Google on Tuesday unveiled a video-game streaming platform called Stadia, positioning itself to take on the traditional video-game business.
The platform will store a game-playing session in the cloud and lets players jump across devices operating on Google’s Chrome browser and Chrome OS, such as Pixel phones and Chromebooks.
Google didn’t say how much its new service will cost, whether it will offer subscriptions or other options, or what games will be available at launch — all key elements to the success of a new video-game platform. It said only that Stadia will be available in late 2019.
Google made the announcement at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. Some industry watchers were expecting a streaming console, but Google’s platform centers squarely on the company’s cloud infrastructure.
“The new generation of gaming is not a box,” said Google Vice President Phil Harrison. “The data center is your platform.”
Much like movies and music, the traditional video-game industry has been shifting from physical hardware and games to digital downloads and streaming.
Video-game streaming typically requires a strong connection and more computing power than simply streaming video, since there is real-time interaction between player and game. Google says it is leveraging its data centers to power the system.
Alphabet Inc.’s Google said playing video games will be as simple as pressing a “Play Now” button, with nothing to download or install. An optional dedicated Stadia controller will be available. The WiFi-enabled controller has a button that lets players launch a microphone and use Google Assistant to ask questions about the games being played. Another button lets users share gameplay directly to Google’s video streaming service, YouTube.
Harrison said he expects all gaming will eventually take place outside consoles, in cloud-powered streaming platforms similar to what Google announced. But not right away.
“It won’t replace traditional games devices overnight,” he said in an interview after the announcement. “And we wouldn’t be here if not for the existing traditional platforms.”
CFRA Research analyst Scott Kessler said Google’s approach that ties YouTube sharing and video-game playing is unique.
“It is not necessarily at this point the easiest thing for people to livestream their games and now you can do it with the push of a button,” he said. “What they’ve done with Stadia is to connect and unify both the gaming platform and the streaming platform which obviously is new.”
The company said Stadia will be available in late 2019 in the U.S., Canada, the U.K. and parts of Europe. Google showed demos of “Assassin’s Creed Odyssey” and “Doom Eternal.” More information about games and pricing is due this summer.
The U.S. video game industry raked in revenue of $43.4 billion in 2018, up 18 percent from 2017, according to research firm NPD Group.
BTIG Managing Director Brandon Ross said Stadia will be a positive for game publishers “assuming that it works and works at scale, which is a big assumption.”
That’s because the platform could bring in players not willing to spend the money upfront for a gaming PC or a console.
“What they’re presenting is a feasible way to play video games in the cloud, and utilizing the cloud so you can play anytime, anyplace and anywhere,” he said. “There’s no friction, including the friction of upfront hardware costs.”
Ross added that Google’s platform could set up a distribution battle between Microsoft, which owns the Xbox, Sony, which owns the PlayStation, Google and perhaps Amazon, which reportedly is working on its own video-game service, as they race to lock down distribution of the most in-demand games.
To that end, Google launched Stadia Games and Entertainment which will develop Stadia-exclusive games.
“The differentiator for any of the distributors on a console or in the cloud is going to be available content,” he said.
Harrison said Google will rely on outside publishers and game developers to provide many of the games available on the platform. But having its own inside studio will also allow the company to fully test and make use of new features.
“We can be the advance party, so to speak, and we can be testing out the latest technology,” he said. “Once we’ve proven it we can help bring that up to speed on the platform even more quickly with our third-party partners.”
Harrison acknowledged Google faces stiff competition from longtime rivals Microsoft, Sony and others. Google has been working on Stadia for more than four years, he said, and has been working with game developers through Android and Play Store for longer.
The others have more than a decade of experience. But Google believes it brings something new.
“We are not a historical console or PC platform,” he said. “We are built specifically for this new generation.”
General Motors said on Tuesday it would invest $2.7 billion in two Brazilian factories over the next five years, sparing them from a shakeup of the automaker’s operations, a decision hailed by the governor of Brazil’s largest state.
Sao Paolo state Governor Joao Doria told a joint news conference with GM executives that the plants in Sao Caetano do Sul and Sao Jose dos Campos had been slated for closure last December, and said he convinced GM to reverse the decision, saving jobs.
Last November, GM said it would slash thousands of jobs around the world and would close two unspecified plants outside of North America by the end of 2019.
