Technology

Bangladesh marks opening of country's longest bridge

Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has celebrated the opening of the country’s longest bridge, which took eight years to build amid setbacks involving political conflict and corruption allegations. The 4-mile bridge spanning the Padma River cost an estimated $3.6 billion and was paid for with domestic funds after the World Bank and other global lending agencies declined to finance the project. The bridge, which will open to the public on Sunday, will slash the distance between the capital Dhaka and Bangladesh’s second largest seaport, Mongla, by 62 miles. Economists say the bridge will increase Bangladesh’s gross domestic product by an additional 1.3% per year. The World Bank withheld funding but in 2017, a Canadian court threw out corruption charges against three executives.

Jury takes fraud case against Elizabeth Holmes's ex-partner

The fate of hard-nosed technology executive Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani is now in the hands of a jury that will weigh criminal charges alleging he joined disgraced Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes, his former partner, in an elaborate fraud that jarred Silicon Valley. Jury members finally get their chance to pore over the evidence submitted during a three-month trial after federal prosecutors on Friday finished a rebuttal to more than 11 hours of closing arguments methodically laid out by a lawyer defending Balwani. A separate jury spent seven days deliberating before convicting Holmes on four counts of investor fraud and conspiracy earlier this year.

After Roe, Dems seek probe of tech's use of personal data

Four Democratic lawmakers are asking federal regulators to investigate Apple and Google for allegedly deceiving mobile phone users by enabling the collection and sale of their personal data. Their call comes as the Supreme Court ended the constitutional protections for abortion Friday. The court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade is expected to lead to abortion bans in about half the states. And privacy experts say that could make women vulnerable as their personal data could be used to surveil pregnancies and shared with police or sold to vigilantes. The request for an investigation of the two California-based tech giants came in a letter to Federal Trade Commission Chair Lina Khan.

NASA asteroid mission on hold due to late software delivery

NASA's plan to explore a strange metal asteroid is on hold. The space agency was late delivering its own navigation software for the spacecraft called Psyche. NASA said Friday there will be an independent review to see what should be done with the nearly $1 billion mission. Nothing is wrong with the equipment or software, the agency just ran out of time to test the software properly. It could launch next year or in 2024. Psyche is just the latest in NASA’s fleet of asteroid-exploring spacecrafts. One is headed back to Earth with rubble collected from an asteroid.

Chinese electric car brand NIO says 2 killed in vehicle fall

The Chinese electric car brand NIO says two employees involved in testing died when one of its vehicles fell three stories from a parking structure in Shanghai. The company said the crash was under investigation but appeared to be an accident and “not caused by the vehicle.” It said the employees who died were “digital cabin testers,” one from NIO and the other from a partner. NIO said the vehicle fell from the third floor of a parking structure adjacent to the company’s Shanghai Innovation Port building. Photos in Chinese media showed the vehicle lying on its side with its roof caved in, surrounded by broken glass and emergency workers.

EXPLAINER: Is North Korea moving nukes to its border?

North Korea’s possible decision to deploy tactical nuclear weapons along its border with South Korea that could reach Seoul and U.S. forces stationed in the country in minutes could be a game changer in the standoff between Kim Jong Un and the United States. North Korea already has thousands of conventional weapons aimed at South Korea, but moving short-range nuclear-armed missiles to the border would be the clearest sign yet that Kim is looking to use his nuclear weapons to both threaten South Korea and wrest concessions from outside nuclear negotiators.

Toyota recalls electric car for faulty wheel that may detach

Toyota is recalling 2,700 of its bZ4X crossover vehicles globally for wheel bolts that could become loose, in a major setback for the Japanese automaker’s ambitions to roll out electric cars. Toyota says the cause is still under investigation, but the whole wheel could come off, risking a crash. The vehicles subject to the recall include about 2,200 destined for Europe, 270 for North America, 112 for Japan, and 60 for the rest of Asia. They were produced between March and June. The bZ4X is a key model in Toyota’s plans to strengthen its electric lineup.

