Category Archives: Entertainment

Puerto Rico Has Full Power Restored

Compliments of NBC

Power has been restored to all of Puerto Rico for the first time since Hurricane Maria struck nearly 11 months ago, officials said Tuesday.

The island’s electric utility announced that crews working in the southern city of Ponce reconnected the last neighborhood that had been offline since the Sept. 20 storm knocked out the U.S. territory’s power grid.

Ponce resident Charlie Colon Nazario told El Nuevo Dia that he was looking forward to no longer having to use a generator to light his house.

“No more lamps, no more candles, no more extension cords,” he said as about two dozen power workers completed the connection to his home.

The Ponce neighborhood was the last to be reconnected to the grid because landslides and rough terrain made it difficult for crews from the electrical authority or contractors to reach the area to make repairs, said Carlos Alvarado, chief of technical operations for the power authority.

Utility crews used a helicopter to replace wooden power poles knocked down in the storm with steel ones that officials hope will do a better job staying up during future storms.

“They will have a more robust system,” Alvardo said.

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Uk And EU Join In Agreement To Block Trump’s Iran Sanction

By: Benjamin Kentish of Independent

The UK has agreed to work with the EU to try to block the impact of Donald Trump‘s new sanctions against Iran.

Jeremy Hunt, the foreign secretary, signed a joint statement with other EU foreign ministers to ensure European companies doing business with Iran will be protected.

The ministers promised to introduce a “blocking statute” to ban European firms from abiding by the US sanctions, which were reimposed by Mr Trump on Monday.

The US president decided to reintroduce the penalties after withdrawing from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal negotiated by his predecessor, Barack Obama.

The European foreign ministers said the lifting of Western sanctions was “essential” to the deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which involved Iran agreeing not to pursue development of nuclear weapons.

Mr Hunt signed the statement along with EU High Representative Federica Mogherini and foreign ministers Jean-Yves Le Drian of France and Heiko Maas of Germany.

They said they “deeply regret” Mr Trump’s decision to reimpose sanctions and argued that 11 consecutive reports bythe International Atomic Energy Agency confirm the Iran deal “is working”.

The statement said: “It is a key element of the global nuclear non-proliferation architecture, crucial for the security of Europe, the region, and the entire world. We expect Iran to continue to fully implement all its nuclear commitments under the JCPOA.

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Lab Grown Lungs Successfully Implanted In Pigs

By: Kristin Houser of Science Alert

In the US alone, more than 1,400 people are waiting for a lung transplant – there simply aren’t enough donor lungs available to meet the need. Soon, though, patients might have a new source for brand new lungs: the lab.

On Wednesday, researchers from University of Texas Medical Branch published a new paper in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

In it, they detail their latest milestone along the path to creating lab-grown lungs for humans: they can now successfully transplant these bioengineered lungs into pigs.

To grow the lungs, the researchers first created four lung scaffolds. To do this, they removed all of the cells and blood from pig lungs using a mix of sugar and detergent. This left them with just the proteins of each lung – essentially, its skeleton.

Next, they placed each scaffold in a tank containing a special mix of nutrients. They then added cells from recipient pigs’ own lungs to each of the scaffolds and let the lungs grow for 30 days. Finally, they transplanted the four lab-grown lungs into the four recipient pigs.

Within two weeks, the transplanted lungs had already begun to establish the robust networks of blood vessels they need to survive.

During two months of post-transplant observation, the researchers found no signs that the animals’ immune systems had rejected the new lungs. But they next want to study the long-term viability of the organs.

Bioengineered organs are something of a holy grail in transplantation research. Because they are grown from the recipient’s own cells, the body is less likely to reject the organ, and we could grow them in the lab as needed – no more organ shortages.

If all goes as hoped with the pig experiments, the researchers believe they could be just five to 10 years away from being able to create lab-grown lungs to transplant into people in compassionate use circumstances (people with life-threatening conditions and essentially no other treatment options).

