Saturday, August 31, 2019

Singaporeans can weather world uncertainties by training and upgrading of skills: Lee Hsien Loong

The world economy is facing challenging times, but Singaporeans will be able to weather the storm with the right tools and mindset, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at a dinner for his constituents on Saturday (Aug 24). "Last week, at the National Day Rally, I talked about the economy and how conditions are difficult because of uncertainties in the world and how that's affecting us," said PM Lee at the Teck Ghee National Day Celebration Dinner. "And how we will be able to respond, not just with stimulus, not just with relief packages, but also with training, with upgrading, and with transformation of companies." He emphasised the importance of workers learning new skills to stay relevant in a changing economy, and older workers continuing to receive new training. "These are things which will help companies... which will help all of us in Singapore weather economic difficulties and do well when conditions get better," he said. PM Lee reiterated other announcements made at the rally, such as enhancements to subsidies and reductions in fees for pre-school, which will help, in particular, low- and middle-income families with more than one child of that age. The Government will raise the monthly income ceiling for means-tested subsidies for pre-school education from $7,500 to $12,000, and increase the quantum of the subsidies, from next year.



This will translate to 30,000 more households qualifying for financial help. In addition, government bursaries for educational institutions will be enhanced, said the prime minister. Those who will benefit are students at universities, polytechnics, the Institute of Technical Education, Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (Nafa) and Lasalle College of the Arts. For example, government bursaries will be raised to cover 75 per cent of the fees for needy students across all six universities taking up general degrees, up from the 50 per cent currently. "What we are trying to do is to make sure that education is completely affordable," he said. "If you have the ability, you must go and take that education opportunity." Mr Lee was accompanied by his wife at the dinner. The celebration for Singapore's 54th birthday was attended by about 2,500 Teck Ghee residents and guests, including the prime minister's fellow grassroots advisers in Ang Mo Kio GRC. He also thanked the 80 grassroots leaders serving in Teck Ghee division who received the Long Service Award at the dinner, for their contributions. PM Lee noted that nine of them had served for more than 30 years. The event organised by Teck Ghee Grassroots Organisations also featured performances of National Day songs and the reciting of the National Pledge.

Sometimes, we scare ourselves thinking about the future of work: Ong Ye Kung

Most occupations and jobs that exist today will still be around in the future, but in a "re-fashioned" form, said Education Minister Ong Ye Kung. "You will need to learn new tools, you may need to apply your skills slightly differently. You must be technologically savvy and open-minded. But the fundamental skill stays," said Mr Ong in an interview on Tuesday (Aug 27). He gave his take on the future of work at the end of the 45th WorldSkills Competition in Kazan, Russia. For example, the skills needed by a customer chatbot programmer or trainer - relatively new roles - are probably similar to those of a customer service officer trainer, he said. "It is still founded on those (customer service) skills, though you will also need to know how to operate the machine and the software," Mr Ong said. And when a chatbot cannot answer a customer's questions, one still needs to fall back on the human, he told The Straits Times. "We always talk about the future of jobs, jobs we never think of and things we cannot imagine yet... but sometimes we are scaring ourselves." The importance of fundamental skills, even as jobs change, means "many of the things we are doing in the education system and training actually are relevant" in preparing the young and old for the future, Mr Ong said. "But we ourselves now need to be adaptable and open to the different ways that the work is being done," he added. On how the higher education landscape should evolve to keep pace with the changing job landscape, Mr Ong highlighted four trends taking place in universities worldwide. The first, he said, is the blurring of lines between industry training - which is apprenticeship-based - and university training, which involves intellectual inquiry. Universities will have to work with industries to co-develop curriculum and co-deliver lessons, he added. The second theme is that education and learning in general, including for graduates, will have to be lifelong.



"That means you no longer frontload education so much, and backload working in the later part of your life... now it is more work and learn interspersing with each other all the way until you retire, and even post-retirement," he said. And these two themes lead to the third: That regardless of which route one starts out on - vocational or academic - learning will progressively have to be skills-based in nature. Said Mr Ong: "Essentially, we're moving into a world where knowledge increasingly may lose its premium, because it's so accessible, but instead it's how we do things and achieve an outcome, that has a premium." The last theme he highlighted was that education will become more interdisciplinary. Citing the Singapore University of Technology and Design, which emphasises interdisciplinary learning, Mr Ong said: "Innovation is critical for the future, and innovation happens at the intersection of disciplines. "Look at the wonderful inventions we see day to day - they are often products of interdisciplinary creation. "To do that requires a lot of soft skills - how you bring different people together, synergise what they know, and draw on each other's strengths." Asked about best practices around the world that Singapore is drawing from, Mr Ong said the Government picks features from different countries and develops something of its own, instead of learning wholesale from one country. He listed Denmark, Switzerland and Australia as "systems that influenced us deeply". Denmark's "flexicurity" model allows employers flexibility to reconfigure the workforce, while providing a system of income security. Mr Ong said this model is one where "training is not just for training", but also has to lead to outcomes like job placements. Meanwhile, the Swiss have the ability to bring "prestige and acceptance and celebration" into vocational training. The SkillsFuture movement draws a lot of inspiration from them, he added. Singapore also developed the Workforce Skills Qualifications, or a common qualifications framework, through learning from Australia. As for the future of work in Singapore decades down the road, Mr Ong said it would "depend on our economic future". He noted how Singapore used to have a strong foreign direct investment (FDI) strategy to "leapfrog the region". "Today, our region is stable, peaceful and growing... So you don't want to leapfrog the region. You want to be part of the region and tap into the vibrant opportunities and dynamism of the region. "It's no longer about attracting FDI - which continues to be very important - but also to be able to position Singapore as a platform to engage the region, which means our people need to get out of Singapore. Be enterprising, and venture out. "If we succeed, then you will find more jobs that are exciting and different from today."

Hannah Green cards 63 to take 5-stroke lead over Kim Sei-young and Park Sung-hyun at Portland Classic

Australian Hannah Green eagled the par-five fifth hole to shoot a nine-under 63 on Friday (Aug 30) and take a five-stroke lead at 17 under after the second round of the LPGA Portland Classic. The winner of the KPMG Women's PGA Championship in June was at 127 after 36 holes at Columbia Edgewater Country Club. Kim Sei-young was joint second after a record-setting 61 in the long-running tournament. She had 11 birdies to put her at 12 under. Fellow South Korean and world No. 2 Park Sung-hyun was also at 132, a stroke up on a group that included Monday qualifier Yealimi Noh. Green's 63 was a career-low round, and it came after she opened the tournament with a first-round 64. "I just don't want to get too ahead of myself.



Obviously this is quite new to me, shooting such low scores back-to-back," she said. "I want to make sure I continue to do the same things and don't get too disappointed if I don't back it up with another solid round. Going to keep the same game plan." Top-ranked Ko Jin-young, who won the CP Women's Open by five shots last week, had a second-round 69 and was well back of the leaders at seven under. Defending champion Marina Alex was at nine under after the first two rounds in the 72-hole tournament that started in 1972 and is the tour's longest running non-Major event. She was asked if she has been thinking back to what she did last year. "I think I did a little bit yesterday, probably more so than I should have," the 29-year-old American said. "Now just going to try and go out and put as many birdies together as I can. I mean, I think that Hannah is playing exceptionally well right now, so there's still a lot of chase to do." Dana Finkelstein, ranked 240th, made a hole-in-one on the par-three eighth and was also at nine under.

