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Updated: 1 hour 39 min ago

Source of Protective Space Shield Identified

Human-caused space pollution can range from a hammer that floats away from a space station, to a nuclear weapons test in the atmosphere, and could damage nearby spacecraft. But one unexpected source of “pollution” helps many satellites. The special pollution protects spacecraft from “killer electrons,” in a region above the earth called the Van Allen belts. Reporting from Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports.

High Rise Buildings Can Be Earthquake-Proof

After a deadly earthquake in 1985, authorities in Mexico City decided they must start constructing houses that can withstand strong shakes. Government buildings, hospitals and schools are now built according to stricter rules, while architects are pushing for their application to other structures too, especially high rise apartment buildings. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Facebook Tests Splitting Its News Feed Into Two

Facebook Inc said on Monday it was testing the idea of dividing its News F eed in two, separating commercial posts from personal news in a move that could lead some businesses to increase advertising. The Facebook News Feed, the centerpiece of the world's largest social network service, is a streaming series of posts such as photos from friends, updates from family members, advertisements and material from celebrities or other pages that a user has liked.   The test, which is occurring in six smaller countries, now  offers two user feeds, according to a statement from the company: one feed focused on friends and family and a second dedicated to the pages that the customer has liked. The change could force those who run pages, everyone from news outlets to musicians to sports teams, to pay to run advertisements if they want to be seen in the feed that is for friends and family. The test is taking place in Bolivia, Cambodia, Guatemala, Serbia, Slovakia and Sri Lanka, and it will likely go on for months, Adam Mosseri, the Facebook executive in charge of the News Feed, said in a blog post. Mosseri said the company has no plans for a global test of the two separate feeds for its 2 billion users. Facebook also does not currently plan to force commercial pages “to pay for all their distribution,” he said. Facebook, based in Menlo Park, California, frequently tests changes big and small as it tries to maximize the time people spend scrolling and browsing the network. Sometimes it makes changes permanent, and other times not. Depending on how people respond, two news feeds could mean that they see fewer links to news stories. News has proved to be a tricky area for Facebook, as hoaxes and false news stories have sometimes spread easily on the network. The test has already affected website traffic for smaller media outlets in recent days, Slovakian journalist Filip Struharik wrote over the weekend in a post on Medium. Publishers might need to buy more Facebook ads to be seen, he wrote: “If you want your Facebook page posts to be seen in old newsfeed, you have to pay.”  

Amazon Says It Received 238 Proposals for 2nd Headquarters

Amazon said Monday that it received 238 proposals from cities and regions in the United States, Canada and Mexico hoping to be the home of the company's second headquarters. The online retailer kicked off its hunt for a second home base in September, promising to bring 50,000 new jobs and spend more than $5 billion on construction. Proposals were due last week, and Amazon made clear that tax breaks and grants would be a big deciding factor on where it chooses to land. Amazon.com Inc. said the proposals came from 43 U.S. states as well as Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico, three Mexican states and six Canadian provinces. In a tweet, the company said it was "excited to review each of them." Besides looking for financial incentives, Amazon had stipulated that it was seeking to be near a metropolitan area with more than a million people; be able to attract top technical talent; be within 45 minutes of an international airport; have direct access to mass transit; and be able to expand that headquarters to as much as 8 million square feet in the next decade. Generous tax breaks and other incentives can erode a city's tax base. For the winner, it could be worth it, since an Amazon headquarters could draw other tech businesses and their well-educated, highly paid employees. The seven U.S. states that Amazon said did not apply were: Arkansas, Hawaii, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont and Wyoming. Ahead of the deadline, some cities turned to stunts to try and stand out: Representatives from Tucson, Arizona, sent a 21-foot tall cactus to Amazon's Seattle headquarters; New York lit the Empire State Building orange to match Amazon's smile logo. The company plans to remain in its sprawling Seattle headquarters, and the second one will be "a full equal" to it, founder and CEO Jeff Bezos said in September. Amazon has said that it will announce a decision sometime next year.