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Global Amazon Strike

By: Adam Clark Estes of Gizmodo

I know what you’re thinking: Amazon’s got some hot deals for its made-up holiday, and even though you don’t exactly need an AmazonBasics portable air compressor, you would be foolish not to save $14 by buying it on Amazon Prime Day. Resist these thoughts, fellow consumer. Amazon Prime Day is bullshit.

The first Amazon Prime Day happened in 2015, the year of Amazon’s 20th birthday, when the company boldly said “Step Aside Black Friday.” Prime Day deals were going to be so good, the world might run out of money before all the good could be bought. Yes, to celebrate two decades of selling discount books and weird sex toys, Amazon invited its most loyal customers to spend even more money and to do so in a limited amount of time. It was such a fun celebration that Amazon decided to do it every year. Now, Prime Day is even longer than a day. It’s 36 hours of unbelievable deals. And if you’re not an Amazon Prime member, Amazon will let you sign up for a free 30-day trial that you will definitely forget to cancel.

The only problem is that Amazon Prime isn’t necessarily the incredible deal that it used to be. I recently downloaded all of my Amazon data, only to learn that all my Amazon Prime membership seemed to do for me was to make me buy more stuff on Amazon. The fact that there’s now a fake holiday that encourages even more spending seems slightly insulting. Than again, nobody is forcing me to be a Prime member and to buy stuff on Amazon. And I’m certainly not compelled to buy stuff on Prime Day. That’s not what bothers me about this 36-hour bargain bonanza.

I’m actually starting to think that Amazon is a bad company. There must be a reason why Amazon workers in Europe are marking this year’s Prime Day by going on strike. A one-day strike at six Amazon facilities in Germany is currently in effect, while a three-day strike is happening in Spain. Workers in Poland are staging a work-to-rule action, meaning they’ll only do the bare minimum required by their contracts. The workers are universally demanding healthy working conditions, which seems like a reasonable thing for any employee to want. Amazon, however, has developed an infamous reputation as a terrible and dangerous place to work. Pay is so low that many warehouse workers are reportedly on food stamps. Third-party contractors often work long hours with no benefits. People even die in Amazon fulfillment centers from time-to-time.

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Controversy In The Putin Trump Meeting

By : Amanda Macias & Tucker Higgins of CNBC

President Donald Trump on Monday said at a joint briefing with Russian President Vladimir Putin that while he had “great confidence” in the U.S. intelligence community, Putin was “extremely strong and powerful in his denial” that Russia meddled in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

The president blamed “both countries” for the strained relationship. When a reporter asked the president if he would denounce Russia’s efforts to interfere in the presidential election, Trump raised the issue of Hillary Clinton’s email server.

“I think it’s a disgrace we can’t get Hillary Clinton’s 33,000 e-mails. I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today,” Trump said.

“I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be” Russia that interfered with the 2016 election, Trump said.

Putin told Trump during the summit Monday that he never meddled in the election. At the briefing, Putin called the allegations “nonsense,” and offered to allow special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigators into Russia.

“The Russian state has never interfered and is not going to interfere into internal American affairs including election process,” Putin said during the briefing alongside Trump.

The comments from the two leaders came during a free-wheeling press briefing at the tail end of Trump’s raucous European tour. While the two leaders discussed issues ranging from the Syrian Civil War to nuclear nonproliferation, critics are likely to seize on what was left unsaid: Three days after special counsel Robert Mueller indicted 12 Russian nationals for interfering in a U.S. election, Trump offered Putin nothing but praise.

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Elon Musk Pledges To Fix Flint Water Crisis

By: Fox

Billionaire Elon Musk has committed to fund efforts to fix Flint homes that still have contaminated water.

The Tesla owner tweeted in response to another user who asked him to respond to people saying there was “NO WAY (he) could help get clean water to Flint”. Musk responded and said “Please consider this a commitment that I will fund fixing the water in any house in Flint that has water contamination above FDA levels. No kidding.”

