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Technology

    The Latest on the death of the mother of the CEO of ride-hailing company Uber (all times local): 2:30 p.m. Authorities say that the parents of ride-hailing company Uber's CEO were riding a boat on Pine Flat Lake when it hit a rock and sank. The Fresno County Sheriff's office says in a statement that about 5 p.m. Friday, officers were called to the scene of the accident and found a man and woman on a shore of the lake. The sheriff's office says the woman died at the scene, and the man suffered moderate injuries. He told officers the boat had sunk. The sheriff's office says an autopsy of the woman is planned. Uber identified the couple as Bonnie and Donald Kalanick, the parents of Uber CEO Travis Kalanick. Bonnie Kalanick was 71. The sheriff's office says crews will try to remove the boat from the lake Saturday. ___ 2:05 p.m. Bonnie Kalanick, the mother of Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, has died in a boating accident. Kalanick's father, Donald, was injured and is in serious condition. The ride-hailing company says Saturday that the accident took place Friday night in Fresno, California. The couple, in their early 70s, have been longtime boaters. In a memo to Uber staff, Liane Hornsey, the chief human resources officer, called the incident an 'unthinkable tragedy.' She wrote that 'everyone in the Uber family knows how incredibly close Travis is to his parents.' Travis Kalanick, 40, founded Uber in 2009.
  • British Airways canceled all flights from London's Heathrow and Gatwick airports on Saturday as a global IT failure upended the travel plans of tens of thousands of people on a busy U.K. holiday weekend. The airline said it was suffering a 'major IT systems failure' around the world. Chief executive Alex Cruz said 'we believe the root cause was a power-supply issue and we have no evidence of any cyberattack.' He said the crash had affected 'all of our check-in and operational systems.' BA operates hundreds of flights from the two London airports on a typical day — and both are major hubs for worldwide travel. Several hours after problems began cropping up Saturday morning, BA suspended flights up to 6 p.m. because the two airports had become severely congested. The airline later scrapped flights from Heathrow and Gatwick for the rest of the day. The airline said it was working to restore services out of Heathrow and Gatwick beginning Sunday, although some disruptions are expected. It said it expected that London-bound long-haul flights would land on schedule Sunday. The problem comes on a bank holiday weekend, when tens of thousands of Britons and their families are travelling. Passengers at Heathrow reported long lines at check-in counters and the failure of both the airline's website and its mobile app. BA said the crash also affected its call centers. Passenger Phillip Norton tweeted video of an announcement from a pilot to passengers at Rome's Fiumicino airport, saying the problem affects the system that regulates what passengers and baggage go on which aircraft. The pilot said passengers on planes that have landed at Heathrow were unable to get off because there was nowhere to park. One person posted a picture on Twitter of BA staff writing gate numbers on a white board. 'We've tried all of the self-check-in machines. None were working, apart from one,' said Terry Page, booked on a flight to Texas. 'There was a huge queue for it and it later transpired that it didn't actually work, but you didn't discover that until you got to the front.' Another traveler, PR executive Melissa Davis, said her BA plane was held for more than 90 minutes on the tarmac at Heathrow on a flight arriving from Belfast. She said passengers had been told they could not transfer to other flights because 'they can't bring up our details.' Some BA flights were still arriving at Heathrow on Saturday, although with delays. American Airlines, which operates code-share flights with BA, said it was unaffected. Air industry consultant John Strickland said Saturday's problems would have 'a massive knock-on effect' for several days. 