Medvedev embraces boos to reach last 16 at US Open, pain-free Djokovic joins him

Russian fifth seed Daniil Medvedev overcame a hostile crowd to secure a 7-6 (7-1), 4-6, 7-6 (9-7), 6-4 win over Spaniard Feliciano Lopez in a tension-filled clash on Friday (Aug 30) and book a spot in the last 16 of the US Open. Medvedev, who was heartily booed by the crowd inside Louis Armstrong Stadium at every opportunity after giving them the middle finger, relied on his powerful serve to put away Lopez and keep alive his hopes for a maiden Grand Slam tennis title. In another late match, reigning champion Novak Djokovic said he felt "almost pain free" as he strolled into the round of 16 with a 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 victory over Denis Kudla. The Serb struggled with a left shoulder injury in Wednesday's second-round win, but the top seed looked far more at ease against the 111th-ranked American as he advanced to a showdown with 2016 champion Stan Wawrinka. "I managed to play almost pain free. That's a big improvement from last match," the world No. 1 said. "Obviously I didn't know how my body would react and I'm glad to just finish the match tonight. I'm not going to go into medical details, but it was definitely bothering me the last couple weeks." He added: "I didn't practise yesterday. I just wanted to give myself time and do everything possible to recover." Meanwhile, Medvedev, playing for the second consecutive day after rain wiped out a slew of Wednesday matches, later told the crowd that their negative energy is what carried him to victory. "The energy you are giving me right now I think it will be enough for my next (four) matches. The more you do this the more I will win for you. Thank you," he said in his on-court interview through a chorus of boos. "I want all of you to know when you are asleep tonight I won because of you." The crowd turned on Medvedev in the first set when he angrily snatched a towel from a ballman's hands. Medvedev got an unsportsmanlike conduct code violation for the incident and when it was announced, the 23-year-old tossed his racquet towards the centre of the court before telling the umpire he did not belong in the chair.



The crowd resumed their booing of Medvedev and as he walked back to his chair, he decided to hold up his middle finger close to the side of his head. When Medvedev's gesture was shown on the replay screen, the crowd showered him with boos and the umpire also gave him a talking-to. "I cannot give you a code because of what I saw on the screen. I have to see it myself," chair umpire Damien Dumusois told Medvedev. From there, the crowd were firmly behind Lopez and used every opportunity they could to boo Medvedev, including every time he double faulted or missed a routine shot. "I paid for it the whole match but the crowd was electric," he told a small group of reporters when asked about the inspiration he drew from the crowd. "Even the bad energy I needed to turn it into good energy and that's why I won." The Russian said he talked to Lopez at the net and to the Spaniard's coach, Jose Clavet, in the locker room after that match to assure them his actions were not against them and, according to him, both understood. Medvedev also said he was not sure whether the New York crowds would continue their booing for his next match but did say he does not expect to behave the same when he takes the court on Saturday. "I am working on myself and hopefully I will be better next time," he said. Medvedev arrived at the year's final Grand Slam with more confidence than ever after reaching the final in US Open tune-up events in Washington and Montreal before securing the biggest title of his career in Cincinnati 12 days ago. The Russian is also considered one of the favourites to keep one of the Big Three of Djokovic, Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer, who have combined to win each of the last 11 Grand Slams, from winning in New York. Medvedev, who is still four wins away from a maiden Grand Slam title, welcomed the post-match boos and waved for more before addressing the crowd in what was certainly the most bizarre moment of the US Open. "First of all I can say thank you to all you guys because your energy tonight gave me the win," Medvedev, who will face German qualifier Dominik Koepfer in the next round, said on court. "If you were not here I would probably lose the match because I was so tired, I was cramping yesterday and it was hard for me to play." Djokovic is attempting to become the first back-to-back men's champion at Flushing Meadows since Roger Federer won five titles in a row from 2004 to 2008. He will meet Wawrinka, the man who beat him in the US Open final three years ago, for a place in the last eight. "We've had some great battles over the years, all over the world and especially here," Djokovic said of his upcoming clash with the Swiss three-time Grand Slam champion.

ST Run 2019: All women's races sold out, men's 18.45km slots selling fast

All slots for women at this year's The Straits Times Run are sold out, organisers announced on Friday (Aug 30). This covers all three categories - 3.5km fun run, 10km and 18.45km. Slots for the men's 18.45km distance are expected to sell out over the weekend too. However, there are still places in the men's 10km and 3.5km fun run available and the deadline to register for these two categories has been extended till Sept 15. This is the first time in six years that a category for the seven-year-old run has sold out. The only other edition that was completely sold out was the first ST Run in 2013. This year's ST Run will begin and end at the Singapore Sports Hub.



It is one of only two mass runs whose finish line is inside the National Stadium. Register for the Sept 29 ST Run at www.straitstimesrun.com. Normal registration fees are $70 (18.45km), $60 (10km) and $50 (3.5km). Participants of any past edition enjoy a Loyal Runner rate and need pay only $58, $48 and $38, respectively. OCBC card holders and participants of the OCBC Cycle 2019, a partner of the ST Run, will enjoy 15 per cent off the normal rates. All ST Run participants will receive goodie bags that include a New Balance NB Dry running top and NB Dry finisher's T-shirt. Both are limited edition and worth $49. Unlock all Premium articles and discover exclusive stories, in-depth analysis, award-winning multimedia content and more. Cancel anytime.

FAS instructs SPL club Warriors to remove GM Paul Poh from post

The Football Association of Singapore (FAS) said in a media statement on Friday morning (Aug 30) that it has directed Singapore Premier League (SPL) club Warriors FC to remove the club's general manager and honorary secretary, Paul Poh Por Chuan, from both appointments with immediate effect. It is believed this is the first time the FAS has issued such a directive to a professional club in Singapore, since the S-League was formed in 1996. It comes after a period of turmoil at the club, which has seen it struggle to pay its staff on time on a number of occasions over the past 14 months, leading to a Ministry of Manpower investigation, and two subsequent bans on foreign hires. However, Poh told The Straits Times he has not resigned from his roles at Warriors, and indicated he would not make any further comments on the FAS' directive until he had learnt more about it. He joined the Warriors in 2016 and ran the club's operations on a day-to-day basis. In July, ST had reported that the FAS was "gravely concerned" by the way funds, which it disburses to all six local SPL clubs, are being managed at the Warriors. Each SPL club receives a little over $1 million in subsidies a year from the FAS for salaries of staff like the general manager, coaches, and foreign players. About one fifth of this is not disbursed to the clubs as they comprise insurance and facilities subsidies which the FAS underwrites. In its statement on Friday, the FAS revealed that Warriors had been unable to pay staff and players' monthly Central Provident Fund (CPF) contributions since January 2019. Said the FAS: "There is an obligation in law to do so, and this failure is presently being looked into. "This direction (to remove Poh) arises from the FAS' discovery of serious and repeated lapses which Warriors have failed to take steps to rectify, and also having regard to the best interests of the players and staff at (the club)."



The FAS also said it would assist Warriors in the interim, including the possibility of seconding an FAS staff member to manage the club's administration till the end of the ongoing season, which concludes on Sept 29. To ensure that the Warriors players are able to keep to their training regimen, the FAS will also assist with the club's field bookings so that the team are able to focus on preparing for their remaining five matches. ST's report in July uncovered a number of business ventures the club had undertaken since May 2018, which are understood to have not reaped dividends. This includes a five-year deal with Bundesliga club Borussia Dortmund to become the German club's official youth development partner in Singapore and a karaoke outlet at the club's Choa Chu Kang Stadium premises. Warriors chairman, Philip Lam Tin Sing, who is listed on finance resources online as the president commissioner of an Indonesian-based company, is said to have a hands-off approach to running the club. Created from the Singapore Armed Forces Sports Association, the club was named SAFFC from the league's inception in 1996 and it came under the direct purview of the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) until 2017. As SAFFC, the club lifted eight titles in the first 14 seasons of the S-League. Since then, they have won just one championship - in 2014 - over nine seasons. A name change from SAFFC to Warriors FC in 2013 preceded the club's eventual move away from military control, which became official in January 2017. Mindef had ceded control of the team as an incoming private sponsor had sought more say in the running of the club, although the sponsor was not named.

Lewis Hamilton crashes as Charles Leclerc tops final Belgian GP practice

Formula One world championship leader Lewis Hamilton smashed his Mercedes into a barrier in final practice for the Belgian Grand Prix on Saturday (Aug 31) in a session topped by Ferrari's Charles Leclerc. Leclerc posted a best 1 minute 44.206 seconds around the iconic 7.004 km of the Spa-Francorchamps circuit with teammate Sebastian Vettel around 45 hundredths of a second back. Ferrari led both sessions on Friday and will be in confident mood going into qualifying later Saturday despite not having won this season. Their last victory was from Vettel a year ago in Belgium. Mercedes have struggled so far in Spa and now face a battle just to repair Hamilton's car in time for qualifying. Hamilton ended the session seventh having caused a red flag by losing his car entering the Fagnes chicane and hitting the barriers at high speed.