Pay-by-Minute Electric Cars

Electric cars are steadily gaining ground in the global auto market, but it's a slow process. Along with their high price, one of the main reasons for the consumers’ reluctance is the scarcity of infrastructure needed for charging the cars' batteries. VOA’s George Putic looks at efforts to remove one of the obstacles on the road towards the electric future.

Electric Vehicles Poised to Go Mainstream

The bumper sticker on the back of Scott Wilson's car reads, "This is what the end of gasoline looks like." And what does that car look like? A sleek, sci-fi experimental vehicle? A $100,000 Tesla luxury car?  Nope. It's just a Kia Soul EV, the battery-powered version of the Korean automaker's boxy hatchback. Once the domain of concept cars and hobbyists, electric vehicles are no longer so exotic. And sales are picking up. A record 150,000 of them sold last year in the United States. "It used to be I knew everyone I saw that was driving an electric car," said Wilson, the vice president of the Electric Vehicle Association of Greater Washington, D.C. "Now, I don't." There are about to be a lot more strangers in EVs on the roads, many experts say. Big carmakers, big plans Volvo says every car it makes in 2019 and beyond will have an electric motor. General Motors says the company "believes in an all-electric future." Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) predicts that in just over two decades, EVs will make up more than half of all vehicles sold. Other analysts have more modest expectations. But even Exxon Mobil sees EVs topping 10 percent of the market by 2040. Automakers hit a significant milestone in the past year. In December, General Motors launched the Chevrolet Bolt EV, the first car with a price tag under $40,000 and a range of more than 320 kilometers. Automakers hit a significant milestone in the past year. In December, General Motors launched the Chevrolet Bolt EV, the first car with a price tag under $40,000 and a range of more than 320 kilometers. That range is "basically double anything else that's available at a comparable price," said Chevrolet spokesman Fred Ligouri. Those figures "do wonders for getting beyond" what's known as range anxiety, potential buyers' fear of draining the battery before reaching their destination. One-third of buyers have never owned an electric vehicle before. "They went from (an) internal combustion engine vehicle right into pure electric," an encouraging sign, Ligouri said. The Bolt's performance has impressed critics as well. Motor Trend magazine named the Bolt the 2017 Car of the Year. The Bolt beat industry upstart Tesla to the mid-priced market. A modest 15,000 or so have been sold so far. But nearly a half-million people have ordered the Tesla Model 3, the company's entrant into the mass market, despite long waits and slow production. "Those are signals that there's unmet demand for some of these new technologies," said the World Resources Institute's Eliot Metzger. Electrification is cheaper than ever as the price of lithium ion batteries plummets faster than analysts expected. As costs come down, experts are moving up the date when electric vehicles can compete with internal combustion engines on price. BNEF puts that date in the second half of the next decade. "We're much further along than most researchers (and) industry insiders would have projected just two or three years ago," said Nic Lutsey at the International Council on Clean Transportation. China syndrome Another reason the industry is moving fast: China. Officials in the world's biggest auto market will require carmakers to meet an electric vehicle quota starting in 2019. Beijing aims to increase EVs' share of the market from 1 to 2 percent today to around 4 percent in 2020. "That's a very large scale up within just several years," Lutsey noted, but automakers say they can do it. The push for electric vehicles is part of the government's plan to clean up the toxic air in China's major cities. Chinese officials are considering a ban on gas- and diesel-powered cars. But it's not just China. Pollution concerns in France, the United Kingdom, and India have officials there considering bans, too. In the United States, the Trump administration aims to relax vehicle emissions standards, though state policies will likely complicate those efforts. Without a push from government, experts say electric vehicles will have a hard time making major gains as long as gas prices are relatively low. But as electric vehicle driver Wilson points out, that can change at any time. "After the next crisis, when gas is $5 a gallon, then there will be waiting lists for cars like this," he said.