'Manpower, dealing with the backlog of aircraft out of position, parking spaces for the aircraft —it's a challenge and a choreographic nightmare,' he said. Airlines depend on huge, overlapping and complex IT systems to do just about everything, from operating flights to handling ticketing, boarding, websites and mobile-phone apps. Some critics say complex airline technology systems have not always kept up with the times. And after years of rapid consolidation in the business, these computer systems may be a hodgepodge of parts of varying ages and from different merger partners, all layered on top of each other. A union official, meanwhile, blamed BA cost cutting for the travel chaos, saying the airline had laid off hundreds of IT staff last year and outsourced the work to India. 'This could have all been avoided,' said Mick Rix, national officer for aviation at the GMB union. While not that frequent, when airline outages do happen, the effects are widespread, high-profile and can hit travelers across the globe. BA passengers were hit with severe delays in July and September 2016 because of problems with the airline's online check-in systems. In August 2016, Delta planes around the world were grounded when an electrical component failed and led to a shutdown of the transformer that provides power to the airline's data center. While the system moved to backup power, not all of the servers were connected to that source, which caused the cascading problem. Delta said it lost $100 million in revenue as a result of the outage. In January it suffered another glitch that grounded flights in the U.S. That same month, United also grounded flights because of a computer problem. In July, meanwhile, Southwest Airlines canceled more than 2,000 flights after an outage that it blamed on a failed network router. After the recent outages, outside experts have questioned whether airlines have enough redundancy in their huge, complex IT systems and test them frequently enough. Emily Puddifer, who was trying to travel to Milan from Heathrow, said her weekend away has been canceled. Her friends, who were going from Liverpool with a different airline, made it to Milan. Reached via Twitter, Puddifer said in an email she understands that such technical failures happen. What she didn't understand, she said, was why there were 'no announcements, no messages on the boards' about what was going on. Displays showing flight times had the words 'please wait' next to flights instead of information about delays or cancellations. Puddifer said passengers found out about the cancellations from news reports. It was chaos just to get out of the airport as people followed crowds but no one knew where to go, she said. Finally, she made it out, and she considered herself lucky not to have checked luggage. There are 'thousands of people there with no idea where their bags are or what to do,' she said. ___ Associated Press writer Jill Lawless reported this story in London and AP Technology Writer Ortutay reported from New York.
  • A French designer has shown his humanoid DIY robot to the public for the first time. The life-size plastic model responded to English-language commands Friday, picking up and dropping a small ball and swiveling its head to follow people. Designer Gael Langevin unveiled the robot at a technology fair in Romania this week. The idea developed from a prosthetics hand he made in 2011, the first-ever made on a 3-D printer. The robot is made with a 3-D printer and micro-cameras. It is hoped the robot will be used to help children in schools and hospitals. If connected to the internet, it can answer a variety of questions taken from Wikipedia. Langevin admits his model, generically called InMoov, is not yet perfect. 'This is a little bit like Geppetto building Pinocchio. You make a robot and you send it in the world and you see what the others are going to do with it,' he said. Children visiting the fair seemed thrilled. 'He is awesome,' said Adrian Margineanu, a student at Bucharest's elite St. Sava school. 'I like it a lot. I'm tempted to make one.' For those who don't want to assemble it, InMoov offers a list of builders in different countries. Langevin estimates that more than 1,000 DIY robots have been made by people who followed his design. His robot can be programmed to speak English, Spanish, French, Russian and Dutch. But Romanian graphic designer Paul Popescu, 35, has been assembling his own robot and has plans to program it to speak Romanian. A basic model costs about 1,500 euros ($1,665).