"I'm in the wall, guys. Sorry," he told his garage over team radio. Lewis Hamilton ended the session seventh having caused a red flag by losing his car entering the Fagnes chicane and hitting the barriers at high speed. It was a rare mistake from the five-time world champion who left the car unaided and did not need to attend the medical centre for checks. Hamilton leads the drivers' championship by 62 points from teammate Valtteri Bottas going into Sunday's race, the first after the mid-season break. He has not made a smooth return having endured a difficult Friday when a throttle pedal problem hampered his early runs. Mercedes were well off the single lap pace set by Ferrari though they looked better in long run simulations. Bottas was third in final practice, just under half a second off Leclerc, while Daniel Ricciardo was fourth for Renault and Red Bull's Max Verstappen fifth. Sergio Perez, a day after extending his Racing Point contract to 2022, was sixth. Unlock all Premium articles and discover exclusive stories, in-depth analysis, award-winning multimedia content and more. Cancel anytime.

'Tiger-looking' Yeo Jia Min wants more than just success on court

Yeo Jia Min watched the flying shuttlecocks at the OCBC Arena as she pondered the questions asked in this interview, as though looking to the court for answers. She is a woman of few words, but her achievements on the badminton court have so far done the talking for her and the court is where she has found confidence. This confidence led to her remarkable quarter-final run at last week's BWF World Championships, during which she upset world No. 1 Akane Yamaguchi in the second round. It is in her trademark unassuming tone that Yeo says: "Even before I played or won, I already had confidence in myself, so I think (this result) gives me more motivation to train harder." A picture of Yeo's celebration after her victory over Yamaguchi shows the Singaporean kneeling on court and pumping both fists, her eyes shut as she exclaims in triumph. It is a picture that captures the ferocity with which the soft-spoken Yeo competes, one that surprises even her friends. Smiling as she described how some of her friends have made memes of her facial expressions, Yeo told The Straits Times: "(There's a photo) of my face looking 'chill', another with a focused expression, then there's one 'tiger-looking' face." The 20-year-old is the first Singapore woman to reach the singles quarter-final at the world championships but she is not revelling in her history-making accomplishment or her giant-killing feat. Instead, it is her 21-17, 21-11 quarter-final loss to 2013 world champion Ratchanok Intanon that has been on her mind. "I've been thinking of the match every day and how I can prepare and perform better. I think of that loss more than the wins," she said. Yeo, who was back in the gym the day after returning from Basel, Switzerland, believes she did not move as fast as she could against Ratchanok because she did not recover well from her previous match, a gruelling 72-minute battle with Vietnam's Vu Thi Trang. That is just one lesson among many others that she has learnt over the past year. A two-month professional stint with Danish badminton club Ab Aarhus from October to December last year has helped with her improvement on court, but her time in Denmark taught her more off the court. "I did everything on my own - go for training, cook, liaise with (the club) and with the Singapore Badminton Association, fly to and from competitions," said Yeo, who sought her mother's help in sending her recipes for Asian dishes. "I became more independent." Initial kitchen disasters did not faze her, though a sheepish expression crossed Yeo's face as she recounted: "There was once when I put noodles inside the pan without boiling them first, and they weren't cooking and I just left them there."



She fell in love with badminton at age seven, saying: "I like that there are so many (elements) to the game - mental, physical, tactical, technical. There are always things to work on and new challenges, and I like seeing progress in my game and in training. That's one of my motivations." Yeo had been tipped as a rising star even before she started training full-time in 2016, the year she won the first of her three BWF titles at the Vietnam Open. She was the first Singaporean to win the girls' Under-15 title at the Badminton Asia Junior Championships when she triumphed in 2013, and two years later she won the Under-17 title. She was also the junior world No. 1 in 2017, becoming the first from the Republic to top any of badminton's world rankings. Her achievement at the world championships has led to a career-high world ranking of No. 28 and though this may mean greater scrutiny and expectation, Yeo is not bothered. "I don't feel pressure, I just feel very blessed and honoured to be the one to make history," she said. She has drawn strength from her Christian faith when encountering setbacks like the injury that denied her a SEA Games debut in 2015 and the bout of gastric flu that ruled her out of the junior world championships that same year. Her goal when she was 14 was to win an Olympic medal and while that has not changed today, she is also seeking something bigger. "A lot of other players definitely have the same dream, which is to reach the highest level of competition at the Olympics. But more than that, I (also) want to have an influence, not just on Singaporeans, but on anyone I may come across," she explained. "I'm blessed to be able to play well and I think I should use this gift to my fullest and hopefully through my hard work, I can be a positive influence on people. "Of course you strive for excellence, but it's not everything." Still, she knows the areas of her game to improve to get closer to her goal: bettering her footwork for more stable and efficient movement, and honing her mental strength for greater focus. Yeo will book her ticket to the Games if she is within the top 38 in the BWF's Olympic rankings by April 28 next year. Unlike the world rankings, which take into account points from the top 10 competitions in the last 52 weeks, the Olympic listing is calculated using a player's 10 best tournaments in the qualifying period. She has no superstitions but at last month's Hyderabad Open, she started telling herself before walking out on court: "God is with me." She won the tournament and continued that ritual at the world championships. Off the court, she is working on mastering another language - Japanese this time, after already learning Korean. "I have many Japanese friends, and I find Japanese quite a nice language," said Yeo, who admires men's world No. 1 Kento Momota for his composure. "When you learn a language, you learn its culture and other things about the country, and I find it quite satisfying when you improve and can converse in the language." It is only when this reporter suggests that perhaps being fluent in Japanese would help if she qualifies for the Tokyo Olympic Games next year that Yeo bursts into laughter. "Maybe." Yeo may say little, but her feats have spoken volumes of the potential that is to be unleashed. Unlock all Premium articles and discover exclusive stories, in-depth analysis, award-winning multimedia content and more. Cancel anytime.

Cherie Tan wins historic first World Bowling Women's Championship masters title

National kegler Cherie Tan became the first Singaporean to win gold in the Masters category of the World Bowling Women's Championships, after defeating Colombia's top-ranked bowler Maria Rodriguez in the final at the South Point Bowling Plaza in Las Vegas on Friday night (Aug 30). Tan beat Rodriguez by two games to nil, holding her nerve to win the first game 203-201, and then the second 258-217, in the best-of-three series. Rodriguez, 30,had topped the standings in the All Events two days earlier, with a total pinfall of 5,488. Tan, 31, had placed fifth with 5,376. Tan said: "I'm really, really happy to finally win the gold! Especially since I've been coming so close (2015, 2017 and 2019) and never really attained it. "I felt that I bowled well the entire tournament though I fell short in the singles and all-events. "Coming up for this world championships, the main goal of the team was to win the team gold and we fell short of that as well.



"So this medal is not only for Singapore, it's for the team." An overjoyed Jessie Phua, president of SingaporeBowling, told The Straits Times: "(Tan's achievement was) totally deserving and long overdue. Cherie is one of our most hardworking, disciplined and focused athletes at SingaporeBowling. "Her win certainly helped reaffirm and stamp our premier standing in the bowling world - a truly world-class performance that Singapore can be proud of !" Only the top 24 bowlers with the highest pinfalls in the All Events standings qualified for the Masters finals. The only other Singaporean that qualified for the Masters was Bernice Lim, who placed 23rd with 5,132 pinfalls. But she lost 2-1 (227-163, 202-225, 224-246) to Rodriguez in the third round of the Masters finals. Some 180 bowlers from 34 nations competed in this year's championships. This is Tan's second individual medal at the biennial world championships, after winning a silver medal in the singles category in Abu Dhabi in 2015. She had also won a silver in the trios and a bronze in the doubles then. The previous best performance by Singaporean bowlers in the Masters category of at the world championships were silver medals, won by Daphne Tan in Hong Kong in 2011 and Jazreel Tan in Mexico in 2007. Unlock all Premium articles and discover exclusive stories, in-depth analysis, award-winning multimedia content and more. Cancel anytime.

