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Businesses

Al Jazeera America Terminates All TV and Digital Operations (theintercept.com) 276

waspleg writes: Executives of Al Jazeera America (AJAM) held a meeting at 2 p.m. Eastern Time to tell their employees that the company is terminating all news and digital operations in the U.S. as of April 2016, resulting in the loss of hundreds of jobs. AJAM has been losing staggering sums of money from the start. That has become increasingly untenable as the network's owner and funder, the government of Qatar, is now economically struggling due to low oil prices. The decision was made recently to terminate AJAM, which allows the network to terminate all of its cumbersome distribution contracts with cable companies, and re-launch its successful Al Jazeera English inside the U.S.
AI

BBC Launches Machine-Translated Synthetic Voiceovers (bbc.co.uk) 24

An anonymous reader writes: The BBC News service is trialling a tool which provides synthesized journalist voice-overs in different languages, with translation provided by unspecified established online translation services. Although the simulated speech in the BBC video betrays itself with the characteristic staccato flow most associated with Stephen Hawking, the result is above average in terms of natural-sounding speech. However, journalists still need to clean up the returned translations, particularly as the initial test involves Russian and Japanese, and oriental auto-translations can prove embarrassing.
Crime

Mass Shooting In San Bernardino Kills At Least 14 (cnn.com) 1134

An anonymous reader writes: Authorities say 14 people were killed and 14 others were injured in a mass shooting in San Bernardino today. Police have mounted an intense manhunt for the gunmen who fired into a conference hall where county employees had gathered at a service center for people with disabilities. CNN reports: "The suspects were armed with long guns, Police Chief Jarrod Burguan told reporters. 'These were people that came prepared. ... They were armed with long guns, not hand guns,' he told reporters. Most of the victims were 'centrally located in one area of the facility,' Burguan said. Police didn't exchange gunfire with the shooters, he added."
Censorship

BBC World Service To Provide Radio For North Korea and Eritrea (bbc.com) 64

Ewan Palmer writes: The BBC World service has announced it will expand to serve the worst countries for press freedom as part of a plan to reach a global audience of 500 million. The British government announced its "single biggest increase in the World Service budget ever committed" and promised to invest more than $128 million by 2017/18 to the service. Along with improvements in countries such as Thailand, Russia and Somalia, they will launch radio services in North Korea and Eritrea who, according to Reporters Without Borders' 2015 World Press Freedom index, are the two worst performing countries in the world when ranked on a number of criteria including media independence, respect for the safety and freedom of journalists, and infrastructural environment in which the media operate.
Crime

US Toddlers Involved In Shootings On a Weekly Basis (washingtonpost.com) 822

New submitter fremsley471 writes with this story by Christopher Ingraham about shooting accidents involving children 3 and under in The United States. There were at least 43 cases this year of shootings involving a toddler. The Washington Post reports: "This week a 2-year-old in South Carolina found a gun in the back seat of the car he was riding in and accidentally shot his grandmother, who was sitting in the passenger seat. This type of thing happens from time to time: a little kid finds a gun, fires it, and hurts or kills himself or someone else. These cases rarely bubble up to the national level except when someone, like a parent, ends up dead. But cases like this happen a lot more frequently than you might think. Briefly sifting through news reports found at least 43 instances this year of somebody being shot by a toddler 3 or younger. In 31 of those 43 cases, a toddler found a gun and shot himself or herself."
Businesses

First Legal Union of Illegal Street Vendors Created In Barcelona 61

dkatana writes: Street vendors across Barcelona's tourist districts last week created their own union to negotiate with city officials. Barcelona has a new mayor, and new policies dealing with the "Top Manta" (for the blankets — or mantas — they spread out on the sidewalk). The recently-elected left-leaning administration in this Mediterranean city is taking a new — and controversial — approach to this complex issue. They argue that the real fault is the government's for not having a more comprehensive immigration policy. Mayor Ada Colau has welcomed the newly created Popular Union for Street Vendors (Sindicato Popular de Vendedores Ambulantes), established by the illegal vendors themselves.
The Almighty Buck

NY Times Passes 1M Digital Subscribers 92

HughPickens.com writes: Many news organizations, facing competition from digital outlets, have sharply reduced the size of their newsrooms and their investment in news gathering but less than four-and-a-half years after launching its pay model the NY Times has increased coverage as it announced that the Times has passed one million digital-only subscribers, giving them far more than any other news organization in the world. The Times still employs as many reporters as it did 15 years ago — and its ranks now include graphics editors, developers, video journalists and other digital innovators. "It's a tribute to the hard work and innovation of our marketing, product and technology teams and the continued excellence of our journalism," says CEO Mark Thompson.

According to Ken Doctor the takeaway from the Times success is that readers reward elite global journalism. The Wall Street Journal is close behind the Times, at 900,000, while the FT's digital subscription number stands at 520,000. "These solid numbers form bedrock for the future. For news companies, being national now means being global, and being global means enjoying unprecedented reach," says Doctor. "These audiences of a half-million and more portend more reader revenue to come."
Government

North Korea Is Switching To a New Time Zone 236

jones_supa writes: North Korea has announced that it is winding its clocks back by half a hour to create a new "Pyongyang Time" — breaking from a time standard imposed by what it called "wicked Japanese imperialists" more than a century ago. The change will put the standard time in North Korea at UTC +8:30. North Korea said that the time change, approved on Wednesday by its rubber-stamp parliament and officially announced on Friday, would come into effect from August 15, which this year marks the 70th anniversary of the Korean peninsula's liberation from Japan's 1910-45 colonial rule.
Transportation