How serious Musk is with his claim is not known.

The Flint water crisis started in 2014 when city officials switched off of Detroit’s water supply and drew water from the Flint River instead. The goal was to cut costs, but the move triggered a city-wide health crisis with lead contaminated water flowing into people’s homes.

Flint’s water was tainted with the toxin for at least 18 months, as the city tapped the Flint River but didn’t treat the water to reduce corrosion.

The switch to the Flint River yielded smelly discolored tap water, later determined to be responsible for leaching lead from the pipes in people’s homes, poisoning thousands while also leading to dozens of cases of Legionnaires disease. Twelve of those of were fatal.

Twelve people have died and thousands have been poisoned,

City residents were receiving free bottled water from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. Back in April, the DEQ said that the water quality “has been restored” and that it tests below federal action levels in lead and copper for nearly 20 years.

In a DEQ release, the state says that tests representing four consecutive six-month monitoring periods shows that 90 percent of the Tier I (high-risk) samples collected are at or below 4 parts per billion, which is well below the federal action level of 15 ppb. Nearly two years of LCR data and thousands of other tests show that Flint’s water is testing the same as or better than similar cities across the state.

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California Law Prevents Companies From Keeping Duping Clients Trying To Cancel Subscriptions

By: Shan Wang of Niemanlab

Here’s a script you’re surely familiar with if you’ve ever tried to cancel a subscription to, well, anything:

A version of this exchange happened when I tried to cancel my ClassPass account. A similar version happened when I tried to cancel my Boston Globe a few years ago when it kept being delivered to the wrong address.

We all have our own subscription auto-renewal and cancellation grievances.

effect July 1 aims to stop companies from blockading customers looking to cancel their services — along with the practice of sneakily sliding them into another month’s subscription without much clarity on the real, full cost of the service. Among the changes: It bans companies from forcing you to, say, call a hard-to-find telephone number to cancel a subscription that you purchased online.

California’s Senate Bill No. 313, which adds further protections for consumers to an existing law, would (according to its official legislative summary):

…commencing on July 1, 2018, require a business that makes an automatic renewal offer or continuous service offer that includes a free gift or trial, to include in the offer a clear and conspicuous explanation of the price that will be charged after the trial ends or the manner in which the subscription or purchasing agreement pricing will change upon conclusion of the trial.

The bill would prohibit a business from charging a consumer’s credit or debit card, or the consumer’s account with a 3rd party, for an automatic renewal or continuous service that is made at a promotional or discounted price for a limited period of time without first obtaining the consumer’s consent to the agreement.

The bill would also specify that if the automatic service offer or continuous service offer includes a free gift or trial, the business is required to disclose how to cancel, and allow the consumer to cancel, the automatic renewal or continuous service before the consumer pays for the goods or services.

And while it’s just a California law, it also applies to any company (or publisher) with paying customers in the state — so, pretty much everybody, GDPR-style. (Credit/blame State Sen. Bob Hertzberg, the bill’s sponsor, for the new rules.)

Ryan Nakashima, an AP technology writer who’s been conducting some adblocking and subscriptions research at the Bay Area News Group in California, mentioned to me that in an exit survey of people who were canceling their subscriptions, some cancelers had also called out the cancellation process itself.

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Trump Signs Executive Order To Halt Family Separations

By: Andrew Restuccia, Lorraine Woellert of politico

President Donald Trump signed an executive action Wednesday that ends the administration’s policy of separating migrant families crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, abandoning the president’s previous stance that only Congress can fix the problem.

“I didn’t like the sight or the feeling of families being separated,” the president told reporters in the Oval Office, flanked by Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and Vice President Mike Pence. “I think anybody with a heart would feel strongly about it. We don’t like to see families separated.”

Yet Trump said that he wanted to continue enforcing a strong policy at the border, an issue he campaigned on: “We are keeping a very powerful border and it continues to be a zero tolerance. We have zero tolerance for people that enter our country illegally.”