Friday, August 30, 2019

Here’s the finalized lineup for the third Democratic debate

Democrats aren’t letting just anyone onto their presidential debate stage anymore. Just 10 candidates qualified for September’s third debate: Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Pete Buttigieg, Beto O’Rourke, Cory Booker, Amy Klobuchar, Andrew Yang, and Juli├ín Castro. Here’s the podium lineup: The 11 other candidates in the field all failed to meet a polling requirement imposed by the Democratic National Committee by the end of the day Wednesday. For the first time, this debate will feature all the qualifying candidates together on a single night: Thursday, September 12. It’s co-sponsored by and will be aired on ABC and Univision.



Candidates had to hit 2 percent in four recent polls from a specific list of organizations, and get donations from 130,000 people. By contrast, to get into the first debate, you had to hit 1 percent in three polls or get donations from 65,000 people — each threshold was lower, and you didn’t need to meet both of them. The polling threshold proved more challenging. Tom Steyer, Tulsi Gabbard, and Marianne Williamson all met the donor requirement. But Steyer fell one poll short, Gabbard fell two polls short, and Williamson fell three polls short. The rest of the candidates met neither requirement. The good news for those who narrowly missed out is that they’ll have another chance in October. The DNC is using the same qualification rules but extending the window to make the cut by another month or so. (So Steyer will still need just one more poll, Gabbard will need two, etc.)

How America’s opioid epidemic could get even worse

The latest news on America’s opioid epidemic seems positive: Based on preliminary data, drug overdose deaths may have fallen in 2018 — for the first time since the crisis began in the 1990s. But a new, exhaustive report by RAND, led by researcher Bryce Pardo, points to one way the opioid crisis could still take a turn for the worse, possibly leading to thousands more deaths each year, if the market for fentanyl were to become more widespread. The report documents the rise of the synthetic opioid fentanyl and its analogs, which have increasingly been mixed with — or outright replaced — heroin and opioid painkillers in the illicit drug market. This trend toward fentanyl is known as the third wave of the opioid crisis, following the first wave of prescription opioids and the second wave of heroin.



The trend has led to a steep increase in overdose deaths, because fentanyl and its analogs are far more potent than other illicit opioids, and they’re a less-known quantity than heroin, making it hard for people who use opioids to properly calculate a safe dose. RAND’s report finds the introduction of fentanyl doesn’t increase the number of people who use opioids — the past decades’ increase continues to be linked primarily to the proliferation of painkillers — but instead increases the number of overdose deaths. But while fentanyl and its ilk have already led to an increase in overdose deaths, that has mostly happened in the eastern parts of the US and especially the Northeast and Midwest, largely due to differences in drug trafficking networks and the kinds of heroin that fentanyl was initially laced in. And that means, in a terrifying possibility, that fentanyl still has a lot of room to grow. “One of the most important — and depressing — insights in this analysis is that however bad the synthetic opioid problem is now, it is likely to get worse before it gets better,” the report explains. If this estimate held, Pardo told me, it would translate to almost 10,000 more synthetic opioid overdose deaths compared to 2017, or about a third more than the over 28,000 synthetic opioid overdose deaths (excluding methadone) that actually happened that year.

Obria, the anti-abortion group that’s tapping into “wellness” culture, explained

Head to the clinic’s website and you’ll find a slideshow of images meant to make you feel welcome — a smiling woman in scrubs with a stethoscope around her neck, a diverse group of young people perhaps planning for their future, a college-aged patient in a flannel shirt looking anxious but hopeful. In a linked video, a young woman with a tear-stained face gazes at the camera as a warm female voice reassures her: “Sex, fertility, pregnancy, questions about your body? Those are the things we’re here to help you with.” “We’re here to listen to you,” the voice goes on. “To take every breath with you. Because your health matters to us.” The young woman takes a deep breath. She smiles in relief. This is the public face of Obria, a network of facilities in California and other states that purport to offer reproductive health care. Earlier this year, Obria received a $1.7 million federal grant through Title X, a program aimed at providing family planning services to underserved Americans. The program was designed, in part, to help people get affordable contraception like birth control pills and IUDs. But critics say Obria clinics don’t actually provide those things.



Instead, the group encourages “natural family planning,” a method of birth control that relies on tracking the monthly menstrual cycle and is generally less effective than hormonal contraception. Obria is run by an anti-abortion activist and has long been positioning itself as an anti-abortion competitor to Planned Parenthood. But instead of taking an explicitly religious or ideological tone, its public-facing materials seem calculated to court not just abortion opponents, but a wider millennial audience interested in “wellness” and “natural” remedies. The group positions itself as “holistic and anti-hormones,” Alice Huling, counsel for the Campaign for Accountability, an anti-corruption watchdog group that has produced a report on Obria, told Vox. “That is obviously something that has general appeal well beyond folks who have the same narrow view of reproductive rights and birth control access.” Now, thanks to the Trump administration, Obria’s influence is poised to grow. In addition to awarding the group a grant, the administration earlier this year gave Planned Parenthood and other reproductive health care providers an ultimatum: stop performing and referring for abortions, or give up Title X funding. Planned Parenthood decided to exit the Title X program, and now Obria is closer than ever to its goal of supplanting the group in the hearts and minds of Americans — and in the federal budget. For Obria, that means “transforming health care with a compassionate and holistic mindset.” But for reproductive-health groups and other critics, it means that patients around the country are going to get advice that’s not backed up by science, and may have more unintended pregnancies as a result.

Fracking may be a bigger climate problem than we thought

As greenhouse gases go, methane gets less attention than carbon dioxide, but it is a key contributor to climate change. Methane doesn’t stay in the atmosphere as long as CO2 and is reabsorbed into terrestrial cycles via chemical reactions within 12 years or so. But while it’s up there, it’s much more potent, trapping heat at roughly 84 times the rate of CO2. Scientists estimate that around 25 percent of current global warming traces to methane. When it comes to reducing CO2 emissions, the chain between cause and effect is frustratingly long and diffuse. Reduced emissions today won’t show up as reduced climate impacts for decades. But with methane, the chain of causation is much shorter and simpler. Reduced emissions have an almost immediate climate impact. It’s a short-term climate lever, and if the countries of the world are going to hold rising temperatures to the United Nations’ target of “well below” 2 degrees Celsius above the preindustrial baseline, they’re going to need all the short-term climate levers they can get. In the real world, though, the news about methane is bad and getting worse. It turns out that a mysterious recent spike in global methane levels that’s putting climate targets at risk may be coming from US oil and gas fracking. If that’s true, it’s bad news, because there’s lots more shale gas development in the pipeline and the Trump administration is expected to release a proposed rule Thursday rolling back regulations on the industry, per the New York Times. The mysterious spike in atmospheric methane may lead to America’s doorstep Global methane emissions rose steeply in the last decades of the 20th century and then leveled off. But around 2006, they started heading up again.



Why? What was the source? Scientists were baffled. (Jonathan Mingle wrote a great story for Undark on scientists’ search for answers.) There are two broad sources of methane emissions: biogenic (plant and animal-based) and fossil fuel production. The former is mainly about agriculture (cow burps, pig poop, rotting organic waste) and tropical wetlands. As for the latter, methane is leaked or deliberately “flared” (burned off) at virtually every stage of fossil fuel production and transport, a problem that is notoriously bad for fracked shale gas and tight oil. A few studies, including a major one in the journal Science in 2016, largely traced the recent spike in methane to biogenic sources, mainly because recent atmospheric methane has been “lighter,” depleted of its heavier carbon stable isotope (13C). Generally speaking, fossil fuel production produces heavier methane and biogenic sources produce lighter methane, so researchers have taken the trend as an indication that the recent spike is mostly biogenic in origin. But it was a perplexing finding, one that the Science authors characterized as “unexpected, given the recent boom in unconventional gas production and reported resurgence in coal mining and the Asian economy.” If you see a big boom in fossil fuel production happening alongside a big spike in methane, you might expect to find the two connected. In a new paper released in Biogeosciences, Robert Howarth of Cornell University has proposed a solution to the riddle. Howarth is a familiar name to those who have followed methane debates over the years. He and colleagues at Cornell have been arguing for years that natural gas methane emissions are much higher than the government estimates or the industry admits, high enough to wipe out its supposed climate advantage over coal. That is a controversial position, to say the least. (Estimates of methane leakage vary widely, but Howarth’s is at the very top end.) In his latest paper, Howarth is making a different point, springing from two facts he says previous studies have overlooked. First, 63 percent of the total increase in global natural gas production in the 21st century has come from shale gas. And second, shale gas production using modern hydrofracturing techniques tends to produce lighter methane than conventional natural gas drilling. Howarth finds that if the lighter methane of shale gas production is explicitly accounted for, “shale-gas production in North America over the past decade may have contributed more than half of all of the increased [methane] emissions from fossil fuels globally and approximately one-third of the total increased emissions from all sources globally over the past decade.” Since 89 percent of the shale gas production comes from the US (Canada produced the rest), that’s a whole lot of accelerated global warming tracing right back to America’s front door. It is worth emphasizing that this is only one paper in a very active field of research, from a controversial source, and it is sure to be debated and contested in coming years. But if it is right, or even only half right, it is bad news.