MH370: Fragment Is From Missing Flight 272

hcs_$reboot writes: The plane part (the flaperon) that was found on a beach in the Indian Ocean on Réunion island was determined to be part of MH370, the Malaysia Airlines flight that vanished more than a year ago. Some experts have postulated that the damage suggests the flaperon may have been deployed when the plane hit the water, meaning that someone in the cockpit was consciously manipulating the controls. The Malaysian Prime Minister said at a press conference "We now have physical evidence that ... Flight MH370 tragically ended in the Southern Indian Ocean.".
Transportation

Privately Owned Armored Trucks Raise Eyebrows After Dallas Attack 609

HughPickens.com writes: Manny Fernandez writes in the NY Times that the scores of military and police-style vans, trucks and cars offered for sale on Craigslist and eBay have raised concerns for some law enforcement officials, particularly after the Dallas attack on a police headquarters. Officials say the vehicles appear to be legal for the most part, so there is little they can do. Jeff Funicello, for example, is selling his black 1975 GMC armored truck on Craigslist. The body is armored, and the windows are bulletproof. It has sliding portholes to point rifles from and a sprinkler system inside. Long ago, it transported money, and it was once the target of a shootout in the 1980s. Of course, people have been driving reinforced cars long before the Dallas attack on a police headquarters. But the celebrities and executives who install bulletproof windows and other types of armor on their vehicles often do not want it noticed. Celebrity clients generally demand that the exteriors of their luxury armored vehicles look normal so they blend in. However those who buy and sell armored vans want people to look. And the popularity of apocalyptic movies and television shows has put a new twist and added a macabre cachet to such vehicles "This is America," says Funicello. "I should be able to have a howitzer or a bazooka if I want one. If I wanted to buy a fire truck, I could."
Youtube

Google Launches YouTube Newswire To Verify Eyewitness Videos 22

An anonymous reader writes: YouTube has started a video news service to showcase the most interesting clips recorded and posted by eyewitnesses at events unfolding around the world. In partnership with the social news group Storyful, YouTube Newswire will be "a curated feed of the most newsworthy eyewitness videos of the day, which have been verified by Storyful's team of editors," a blog post said. Cnet reports: "In addition to the newswire, YouTube on Thursday announced two other projects that have to do with eyewitness journalism. One of the projects, called the First Draft Coalition, will serve as an educational resource for journalists — helping them to verify eyewitness videos and consider the ethics of using them in stories. The other is a partnership with the Witness Media Lab, focused on eyewitness videos having to do with human rights issues."
Education

A Ph.D Thesis Defense Delayed By Injustice 77 Years 134

Taco Cowboy writes: A story about a 102-year old lady doing her PhD thesis defense is not that common, but when the thesis defense was delayed by a whopping 77 years, that gotta raise some eyebrows. Ingeborg Syllm-Rapoport studied diphtheria at the University of Hamburg in Germany and in 1938, the 25-year old Protestant-raised, German-born Ingeborg submitted for her doctorate thesis defense. She was denied her chance for her defense because her mother was of the Jewish ancestry, making her an official "cross-breed". As such the Nazi regime forbid the university from proceeding with her defense, for "racial reasons".

She became one of the thousands of scholars and researchers banished from German academe, which at the time included many of the world's most prestigious research institutions, because of Jewish ancestry or opposition to Nazi policies. Many of them ended up suffering or dying in concentration camps. Rudolf Degkwitz, Syllm's professor, was imprisoned for objecting to euthanizing children. Syllm, however, was able to reach the United States and earned her medical degree from the old Women's Medical College of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Eventually she married a fellow physician named Samuel Mitja Rapoport, had a family, and moved back to Germany in the 1950s, where she achieved prominence in neonatology. Syllm-Rapoport, who is now 102 years old, might have remained just a doctor (if a very accomplished one) had not the present dean of the Hamburg medical school, Uwe Koch-Gromus, heard her story from a colleague of her son, Tom Rapoport, a Harvard cell biologist.

Determined to do what he could to mitigate this wrong, Koch-Gromus arranged Syllm-Rapoport's long-delayed defense. Despite failing eyesight, she brushed up on decades of developments in diphtheria research with the help of friends and the Internet. Koch-Gromus called the 45-minute oral exam given by him and two colleagues on 13 May in her Berlin living room "a very good test. Frau Rapoport has gathered notable knowledge about what's happened since then. Particularly given her age, she was brilliant."
News

Al-Qaeda's Job Application Form Revealed 149

HughPickens.com writes: ABC News reports that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence has released a list of English-language material recovered during the raid the killed Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan in 2011 including one document dubbed "Instructions to Applicants," that would not be entirely out of place for an entry-level position at any American company – except for questions like the one about the applicant's willingness to blow themselves up. The questionnaire includes basic personal details, family history, marital status, and education level. It asks that applicants "answer the required information accurately and truthfully" and, "Please write clearly and legibly." Questions include: Is the applicant expert in chemistry, communications or any other field? Do they have a family member in the government who would cooperate with al Qaeda? Have they received any military training? Finally, it asks what the would-be jihadist would like to accomplish and, "Do you wish to execute a suicide operation?" For the final question, the application asks would-be killers that if they were to become martyrs, who should al Qaeda contact?

The corporate tone of the application is jarringly amusing, writes Amanda Taub, but it also hints at a larger truth: a terrorist organization like al-Qaeda is a large bureaucratic organization, albeit one in the "business" of mass-murdering innocent people. Jon Sopel, the North American editor from BBC News, joked that the application "looks like it has been written by someone who has spent too long working for Deloitte or Accenture, but bureaucracy exists in every walk of life – so why not on the path to violent jihad?"

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