China envoy says Australia fired first shot with Huawei ban

China's ambassador to Australia says the then-Australian government fired the “first shot” in its deteriorating relations with China four years ago when it banned Chinese-owned telecommunications giant Huawei from rolling out the country’s 5G network due to security concerns. Ambassador Xiao Qian gave a rare public address at University Technology Sydney on Friday. The address comes as China shows signs of thawing a diplomatic deepfreeze of Australian ministers following the election of a new government last month. Bilateral relations plummeted in 2020 after the previous Australian government called for an independent investigation into the COVID-19 pandemic. But Xiao highlighted the 2018 decision to block Huawei as a turning point.

Not enough or too far? California climate plan pleases few

A top California official says heat waves and drought gripping California highlight the urgency to slash fossil fuel use and remove planet-warming emissions from the air. California EPA Secretary Jared Blumenfeld spoke Thursday as state air regulators opened a hearing on a new climate-change roadmap for the state. It lays out a plan to reach carbon neutrality by 2045. That means the state would remove as much carbon from the air as it emits. The timeline is among the most ambitious in the nation and world. But many environmental critics say it relies too much on carbon removal technology and doesn't do enough to reduce reliance on oil and gas.

NASA: Give us back our moon dust and cockroaches

NASA wants its moon dust and cockroaches back. The space agency has asked Boston-based RR Auction to halt the sale of moon dust collected during the 1969 Apollo 11 mission that had subsequently been fed to cockroaches during an experiment to determine if the lunar material contained any sort of pathogen that posed a threat to terrestrial life. NASA said in a letter to the auctioneer that it still belongs to the federal government. RR said Thursday that the material from the experiment was expected to sell for at least $400,000, but has been pulled from the auction block.

Fix the Hog: Harley, Westinghouse ordered to fix warranties

Federal regulators have accused Harley-Davidson and Westinghouse of imposing illegal warranty terms on customers and ordered them to fix their warranties and ensure that their dealers compete fairly with independent repair-makers. The Federal Trade Commission announced the action against the motorcycle maker and MWE Investments, which makes Westinghouse-brand outdoor power generators and related equipment. The FTC said the companies have imposed illegal warranty terms that voided customers’ warranties if they used anyone other than the companies and their authorized dealers to get parts or repairs _ restricting consumers’ choices and costing them more money.

Instagram tests using AI, other tools for age verification

Instagram is testing new ways to verify the age of people using its service, including a face-scanning artificial intelligence tool, having mutual friends verify their age or uploading an ID. Meta, which owns both Facebook and Instagram, said that beginning on Thursday, if someone tries to edit their date of birth on Instagram from under the age of 18 to 18 or over, they will be required to verify their age using one of these methods. The use of face-scanning AI, especially on teenagers, raised some alarm bells Thursday, given the checkered history of Instagram parent Meta when it comes to protecting users’ privacy.

Rick Astley revisits his career-making song with 'gratitude'

How does Rick Astley handle one of his songs being part of the biggest internet meme of all time? He rolls with it, obviously. He says he's “ever so grateful for it.” ”Never Gonna Give You Up" turns 35 this year and is still very much alive, buoyed by a second chapter as a gentle joke wherein someone baits you with an enticing online link, which points instead to the video for this 1987 dance-pop smash. Thirty-five years later, Astley is still singing it, this summer on tour with New Kids on the Block, Salt-N-Pepa, and En Vogue for the 57-date “The Mixtape Tour 2022.”

Amazon's Alexa could soon mimic voice of dead relatives

Amazon’s Alexa might soon replicate the voice of family members - even if they’re dead. The capability was unveiled at Amazon’s Re:Mars conference in Las Vegas. It's currently in development and would allow the voice-assistant Alexa to mimic the sound of a specific person based on a less than a minute of recording provided by users. Amazon's head scientist for Alexa said at the event Wednesday the desire behind the feature was to build greater trust in the interactions users have with Alexa by putting more human attributes into the device. Amazon did not say when the feature might be available for public use.

Michigan to destroy some blood spots in fight over consent

Michigan has agreed to destroy more than 3 million dried blood spots taken from babies and kept in storage. It's all part of a partial settlement in an ongoing lawsuit over consent and privacy in the digital age. Hospitals routinely prick the heels of newborns to draw blood to check for more than 50 rare diseases. That practice isn’t being challenged. The dispute in Michigan is over leftover samples. A blood spot from each child is stored in Lansing while more are stored in Detroit for possible use by scientists. Michigan must get permission from parents to use spots for health research. But attorney Philip Ellison argues that the program might not be constitutional. And the agreement to destroy some blood spots doesn’t end the lawsuit.

