also supporting Yemen’s government.

Air strikes aren’t the only harms that Yemeni civilians have suffered from Saudi Arabia’s military response recently. Saudi forces and the UAE both imposed a blockade across Yemen’s border this week after the missile attack.

The blockade is targeted at rebel forces, but it is also obstructing deliveries of food and medical aid to Yemeni civilians, the United Nations said Friday. UN aid chief Mark Lowcock told the UN Security Council earlier this week that Yemen will face “the largest famine the world has seen for many decades, with millions of victims” unless the blockade ends.

The conflict has already killed more than 8,650 people, many of whom are civilians. This includes more than 2,000 Yemenis who died in a recent cholera outbreak.

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NATURE NONE SCI Science

EPA replaces its advisory boards’ scientists with industry reps and state officials

The Environmental Protection Agency appointed dozens of officials from regulated states and businesses Friday to its advisory boards. The incoming appointees are replacing career scientists that Scott Pruitt, EPA administrator, fired following his implementation last week of a new rule prohibiting scientists who receive EPA grants from serving on the boards.

A total of 66 new experts took up vacant seats on the EPA’s Science Advisory Board, Clean Air Safety Advisory Committee, and Board of Scientific Counselors. Some are from state governments that received EPA grants—Pruitt exempted representatives of state, local, and tribal governments from the no-grantee rule.

Other appointees hail from companies such as Dow Chemical, Procter & Gamble, and the French petroleum company Total. The new advisors also include some current or former members of the American Chemistry Council, the leading lobbying group for the chemical industry.

Pruitt said that the new ban on scientists who had received grants would prevent “conflicts of interest” and that he was seeking industry and state government advisors to get greater “diversity” of opinion.  But environmental-conservation groups blasted his replacement choices as opening the door to a much bigger conflict of interest—i.e., actual polluters advising the EPA on pollution.

“Pruitt is turning the idea of ‘conflict of interest’ on its head,” Andrew Rosenberg, director of the Centre for Science and Democracy at the Union for Concerned Scientists, said in a statement. “He claims federal research grants should exclude a scientist from an EPA advisory board but industry funding shouldn’t.”

The advisory boards don’t write EPA policies. But the agency calls on them to assess scientific research and new regulation proposals.

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TSC_Global Politics

Hamas-Fatah unity deal faces Israeli and U.S. opposition

A unity deal that ends the decade-old divide between Palestine’s West Bank and the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip is going forward despite firm statements of opposition from Israel and the United States. Israeli and U.S. officials all said that they will hold no diplomatic talks with any Palestinian government in which Hamas plays a part.

Hamas signed the unity deal with Fatah, Palestine’s official governing political party, in Cairo last week. Hamas and Fatah had been estranged since Hamas won a popular election in the Gaza Strip and took over Gaza by force, expelled Fatah, and pursued its own separate policy of confrontation with Israel while Fatah continued to advocate for diplomatic resolutions to the longstanding Israel-Palestine conflict.

The unity deal brings Gaza and Palestine’s Arab populations back under one Palestinian government. But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday that they will have no more success negotiating with Israel together than they did while they were apart.

“The Israeli government will not hold political talks with a Palestinian government that is supported by Hamas, a terror organisation calling for the destruction of Israel,” the statement read,” Netanyahu said in a statement.

The U.S. president’s special representative for international negotiations, Jason Greenblatt, joined in condemning Hamas. He said that the militant group must disarm before it takes part in a unity government.

Since its inception, Hamas has refused to recognize Israel’s right to exist and has called for armed violence against the Israeli state. Hamas has not refuted either position despite repeated Israeli and U.S. demands to do so.

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Business NONE TECH TECH_Technology

Waymo demands Uber pay $1 billion to settle trade-secrets lawsuit

Uber balked this week at a request from self-driving car company Waymo of $1 billion and a public apology to settle the ongoing lawsuit over self-driving car technology that Waymo alleges Uber stole from it. Uber has not followed with a counter-offer, and no further settlement talks are scheduled, according to sources.

The impasse follows a motion Waymo has filed earlier in the week demanding that Uber turn over its “lidar” source code, which Uber is using in its model self-driving cars, so that Waymo lawyers could examine the code and see if it bears any striking similarities to Waymo’s code. Alphabet, a Google-owned company that owns Waymo, issued an additional request for the appointment of an independent oversight body that will ensure that Uber doesn’t use Waymo technology.

Uber and Waymo have been in a legal dispute since February, when Waymo sued the rideshare company over alleged theft of trade secrets. Waymo contended that Uber’s self-driving car program based its lidar code on software files that Anthony Levandroski, current head of Uber’s self-driving car project and former Google employee, stole from Waymo when he left Google. Levandroski has pleaded the fifth amendment and refused to answer questions about the accusations.

“Waymo had one goal: to stop Uber from using its trade secrets,” a Waymo attorney told Reuters.

If no settlement occurs, then the case will go to trial in December. Waymo lawyers said in court that they may seek as much as $1.86 billion from Uber if they go through with a trial.

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NATURE NONE SCI Science

Fish are individuals with complex personalities, study reports

A team of researchers from Exeter University has discovered that fish have different personalities and unique traits, a new study published in Functional Ecology reports.

Researchers tested this idea by putting different threats — such as models of herons — around the tanks of Trinidadian guppies and seeing how they reacted. 

While the team expected the fish to follow a “simple spectrum” where they all reacted to potentials dangers in the same way, the scientists found this not to be the case. Rather, some guppies were braver than others.

“The idea of a simple spectrum is often put forward to explain the behavior of individuals in species such as the Trinidadian guppy,” said lead author Tom Houslay, a researcher at Exeter University, according to The Independent. “But our research shows that the reality is much more complex.”

The team found that when guppies are put into a strange environment they have different coping strategies. Some hide, some attempt to flee, while others cautiously explore the area. These differences were consistent over multiple tests and held true in a range of situations. Even though some fish changed their reactions based on the threat, the relative differences between each individual stayed the same.

That behavior suggests each fish is different. The team plans to expand on their new research to see how this information could be used to expand their knowledge of fish populations.

“We are interested in why these various personalities exist, and the next phase of our research will look at the genetics underlying personality and associated traits,” said study co-author Alastair Wilson, a professor at the University of Exeter, according to The Guardian. “We want to know how personality relates to other facets of life, and to what extent this is driven by genetic, rather than environmental, influences. The goal is really gaining insight into evolutionary processes, how different behavioural strategies might persist as species evolve.”