'Where are the aliens?': Elon Musk gets, like, deep with fellow billionaire Jack Ma

Sitting next to Jack Ma, executive chairman of Alibaba, Elon Musk talked about SpaceX's plans to visit Mars. And then he went into full stoner mode. "I think it’s important for us to take the set of actions that are most likely to continue consciousness into the future," he said. "I think we should not take it for granted that consciousness will continue because we have not encountered any aliens." It got better: "Where are the aliens? This is the Fermi Paradox. This is one of the most important questions: how come we have not found any aliens? There are people out there who think that we’ve found aliens. Trust me, I would know, we have not." That was just part of a weird and sometimes wonderful "debate" between the two billionaires in Shanghai, where they pontificated on jobs, education, and, mostly, argued about the future humans face with artificial intelligence. Musk said he considered humans to already be something of "a cyborg" thanks to our dependency on phones and computers, but we were doomed in attempts to keep up with AI. "Assuming a benign scenario with AI, we will just be too slow," he said. "Human speech to a computer will sound like very slow tonal wheezing, kind of like whale sounds." In contrast, Ma said he was "quite optimistic" about how AI would benefit humanity. "I don’t think AI is a threat," he said. "I don’t think AI is something terrible.” Musk's response: “I don’t know, man, that’s like famous last words.” He added that technology's rate of advancement is "outpacing our ability to understand it.” This issue came up a bit later when, talking about education, Ma took a humanist approach, saying the focus should be on the arts and growing wisdom: "A computer is just a toy. A computer has chips, man has heart. The heart is where wisdom comes from."



This divide was broken wide open when Ma said he didn't believe in a coming AI disaster and that humans would never be controlled by machines. Musk took umbrage and pointed to how humans have already been outsmarted by machines at games like chess and Go. Ma insisted that it was "stupid" to consider this a sign computers were smarter than humans, comparing it to a human trying to out-run a car. Man created the car, but just because he can't run as fast, Ma suggested, doesn't mean man isn't as smart as a car. "I’ve never seen a computer invent a human being," Ma said. They also talked at length about Mars. Humanity must become a multi-planet species, Musk insisted, because we are in what he considers a short window to "secure the future of consciousness such that the light of consciousness is not extinguished" before something happens to Earth, be it something "external" (i.e., a meteor strike) or an "internal unforced error" (which likely was a reference to something like climate change). While Musk had visions of Mars, Ma claimed to have his feet firmly on the ground: "I admire your courage for exploring Mars, but I admire a lot people who are spending efforts improving earth." When the topic turned to jobs, Ma said that as advancements helped people live longer and AI took over more jobs, humans would find more time enjoy being human. In a bit that seemed to expose a billionaire's disconnect from a working class that lives paycheck to paycheck just to keep food on the table, Ma said people should work a 12-hour week (four hours per day, three days a week). This would enable humanity to be happier and enjoy being human beings. If the idea of humanity being able to only work 12 hours a week and apparently make enough money to live comfortably seems weird, it was nothing compared to what followed when Musk started talking, a 90-second jaunt that perfectly captured the occasionally weird tone of the affair. The two were clearly more comfortable with the back-and-forth by the end, when Musk talked about using Neuralink as a way to "save your state and restore your state like a saved game" and Ma agreed about AI's ability to improve sustainability. It was, at times, an enthralling intellectual battle of billionaires. Other times ... not so much. Maybe they should get a moderator for the next debate.

Astrology apps are more popular than ever, but they're not very lucrative...yet

Whether it's Co-Star's strange (and meme-worthy) push notifications, or dating apps asking about your astrological sign, horoscopes suddenly seem to be everywhere. Investors have noticed, funneling venture funds into buzzy startups in the hopes of cashing in on the craze. If the industry continues to grow, it could one day be a $2 billion market, according to one particularly optimistic venture capitalist recently quoted by The New York Times. But the data we have now suggests that that future is still a long ways off. While App Store data shows a sharp uptick in popularity of astrology apps in recent weeks, most users still aren't paying for them. Users spent more than $5.3 million on the top 10 highest-grossing horoscope apps during the month of July, according to data from analytics firm Sensor Tower. That's nearly three times as much as this time last year, when the top apps took in just $1.8 million. But that still makes astrology a relatively small category compared to say, mediation apps, which topped more than $30 million during a single quarter last year, by some estimates. Among the top earners in the category, the highest-grossing astrology app is one you might not have heard of: Astrology & Palmistry Coach, an app that offers not just horoscopes, but "real-time palm reading" and numerology analysis.



That app was downloaded about 120,000 times during the month of July, according to Sensor Tower. During that time, it took in about $1.6 million, likely due to its use of search ads in the App Store and its aggressive pushing of in-app subscriptions (the app requires users to subscribe before viewing any content). Meanwhile, one of the most-downloaded astrology apps during that same period was one that hasn't generated any revenue at all: The Pattern. The Pattern saw downloads spike last month after Channing Tatum tweeted about the app. In total, it was downloaded about 520,000 times during the month of July, according to Sensor Tower. Co-Star, one of the most hyped (and most-memed) astrology apps, has also surged in popularity over the last year. It was downloaded more than 350,000 times in July, according to Sensor Tower, up from 76,000 downloads during the same time last year. The app, whose founders raised $5 million in funding earlier this year, took in just $17,000 last month. Sanctuary, another astrology upstart that's raised $1.5 million from investors, has seen a similar summer surge as well, despite it being relatively new. The app, which launched in January, was downloaded about 46,000 times during the month of July — a significant chunk of its total 210,000 downloads. And a sizable number of the app's users have shown they are willing to pay for the app's services, which include live chats with astrologers. Sanctuary has grossed more than $80,000 since its launch, according to Sensor Tower. Put all that together and it's easy to understand why astrology apps are getting all the hype. In the last month alone, four of the most popular apps have been downloaded more than a million times. What's less clear is how many of those users are willing to pay, and whether the current boom will amount to much more than a fleeting summer fad. But, for those hoping to cash in on the hype, the future certainly looks bright.

Ominous Hurricane Dorian churn over the ocean in footage from ISS

Cameras affixed to the International Space Station filmed Hurricane Dorian brewing over the Atlantic Ocean on Thursday afternoon. National Hurricane Center forecasters expect the cyclone to hit Florida as a powerful Category 4 storm around Labor Day, ultimately packing some 130 mph winds. Over the next few days the storm will increasingly strengthen as it travels over some exceptionally warm waters (warm oceans fuel hurricanes). "No matter where you live along the U.S. southeast coast, and into the Gulf of Mexico, this is a storm to pay attention to," Brian Tang, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Albany, told Mashable on Wednesday. The hurricane will be helped along by a number of favorable (for a storm) atmospheric conditions.



Namely, the storm is forecast to experience very little wind shear — opposing winds that weaken or rip apart hurricanes. There's little ahead that can stop the storm. "The shear environment is very weak," Jeff Weber, a meteorologist at the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, explained Wednesday. "The storm is not being torn apart." Dorian arrives right on time, as peak hurricane season is just right around the corner. Tropical storm activity in the Atlantic usually ramps up after Labor Day. While there isn't a trend of more hurricanes forming in the Atlantic Ocean, there is evidence that hurricanes are growing stronger, and hurricane scientists expect this trend to continue in the coming decades. Dorian is forecast to pass over "very warm" surface waters off The Bahamas, noted Weber. This will likely amplify the storm. Warm waters can, and have, supercharged recent, major hurricanes. Research has shown remarkably warm waters have outweighed other factors in allowing recent storms to intensify into powerful cyclones. What's more, the overall oceans — which absorb more than 90 percent of the heat generated by human activities — are now continually, relentlessly warming.

