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›  Lyft Successfully Capitalizing On Nice-Guy Image As Uber Stumbles

Uber may have the higher valuation, but Lyft is trouncing it in the PR game.

Starting May 1, Lyft riders will have the option of rounding up their fares to the nearest dollar and donating the proceeds to charity.

The ride-hailing company first announced the program last month, revealing Thursday that it will funnel its first month’s donations to the United Service Organization, a nonprofit that supports members of the U.S. armed forces.

A company spokesperson told HuffPost they selected the USO because 10 percent of Lyft drivers are veterans. May is also Military Appreciation Month.

Lyft says it will add more organizations in the future, enabling riders to pitch in and select causes from “climate change to the pursuit of equality.” The program will roll out on Android first, with iOS coming soon. Users will have to opt in by selecting “Round Up & Donate” under the “Settings” tab: 

Lyft’s PR wins ? coupled with Uber’s numerous missteps ? are turning into real-world gains for the company.

Documents obtained by Bloomberg show Lyft’s ridership more than doubled in the first quarter of this year, compared to the same period last year (though Lyft, like Uber, is still losing money).

And earlier this month, the company raised an additional $500 million in funding at a valuation of around $7 billion. At the same time, Uber’s far-larger valuation has reportedly tumbled from a high near $70 billion to a “mere” $50 billion.

Despite Lyft’s gains, however, Uber remains the undisputed ride-hailing champion. Based on Bloomberg’s first-quarter data, Lyft’s annual run rate sits at just over $3 billion ? Uber’s is more than six times that.

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

›  NASA Just MacGyvered A Spacecraft To Fly Between Saturn And Its Rings

You can always count on NASA to jury-rig its way into a successful mission.

Its Cassini spacecraft just gave Earth another first in space exploration: It passed through the narrow gap between Saturn and its rings on Wednesday, then relayed stunning photographs of the planet’s atmosphere and invaluable data back to Terra.

But you can’t safely navigate an unexplored, potentially hazardous region of space without channeling MacGyver.

The gap between Saturn’s rings and the top of its atmosphere is only 1,500 miles wide, and Cassini was hurtling through at 77,000 miles-per-hour relative to the planet, according to NASA. Models suggested that Saturn’s ring particles still exist in that gap ? they would be small, “on the scale of smoke particles,” but it wouldn’t take much to wreak havoc on sensitive technology that’s zipping along at Cassini’s speed.

So the space agency decided to use its high-gain antenna ? a 13-foot-wide dish that Cassini uses to communicate with Earth ? as a shield, turning it away from our planet as it protected the vessel. That meant that Cassini wouldn’t be able to make contact during a 20-hour window, while flying through uncharted space, using its only form of communication as a plow.

Of course it worked. Bad ass.

“No spacecraft has ever been this close to Saturn before. We could only rely on predictions, based on our experience with Saturn’s other rings, of what we thought this gap between the rings and Saturn would be like,” said Cassini Project Manager Earl Maize of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. “I am delighted to report that Cassini shot through the gap just as we planned and has come out the other side in excellent shape.”

NASA’s Deep Space Network Goldstone Complex in California started receiving mission data from Cassini just after midnight Thursday morning. Cassini and its little buddy, the Huygens probe, has already gathered a laundry list of critical data from Saturn and its largest moon, Titan, which is “one of the most Earth-like worlds we’ve ever encountered,” NASA reports.

Eventually, NASA plans to dump Cassini in Saturn’s clouds before it collides with one of the planet’s 53 moons. Enceladus and Titan are thought to have a higher chance of supporting microbial life, and a collision with Cassini could pose contamination risks.

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

›  Bill O'Reilly: 'People Are Trying To Kill Me Right Now'

Bill O’Reilly made a thinly veiled reference to the sexual harassment scandal that cost him his job at Fox News by comparing his situation to that of his father, who served in World War II

On his podcast Wednesday, O’Reilly read a message from a fan who complimented his book, “Killing the Rising Sun.”