Electric Vehicles Poised for Mainstream, Experts Say

Electric cars have been a futuristic promise for decades. And electric vehicles finally appear poised to enter the mainstream. Major carmakers, from Volvo to General Motors, are proclaiming the future is electric. VOA's Steve Baragona has a look at how soon that future may arrive.

FBI Couldn't Access Nearly 7K Devices Because of Encryption

The FBI hasn't been able to retrieve data from more than half of the mobile devices it tried to access in less than a year, FBI Director Christopher Wray said Sunday, turning up the heat on a debate between technology companies and law enforcement officials trying to recover encrypted communications.   In the first 11 months of the fiscal year, federal agents were unable to access the content of more than 6,900 mobile devices, Wray said in a speech at the International Association of Chiefs of Police conference in Philadelphia.   “To put it mildly, this is a huge, huge problem,” Wray said. “It impacts investigations across the board - narcotics, human trafficking, counterterrorism, counterintelligence, gangs, organized crime, child exploitation.”   The FBI and other law enforcement officials have long complained about being unable to unlock and recover evidence from cellphones and other devices seized from suspects even if they have a warrant, while technology companies have insisted they must protect customers' digital privacy. The long-simmering debate was on display in 2016, when the Justice Department tried to force Apple to unlock an encrypted cellphone used by a gunman in a terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California. The department eventually relented after the FBI said it paid an unidentified vendor who provided a tool to unlock the phone and no longer needed Apple's assistance, avoiding a court showdown. The Justice Department under President Donald Trump has suggested it will be aggressive in seeking access to encrypted information from technology companies. But in a recent speech, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein stopped short of saying exactly what action it might take.   “I get it, there's a balance that needs to be struck between encryption and the importance of giving us the tools we need to keep the public safe,” Wray said.   In a wide-ranging speech to hundreds of police leaders from across the globe, Wray also touted the FBI's partnerships with local and federal law enforcement agencies to combat terrorism and violent crime.   “The threats that we face keep accumulating, they are complex, they are varied,” Wray said, describing threats from foreign terror organizations and homegrown extremists. Wray also decried a potential “blind spot” for intelligence gathering if Congress doesn't reauthorize an intelligence surveillance law set to expire at the end of the year. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act allows the government to collect information about militants, people suspected of cyber crimes or proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and other foreign targets outside the United States. Intelligence and law enforcement officials say the act is vital to national security.   A section of the act permits the government, under the oversight of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, to target non-Americans outside the United States.   “If it doesn't get renewed or reauthorized, essentially in the form that it already is, we're about to get another blind spot,” Wray said.