  • Utah lawmakers hope a new, unusual law cuts down on increasingly troubling forms of cyber harassment by giving authorities the ability to send online bullies to jail for a year. Law enforcement, school officials and support groups back the effort, but some lawyers and a libertarian-leaning group have balked at what they call vague language in the law. They believe it could be unconstitutional and lead innocent people to be charged with crimes. The regulation won unanimous approval in the Legislature and makes it a crime to post information online that can identify someone, including their name, photo and place of employment, to 'intimidate, abuse, threaten, harass, frighten, or disrupt the electronic communications of another.' Similar laws in New York and North Carolina have been ruled unconstitutional in recent years, said UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh, who called Utah's measure a violation of the First Amendment. He helped launch a lawsuit last week challenging a similar law in Ohio. 'There are some situations where you might say this is punishable, especially if it's a threat,' Volokh said. 'But again, it deliberately applies to speech that doesn't fit within any First Amendment exception.' An advocacy group says the measure might have helped a gay Utah State University student who was afraid to come forward in 2013 to report being sexually assaulted after someone started posting his photo and phone number on Craigslist along with details on the forms of sex he was interested in. The student hadn't revealed publicly that he was gay and was terrified about the possibility that people would find out, said Turner Bitton of the Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault. Such cyberbullying has increased in recent years and can be especially damaging when used in relation to sexual violence, he said. Those critical of the Utah law contend it could apply to innocuous, normal online behavior, such as somebody criticizing his neighbor's choice of house paint on Facebook or complaining about a state lawmaker in an online comment section. The law means the disgruntled house owner or lawmaker could initiate criminal proceedings by arguing that the information was posted to harass or frighten them, said David Reymann, a First Amendment lawyer in Utah. 'It's not going to just apply to the typical stalker who is moving to an online platform to continue what we consider to be stalking,' Reymann said. This is not the first time Utah lawmakers have attempted to combat this type of cyberbullying. Last year, they considered a similar measure but stripped out a section on identifying information because of some concerns with its broad language, according to then-Rep. David Lifferth, a Republican who sponsored the 2016 bill. Lawmakers said they ran out of time to approve it. 'I just can't imagine a situation where this would be inappropriately applied,' said Republican state Sen. Daniel Thatcher, adding that he sponsored the new law at the request of the Department of Public Safety. Maj. Brian Redd said the department supports the general effort to reduce cybercrime, but it was Lifferth who pushed to address the issue. Connor Boyack, president of the libertarian-leaning nonprofit group Libertas Institute, said he plans to push for a measure next legislative session that narrows the scope of the law's language. He said he wants to replace words such as 'harass' with 'significant harassment,' so 'prosecutors have a higher bar to meet in order to prove their case.
  • A computer beat China's top player of go, one of the last games machines have yet to master, for a second time Thursday in a competition authorities limited the Chinese public's ability to see. Ke Jie lost despite playing what Google's AlphaGo indicated was the best game any opponent has played against it, said Demis Hassabis, founder of the company that developed the program. AlphaGo defeated Ke, a 19-year-old prodigy, in their first game Tuesday during a forum organized by Google on artificial intelligence in Wuzhen, a town west of Shanghai. They play a final game Saturday. AlphaGo previously defeated European and South Korean champions, surprising players who had expected it to be at least a decade before computers could master the game. Internet users outside China could watch this week's games live but Chinese censors blocked most mainland web users from seeing the Google site carrying the feed. None of China's dozens of video sites carried the live broadcasts but a recording of Tuesday's game was available the following night on one popular site, Youku.com. State media reports on the games have been brief, possibly reflecting Beijing's antipathy toward Google, which closed its China-based search engine in 2010 following a dispute over censorship and computer hacking. Google says 60 million people in China watched online when AlphaGo played South Korea's go champion in March 2016. The official response to the match, a major event for the worlds of go and artificial intelligence, reflects the conflict between the ruling Communist Party's technology ambitions and its insistence on controlling what its public can see, hear and read. The government encourages internet use for business and education but tries to block access to material considered subversive. The possible reason for suppressing coverage while allowing Google to organize the event was unclear. Censorship orders to Chinese media are officially secret and government officials refuse to confirm whether online material is blocked. On Thursday, AlphaGo 'thought that Ke Jie played perfectly' for the first 50 moves, Hassabis said at a news conference. 