The company declined to say whether its restructuring plans had referred to the two Brazilian factories, and declined to comment on whether the two plants had been slated for closure as Doria claimed.
Sitting next to Doria at the news conference, GM’s CEO for South America, Carlos Zarlenga, also did not directly address Doria’s recounting of the negotiations with GM.
Doria, a former businessman and reality TV show host, took office in January and became a vocal advocate for the state’s auto industry. Earlier this year, he said he would find a buyer for a Ford Motor Co. plant that is slated to close, after the U.S. automaker said it had tried and failed to find one.
At Tuesday’s news conference, Doria said GM told him in a call days before his inauguration that it planned to close the plants.
“I thought it was going to be good news,” Doria said. “But to my surprise I was told that the next day GM CEO Mary Barra would announce the closing of two factories in Sao Paulo. I fell off my chair.”
He said he dispatched his future state finance minister to fix the situation and landed a meeting in Miami with GM executives. He said 65,000 workers employed directly and indirectly by GM would have lost their jobs without his intervention.
Earlier this month, Doria announced an incentive plan granting automakers a 25 percent reduction in value added taxes if they created at least 400 jobs and invested at least 1 billion reais. At the news conference, GM announced it was creating 400 new jobs.
Zarlenga said the future of its Sao Paulo factories had presented GM “a really serious problem,” but did not confirm that the automaker had considered closing them down.
GM, the sales leader in Brazil, South America’s largest market, had warned local employees it was dealing with heavy losses and “sacrifices” would be necessary.
As announced, the plan pales in comparison to GM’s most recent investment plan in Brazil in 2014, which totaled $4 billion. However, the announcement does not include potential future investments in the automaker’s plants elsewhere in the country.
U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday accused social media platforms Facebook, YouTube and Twitter of favoring his Democratic opponents over him and his fellow Republicans.
“But fear not, we will win anyway, just like we did before! #MAGA,” he said in a tweet. MAGA refers to Trump’s 2016 campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again.”
Facebook and Twitter declined to comment. Alphabet’s Google, which owns YouTube, did not immediately comment.
The president and other conservatives have repeatedly complained that these big tech platforms treat them unfairly.
Trump has previously accused Twitter of restricting the visibility of prominent U.S. Republicans, without any providing evidence, and the avid social media user has promised to investigate the company’s practices.
Trump and other conservatives say Twitter targets fellow Republicans with a practice dubbed “shadow banning,” limiting the visibility of a Twitter user, including in the platform’s auto-populated dropdown search box.
Representative Devin Nunes of California has sued Twitter over the alleged practice, according to court documents.
Twitter Chief Executive Officer Jack Dorsey has said that algorithms have been changed to fix that issue.
The Justice Department held a meeting last fall between federal officials and state attorneys general to discuss allegations that conservative ideas are suppressed online, but so far no concrete action has been taken as a result.
Saudi Arabia said on Tuesday it would spend 86 billion riyals ($23 billion) to boost the quality of life in the capital Riyadh, increasing green space and recreational areas and installing 1,000 works of art across the city.
The four projects unveiled are part of efforts to open up Saudis’ cloistered lifestyles, encourage physical activity and make life more fun in the conservative kingdom, alongside reforms to diversify the economy away from oil.
They are the latest in a series of planned development investments that King Salman has launched at the side of his son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, after a global outcry over the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi last October tarnished the crown prince’s image.
Park, cycling track planned
State media showed the pair touring a diorama of the plans, which include a park four times the size of Central Park and 135 kilometers (84 miles) of cycling track. The king also ordered that one of the capital’s main roads be renamed after his son.
The murder of Washington Post columnist Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul sparked international criticism of the crown prince, who had won Western plaudits for easing social strictures. The CIA and some Western countries suspect him of ordering the killing, which Saudi authorities vehemently deny.
The kingdom, and the crown prince, have also been criticized for a crackdown on dissent, including putting 10 prominent women’s rights activists on trial last week.
King stands by son
While some critics abroad have called for the crown prince’s removal, the king has stood by his favorite son and heir apparent as Riyadh tries to move on from the murder and refocus attention on reform plans that require huge foreign investment.