US Warns About Attacks On Energy, Industrial Firms

The Department of Homeland Security and Federal Bureau of Investigation warned in a report distributed by email late on Friday that the nuclear, energy, aviation, water and critical manufacturing industries have been targeted along with government entities in attacks dating back to at least May. The agencies warned that hackers had succeeded in compromising some targeted networks, but did not identify specific victims or describe any cases of sabotage. The objective of the attackers is to compromise organizational networks with malicious emails and tainted websites to obtain credentials for accessing computer networks of their targets, the report said. U.S. authorities have been monitoring the activity for months, which they initially detailed in a confidential June report first reported by Reuters. That document, which was privately distributed to firms at risk of attacks, described a narrower set of activity focusing on the nuclear, energy and critical manufacturing sectors. Department of Homeland Security spokesman Scott McConnell declined to elaborate on the information in the report or say what prompted the government to go public with the information at this time. "The technical alert provides recommendations to prevent and mitigate malicious cyber activity targeting multiple sectors and reiterated our commitment to remain vigilant for new threats," he said. The FBI declined to comment on the report, which security researchers said described an escalation in targeting of infrastructure in Europe and the United States that had been described in recent reports from private firms, including Symantec Corp. "This is very aggressive activity," said Robert Lee, an expert in securing industrial networks. Lee, chief executive of cyber-security firm Dragos, said the report appears to describe hackers working in the interests of the Russian government, though he declined to elaborate. Dragos is also monitoring other groups targeting infrastructure that appear to be aligned with China, Iran, North Korea, he said. The hacking described in the government report is unlikely to result in dramatic attacks in the near term, Lee said, but he added that it is still troubling: "We don’t want our adversaries learning enough to be able to do things that are disruptive later." The report said that hackers have succeeded in infiltrating some targets, including at least one energy generator, and conducting reconnaissance on their networks. It was accompanied by six technical documents describing malware used in the attacks. Homeland Security "has confidence that this campaign is still ongoing and threat actors are actively pursuing their objectives over a long-term campaign," the report said. The report said the attacker was the same as one described by Symantec in a September report that warned advanced hackers had penetrated the systems controlling operations of some U.S. and European energy companies. Symantec researcher Vikram Thakur said in an email that much of the contents of Friday's report were previously known within the security community. Cyber-security firm CrowdStrike said the technical indicators described in the report suggested the attacks were the work of a hacking group it calls Berserk Bear, which is affiliated with the Russian Federation and has targeted the energy, financial and transportation industries. "We have not observed any destructive action by this actor," CrowdStrike Vice President Adam Meyers said in an email.

Kids, Screens and Parental Guilt: Time to Relax a Bit?

Parents of small children have long been hearing about the perils of “screen time.” And with more screens, and new technologies such as Amazon’s Echo speaker, the message is getting louder. And while plenty of parents are feeling guilty about it, some experts say it might be time to relax a little. Go ahead and hand your kid a gadget now and then to cook dinner or get some work done. Not all kids can entertain themselves quietly, especially when they are young. Try that, and see how long it takes your toddler to start fishing a banana peel out of the overflowing trash can. “I know I should limit my kid’s screen time a lot, but there is reality,” said Dorothy Jean Chang, who works for a tech company in New York and has a 2-year-old son. When she needs to work or finds her son awake too early, “it’s the best, easiest way to keep him occupied and quiet.” Screen time, she says, “definitely happens more often than I like to admit.” She’s not alone. Common Sense Media, a nonprofit group focused on kids’ use of media and technology, said in a report Thursday that kids ages 8 and younger average about 2 hours and 19 minutes with screens every day at home. That’s about the same as in 2011, though it’s up from an hour and a half in 2013, the last time the survey was conducted, when smartphones were not yet ubiquitous but TV watching was on the decline. While the overall numbers have held steady in recent years, kids are shifting to mobile devices and other new technologies, just as their parents are. The survey found that kids spend an average of 48 minutes a day on mobile devices, up from 15 minutes in 2013. Kids are also getting exposed to voice-activated assistants, virtual reality and internet-connected toys, for which few guidelines exist because they are so new. ​Mixed message Some parents and experts worry that screens are taking time away from exercise and learning. But studies are inconclusive.  The economist Emily Oster said studies have found that kids who watch a lot of TV tend to be poorer, belong to minority groups and have parents with less education, all factors that contribute to higher levels of obesity and lower test scores. For that reason, it’s “difficult to draw strong conclusions about the effects of television from this research,” Oster wrote in 2015. In fact, the Common Sense survey found that kids whose parents have higher incomes and education spend “substantially less time” with screens than other children. The gap was larger in 2017 than in previous years. Rules relaxed For more than a quarter century, the American Academy of Pediatrics held that kids under 2 should not be exposed to screens at all, and older kids should have strict limits. The rules have relaxed, such that video calls with grandma are OK, though “entertainment” television still isn’t. Even so, guidelines still feel out of touch for many parents who use screens of various sizes to preserve their sanity and get things done. Jen Bjorem, a pediatric speech pathologist in Leawood, Kansas, said that while it’s “quite unrealistic” for many families to totally do away with screen time, balance is key. “Screen time can be a relief for many parents during times of high stress or just needing a break,” she said. Moderation Bjorem recommends using “visual schedules” that toddlers can understand to set limits. Instead of words, these schedules have images — dinner, bed time, reading or TV time, for example.  Another idea for toddlers? “Sensory bins,” or plastic tubs filled with beads, dry pasta and other stuff kids can play around with and, ideally, be just as absorbed as in mobile app or an episode of “Elmo.” Of course, some kids will play with these carefully crafted, Pinterest-worthy bins for only a few minutes. Then they might start throwing beans and pasta all over your living room. So you clean up, put away the bins and turn on the TV. In an interview, Oster said that while screen time “is probably not as good for your kid as high-quality engagement” with parents, such engagement is probably not something we can give our kids all the time anyway. “Sometimes you just need them to watch a little bit of TV because you have to do something, or you need (it) to be a better parent,” Oster said.