'For the first roughly 100 moves, it is the closest game we have ever seen anyone play against the master version of AlphaGo,' he said. Ke said the computer made unexpected moves after playing more methodically on Tuesday. 'From the perspective of human beings, it stretched a little bit and I was surprised at some points,' he said. 'I also thought that I was very close to winning the match in the middle,' Ke said. 'I could feel my heart thumping. But maybe because I was too excited, I did some wrong or stupid moves. I guess that's the biggest weak point of human beings.' Go players take turns putting white or black stones on a rectangular grid with 361 intersections, trying to capture territory and each other's pieces by surrounding them. The game is considered more difficult than chess for machines to master because the near-infinite number of possible positions requires intuition and flexibility. This week's games are taking place in a hall where Chinese leaders hold the annual World Internet Conference, an event attended by global internet companies. China has the world's biggest population of internet users, with some 730 million people online at the end of last year, according to government data. Censors block access to social media and video-sharing websites such as Facebook and YouTube. Internet companies are required to employ teams of censors to watch social media and remove banned material. Web surfers can get around online filters using virtual private networks, but Beijing has cracked down on use of those. ___ AlphaGo game live broadcast: http://events.google.com/alphago2017/
  • California-based company Rocket Lab said Thursday it had launched a test rocket into space from its New Zealand launch pad, although the rocket didn't reach orbit as hoped. The company said its Electron rocket lifted off at 4:20 p.m. Thursday and reached space three minutes later. 'It was a fantastic flight and we are really, really happy with the performance of the vehicle,' said company founder Peter Beck. Beck, a New Zealander, said the early stages of the mission went to plan, right up to the final separation. He said his team would be working through terabytes of data over the coming weeks to find out why the rocket didn't reach orbit. He said a second test rocket has been built but it would take the team at least a couple of months before they were ready to launch it. Rocket Lab was given official approval last week to conduct three test launches from the remote Mahia Peninsula on the North Island. The company hopes to begin commercial launches later this year and eventually launch about one rocket every week. Beck said it will target getting to orbit on the second test and will look to carry a heavier payload. New Zealand has never had a space program but officials hope regular launches could change perceptions of the South Pacific nation and generate hundreds of millions of dollars each year in revenue. Rocket Lab plans to keep costs low by using lightweight, disposable rockets with 3D-printed engines. It sees an emerging market in delivering lots of small devices into low Earth orbit. The satellites would be used for everything from monitoring crops to providing internet service. Politicians are rushing through new space laws and the government has set up a boutique space agency, which employs 10 people. 'So far, it's only superpowers that have gone into space,' Simon Bridges, New Zealand's economic development minister, told The Associated Press last week. 'For us to do it, and be in the first couple of handfuls of countries in the world, is pretty impressive.' Rocket Lab's Electron rocket is unusual in many respects. It carries only a small payload of about 150 kilograms (331 pounds). It's made from carbon fiber and uses an electric engine. Rocket Lab says each launch will cost just $5 million, a tiny fraction of a typical rocket launch. It's a different plan than some other space companies like Elon Musk's SpaceX, which uses larger rockets to carry bigger payloads. Rocket Lab, which is privately held, has received about $150 million in venture capital funding.
  • Mark Zuckerberg returned Thursday to Harvard, where he launched Facebook and then dropped out, telling graduates it's up to them to bring purpose to the world, fight inequality and strengthen the global community. 'Change starts local. Even global changes start small — with people like us,' the Facebook CEO said. He shared stories about graduates such as David Razu Aznar, a former city leader who led the effort to legalize gay marriage in Mexico City, and Agnes Igoye, who grew up in conflict zones in Uganda and now trains law enforcement officers. 'And this is my story too,' Zuckerberg added. 