Work on the four new projects will start in the second half of the year and come on line gradually between 2023 and 2030. They will create 70,000 jobs and offer investment opportunities worth 50 billion riyals to local and foreign investors, state news agency SPA said.
One initiative aims to increase six-fold the percentage of green areas in Riyadh, notorious for its multi-lane highways and concrete block buildings, by planting 7.5 million trees. Seven museums, an open art fair, pedestrian bridges and community gardens are also called for.
Life in capital more relaxed
Such features were unimaginable in Riyadh just a few years ago when religious police patrolled the streets enforcing strict social codes like gender segregation and bans on public music.
But life in the capital has become more relaxed in recent years after the crown prince clipped the wings of the religious police, ended a ban on cinemas and began organizing public concerts. He has won the support of many young Saudis.
Saudi citizens have no vote and falling oil income could affect their living standards in coming years. As a result, improving quality of life is seen as important for ensuring political stability.
Гривня продовжує знецінюватися стосовно долара і євро, свідчать дані на сайті Національного банку України.
На 20 березня вартість одного долара встановлена на рівні 27 гривень 16 копійок (на три копійки більше порівняно з попереднім днем). Офіційна вартість євро дорівнюватиме 30 гривням і 84 копійкам (плюс п’ять копійок).
Таким чином, офіційний курс гривні продовжує падати впродовж сімох днів.
A senior U.S. official says Washington is monitoring ships involved in clandestine transfers of Iranian oil and will hold anyone involved in such transfers responsible for violating U.S. sanctions against Iran.
“We are closely tracking ship-to-ship transfers of [Iranian] oil to evade our oil sanctions,” said Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Counter Threat Finance and Sanctions David Peyman in an exclusive interview with VOA Persian recently at the State Department. “And we’re working closely with foreign governments to ensure they are monitoring ship-to-ship transfers off their coasts.”
One of the few companies monitoring global oil shipments, TankerTrackers.com, reported last week that it identified in February two cases of clandestine ship-to-ship transfers of Iranian oil with the transponders of the vessels involved being disabled. In an email sent Friday to VOA Persian, TankerTrackers.com co-founder Samir Madani said in both cases, a ship transferred Iranian oil to another ship before a third ship picked up the oil from the second ship and delivered it to a port.
“One transfer took around three months to complete, while the other happened during the span of a month or so,” Madani said.
TankerTrackers.com has said Iranian crude oil tankers have been trying to hide their activities since August by switching off the Automatic Identification System (AIS) transponders that reveal their position and other information.
President Donald Trump re-imposed U.S. sanctions on Iranian oil exports, Tehran’s top revenue source, in November as part of his withdrawal from what he viewed as a flawed 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers. The sanctions unilaterally barred Iran from exporting oil to all but eight governments who were given six months to reduce their Iranian oil purchases to zero.
Peyman said U.S. authorities will act against ship owners, managers, insurance providers and mortgagees linked to vessels involved in the clandestine transfers of Iranian oil at sea. “If you are engaged in evasive action, which is really the worst kind of violation when it comes to U.S. sanctions, we will hold you accountable,” Peyman said.
Flying their flags
In another U.S. step aimed at cracking down on Iranian efforts to evade oil sanctions, Peyman said Washington has secured pledges from several nations to avoid putting their flags on Iranian oil tankers.
Last month, a State Department news site said Panama stripped 59 Iranian-linked ships of their right to fly the Panamanian flag, in a move aimed at supporting U.S. sanctions. It said Panama’s purge of the tankers from its ship registry, one of the world’s largest, will make it harder for Iran to deliver oil to ports around the world.
“Panama really led the way for other countries to follow suit by pulling their own flags and for other countries to commit to the U.S. that they will not reflag those ships that the Panamanians withdrew their flag from,” Peyman said.
The State Department declined to provide examples to VOA Persian of countries that committed not to reflag Iranian vessels that have been de-flagged by Panama.
Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh has said Tehran will not comply with what it considers to be “illegal” U.S. sanctions. Speaking on a Jan. 10 visit to Baghdad, Zanganeh also said Iran will not discuss the volume or destination of its oil exports while it remained under U.S. sanctions.
Peyman said Washington also will take action against any company that uses a new European financial mechanism to engage Iran in transactions that violate U.S. sanctions. Britain, France and Germany launched the Institute in Support of Trade Exchanges, or INSTEX, in January to enable European companies to conduct business with Iran using barter techniques that bypass the U.S. financial system.