Wearable Air Filter Combats Pollution

Environmental pollution, from filthy air to contaminated water, kills at least 9 million people a year, according to a new study published by the medical journal The Lancet. Two entrepreneurs from Georgia have invented a wearable filter they say can produce clean, fresh air. Faith Lapidus reports.

G-7 Backs Internet Industry Effort to Detect, Blunt Extremism

The Group of Seven industrialized nations threw their support behind a new technology industry alliance aimed at detecting and blunting online propaganda, saying Friday it had a "major role" to play in combating extremism on the internet. G-7 interior ministers meeting in Italy invited representatives from Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Twitter to a session Friday dedicated to the fight against terrorism. In a final communique, the ministers pressed the industry as a whole to do more. "Internet companies will continue to take a proactive role and ensure decisive action in making their platforms more hostile to terrorism, and will support actions aimed at empowering civil society partners in the development of alternative narratives online," the statement said. Social media companies have long seen themselves as neutral platforms for other people to share information, and have traditionally been cautious about taking down objectionable material. But as social media platforms have increasingly been used to recruit jihadis, radicalize young people, share fake news and incite extremism, they have come under pressure from governments to take action. Facebook, Google, Twitter and YouTube in June created the Global Internet Forum to Combat Terrorism, which got an early boost when British Prime Minister Theresa May used a speech to the U.N. General Assembly to applaud the initiative and demand internet companies develop technology to more quickly identify and remove terrorist content. The alliance says it is committed to developing new content detection technology, to helping smaller companies combat extremism and to promoting "counter-speech," content meant to blunt the impact of extremist material. The G-7 endorsed the aims and pledged to work collaboratively across the industry to counter the "misuse of technology" by terrorist organizations. Italian Interior Minister Marco Minniti said "a great alliance" had been formed between world governments and major internet providers. While stressing the internet has been an important tool for promoting freedom, "at the same time we all together have agreed that al-Qaida and Islamic State are enemies of our freedoms." Several ministers said that while the industry had made progress to quickly remove extremist content, more needed to be done, and faster. "Our enemies are moving at the speed of a tweet, so we have to counter them just as quickly," said acting U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke.

Mini Aquatic Robot Dives Into Nuclear Disaster Areas

An aquatic robot, small and nimble enough to fit inside the smallest of openings, is being tested in Japan ahead of being deployed into the damaged core of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Faith Lapidus reports.

Snapchat Tops Facebook as Teens' No. 1 Choice for Social Media

American teens have crowned a new king of social media. According to a recent poll, Snapchat is the most popular app for teens, toppling even Facebook for their neck-bending attention. Arash Arabasadi reports from Washington.