US boosts monkeypox testing, 142 cases confirmed

The Biden administration has started shipping testing kits for monkeypox to commercial laboratories, in a bid to speed diagnostic tests for suspected infections for the virus that has already infected at least 142 people in the U.S. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is sending tests to commercial labs, including Aegis Science, Labcorp, Mayo Clinic Laboratories, Quest Diagnostics and Sonic Healthcare, which it said would significant expand the nation’s health system’s capacity to test for monkeypox. Previously, testing had largely been confined to public health labs, which combined have a capacity of about 8,000 tests per week.

Space chief hopes for 'Kennedy moment' from European leaders

The head of the European Space Agency says Russia's invasion of Ukraine highlights the need for the continent to become less dependent on other nations. Josef Aschbacher told The Associated Press in an interview Wednesday that the collapse of a joint Mars mission with Russia was "a wake up call on how Europe needs to position itself.” While he's hopeful NASA may be able to help out on that mission, in the long term Europe needs to be able to carry them out itself. He praised a recent speech by French President Emmanuel Macron calling for a bolder European space policy, and expressed hope that there would be a similar ‘Kennedy moment’ in other countries on the continent.

'Groundhog Day' at IRS: Returns pile up, phone delays worsen

An IRS watchdog says customer service issues are worsening at the tax-return-processing agency. A new report from the National Taxpayer Advocate says taxpayers are experiencing longer wait times on the phone, there’s an even bigger backlog of paper returns than there was a year ago, and delays in processing paper returns have been running six months to one year. The report on taxpayer challenges is submitted twice a year to Congress. The latest edition comes one day after the IRS said it's on track to eliminate its 2021 backlog of tax returns. The IRS contends the report's numbers are “neither the most accurate nor most recent figures.” and that the agency ”continues to make substantial progress on the inventory."

Microsoft: Russian cyber spying targets 42 Ukraine allies

Microsoft says “strategic espionage” by state-backed Russian hackers has targeted government agencies, think tanks, businesses and aid groups in 42 countries supporting Ukraine. Microsoft says in a report that hacking has been successful 29% of the time and that data was stolen in at least one-quarter of the successful network intrusions, Nearly two-thirds of the cyberespionage targets involved NATO members. The United States was the prime target. Poland, which is the main conduit for military assistance flowing to Ukraine, was No. 2. In the past two months, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Sweden and Turkey have seen stepped-up targeting,

South Korea hits dozens with travel bans amid crypto probe

South Korean prosecutors have barred dozens of people connected to Terraform Labs from leaving the country as they expand an investigation into a $40 billion collapse of the company’s cryptocurrency that devastated traders around the world. The Seoul Southern District Prosecutor’s Office said Wednesday it plans to summon them for questioning as it examines whether the company committed fraud or violated financial regulations before its digital currencies, TerraUSD and Luna, imploded in May. South Korea’s central bank said in a recent report that the currencies' collapse was a major factor in the global currency market shrinking by more than 40% compared to late last year, when its market value reached over $2.3 trillion.

Ford pledges to work with community near future factory

Ford Motor Co. officials are pledging to be good neighbors to those in rural west Tennessee who live near the automaker’s planned electric truck factory, a project expected to create thousands of jobs and change the face of the region. More than 200 people attended a panel discussion Tuesday at a high school in Brownsville, one of many communities that will be affected by Ford’s $5.6 billion project to build electric F-Series pickups at a 3,600-acre (1,460-hectare) parcel of land known as the Memphis Regional Megasite in Haywood County.. The project, called BlueOval City, is a joint venture with SK Innovation, which will build a battery factory at the site.

California may make social media firms report enforcement

A proposal being considered by California legislators would require social media companies to make public their policies for removing problem content and give detailed accounts of how and when they remove it. Supporters of the proposal blame online chatter for encouraging violence and undermining democracy. The bipartisan measure stalled last year over free speech concerns. Democratic Assemblyman Jesse Gabriel said Tuesday that he hopes to revive his bill by making it clear that lawmakers don’t intend to censor or regulate content. But his bill would require companies to say how they regulate their own content under their social media terms of service.