INSTEX’s EU sponsors initially intend for it to facilitate humanitarian trade with Iran, but its scope could be expanded to other types of business. U.S. sanctions on Iran contain exemptions for the provision of humanitarian aid, food and medicine to the Iranian people.
Iran has called on EU leaders to ensure that it continues to receive international trade benefits promised under the 2015 nuclear deal that EU nations have sought to uphold following the U.S. pullout. But Iranian officials in recent weeks have expressed disappointment with what they view as the EU’s slow rollout of INSTEX.
Tehran has good reason to be disappointed, according to Peyman.
“I’ve been to several countries in Europe, I’ve spoken with very large industry groups and businesses in the private sector … and every indication that I’m receiving is that there is absolutely no interest to utilize a European financial mechanism to do business with Iran,” he said.
Peyman, who was born in Iran, said no “responsible” European businesses want to trade with an Iranian government they perceive as responsible for killing Americans and sponsoring terrorism on European soil. He said European companies also make an independent business decision, based on a cost-benefit analysis, to do business with the United States and use the U.S. financial system rather than to maintain a relationship with Iran.
Tehran sees itself as a victim, rather than a perpetrator, of terrorism.
“To the extent that there is any appetite by [companies] to use [INSTEX], we’ll be tracking it very, very closely,” Peyman said. “Those companies’ ties to the U.S. financial system will be looked at, their use of U.S. banks will be looked at, and their use of non-U.S. banks that have ties to U.S. banks will be looked at. And we will look at any potential violations, direct or indirect, knowing or unknowing, of U.S. sanctions laws and will vigorously enforce [them].”
This article originated in VOA’s Persian Service.
Кількість підроблених банкнот гривні у 2018 році становила 0,00025% від загальної кількості готівки, що перебувала в грошовому обігу, повідомив Національний банк України. У 2017 році їхня кількість була на рівні 0,00036%.
99% вилучених з обігу підроблених банкнот гривні припадали на банкноти чотирьох номіналів: 500 гривень (46% від загальної кількості вилучених підробок та 80% від їх загальної суми), 100 гривень (27% та 9%), 50 гривень (15% та 3%) та 200 гривень (11% та 8%).
Інші вилучені з обігу підроблені банкноти номіналами від 1 до 20 гривень становили лише 1%.
Серед вилучених з обігу у 2018 році підроблених банкнот іноземної валюти переважали: долари США (78% від загальної кількості всіх вилучених підроблених банкнот іноземної валюти), євро (17%), російські рублі (4%) та швейцарські франки та англійські фунти стерлінгів (1%).
Найчастіше підробляли іноземні банкноти таких номіналів: 100 доларів США (97% від загальної кількості вилучених підроблених доларів США); 50 та 200 євро (45% та 36% від кількості вилучених підроблених євро); 5 000 російських рублів (78% від кількості вилучених підроблених російських рублів).
На українському міжбанківському валютному ринку припинилося падіння гривні. Національний банк України встановив станом на 12:00 19 березня довідкове значення 27 гривень 15 копійок за долар, це на дві копійки більше, ніж офіційний курс, встановлений на сьогодні.
Упродовж кількох попередніх сесій зміцнення долара відбувалося швидшими темпами – по кількадесят копійок за день.
«Сьогодні пік бюджетних платежів у клієнтів та аукціон Міністерства фінансів з розміщення чергових гривневих і валютних ОВДП. Це призводить до нестачі гривні на ринку і змушує компанії продавати валюту, що, в свою чергу, створює підвищений обсяг пропозиції валюти на торгах і працює на зміцнення нацвалюти», – відзначають фахівці з сайту «Мінфін», які відстежують перебіг торгів.
Експерти припускали, що цього тижня зростання долара може уповільнитися або й припинитися, адже для здійснення обов’язкових бюджетних платежів українські економічні агенти продаватимуть валюту.
In Thailand’s election “war room,” authorities scroll through thousands of social media posts, looking for violations of laws restricting political parties’ campaigning on social media that activists say are among the most prohibitive in the world.