“I really like the way you wrapped it up, Bill, the last bit about your father caught me off-guard, but it was a really nice twist,” O’Reilly quoted. 

He then talked about how his father was a naval officer en route to Japan “and would have been killed in the invasion had the atom bombs not been dropped.” 

O’Reilly said he wouldn’t be here if his father had been killed in the war. 

And a lot of people are trying to kill me right now, as you know,” O’Reilly said. “But we’re going to tough that one out.”

He then recommended his book as “a great Father’s Day/Mother’s Day gift.”

O’Reilly also said the next book in his “Killing” series will be released in September. 

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

›  FCC Chairman To Propose Reversing 'Net Neutrality' Rules

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The head of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission on Wednesday proposed overturning the landmark 2015 Obama-era net neutrality rules that prohibit broadband providers from giving or selling access to certain internet services over others.

A plan to reverse the rules approved by the FCC under Democratic President Barack Obama is expected to set off a fight over the future of the internet regulation.

Ajit Pai, who was named chair of the FCC by President Donald Trump in January, said at a speech in Washington he was aiming to reverse rules that gave the government greater regulatory powers over internet service providers, arguing they cost jobs and depressed investment.

“Do we want the government to control the Internet? Or do we want to embrace the light-touch approach” in place since 1996 until revised in 2015, he asked.

The rules approved by the FCC in 2015 prohibit broadband providers from giving or selling access to speedy internet, essentially a “fast lane,” to certain internet services over others.

The 2015 FCC rules reclassified internet service providers much like utilities, a decision that could open the door to eventual rate regulation. A federal appeals court upheld the rules last year.

Pai said his proposal will face an initial vote on May 18 but he would not seek to finalize a reversal of the Obama rules until the FCC takes public comment, which could take several months.

The Obama administration rules require broadband providers to treat all data equally, rather than give or sell access to a Web “fast lane.”

Republican FCC Commissioner Mike O’Rielly said on Wednesday, “The previous FCC took internet policy down into a dark and horrible abyss.” He said the FCC will “expunge net neutrality regulations from the Internet.”

Internet providers such as AT&T Inc <T.N>, Verizon Communications Inc <VZ.N> and Comcast Corp <CMCSA.O> have argued that net neutrality rules make it harder for internet service providers to manage traffic and has made investment in additional capacity less likely.

Comcast Chairman and Chief Executive Brian Roberts said reclassification of internet services as a utility should be reversed. He said Pai’s proposal “creates an environment where we can have a fresh constructive dialogue.”

Democratic Senator Edward Markey predicted Pai would face a “tsunami of resistance” to overturning the rules.

The Internet Association, a group representing Facebook Inc <FB.O>, Alphabet Inc <GOOGL.O> and others, said the current FCC net neutrality rules are working and should not be changed. Reversing the rules “will result in a worse internet for consumers and less innovation online,” they said.


(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Tom Brown and Diane Craft)

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

›  Bureau Of Prisons Seeks Software To Predict Post-Release Outcomes

The Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) is hoping to find as-yet unrecognized patterns of adaptation and recidivism — which the agency terms “inmate reintegration into the community — by asking software developers to provide information about commercially available software capable of aggregating the various types of data the agency already collects.

A request published by the agency on March 15 asks for submission of information on off-the-shelf products that can aggregate and interpret data to identify hidden patterns and links that would provide information useful for internal security, public safety, intelligence-gathering and other administrative purposes.

Since the information to be studied and stored includes petabytes of data, and could be simultaneously accessed by numerous users, BOP wants solutions using an open architecture capable of handling that scale of data without being slowed down.

The agency’s ambitions don’t end there, however. Its request for information adds that BOP wants to create a system that can accommodate a case management component, so that it can use link and trend analysis to improve the agency’s understanding of such subjects as “interpersonal relationships” and “illicit financial and communications transactions,” and develop forensic-quality evidence and make agency decisions on security-related issues both faster and more reliable.