At G-7, Social Media Firms Pushed to Do More to Fight Terror

Technology firms have improved cooperation with the authorities in tackling online militant material but must act quicker to remove propaganda fueling a rise in homegrown extremism, acting U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke said Wednesday. The United States and Britain will push social media firms at a meeting of G7 interior ministers this week to do more on the issue, Duke told reporters in London where she had been meeting British Home Secretary Amber Rudd. Duke said there has been a change in the attitude of tech companies since a rally organized by white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August turned deadly when a counter-protester was killed by a car driven into a crowd. “There has been a shift and for us somewhat with the Charlottesville incident,” she said. “There are a lot of social pressures and they want do business so they really have to balance between keeping their user agreements and giving law enforcement what they need. “The fact they are meeting with us at G7 is a positive sign. I think they’re seeing the evidence of it being real and not just hyperbole.” Series of attacks After a series of Islamist militant attacks this year, British Prime Minister Theresa May and her ministers such as Rudd have been demanding action from tech leaders such as Facebook, Google and Twitter to do more about extremist material on their sites. British politicians have also called for access to encrypted messaging services like Facebook’s WhatsApp, a campaign that U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein gave his backing to after meeting Rudd and the head of the UK domestic spy agency MI5 last week. Internet companies say they want to help governments remove extremist or criminal material but say they have to balance the demands of state security with civil liberties. “We would like to have the ability to get encrypted data with the right legal processes,” Duke said. Propaganda's role Asked what action governments might take if social media firms failed to act to improve their removal of extremist material, she said: “We will continue to push as far as we can go. I think that we have the cooperation of those companies and we just need to work on that.” Authorities say propaganda from Islamic State has played a major part in radicalizing people in the West but despite its defeat in its capital Raqqa in Syria, Duke said the group’s online presence was likely to increase. “I would surmise being able to put terrorist propaganda on the internet might become more imperative,” said Duke, who described the terrorist threat to the United States as being as high as it had been since pre-9/11. She also warned that those who turned to violence by being radicalized by such material posed a bigger problem than the comparatively small number of fighters who had joined the militant group returning to United States. “The number of foreign fighters we have returning is declining,” she said. “The number of home-grown violent extremists, most of them inspired by terrorist organizations, is increasing.”

US Senators Seek to Block Foreign Online Ads Targeting American Voters

With U.S. midterm elections barely a year away, lawmakers on Thursday unveiled a bipartisan proposal to regulate online political advertising in the United States, an effort prompted by revelations that Russian elements spent large sums on internet ads targeting Americans ahead of the 2016 U.S. election. "Our entire democracy was founded on the simple idea that the people in our country should be self-governing," said Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, the ranking Democrat on the Rules Committee, which has jurisdiction over federal elections, at a news conference. "Our democracy is at risk," Klobuchar added. "We recently learned that $100,000 was spent in [Russian] rubles on Facebook political ads during the 2016 election. We know that [Russian-funded] ads were purchased in other venues, as well." To prevent a repeat, Klobuchar, along with Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, unveiled the Honest Ads Act, which would require Facebook, Twitter, Google and other technology giants to post information about the source of political ads, just as U.S. television and radio broadcasters are required to do. The bill has the backing of Republican John McCain of Arizona, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. "Unfortunately, U.S. laws regulating transparency in political campaigns have not kept pace with rapid advances in technology, allowing our adversaries to take advantage of these loopholes to influence millions of American voters with impunity," McCain said in a statement. The bill also would require tech companies to make "reasonable efforts" to ensure that foreign entities are not using social media platforms for political purposes. Earlier this year, Facebook shut down a multitude of suspicious accounts that targeted elections in France. Since its creation, the internet has been more free-wheeling and less regulated than other media forms, a feature that technology firms and others have argued is critical to its success. Warner, a former cellphone executive, insisted he has no desire to alter cyberspace's fundamental nature. "We don't want to slow down innovation in the internet," the Virginia senator said. "But I think Americans deserve to know if the ads they are seeing are generated by Americans or generated by foreign interests." Executives from Facebook, Google and Twitter will have a chance to weigh in on the legislation when they testify in an open hearing the Senate Intelligence Committee has scheduled for next month.