The monitors are on the look-out for posts that “spread lies, slander candidates, or use rude language,” all violations of the new electoral law, said Sawang Boonmee, deputy secretary-general of the Election Commission, who gave a Reuters team an exclusive tour of the facility.
When they find an offending post, on, for example, Facebook, they print it out, date-stamp it, and file it in a clear plastic folder, to be handed over to the Election Commission and submitted to Facebook for removal.
“When we order content to be removed, we’ll reach out to the platforms, and they are happy to cooperate with us and make these orders efficient,” Sawang said.
Sawang said the tough electoral laws governing social media for the March 24 election, the first since a 2014 military coup, are a necessary innovation aimed at preventing manipulation that has plagued other countries’ elections in recent years.
“Other countries don’t do this. Thailand is ahead of the curve with regulating social media to ensure orderly campaigning and to protect candidates,” he said.
A Facebook representative said it reviewed requests from governments on a case-by-case basis.
“We have a government request process, which is no different in Thailand than the rest of the world,” the representative said.
Twitter did not respond to a request for comment.
Democracy advocates, worry the social media restrictions laid out by the military government may be impeding parties from freely campaigning.
The rules require that candidates and parties register social media handles and submit a post to the commission, stating what platform it will appear on and for how long.
Parties and candidates are only allowed to discuss policies, and posts that are judged to be misleading voters or that portray others negatively could see the party disqualified, or a candidate jailed for up to 10 years and banned from politics for 20.
Pongsak Chan-on, coordinator of the Bangkok-based Asia Network for Free and Fair Election (ANFREL), said the rules go far beyond combating “fake news” and raise questions about how free and fair the election will be.
“The rules are stricter than in any recent elections anywhere. They’re so detailed and strict that parties are obstructed,” he told Reuters.
‘Doesn’t Bode Well for Democracy’
The monitoring center, with a signboard reading “E-War Room,” has three rows of computers and stacks of printouts, with half a dozen workers spending eight hours a day searching for violations of the law.
Sawang said another intelligence center scanned for violations 24 hours a day but it was “off-limits” to media.
The election is broadly seen as a race between the military-backed prime minister, Prayuth Chan-ocha, and parties that want the military out of politics.
But the stringent rules have left anti-junta parties fretting about how to campaign online, nervous that they could inadvertently break a rule that triggers disqualification.
Up to now, the new rules have not been used to disqualify any candidates though the very threat has had a dampening effect and encouraged self-censorship.
“They create complications for parties,” said Pannika Wanich, spokeswoman for the new Future Forward Party, which has attracted support among young urban folk who have come of age on social media.
She said her party had to consult a legal team before making posts.
Some candidates have deactivated their Facebook pages while others have removed posts that might cause trouble.
Last month, Future Forward leader Thanathorn Juangroonruangkit faced disqualification over an allegation that he misled voters in his biography on the party’s website. The commission dismissed the case last week.
In another petition, the commission was asked to ban the party’s secretary-general for slandering the junta in a Facebook post.
“It’s very restrictive and doesn’t bode well for democracy,” said Tom Villarin, a Philippine congressman and member of ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR). “Putting more restrictions on social media during a campaign season defeats the purpose of holding elections in the first place.”
Fighting Fake News
About 74 percent of Thailand’s population of 69 million are active social media users, putting Thais among the world’s top 10 users, according to a 2018 survey by Hootsuite and We Are Social.
Thailand is Facebook’s eighth biggest market with 51 million users, the survey showed.
Facebook said it has teams with Thai-language speakers to monitor posts and restricts electoral advertisements from outside the country.
“Combating false news is crucial to the integrity and safety of the Thailand elections,” said Katie Harbath, Facebook’s Global Politics and Government director, during a Bangkok visit in January.
Sawang said the election commission has also gained cooperation from Twitter and Japanese messaging app Line, used by 45 million Thais.
Line Thailand told Reuters it did not monitor chats for the election commission but helped limit fake news by showing only articles from “trusted publishers” on its news feature.
A city in South Korea, which has the world’s highest smartphone penetration rate, has installed flickering lights and laser beams at a road crossing to warn “smartphone zombies” to look up and drivers to slow down, in the hope of preventing accidents.
The designers of the system were prompted by growing worry that more pedestrians glued to their phones will become casualties in a country that already has some of the highest road fatality and injury rates among developed countries.