'A student in a dorm room, connecting one community at a time, and keeping at it until one day we can connect the whole world.' Such lofty talk now comes naturally to Zuckerberg, a 33-year-old billionaire who has committed to giving away nearly all of his wealth. In February, he sketched out an ambitious, if vague, vision for Facebook that committed the company to developing 'social infrastructure' that would help build a 'global community that works for all of us.' But it also strikes a sharp contrast with the criticism Facebook has taken recently — not so much for connecting the world (a big chunk of it, anyway) as for failing to anticipate how vulnerable that connectedness could be to those who abuse it. JOURNEY BACK Zuckerberg, who like the graduates is a millennial, started Facebook in his dorm room in 2004. What began as a closed networking site for Harvard students is now a global communications force with nearly 2 billion members. Facebook's founding was the subject of a Hollywood movie, 'The Social Network,' in 2010. Facebook's effect has been profound. It has connected people who would have never met otherwise, letting them form supportive networks online and offline. And it has allowed people to communicate in developing countries even if they don't have a phone number or a smartphone. But it has also served to spread misinformation bordering on propaganda, hateful views and bullying, reflecting the worst parts of humanity back to us. In his commencement speech, in interviews and in his February manifesto, Zuckerberg is decidedly optimistic about all that. He's been saying he wants to make the world more open and connected for more than a decade now, and he doesn't relent. HIGHER PURPOSE He told the graduates how, when Facebook's investors and executives wanted him to sell the company early on, he resisted. 'You see, my hope was never to build a company, but to make an impact,' he said. But as a young CEO, he never explained this to his co-workers, and the subsequent fight 'tore our company apart.' 'I wondered if I was just wrong, an impostor, a 22 year-old kid who had no idea how the world worked,' Zuckerberg said. 'Now, years later, I understand that is how things work with no sense of higher purpose. It's up to us to create it so we can all keep moving forward together.' Later in the speech, Zuckerberg's voice cracked with emotion as he talked about a high school student he mentors who is living in the U.S. illegally. When Zuckerberg asked him what he wants for his birthday, the student started talking about others he wanted to help, and asked for a book on social justice. 'Here is a young guy who has every reason to be cynical,' Zuckerberg said, his eyes welling with tears. 'He wasn't sure if the country he calls home — the only one he's known — was going to deny him his dream of going to college. But he wasn't feeling sorry for himself. He wasn't even thinking of himself.' If he can do this, Zuckerberg said, 'then we owe it to the world to do our part too.' Zuckerberg isn't all talk on this front. He signed the 'Giving Pledge' commitment to donate the majority of his money in 2010; five years later, he upped that to 99 percent. Together with his wife, pediatrician Priscilla Chan, he formed the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, a philanthropic organization focused on advancing science and education. HONORARY DEGREE Zuckerberg follows another famous Harvard dropout, Bill Gates, who spoke before its graduates a decade ago. Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, who dropped out of Reed College in Oregon, gave Stanford's commencement speech in 2005, reminding students to 'stay hungry, stay foolish.' In addition to delivering the speech, Zuckerberg received an honorary degree, 12 years after dropping out of Harvard, and was subsequently introduced to graduates as 'Dr. Mark Zuckerberg.' Others receiving honorary degrees included the actress Judi Dench, the composer John Williams (known for 'Star Wars,' ''Harry Potter' and many other scores) and Somali human rights activist and physician Hawa Abdi Dhiblawe. 'If I get through this speech today it'll be the first time I actually finish something here at Harvard,' Zuckerberg said. He did.
  • Qatar found itself on the defensive once again Thursday as more Arab nations blocked access to websites of its flagship Al-Jazeera news network, just days after U.S. President Donald Trump's Mideast visit positioned America squarely with Sunni Arab countries against Shiite power Iran. Bahrain and Egypt joined Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in blocking the websites, the latest development in a regional crisis sparked by what Qatar described as hackers publishing fake comments on Iran and other issues via its state-run news agency this week. While Trump's visit reassured a six-nation Saudi-led Gulf alliance of its regional standing, tiny, energy-rich Qatar has found itself on the fringes of the Western-backed alliance as the hack rekindled long-standing suspicions over its support of Islamists. Qatar's woes could signal more unsettled weeks ahead as newly emboldened Gulf rulers translate Trump's support into action. 'Trump's approach will complicate any admittedly remote chance of a Saudi-Iranian detente,' warned Ayham Kamel, the Mideast and North Africa director of the Eurasia Group. 