Updates

HOTTOPIC: Trump administration moves to eliminate food stamps for 700,000

The US Department of Agriculture has finalized a rule tightening work requirements for government food assistance. The administration of United States President Donald Trump on Wednesday said it will make it harder for states to keep men and women in the country’s food stamp program, a move that is projected to end benefits for nearly 700,000 people. Trump has argued that many Americans receiving food stamps through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as SNAP, do not need it given the strong economy and low unemployment. The program provides free…

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Trump impeachment hearings updates: Judiciary panel takes over

New phase of Trump impeachment inquiry kicks off with first hearing of the House Judiciary Committee. Investigation refresher The inquiry centres on a call between Trump and Ukraine’s president in which Trump asks for a probe into the Bidens. Trump also wanted a probe into a conspiracy theory about the 2016 elections. At the time of the call, Trump was withholding $391m in military aid from Ukraine, and conditioned a White House meeting on the probes, according to witnesses. US House Democrats entered a new phase of the impeachment inquiry of President…

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Musk says he responded to ‘unprovoked attack’ in ‘pedo guy’ suit

Tesla chief apologised to British cave diver and said insult was not meant to be taken literally. United States entrepreneur Elon Musk testified at his defamation trial on Tuesday that his “pedo guy” Twitter message at the centre of the case was not meant to be taken literally and was sent in response to an “unprovoked” insult he received from the man now suing him. Musk, 48, the billionaire chief executive of electric carmaker Tesla Inc and founder of the rocket company SpaceX, also apologised to the plaintiff from the witness stand…

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Google Parent Company Gets A New Leader: Pichai Takes Helm

Page and Brin will remain directors, but will cede their CEO and president titles, respectively, immediately: Alphabet. Google Chief Executive Sundar Pichai will replace Larry Page as CEO of parent Alphabet Inc, the company said in a blog post on Tuesday, reflecting the increasingly diminished public role of Page and Sergey Brin at the company they cofounded 21 years ago. “While it has been a tremendous privilege to be deeply involved in the day-to-day management of the company for so long, we believe it’s time to assume the role of…

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A quantum computing future is unlikely, due to random hardware errors

Google announced this fall to much fanfare that it had demonstrated “quantum supremacy” – that is, it performed a specific quantum computation far faster than the best classical computers could achieve. IBM promptly critiqued the claim, saying that its own classical supercomputer could perform the computation at nearly the same speed with far greater fidelity and, therefore, the Google announcement should be taken “with a large dose of skepticism.” Artist’s rendition of the Google processor. Forest Stearns, Google AI Quantum Artist in Residence, CC BY-ND          …

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The tricky ethics of Google’s Project Nightingale, an effort to learn from millions of health records

The nation’s second-largest health system, Ascension, has agreed to allow the software behemoth Google access to tens of millions of patient records. The partnership, called Project Nightingale, aims to improve how information is used for patient care. Specifically, Ascension and Google are trying to build tools, including artificial intelligence and machine learning, “to make health records more useful, more accessible and more searchable” for doctors. Ascension did not announce the partnership: The Wall Street Journal first reported it. Patients and doctors have raised privacy concerns about the plan. Lack of…

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Life insurance costs may soon rise for people who vape

Reinsurers are issuing warnings about vaping products, so their users are likely to face higher insurance premiums. Global reinsurers that insure the risks of other insurance firms are stepping up their warnings to their clients about the potential risks of vaping, putting pressure on underwriters to either exclude people who vape from insurance coverage or to charge them higher rates than other smokers. Authorities in the United States said last month that there had been 47 deaths so far this year from a lung illness tied to vaping. Health concerns…

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HOTTOPIC: How come Donald Trump won if Hillary Clinton got more votes?

Many Americans wonder why Donald Trump became president after the 2016 election, since Hillary Clinton got more votes overall.                     Curious Kids is a series for children of all ages. If you have a question you’d like an expert to answer, send it to CuriousKidsUS@theconversation.com. How come Donald Trump won if Hillary Clinton got more votes? Ellen T., 8, Cambridge, Massachusetts In fact, Clinton got as many votes in 2016 as Barack Obama did in 2012. Hers were concentrated in fewer…

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Facebook issues post ‘correction’ after Singapore’s demand

The November 23 post contained accusations about the arrest of a supposed whistle-blower and election rigging. Facebook has published a correction note on a user’s post following a demand from Singapore, the first time a tech giant has complied with the city-state’s law against misinformation. The Singapore government said on Friday it had instructed Facebook “to publish a correction notice” on a November 23 post which contained accusations about the arrest of a supposed whistle-blower and election rigging. Singapore, which is expected to call a general election within months, said the…

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Vegan meat revolution could help solve global warming

A mouth-watering task – the race to create a plant-based burger without any meat that everyone can eat and save the planet. Being a vegetarian or a vegan is nothing new but the push towards a plant-based diet for more people world-wide has taken on added importance because of global warming. Companies that make meat-food are racing to create the best meat-free burger. It is all part of an effort to reduce reliance on farmed animals, which contribute significantly to greenhouse gas emissions. Al Jazeera’s Rob Reynolds reports from Redwood…

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HSBC to use blockchain to track $20bn in private assets

The platform – Digital Vault – will give investors real-time access to records of securities bought on private markets. Banking giant HSBC aims to shift $20bn worth of assets to a new blockchain-based custody platform by March, in one of the biggest deployments yet of the widely hyped but still unproven technology by a global bank. The platform, known as Digital Vault, will give investors real-time access to records of securities bought on private markets, HSBC told Reuters, and seeks to capitalize on booming interest in such investments by yield-hungry…

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Are ‘vaping’ and ‘e-cigarettes’ the same, and should all these products be avoided?

Allison Kurti, University of Vermont As concerns over vaping continue to grow, researchers and public health officials are investigating the causes of more than 40 deaths and 2,000 illnesses. It’s confusing even for experts. The term “e-cigarette” refers to a battery-powered device used to inhale an aerosol that typically, but not always, contains nicotine, along with flavorings and other chemicals, but not tobacco. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recognize e-cigarettes as a broad category that includes a variety of different…

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Impeachment: What is it and how Trump can be impeached

How does it work? Which presidents have been impeached? A guide to US impeachment process. Amid controversy over a summer phone call between US President Donald Trump and the new leader of Ukraine, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ordered a formal impeachment inquiry of the US president in September. “No one is above the law,” she said as she announced the House was moving forward with an official impeachment inquiry of Trump. Pelosi, a Democrat, had earlier resisted calls to begin impeachment proceedings, urging restraint as House committees aggressively investigated Trump, a…

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US Prosecutors open criminal probe of opioid makers, distributors

Federal investigators in Brooklyn already sent subpoenas to four pharmaceutical firms and two drug distributors. Federal prosecutors have opened a criminal investigation into whether pharmaceutical companies intentionally allowed opioid painkillers to flood US communities, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday, citing people familiar with the matter. At least six companies have received grand-jury subpoenas from the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York. The Journal reported that the list includes Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd, Mallinckrodt Plc, Johnson & Johnson and Amneal Pharmaceuticals Inc, in addition to…

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