Doctors might have found the most weirdest way to kill cancer cells. It involves sending it to space.

Cancer might be the biggest flaw in the design of human beings. It has claimed countless lives and doctors are still in a battle to rid the human body of these life-threatening cells. While surgery and chemotherapy might stop or slow down these cells, it's persistent and might pop up one day when we least expect it. Years of research have proved fruitless and this time, doctors are trying a new method to get rid of these cells... by sending them into space. According to ABC News, when cancer cells were exposed to microgravity, it died off without any external treatments. Because of this, doctors from the University of Technology Sydney want to send samples into space. They believe that microgravity affects its ability to communicate with each other and their surroundings. Lead doctor behind the project Joshua Chou said to ABC, "When we’re in space, what happens to the body is that your cells start to feel this condition which we call mechanical unloading. "It means that there’s a lack of force because there’s no gravity.



This actually affects how the cells move, how they function and also dictate their survivability.” The doctors have put aside US$200,000 to send live samples to the International Space Station (ISS) next year. In hopes that their theory is correct. The cells will be placed into a container the size of a tissue box and will be sent to space from the ISS. Chou added, "In my head, this is not supposed to be a cure, a golden bullet to cure cancer, but it can work in parallel to existing therapies, drug treatments, and so forth, to help increase the efficiency of the current treatment." Other researches are trying another method to kill these cells. Director of nanomedical center at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Vladimir Zharov is working on a laser that can accurately target and kill cancer cells. It works by shooting the laser light at your skin, which will then be absorbed by melanin in our blood. It will heat up and the water around the melanin cells will evaporate. This produces a bubble that expands and collapses. Effectively killing cancer cells in our blood. This process does not harm other cells as they are not targeted by the laser. It might not be feasible to send a human into space as the cost might be too high for the average Joe to afford. But with the use of a microgravity chamber, we could be one step closer to curing cancer, if this experiment works.

This BMW X6 is painted with the 'world's blackest black'

Can the most enigmatic of colours, black, become darker? Very much possible. In fact, it's already a reality. This is the Vantablack, touted as the "world's blackest black" by Surrey Nanosystems, a research firm specializing in nano technology that created the one of a kind shade. Here, take a look. Unlike other variations of the colour that we're used to, Vantablack is capable of absorbing "more than just visible light, and is equally-effective across a whole range of the spectrum that is invisible to the human eye." It's basically the black hole, in paint form. Vantablack has been used on masks, art installations, and now –– a BMW X6. Looking almost like a rendered image, the beastly car will be showcased at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September. It's the only car in the world to be coated with a Vantablack VBx2 paint finish.



Ben Jensen - who founded Surrey NanoSystems - revealed that automobile manufacturers have contact him to use the coating on their vehicles, but he believed the colour is not suitable for the road yet, and that the Vantablack X6 is a one-off project. "We turned down numerous requests from automobile manufacturers in the past. It took the BMW X6 and its unique, expressive design for us to entertain the idea. "I think it worked really well on the BMW X6, because of the size of the car, its distinctive shape, and how imposing it is. The BMW X6 in Vantablack looks absolutely fantastic," Jensen told Daily Mail. He added, "VBx2 with its one-percent reflectance provides just enough of a hint of shape. Add to that the contrast between the matt black surface and details such as the Iconic Glow kidney grille, the headlights and the windows - everything is just set off beautifully. "Developing a Vantablack VBx2 car paint durable enough for daily use is a huge technological challenge." But the X6's designer, Hussein Al-Attar, noted that if ever the shade becomes appropriate for commercial road use, the SUV would be the perfect for it. "BMW X6 drivers are among our most extrovert and free-spirited customers. If anyone were to opt for a Vantablack paint option, it would definitely be a BMW X6 driver." And when that happens, I hope my bank account is fat enough.

Apple’s next iPhone event will take place on September 10th

Apple has sent out invitations for its annual iPhone event on September 10th, where the company is widely expected to announce the iPhone 11. The event will take place at the company’s Apple Park headquarters in Cupertino, California. Although Apple’s invitation doesn’t explicitly say what the company plans to announce at the event, the rumors suggest we’ll see three new iPhone models, and these will act as successors to the iPhone XR, XS, and XS Max. Two of these phones are expected to feature Apple’s first triple-camera system on the rear of the device, and the successor to the XS could also have a slightly bigger 6.1-inch display (up from 5.8 inches on the current model). Another rumor suggests that these iPhones could support bidirectional wireless charging, allowing them to charge AirPods when used with their new wireless charging case.



Upgrades to battery life and Face ID biometric security, as well as the use of new shatter-resistance technology have also been suggested. Apple rarely keeps its launch events focused on just a single category of products, however. Last year, it announced the Apple Watch Series 4 as well as a software update for the HomePod, alongside its new iPhones. However, as it currently stands, the main products that Apple is rumored to be planning for the end of this year — an all-new 16-inch MacBook Pro, an update its existing non-Touch Bar 13-inch model, and a new iPad and iPad Pro — are the kinds of devices that it doesn’t normally announce alongside its phones. We’ll be surprised if Apple didn’t have some news to share about the range of services it’s currently in the process of launching, though, and there’s a chance we could see new titanium and ceramic cases for the Apple Watch. Naturally, The Verge will be in attendance to bring you the latest news and announcements from California. Be sure to check back for our live blog and details on how you can watch the event yourself.

Microsoft unveils new tablet experience for Windows 10

Microsoft is planning to redesign the tablet experience for Windows 10. The software giant has started testing a new design for 2-in-1 convertible PCs that will keep the user interface more similar to the existing desktop design. Currently, Windows 10 throws you into a more tablet-optimized UI that removes task bar icons and puts the Start menu full-screen when a device automatically switches into “tablet mode.” Microsoft is now walking back some of those changes, while keeping some touch-optimized elements for 2-in-1 PCs. In the new tablet experience, the desktop will remain in full view, with the task bar icons visible and increased spacing between them. If enabled, the search box will collapse into an icon, and the touch keyboard will appear when you tap on a text field. File Explorer will also switch to a touch-optimized layout. We’ll have to try these design tweaks fully to see how many other changes have been made.



Microsoft is testing this with Windows Insiders and has marked the design as beta, suggesting it will change and be shaped by feedback. Still, it’s hard not to see this as Microsoft walking back from a dedicated tablet experience in Windows 10. These new changes will trigger automatically when you remove a keyboard from a device like a Surface Pro, and Microsoft has confirmed that a dedicated “tablet mode” will remain but you’ll have to enable it manually. Microsoft already dropped a large amount of its Windows 8 tablet features that worked well on hybrid devices, and this tweak bring us back to the days of minimal Windows 7 touch improvements. These changes are only being made for 2-in-1 devices, so dedicated Windows 10 tablets will continue to have the full tablet experience that exists in the operating system. Microsoft is looking for feedback either way, and Windows tablet fans will definitely be ready to jump in and test these changes. Alongside the tablet experience changes, Microsoft is now testing a cloud download option to reset and restore Windows 10 PCs. It’s similar to what has existed in macOS for years and for some Surface devices, and it will allow Windows users to quickly reinstall the OS without needing it to be installed on the local disk or having a recovery USB drive.

Plex wants to become a one-stop destination in the streaming wars

The world is about to be oversaturated with subscription streaming services, and Plex wants to be the platform that helps people keep track of everything. The company’s platform has developed a reputation for being a one-stop piracy shop, and now it’s working on offering users the ability to buy video subscription services in the first half of 2020, according to Variety. The move will also see Plex launch an ad-supported streaming service of its own using content from other networks and studios, and it will give people the ability to buy VOD titles. Plex isn’t trying to replace Netflix, nor will it likely carry Netflix Originals, according to CEO Keith Valory. Partnering with companies like Warner Bros., however, that will start to make part of its movie catalog available through Plex, is an entry point. Executives think that Plex’s streaming service will carry “75-85 percent of the content you care about,” according to Valory. It’s unclear just how much of Warner Bros.’ catalog will be available via Plex. The company isn’t trying to fight in the streaming wars, though. Apple, NBCUniversal, Disney, and, yes, WarnerMedia are all preparing to launch their own streaming services in the coming months to compete with Netflix and Amazon. Most companies have ordered a number of original series from high-profile creators or have spent hundreds of millions of dollars on securing the streaming rights to mega-hits like Friends and The Office. Plex is essentially looking to collect all of the streaming services and put them in one place, while also offering small bites of each service’s offerings.