State-run Korea Institute of Civil Engineering and Building Technology (KICT) believes its system of flickering lights at zebra crossings can warn both pedestrians and drivers.
In addition to red, yellow and blue LED lights on the pavement, “smombies” – smartphone zombies – will be warned by laser beam projected from power poles and an alert sent to the phones by an app that they are about to step into traffic.
“Increasing number of smombie accidents have occurred in pedestrian crossings, so these zombie lights are essential to prevent these pedestrian accidents,” said KICT senior researcher Kim Jong-hoon.
The multi-dimensional warning system is operated by radar sensors and thermal cameras and comes with a price tag of 15 million won ($13,250) per crossing.
Drivers are alerted by the flashing lights, which have shown to be effective 83.4 percent of the time in the institute’s tests involving about 1,000 vehicles.
In 2017, more than 1,600 pedestrians were killed in auto related accidents, which is about 40 percent of total traffic fatalities, according to data from the Traffic Accident Analysis System.
South Korea has the world’s highest smartphone penetration rate, according to Pew Research Center, with about 94 percent of adults owning the devices in 2017, compared with 77 percent in the United States and 59 percent in Japan.
For now, the smombie warning system is installed only in Ilsan, a suburban city about 30 km northwest of the capital, Seoul, but is expected to go nationwide, according to the institute.
Kim Dan-hee, a 23-year-old resident of Ilsan, welcomed the system, saying she was often too engrossed in her phone to remember to look at traffic.
“This flickering light makes me feel safe as it makes me look around again, and I hope that we can have more of these in town,” she said.
Investigators into the Boeing 737 MAX crash in Ethiopia have found striking similarities in a vital flight angle with an airplane that came down off Indonesia, a source said, piling pressure on the world’s biggest planemaker.
The Ethiopian Airlines disaster eight days ago killed 157 people, led to the grounding of Boeing’s marquee MAX fleet globally and sparked a high-stakes inquiry for the aviation industry.
Analysis of the cockpit recorder showed its “angle of attack” data was “very, very similar” to that of the Lion Air jet that went down off Jakarta in October, killing 189 people, a person familiar with the investigation said.
The angle of attack is a fundamental parameter of flight, measuring the degrees between the air flow and the wing. If it is too high, it can throw the plane into an aerodynamic stall.
“If that’s the case, that does raise the possibility that there is a similar occurrence between the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines accidents,” said Clint Balog, a Montana-based professor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.
Even then, it was too early to draw firm conclusions, he added.
A flight deck computer’s response to an apparently faulty angle-of-attack sensor is at the heart of the ongoing probe into the Lion Air crash.
Ethiopia’s Transport Ministry, France’s BEA air accident authority and the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) have all pointed to similarities between the two disasters, but safety officials stress the investigation is at an early stage.
“Everything will be investigated,” Ethiopian Transport Ministry spokesman Musie Yehyies told Reuters.
Both planes were 737 MAX 8s and crashed minutes after takeoff with pilots reporting flight control problems.
Under scrutiny is a new automated system in the 737 MAX model that guides the nose lower to avoid stalling, while Boeing has raised questions in the Lion Air case about whether crew used the correct procedures.
Lawmakers and safety experts are asking how thoroughly regulators vetted the system and how well pilots around the world were trained for it when their airlines bought new planes.
Boeing Plans New Software
Boeing Chief Executive Dennis Muilenburg, facing the biggest crisis of his tenure, said on Monday the company understands that “lives depend on the work we do.”
Muilenburg also said a software upgrade for its 737 MAX aircraft that the planemaker started in the aftermath of the Lion Air deadly plane crash was coming “soon.”
The fix was developed when regulators suggested false sensor data could cause a system known as MCAS (Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System) to overreact and make the jet hard to control.
Canada is re-examining the validation it gave Boeing’s 737 MAX jets, following reports of a U.S. probe into the aircraft’s certification by the FAA, Canadian Transport Minister Marc Garneau said on Monday.
Acting FAA Administrator Dan Elwell said on Wednesday in a call with reporters that he was “absolutely” confident in the certification of the Boeing 737 MAX 8. The FAA did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Canada’s action.
The FAA finds itself in the hot seat, especially over its decision to certify the 737 MAX without demanding additional training. FAA and Boeing will face congressional questions about why the software upgrade took so long to complete and whether Boeing had too great a role in the certification process.