The action came after Trump and his team faced harsh criticism from lawmakers, activists, religious leaders and former first ladies over the separation of children from their parents in custody, which was panned almost universally as cruel and damaging to the kids’ well-being.

It was a remarkable shift from a president who is typically reluctant to bow to outside pressure. He often doubles down on his existing stance when confronted with criticism.

With cable news flashing images of migrant children held in cages and lawmakers’ offices facing a flood of angry phone calls, the president was under increased pressure to come up with a speedy solution. White House aides came to the conclusion on Wednesday that Congress was unlikely to act quickly to resolve the crisis, even though they sent signals that Trump would be willing to sign a narrow, stand-alone fix without other immigration-related provisions.

The decision to end the separation policy via executive action appeared to have happened quickly, and some in the White House were left in the dark. Key members of the White House legislative affairs team, which had been working with Hill lawmakers in a bid to find a legislative fix, were left out of the loop and hadn’t seen text of the executive action as of early Wednesday afternoon, according to two people familiar with the issue.

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David Spade Donates 100k in Light Of Kate Spade’s Death

By: ABC

One week after his sister-in-law’s death, David Spade has donated $100,000 to help those afflicted with mental illness.

Spade didn’t announce this on social media or make a big fuss; People magazine confirmed the news late Wednesday via his representative.

The donation will support the National Alliance on Mental Illness and Spade tells the magazine that, “More people suffer from mental health issues than we may realize but no one should ever feel ashamed to reach out for support.”

He added, “If you or anyone you know is in need of help or guidance please contact the national suicide prevention hotline at 800-273-8255 or go to nami.org to learn more and help those who may be in need.”

Kate Spade, who was married to the comedian’s brother andy, took her own life at the age of 55 last week and the “Joe Dirt” star has been vocal about the shock and grief that comes from losing a member of the family so suddenly.

Shortly after her death, Spade posted a happy photo to Instagram with the caption, “Fuzzy picture but i love it. Kate and I during Christmas family photos. We had so much fun that day. She was so sharp and quick on her feet. She could make me laugh so hard. I still cant believe it. Its a rough world out there people, try to hang on.”

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Takeaways From California’s Primary Elections

By: The New York Times

The battle for control of Congress was front and center on Tuesday night, with races taking shape in several intensely contested House seats in California and New Jersey. But there were revealing elections in the Midwest and the South, too, underscoring President Trump’s power in the Republican Party and the different ways Democrats hope to loosen his hold on red-state America.

Here are some of our takeaways:

Money matters in California

National Democrats spent over $7 million in an effort to ensure they had a candidate reach the general election in three House districts in California held by Republicans. Their decision to not take their chances in the state’s “top two” system — in which the top finishers in nonpartisan, open primaries face each other in November — appears to have been a wise investment.

The party’s intervention in the districts held by Representative Dana Rohrabacher, Ed Royce and Darrell Issa, all Republicans, paid off: they angered some of their own activists but were virtually certain to advance candidates in each of the three districts, including their preferred picks against Mr. Rohrabacher and in Mr. Royce’s seat.

And the Democrats also got a bit of a lesson about the risks of not intervening, in the race for the seat held by Representative Jeff Denham. The Democrat Josh Harder got little outside help and appeared poised to barely edge out a little-known Republican challenger because the other five Democrats split more than 30 percent of the vote.

It did not come cheap, but if Democrats secure a narrow House majority in November they will have done so in part because they decided to aggressively compete in June.

Trump voters can have long memories

Representative Martha Roby, Republican of Alabama, talked about building the wall. She voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act. She backed the president’s tax bill.

And yet.

Less than two years after saying she could not support Mr. Trump in the presidential campaign, Ms. Roby appeared to pay a political price on Tuesday, failing to clear the threshold — half of the vote — necessary to avoid a runoff for her seat.

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