“You shouldn’t have to go to a lot of different apps to get the content to care about,” said Valory told Variety. Plex offers an interesting option to some of the aforementioned streaming competitors. The company has 20 million registered accounts. Teasing people who use Plex with a taste of what WarnerMedia’s HBO Max has is one way to possibly build its own subscriber base. Being able to purchase a subscription through Plex instead of having to leave the app entirely also streamlines the process. It’s unclear how many companies are willing to work with Plex on the service. Netflix is unlikely to, as Variety points out. Companies like Apple, Amazon, and Disney may not want to either. Valory didn’t tell Variety whether other networks and studios were in talks with Plex, but executives at the company said they are considering adding bundle packages for streaming services next year. Plex currently offers a bundle with Tidal’s $20 streaming package for its premium subscribers. The goal is to add other services, like HBO Max, once those platforms launch. Trying to wrangle multiple streaming services and offer them individually to users is an ambitious but ultimately difficult goal. Apple TV currently offers people a collection of individual channels they can subscribe to, but major players aren’t on that list. Hulu, Netflix, and Disney apps aren’t available, and it’s unclear whether Plex executives can convince them to join its platform when Apple can’t — especially considering Apple has a substantially larger customer base. Plex may be able to offer a number of shows, movies, and some streaming services, but whether they’re subscription services people want is the big question. Not to mention that many people might see Plex as a place to watch pirated content, with friends eagerly sharing their servers through group chats. But executives argue that’s not what the majority of its users do. The company has also talked about this with major Hollywood studios. Those conversations might help bring in companies like Disney that could be worried about being associated with an app is notorious for illegal sharing.

Lime, Jump, Bird pledge to remove their Miami scooters to avoid flying menaces

Hurricane Dorian’s expected landfall on Florida has Miami, Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, and Tampa scrambling to remove bikes and scooters from their streets. If the devices aren’t removed from the streets, they could potentially be picked up by hurricane winds — transforming into threats to people and property. Miami has demanded that all of these mobility companies remove their products from the streets by noon on Friday, Bloomberg reported. Tampa has not yet issued a request for removal, but if (or when) it does, the companies will have 12 hours to comply with it. (“All of our vendors appear prepared for that requirement, and are staying tuned to the weather notices,” says a spokesperson for the city of Tampa.) Lime, Uber’s scooter company Jump, and Bird say they are prepared to batten down the hatches in all the cities in which they operate.



In total, Lime has about 1500 e-scooters in Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Tampa, as well as about 500 bikes in Orlando. A ground team is collecting the scooters and bikes to store them in a warehouse while the storm passes, a spokesperson said. Lime will meet Miami’s noon deadline, and plans to have its bikes removed from Orlando by mid-day Saturday. This isn’t Lime’s first hurricane; in August 2017, Lime pulled their bike fleet for Hurricane Irma. Hurricanes aren’t exactly surprising in Florida, the spokesperson noted, so the company has plans for when they occur. By contrast, this is Jump’s first rodeo. The company, which was acquired by Uber in 2018, operates 250 scooters in Miami and 300 in Tampa. Jump says it will meet Miami’s deadline, and may remove the Tampa scooters as well, depending on the storm’s expected path. Bird said only they are monitoring the conditions across Florida. Their response to the hurricane might include “pausing our service when weather does not permit safe riding, and can sometimes lead to removing Birds from the road during periods of inclement weather such as hurricanes,” a Bird spokesperson said. Lyft, Spin, and Bolt— all of which operate in Miami — didn’t respond to requests for comment. Neither did the cities of Miami, Orlando or Fort Lauderdale.

Sony celebrates 40 years of Walkman in Tokyo

The Sony Walkman TPS-L2 was released 40 years ago this summer, forever changing the way the world listened to music. It became arguably the most iconic brand in Sony’s history, with hundreds of devices bearing the name and continuing to be released today. To celebrate the Walkman’s legacy, Sony held an exhibit in Tokyo until this week called “Walkman in the Park.” The venue is Ginza Sony Park, a new public space that sits on the site of the iconic old Sony building that was recently demolished; another Sony building will be constructed here next year.



I’m no stranger to seeing a bunch of awesome old Sony products on display, but Walkman in the Park was a little different. The focus was on the experience of actually using the products and how they made you feel. You could listen to music on cassettes through cheap plastic headphones while reading quotes from people who used that Walkman at the time, and for a second feel like you were back in the ‘80s. And it started, of course, with a giant statue of a yellow Sports Walkman FM. The layout of the exhibit was inspired by a skate park. You could sit on a ramp and listen to early hip-hop on an original TPS-L2. The “Walkman Wall” featured almost every player imaginable. This installation connects a TPS-L2 to a newer digital Walkman and Sony’s excellent WH-1000XM3 noise-canceling headphones. To what end, I am not entirely sure.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

If Spider-Man Splits From The MCU, Could He Join The Justice League?

Spider-man and marvel fans were a bit unsettled these days. Unless the spat between entertainment industry’s two behemoths disney/marvel and sony is resolved, the webbed superhero spider-man might be out of the mcu for good. Why is spider-man rumored to be leaving the mcu? The recent row seems to have been sparked by disagreements over future films’ financing ration, as well as profit-sharing scheme. Disney reportedly demanded an even sharing over the financing of future spider-man films, but sony wanted to maintain their current arrangement.



Disney, which acquired marvel entertainment for a cool $4 billion in 2009, struck a deal with sony entertainment in 2015, paving the way for the web shooter to appear in the mcu, such as in “captain america: civil war,” “spider-man: homecoming,” “avengers: infinity war,” “avengers: endgame” and “spider-man: far from home.” but with the breakdown of talks between sony and disney, the superhero is now facing the very real possibility of being away from the mcu for good. Can the super hero then join the justice league? Fans are understandably concerned about what this might mean for the future of spider-man. However, a few imaginative fans are not too overly concerned as they believe that spider-man can just join dc’s justice league.



But spider-main joining the justice league is not that far-fetched at all as marvel and dc crossovers have already been happening for decades. In the seventies, batman and hulk teamed up to stop the villains joker and shaper of worlds. Actually, he sort of applied before Officially, spider-man never applied for a spot in justice league based on official comic releases. However, there was a fan-made comic cover in the past that showed a dejected peter parker after his attempt at joining the justice league was turned down by its members. “basically batman didn't think spiderman was a team player,” was the reason given by batman after spider-man allegedly asked him if he could join the justice league. “justice league is all about teamwork, and spiderman is kinda a sarcastic teenager who does things his way. He does periodically help the avengers, but then again the avengers are basically independent superheroes who every once in a while team up.” But things might still work out for the web shooter in the mcu While the web shooter can definitely carve out a name for himself in the dc universe should he choose to, recent reports seem to suggest that it may no longer be necessary for him to find a new home. Comic book reported that disney might have offered a new deal to sony, one that would keep the superhero in the mcu for quite some time. Under the new terms, it was reported that disney specifically wants tom holland to do six spider-man films more. The report added that the term even comes with an option for a seventh film, which shouldn’t be too surprising considering the money-making potential of the spider-man franchise.

'Mr. Robot' Season 4 Release Date, Trailer, Cast And What To Know About Final Run

Mr. Robot season 4 has unveiled its latest trailer to reveal its release date. The computer hacker drama is finally premiering its final season beginning sunday, oct. 6, on usa network.  As shown in the clips, mr. Robot season 4 will be set during the christmas holiday. It will follow what happened after elliot, played by oscar-winning actor rami malek, sent that destructive email that saw the crash of the economy.  The teaser also has a chilling rendition of "Silent night" as its background music as elliot struggles with his alter ego, mr. Robot, played by christian slater. In trying to ruin the top one percent of the population, one of these personalities warn of what's going to happen should they put their plan in motion. "If you go down this path, it'll never end," mr. Robot is heard telling elliot. "It will always be something else - another symbol to destroy, more people to save. This is an endless war. What you're about to do is crossing a line."