With the prestige of one of the United States’ biggest exporters at stake, Boeing has halted deliveries of its best-selling model that was intended to be the industry standard but is now under a shadow. Developed in response to the successful launch of the Airbus A320neo, some 370 MAX jets were in operation at the time of the Ethiopian crash, and nearly 5,000 more on order.
After a 10 percent drop last week that wiped nearly $25 billion off its market share, Boeing stock slid about 1.8 percent on Monday.
Weekend media reports intensified pressure on Boeing and its domestic U.S. regulator following a call last week by a U.S. flight attendants union for a “certification review.”
The Seattle Times said the company’s safety analysis of the MCAS system had crucial flaws, including understating power.
The Wall Street Journal reported that prosecutors and the U.S. Department of Transportation were scrutinizing the FAA’s approval of the MAX series, while a jury had issued a subpoena to at least one person involved in its development.
Boeing and the FAA declined to comment on that.
Last week, sources told Reuters that investigators found a piece of a stabilizer in the Ethiopian wreckage set in an unusual position similar to that of the Lion Air plane.
Future Orders at Stake
Ethiopia is leading the probe, although the black boxes were sent to France and U.S. experts are also participating.
Investigators were expected to select a handful of the roughly 1,800 parameters of flight data in their initial review, including those thrown up by the Lion Air investigation, before analyzing the rest in coming weeks and months.
Norwegian Airlines has already said it will seek compensation after grounding its MAX aircraft, and various companies are reconsidering orders.
Boeing’s main rival, Airbus, has seen its stock rise 5 percent since the crash, but cannot simply pick up the slack given the complicated logistics of plane-building.
For now, Boeing continues to build planes while keeping them parked.
Some airlines are revising financial forecasts, too, given the MAX had been factored in as providing around 15 percent maintenance and fuel savings.
WestJet Airlines Ltd. on Monday became the second Canadian carrier to suspend its 2019 financial projections, following Air Canada in light of the 737 MAX groundings.
Paris and Hong Kong for the first time joined Singapore as the world’s most expensive cities to live in, a study revealed on Tuesday, with utilities and transport driving up the cost of living.
Zurich, Geneva and Japan’s Osaka trailed closely, with emerging market cities like Istanbul and Moscow plummeting down the ranking due to high inflation and currency depreciation, said the Economist Intelligence Unit’s bi-annual survey of 133 cities.
It was the first time in more than 30 years that three cities shared the top spot, a sign that pricey global cities are growing more alike, said the report’s author, Roxana Slavcheva.
“Converging costs in traditionally more expensive cities … is a testament to globalization and the similarity of tastes and shopping patterns,” she said in a statement.
“Even in locations where shopping for groceries may be relatively cheaper, utilities or transportation prices drive up overall cost of living,” she said.
Rising costs in cities are often driven by a vibrant job market attracting skilled workers with high wages, said Anthony Breach, an analyst with the British think tank Center for Cities — which was not involved in the study.
Urban planners need to plan ahead and build more housing to keep prices affordable and overall costs down, Breach told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
For the EIU survey researchers compared the cost of more than 150 items such as cars, food, rent, transport and clothing in 133 cities.
A woman’s haircut was about $15 in Bangalore, India, compared to $210 in New York, for example, while a bottle of beer was about half a dollar in Lagos, Nigeria, and more than $3 in Zurich.
British cities recovered a few positions a year after reaching the cheapest level in more than two decades due to Brexit uncertainty, with London ranking 22nd and Manchester 51st, up eight and five spots respectively.
Political turmoil in Venezuela plummeted Caracas to the bottom of the ranking, followed by Damascus, Syria, with Karachi, Pakistan, Buenos Aires, Argentina, and New Delhi also featuring among the 10 cheapest cities.
But a city’s drop in the index does not necessarily mean life automatically gets cheaper for people living there, as prices adjust to inflation often quicker than wages, said Gunes Cansiz of the World Resources Institute (WRI), a think tank.
“The cost of living in Istanbul, for example, might seem to have decreased, but since household expenses have increased, this has no positive reflection on the daily life of Istanbulites,” said Cansiz, director at WRI’s Turkey Sustainable Cities program.