As examples of the variety of data types BOP plans to have its new system correlate, the agency’s request for information mentions such diverse items as telephone logs, computer IP logs, text messages, emails, data from mobile applications, and financial transactions. Social networks are another area of interest named by BOP; it says it wants a system able to analyze social networks and identify their key individuals and intra-network relationships.

On April 19, BOP updated its information request by publishing a list of answers to questions it had received on its inquiry. Though very brief, some of the agency’s answers to some of these questions are intriguing, either because they add new facts or raise further questions.

For example, asked how the agency currently tracks the type of information it’s looking to find better, more integrated ways to follow, BOP notes it presently uses an internally developed system. The agency also says it expects the case management component of a new integrated system will be capable of monitoring 200,000 inmates as well as 20,000 released former inmates.

A response to another question reveals BOP expects about 350 people will be able to access any new integrated post-release data system it sets up, and adds that all but 100 of those will be within the agency, but does not further identify who or where they might be. The agency does say, however, it is looking for products capable of supporting access using English, Spanish and Arabic. The request for information asks submissions be emailed to BOP by May 9.

In recent months, the BOP has been fairly active in soliciting information for its analytic tools, having also issued public information requests related to ways to improve health care services for older inmates, and for managing its resources more efficiently and reducing its costs. We noted that in an April 13 article which can be found here.

Christopher Zoukis is the author of Federal Prison Handbook: The Definitive Guide to Surviving the Federal Bureau of Prisons, College for Convicts: The Case for Higher Education in American Prisons (McFarland & Co., 2014) and Prison Education Guide (Prison Legal News Publishing, 2016). He can be found online at ChristopherZoukis.com and PrisonerResource.com.

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

›  Drunk Man Arrested For Tackling Parking Lot Security Robot

The battle for the future of humanity escalated last week, thanks to a drunk man who tackled a security robot in a Silicon Valley parking lot.

Next stop: “The Matrix,” if we’re lucky. Otherwise? Probably “The Terminator.”

Jason Sylvain, 41, attacked the crime-fighting K5 droid in the parking lot of robot manufacturer Knightscope the evening of April 19, Mountain View Police Department spokeswoman Katie Nelson told HuffPost. She said an employee for Knightscope detained Sylvain before officers got to the scene.

“When we arrived, we met with Sylvain, and as we were speaking with him, he appeared confused, had red, glassy eyes and a strong odor of alcohol emitted from him,” Nelson said.

Here’s a video of the K5 droid, which is reportedly back in action after the scuffle:

Locals weren’t eager to defend a fellow human for standing up to our robot overlords.

“I think this is a pretty pathetic incident,” Mountain View resident Eamonn Callon told ABC7. “It shows how spineless the drunk guys in Silicon Valley really are because they attack a victim who doesn’t even have any arms.”

“I don’t think this is a fair fight. Really, totally unacceptable,” Callon added.

But make no mistake, it’s truly a battle for the future of our species. Last year, a Knightscope droid fired the first shot and ran over a toddler in the Stanford Shopping Center parking lot. The child suffered minor injuries to his leg and foot.

In Sylvain’s defense, Knightscope’s K5 also strongly resembles another droid built explicitly to be tackled:

Sylvain faces charges of prowling and being drunk in public, Nelson told HuffPost.

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

›  Amazon Sells A Robot That Judges How You Look, As if You Needed That

Do you need more judgment in your life? Don’t feel like your family, colleagues and roommates are giving you enough flak day-to-day?

Now you can pay for a robot to do that.

On Wednesday, Amazon unveiled Echo Look, a camera meant to “help you look your best.” According to Amazon, the device can take full-length photos of you and, among other features, it can give you a “second opinion” on how your outfits look.

Mom, is that you in there?

The Echo gives feedback using Style Check, an app that uses an algorithm to compare and rate your outfit options.

We haven’t tried out the Echo Look ourselves, but honestly we’re a little concerned about getting fashion advice from robots. Historically, they haven’t exactly been known as snappy dressers.