Mr. Robot season 3 delved on how elliot and his alter-ego prepared to unleash their greatest act: the five/nine hack. As creator sam esmail told the hollywood reporter, mr. Robot season 1 to 3 was about learning the real bad guys of the story. "The hack was merely a distraction that was co-opted by these people, and it's finally been revealed and exposed to elliot," esmail said. "In a weird way, the next season will return back to that initial premise of the show and have elliot be motivated by that, with this new clarity."



Mr. Robot season 4 took nearly two years to finish as malek had taken time off from tv production to work on his hit movie bohemian rhapsody. The actor said that despite his big-screen success, he was not eager to quit the small screen. Malek disclosed in an interview with herald live that he asked esmail if there was a way to extend the show when he heard that the writer and show creator had announced the series' end. Esmail, however, had planned on ending the show for good but it will be another shining moment for malek, who said that elliot in mr. Robot season 4 will be dealt with another shock and blow. Mr. Robot debuted on cable in 2015 and received critical acclaims such as the golden globes award and the peabody award. Apart from the cyber-hacking plotline, the show also peaks into clinical depression and social anxiety disorder.

'Princess Diaries 3' Possible Release Date, Cast, Plot, Spoilers, Other Details Unveiled

Earlier this year, it was revealed that The Princess Diaries 3 might be happening, and fans of the movie were happy about it and excited go back to the fictional land of Genovia. For now, here's everything we know so far about the potential third installment - including the possible release date, cast, plot, spoilers, as well as other details. Right now, details about The Princess Diaries 3 are scarce. But, Anne Hathaway, who plays the role of Mia Thermopolis, revealed she's open about the possibility of continuing her character's story as an adult and still ruling Genovia with her grandmother Queen Clarisse Renaldi (portrays by Julie Andrews) at her side.




Hathaway also said the third movie already has a script and added that she wants to do it, Andrews also wants to do it, and their producer Debra Martin Chase wants to do it as well. But since the film is on its early planning, it's hard to predict when will be the official release date of The Princess Diaries 3, so everything is still up in the air. Aside from Hathaway and Andrews, other cast members of the film were also open to doing the installment once again. In a previous report via People Magazine, Mandy Moore revealed she's willing to reprise her role as Lana Thomas. In 2016, Chris Pine also said he's open to returning as Nicholas Devereaux in the third movie.

When it comes to new characters, nothing is confirmed yet - considering that production hasn't started. But, one person is willing to make an appearance in the potential The Princess Diaries 3 - and revealed she originally auditioned in the movie. Christy Carlson Romano reportedly planned to audition for the film, but couldn't make it since she's working on Even Stevens. So, is there a possibility she'll be appearing in the third movie? That remains a question, but if ever, the actress might be cast as one of the long lost cousins of Mia. As for the plot, Hathaway and Chase didn't reveal what would be the story of The Princess Diaries 3. According to a report from Entertainment Weekly, series writer Meg Cabot she's not allowed to talk about the plot. Even though she would love to sit and talk about it, Cabot insisted she's not allowed to reveal details about the potential story of the movie. But, the late director Garry Marshall revealed before what would be the possible script of the third movie. He said back then that they wanted to do The Princess Diaries 3 in Manhattan.

One Piece 954 Revealed The Legendary Sword That Gave Kaido's Scars

Now that One Piece 954 Wano Arc final war is near, more and more unexpected revelations are coming out and it is getting more intense. Recently, it has been revealed that Big Mom and Kaido are on the same ship and many are thinking that the scar on Kaido happened during that time. Unfortunately, it’s not as the latest One Piece manga chapter just revealed where did Kaido actually get the scar.

Last Chapter just went live and it covers the background story of Kawamatsu. There are no actual fighting scenes but it revealed an interesting fact about Kaido’s scar. But before you continue reading, please take note that this post contains spoilers. If spoilers don’t bother you, continue reading below. In this chapter, Kawamatsu remembered how he met Lord Shimotsuki Ushimaru who is the ruler of the Northern Ringo. According to him, Lord Shimotsuki is a powerful swordsman who had a fox at his side. That fox is Onimaru who is still guarding the graveyard against the thieves.


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The fox still remembers Kawamatsu but immediately attacked Kawamatsu when he started collecting the swords from the graves. Kawamatsu explained everything and the fox eventually calm down. Zoro, Kawamatsu, and Hiyori are looking for the hidden armory and they have successfully found it. They found a huge number of weapons that will be used for their attack in Onigashima. Gyukimaru, on the other hand, is still watching and hiding in the shadow.

Meanwhile, Hiyori speaks to Zoro about his sword, Shusui. Hiyori asked him that if it was the real Shusui, Zoro should give it back to the Wano Country. In return, Hiyori offers another legendary sword named Enma. Enma was once used by Lord Oden and it was the sword that managed to left a scar on Kaido.

Zoro got Shusui from Ryuma, the Legendary Samurai from Wano Country, after he defeated him in battle during the Thriller Bark Arc. Ryuma is the owner of Shusui and entrusted the sword to Zoro after seeing his abilities. Knowing that Shusui is considered as a national treasure of the Wano Country and Hiyori is asking to return it, will Zoro give it back and accept the Legendary Blade Enma? Let’s see how things unfold when One Piece Chapter 954 releases today.

Borderlands 3 Minimum and Recommended System Requirements

Gearbox has officially announced Borderlands 3 and if you’re one of the fans who are excited to play the game, here are the Borderlands 3 system requirements.

Minimum specs:

OS – Windows 7/8/10 (latest service pack)
Processor – AMD FX-8350 |Intel i5-3570
Memory – 6GB RAM
Graphics card – AMD Radeon™ HD 7970 | NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680 2GB
HDD – 75 GB
OS – Windows 7/8/10 (latest service pack)
Processor – AMD Ryzen 5 2600 | Intel i7-4770
Memory – 16GB RAM
Graphics card – AMD Radeon™ RX 590 | NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 6GB
HDD – 75 GB
And most importantly, here are the graphics options you'll find in the relevant menu.


Basic

Graphics API: DirectX 11, DirectX 12
Display: (varies by setup)
Display Mode: Full Screen, Windowed Borderless, Windowed
Resolution: (varies by setup)
Vertical Sync: Off, On
Resolution Scale: 50% - 200% in 25% increments
Limit Frame Rate: Smooth 22-62 FPS, Capped 30 FPS, Capped 50 FPS, Capped 60 FPS, Capped 72 FPS, Capped 120 FPS, Unlimited, Custom
Custom FPS Limit: default 90, minimum 15, maximum 300
Calibrate Display: Brightness and HDR
Calibrate Safe Area: Adjust the boundary of the UI
Field of View: default 90, minimum 70, maximum 110
Vehicle Field of View: default 90, minimum 70, maximum 110
HUD Scale: default 1, minimum 0.6, maximum 1.3

Advanced

Preferences
Display Stats: Off, FPS, All (FPS, CPU, GPU)
Anti Aliasing: None, FXAA, Temporal
FidelityFX Sharpening: Off, On
Camera Motion Blur: Off, On
Object Motion Blur:
 Off, On
General
Graphics Quality: Low, Medium, High, Ultra
Texture Streaming: Low, Medium, High, Ultra
Anisotropic Filtering: 2x, 4x, 8x, 16x
Material Quality: Low, Medium, High, Ultra
Shadows: Low, Medium, High, Ultra
Draw Distance: Low, Medium, High, Ultra
Environment Texture Detail: Low, Medium, High, Ultra
Environment Detail: Low, Medium, High, Ultra
Terrain Detail: Low, Medium, High, Ultra
Foliage Detail: Low, Medium, High, Ultra
Character Texture Detail: Low, Medium, High, Ultra
Character Detail: Low, Medium, High, Ultra
Ambient Occlusion:
 Low, Medium, High, Ultra
Volumetric Fog:
 Off, Medium, High, Ultra
Screen Space Reflections: Off, Medium, High, Ultra