NATO is to receive the first of five Northrop Grumman high-altitude drones in the third quarter after years of delays, giving the alliance its own spy drones for the first time, the German government told lawmakers.
Thomas Silberhorn, state secretary in the German Defense Ministry, said the NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) drone would be delivered to an air base in Sigonella, Italy, followed by four additional systems, including drones and ground stations built by Airbus, later in the year.
NATO plans to use the aircraft, a derivative of Northrop’s Global Hawk drone, to carry out missions ranging from protection of ground troops to border control and counter-terrorism. The drones will be able to fly for up to 30 hours at a time in all weather, providing near real-time surveillance data.
Northrop first won the contract for the AGS system from NATO in May, 2012, with delivery of the first aircraft slated for 52 months later. However, technical issues and flight test delays have delayed the program, Silberhorn said.
Andrej Hunko, a member of the radical Left opposition party, called for Germany to scrap its participation in the program, warning of spiraling costs and the risk that it could escalate the conflict in eastern Ukraine.
“The drones are closely linked to a new form of warfare,” he said. “They stand for an arms race that will see existing surveillance and spy systems replaced with new platforms.”
Silberhorn, in a previously unreported response to a parliamentary query from Hunko, said NATO had capped the cost of the program at 1.3 billion euros ($1.47 billion) in 2007.
Germany, which is funding about a third of system, scrapped plans to buy its own Global Hawk drones amid spiraling costs and certification problems, and is now negotiating with Northrop to buy several of its newer model Triton surveillance drones.
Fifteen NATO countries, led by the United States, will pay for the AGS system, but all 29 alliance nations are due to participate in its long-term support.
Germany has sent 76 soldiers to Sigonella to operate the surveillance system and analyze its findings, Silberhorn said.
He said a total of 132 German soldiers would eventually be assigned to AGS, of whom 122 would be stationed in Sigonella.
NATO officials had no immediate comment on the program’s status or whether Northrop faced penalties for the delayed delivery.
No comment was available from Northrop.
A U.S. government-led group is working with chipmaker Intel and Cray to develop and build the nation’s fastest computer by 2021 for conducting nuclear weapons and other research, officials said Monday.
The Department of Energy and the Argonne National Laboratory near Chicago said they were working on a supercomputer dubbed Aurora with Intel, the world’s biggest supplier of data center chips, and Cray, which specializes in the ultra-fast machines.
The $500 million contract for the project calls on the companies to deliver a computer with so-called exaflop performance — that is, being able to perform 1 quintillion (1,000,000,000,000,000,000) calculations per second.
If the project succeeds, Aurora would represent nearly an order of magnitude leap over existing machines that feature so-called petaflop performance, capable of doing 1 quadrillion (1,000,000,000,000,000) calculations a second.
It also heightens the stakes in a race in which the United States, China, the European Union and Japan have all announced plans to build exaflop-capable supercomputers.
One of Aurora’s primary functions would be simulating nuclear blasts, a pillar of weapons development since the ban of live detonation testings.
Aurora will be built with artificial intelligence capabilities for projects such as developing better battery materials and helping the Department of Veterans Affairs prevent suicides, Rick Stevens, an associate lab director with Argonne overseeing the exascale computing project, said during a news
The project is a win for Intel, which will supply its Xeon CPU chips and Optane memory chips for Aurora.
Intel has been fending off rival U.S. chipmaker Nvidia Corp.’s rise in the chip content of supercomputers as the machines take on more artificial intelligence work. Nvidia’s chips are found in five of the world’s current top 10 supercomputers, though the Nvidia chips are found alongside chips from its rivals, according to TOP500, which ranks the machines.
The world’s current most powerful machine, the Summit supercomputer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, contains chips from International Business Machines Corp. and Nvidia.
The source of chips for supercomputers has become a factor in trade tensions between the United States and China. The world’s third-fastest supercomputer — the Sunway TaihuLight in China — has chips developed domestically in China.
Chirag Dekate, an analyst with Gartner who studies the supercomputing market, said that despite the small contract size relative to Intel’s overall revenue, the work done on Aurora will eventually filter down to the company’s commercial customers.
“It’s not just a jingoistic race between the U.S. and China,” Dekate said. “The innovations that Intel is developing here will percolate down to other parts of its business.”
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