The app will also recommend styles and clothing options to the users, leading to what TechCrunch calls a “pretty clear revenue stream for the company after the hardware has been sold.”

Right now, the Echo Look is only available by invitation. Those interested in having a robot help dress them can request an invite on the device’s Amazon page.

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

›  Astronaut Demonstrates How He Makes A PB&J Sandwich In Space

It’s always nice to have a taste of home ? even when you’re 220 miles above Earth.

So it’s natural that NASA astronaut Robert Kimbrough might get a hankering for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich while orbiting around the planet on the International Space Station.

But as he demonstrates in the video above, making a sandwich in microgravity presents some challenges, such as those pesky floating jars of peanut butter.

Luckily, a little velcro goes a long way.

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

›  Father Kills Toddler On Facebook Live

For the second time in roughly a week, a brutal killing has been uploaded to Facebook.

According to police, a 20-year-old man on Monday used Facebook Live to stream the hanging of his 11-month-old daughter. The video, which was filmed at an abandoned hotel in Phuket, Thailand, showed the man tie a noose around the child’s neck before dropping her over the side of the building.

The child’s relatives, including his mother, reportedly saw the video and contacted police.

“The mother of the child was crying and was very sad,” Thai police Col. Jirasak Siemsak told The Associated Press. “I am also very sad ... they were still very young.”

Authorities found the man’s body hanging next to his daughters. His death has been ruled a suicide. BBC News has since identified him as Wuttisan Wongtalay.

“He was having paranoia about his wife leaving him and not loving him,” Thai police officer Jullaus Suvannin told Reuters.

The four-minute video, which reportedly remained online 24 hours before it was removed, was viewed more than 200,000 times.

“This is an appalling incident and our hearts go out to the family of the victim,” a Facebook spokesperson told HuffPost in an email. “There is absolutely no place for acts of this kind on Facebook and the footage has now been removed.”

This latest chilling video comes just eight days after authorities in Cleveland, Ohio, say 37-year-old Steve Stephens uploaded a video to Facebook that showed him shoot and kill 74-year-old Robert Godwin Sr. on Easter Sunday.

Officials said there was no apparent link between Stephens and Godwin. Two days after the killing, Stephens was found dead in Erie, Pennsylvania, from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, authorities said.

The gruesome video of Godwin’s slaying was on Facebook for roughly two hours before it was removed by the company. Mark Zuckerberg addressed the incident during an April 18 Facebook developers conference.

“We have a lot more to do here,” Zuckerberg said. “We’re reminded of this this week by the tragedy in Cleveland. Our hearts go out to the family and friends of Robert Godwin Sr. We have a lot of work and we will keep doing all we can to prevent tragedies like this from happening.”

The Cleveland and Thai videos are just the latest in a growing list of disturbing videos that have been shared on Facebook in the past year. Those videos include the January suicide of a 14-year-old girl and the March sexual assault of a 15-year-old girl.

David Lohr covers crime and missing persons. Tips? Feedback? Send an email or follow him on Twitter.

This story has been update with comments from a Facebook spokesperson.

type=type=RelatedArticlesblockTitle=Related... + articlesList=58d431aae4b03787d3567e1d,58f3d8a7e4b0b9e9848cb7eb

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›  Trump?s Wall Is Worthless If He Doesn?t Back It Up With Tech

By Issie Lapowsky and Lily Hay Newman for WIRED.

If Congress were to fail to pass a spending bill before the end of the day Friday, the government could shut down. That’s why President Trump just blinked. He shelved a plan to demand that funding for a border wall be included in that bill after both Democrats and Republicans voiced fierce opposition.

President Trump seemed intent on avoiding the humiliation of seeing his plan for a “big, beautiful wall” shut down along with the government, particularly when his own party controls Congress. Throughout his campaign, he sold the wall to his base as a bold symbol of his commitment to cracking down on illegal immigration. And so presidential advisor Kellyanne Conway took to the airwaves Tuesday to run cover for the president as his plans faltered. “Building that wall and having it funded remains an important priority to him,” Conway said on Fox & Friends. “But we also know that that can happen later this year and into next year.” Instead, Conway said, “smart technology” would enhance border security in the interim.