'Even before Trump, the Saudis hand embarked on a harsh policy toward Iran — the new U.S. administration will only increase their confidence on this issue.' Trump's visit to the kingdom included a staggering $110 billion dollar Saudi defense purchase and a summit of heads of state from Muslim-majority nations — an event to which Iran received no invitation. Qatar's ruling emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani was among several regional leaders to have one-on-one talks with Trump during his Saudi visit. Trump referred to Qatar, which hosts the U.S. Central Command and some 10,000 American troops, as a 'crucial strategic partner.' However, the peninsular nation's relations with its neighbors were thrown into chaos this week after Qatari authorities say its state-run news agency was hacked. Officials say hackers published a fake story claiming that the emir had called Iran an 'Islamic power' and said Qatar's relations with Israel were 'good' during a military ceremony. Messages on the news agency's Twitter account that Qatar also blamed on the hackers said it planned to recall some of its ambassadors from Arab nations. No one has claimed responsibility for the purported hack. Despite Qatar refuting the comments, Saudi Arabia's state-linked media ran the purported fake remarks by Sheikh Tamim and accused Qatar of siding with regional enemies. Egypt on Thursday also blocked other websites as well, including that of Mada Masr, a popular online news outlet known for its investigative reports on the Egyptian government. Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammed Al Thani told reporters at a news conference Thursday that Qatar was facing a 'hostile media campaign' in the U.S., pointing to 13 opinion pieces written in the past few weeks criticizing Qatar. It also noted that shortly before the hack, an event in Washington was hosted by the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, which repeatedly has criticized Qatar's support of Islamists. The foreign minister told journalists that his country wants 'brotherly' ties with its Gulf Arab neighbors, but that there have been no direct talks with any regarding the alleged cyberattack. Three years ago, several Gulf nations pulled their ambassadors from Qatar to protest the country's support for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and across the region. While Qatar appears to have reined in some support for the Brotherhood, Western officials have accused Qatar of allowing or even encouraging funding of Sunni extremists like al-Qaida's branch in Syria, once known as the Nusra Front. Kamel of the Eurasia Group said the disputed comments attributed to the emir largely reflect Qatar's policies. Qatar has leveraged relations with Iran to prevent Saudi dominance in the region, he said. Qatar continues to call for serious talks with Iran, starkly contrasting Saudi Arabia's powerful deputy crown prince who has ruled out such a dialogue . Qatar splits control of a vast underwater natural gas field with Iran in the Persian Gulf. Meanwhile, other confrontations have followed Trump's visit. Police in Sunni-ruled Bahrain — a member of the Gulf alliance — raided a town home to a prominent Shiite cleric, arresting 286 people in an assault that killed five demonstrators. The tiny island-state hosting the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet and heavily supported by neighboring Saudi Arabia long has accused Iran of arming Shiite militants and seeking to foment unrest. Tensions have also risen in Saudi Arabia's oil-rich Eastern Province between Shiite activists and security forces there. 'Hard-line royal elements who favor tougher action against Shiite protests may regard President Trump's (comments) in Riyadh as permission to escalate,' Simon Henderson of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy wrote after the Bahrain raid. It 'could have dangerous consequences for both Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.' ___ Follow Jon Gambrell on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jongambrellap and Aya Batrawy on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ayaelb
  • The House has unanimously approved legislation that makes it a crime for U.S. service members to distribute intimate photos or videos of people without first getting their consent. The measure is a direct response to a nude-photo sharing scandal that has rocked the Marine Corps. Lawmakers voted 418-0 to pass the bill Wednesday. The scandal came to light after it was discovered that sexually explicit photos of female and male Marines were being shared on a secret Facebook page. Rep. Martha McSally of Arizona, the bill's sponsor, says the 'Neanderthals' who posted the photos aren't emblematic of the vast majority of U.S. troops. But she says the idea that any one in uniform thinks it's acceptable to upload and comment on nude photos is a problem that must be fixed.
  • Facebook is expanding its fundraising tools that let users ask friends and strangers to give them money to help pay for education, medical or other expenses. The company has been testing the tool, which is similar to online fundraising services such as GoFundMe, since March. With the latest update unveiled Wednesday, it has added sports and community fundraisers as options. It's also possible to raise money for medical expenses for pets, crisis relief, funerals, and a slew of other categories. To start a fundraiser, scroll down the 'menu' icon on mobile until you get to the 'fundraisers' category. On desktop, visit facebook.com/fundraisers . Facebook says it will review all fundraisers within 24 hours. There is a fee of 6.9 percent of the total amount raised plus 30 cents for payment processing, vetting and security.