RELATED: A Portable Panic Button for Immigrants Swept Up in Raids

That may be just a rhetorical gesture on Conway’s part, but it’s one the Trump administration ought to take seriously. To protect the border in a way that’s both effective and cost-effective, tech is at least as critical as any physical barrier.

“You will not find a border patrol agent or border enforcement officer who’s not going to be extremely supportive of technological capabilities being brought to bear on the border,” says David Aguilar, former commissioner of US Customs and Border Patrol, who now serves as principal of the security consulting firm GSIS.

Aguilar agrees with the president that some sort of physical infrastructure is necessary to curb illegal immigration. But, he says, “a wall placed where it needs to be placed, designed the way it needs to be designed, is still going to be breached.” Border agents require surveillance tools to detect those breaches, he says.

READ MORE: Taser’s Free Body Cameras Are Good for Cops, Not the People

Right now, much of the border is woefully ill-equipped for such surveillance, says US representative Will Hurd. Hurd, a Republican, spent nearly a decade serving as an undercover CIA agent before becoming the congressional representative for Texas’ 23rd district, which stretches some 820 miles along the US-Mexico border. Along the border’s 300-mile El Paso Sector, just 60 miles have cameras, he says — and the technology that does exist in those places is outdated.

“When my colleagues in Congress recognize technology is not being deployed as broadly as people assume, then they recognize what we need to change and tweak is more tech,” Hurd says.

Wall In

Some 700 miles of fencing already line the 2,000-mile US-Mexico border, and last year 17,000 border patrol agents worked to stop illegal entry to the US from the south. Experts and public officials agree that supporting these human and physical barriers with a range of technology more efficiently tracks illegal border crossings.

“It’s really just about integrating these different types of sensors into a structure where they can communicate effectively,” says Christopher Wilson, the deputy director of the Mexico Institute at the Wilson Center who specializes in border and immigration issues.

This includes placing infrared sensors, cameras, and radar on the ground, on fences, and on towers. Customs and Border Protection also surveils from the sky using drones, radar-equipped blimps, manned planes, and helicopters. The agency has also been working to deploy more sensors and help them all talk to one another through its so-called Integrated Fixed Towers program. These instrument arrays work with existing ground sensors, aerial monitoring, and video surveillance to give patrol agents live feedback about what’s going on along the border.

RELATED: Customs’ New Wikipedia Test to Prove You Can Code

A predecessor to the Integrated Fixed Towers program, known as the Secure Border Initiative, was an example of a border tech project that blew through its budget and faced delays. By contrast, the Fixed Towers program has used $23 million of its total slated $145 million so far, and Customs and Border Protection reported to Congress last year that the towers being tested were functioning as intended. Overall, the agency has consistently argued that it favors a “virtual wall.”

“If you were to build a wall from the Pacific to the Gulf of Mexico, you would still have to back that wall up with patrolling by human beings, by sensors, by observation devices,” Homeland Security secretary John Kelly saidrecently.

See You In 2018

Of course, as with most things, it would be a mistake to believe that throwing technology at the problem will solve everything. What the country needs, experts say, are better measurements to determine how effective these tools and policy approaches are at stopping illegal border crossings and drug trafficking. “I’d want to see a larger set of metrics about what our existing investments in infrastructure and technology have gotten us,” says Theresa Cardinal Brown, who directs immigration policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center.

President Trump, for one, has been celebrating the 40 percent decline in apprehensions at the southern border between January and February of this year. But, Brown notes, “Apprehensions on their own do not tell you how secure the border is.”

Neither does the size or completeness of a border wall, says Hurd. “The metric isn’t, ‘Have we built a wall?’” he says. “It’s have we seen a decrease in illegal crossings and the amount of drugs coming into the country?” Hurd believes that even President Trump’s supporters who chanted about a building wall at his campaign rallies are more interested in those measurable results than they are in an actual wall. “That’s ultimately what Americans want to see,” he says.

Whether the same thing holds for President Trump is an different question entirely. It already seems that this spending bill is far from the end of the negotiation as far as he is concerned. Speaking to reporters at a briefing Tuesday, press secretary Sean Spicer made that much clear. “I think the president has been very clear that he wants a wall,” Spicer said. “He wants it done as soon as we can do it.”

More from WIRED:

9 Magical Photos Of California’s Wildflower Super Bloom

Obama Talks AI and the Future of the World

America’s Electronic Voting Machines Are Easy Targets

What Happens When You Talk About Salaries at Google

Hackers Trick Facial-Recognition Logins With Facebook Photos

A Hacking Group is Selling iPhone Spyware to Governments

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›  Robots Take Over 'Tonight Show' Before They Conquer The World

You know the old saying credited to W.C. Fields to never work with kids or animals? You can add robots to the list.

Watch amazing robots upstage host Jimmy Fallon on Tuesday’s “Tonight Show.”

Don’t be seduced by their entertainment value, Jimmy! Sure, one makes a charming snake ... 

 ... and a humanoid one plays a heckuva game of “rock, paper, scissors” ... 


But after her victory, she ominously proclaims, “This is a good beginning with my plan to dominate the human race.”

We got our eye on you, girl.

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

›  Waymo Is Quietly Winning The Self-Driving Car Race

If actions speak louder than words, the self-driving car company Waymo might as well be shouting.

Waymo, the startup spun off from Google last year, said Monday it will add 500 self-driving Chrysler Pacifica minivans to its fleet, bringing the total number of autonomous vehicles it has on the road to about 600.

The bulk of those additional minivans will operate in the Phoenix area, where Waymo has been quietly operating a test program for select families, with plans to open up its free program to hundreds more for a public trial.

“Over the course of this trial, we’ll be accepting hundreds of people with diverse backgrounds and transportation needs who want to ride in and give feedback about Waymo’s self-driving cars,” CEO John Krafcik explained in a blog post.

“Rather than offering people one or two rides, the goal of this program is to give participants access to our fleet every day, at any time, to go anywhere within an area that’s about twice the size of San Francisco.”

The addition of 500 vehicles will dramatically increase Waymo’s ability to capture critical mapping data ? and to use that data to improve its software (read more about that here) ? launching the company even further ahead of competitors like Uber and Lyft (though probably not Tesla, which has a couple billion miles under its belt, compared with Waymo’s 3 million).

Waymo’s self-driving fleet isn’t just larger than Uber’s (as of March 8, Uber had 43 cars). It’s also substantially better at driving.

According to documents filed with the state of California, Waymo’s human drivers had to take control from the automated system (called “disengagement”) once for every 5,000 miles its cars drove in 2016.

Backup human drivers in Uber’s self-driving cars had to take over about once every mile as of March 8, according to documents obtained by Recode (Uber doesn’t make its data publicly available).

Some of the difference can be attributed to location. Uber is testing many of its cars in Pittsburgh, which has much more challenging climate and geography than Phoenix. Waymo is also testing vehicles in Texas, California, and Washington state.

Waymo and Uber have been fighting a fierce battle over intellectual property. Waymo has accused Uber of stealing some of its critical technology in a lawsuit. The case is scheduled for a hearing May 3, when a judge could halt Uber’s self-driving program until the case is resolved.

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Weather for Chicago, Illinois

Current Conditions:
Cloudy, 4 C

Thu - Snow Showers/Wind Early. High: 4 Low: -1
Fri - Mostly Sunny. High: 6 Low: 2
Sat - Partly Cloudy. High: 13 Low: 6
Sun - Cloudy. High: 10 Low: 3
Mon - Sunny. High: 9 Low: 2

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