Women Share Harassment Stories With #MeToo

Two weeks ago Carla Rountree of Washington, D.C., was enjoying an autumn afternoon with friends at the Maryland Renaissance Festival, gaily dressed in a tutu with a goofy unicorn horn tied to her head. While ordering a drink at a beverage stall, a man standing next to her said, "You know, I could grab that horn like you're an ice cream cone, flip you over, and just lick you." She retorted, "I don't think you'd like the results of that." He smirked and replied, "YOU might." "No one within earshot, including the female bartender, said anything about it," Rountree says. "It was just accepted, which infuriated me just as much as the god-awful comment." That incident occurred as women all over the United States are tweeting and posting #MeToo, sharing their experiences with sexual harassment. The movement followed the fall from grace of movie producer Harvey Weinstein, the latest rich, famous and powerful man to be brought down by a series of allegations of sexual harassment dating as far back as 30 years and involving more than 20 women. Weinstein's attorneys say he did not participate in any nonconsensual sex. If the number of women harassed by Weinstein looks dramatic, the number who have spoken up via #MeToo to reveal their own sexual harassment experiences is more startling. On Oct. 15, actress Alyssa Milano called for sexual harassment victims to post or tweet the two-word phrase. By the next day, Time magazine reported, more than 27,000 people had responded. By mid-week, women from around the globe were tweeting their stories. By the numbers Meanwhile, a poll released Tuesday by ABC/The Washington Post, indicated 54 percent of female respondents said they have been the victim of sexual assault. A third of female respondents said they have experienced sexual advances from a male coworker or a man who had influence over their career. Fifty-eight percent of the women who said they had been harassed on the job said they didn't report it. And 94 percent of women who were harassed at work believe men usually don't face consequences for those actions. An all-too-common thread among #MeToo stories: When the behavior was reported, no one did anything. Kellie Dickson Johnson of Chattanooga, Tennessee, says she was frustrated by just such an experience while working at a restaurant. A patron pursued her relentlessly with flowers, poems and invitations to go out. She began to dread going to work. "When I finally told the managers, their response was that it was 'cute' and 'sweet.' They absolutely did not see the problem. The next week, they were down one employee." In other words, she quit. In The Washington Post poll, 64 percent of women who had been harassed said they felt intimidated, 52 percent said they felt humiliated, 31 percent said they felt ashamed. Many of the stories happened when the victims were children. Deirdre Launt says she was 14 and working at a hometown grocery store in Portage, Michigan, when it happened to her. "It was my first job," she says in an email. "There were two guys a bit older than me who worked there, too ... They used to poke me really hard, all over, and laugh and be like, 'What are you gonna do, go tell?"'   When she reported the incident, Launt says, "I got something like a 'boys will be boys' brush off and nothing was done. They didn't see the guy's behavior as a problem, they saw me as a problem." Launt quit the job and 29 years later, she rarely enters the store. Many women have wondered if their experience counts as sexual harassment if it wasn't considered too bad, if they didn't feel psychological damage, or if they were drinking or dressed provocatively when it happened. Biggest question But the biggest question is this: What do we do about it? Cheryl Colbert of Arlington, Virginia, recalls an incident in the early 1990s when a man accosted her in the courtyard of her apartment building. She is now raising a teenage son and daughter, and says she feels guilty the rules she sets for her daughter are different than those she sets for her son, such as coming straight home after a practice at school so she won't be walking alone at night. Colbert says she takes heart that men and women are responding to #MeToo with support.   "While my story isn't public, those that need to know are aware. But speaking up wasn't easy so please listen, acknowledge & accept.," actor Alex Winter tweeted this week. The hashtag #HowIWillChange has also cropped up, posted by men who detail what they will do differently in future to help protect women. Some of the methods mentioned are teaching children respect, proactively learning about women's issues, and calling out predatory behavior. "Men, keep in mind women don't owe us their stories for us to become advocates for them in public/private spaces," Phillip Lewis wrote. Other men and women are tweeting #WithYou. "I'm raising my son to treat all women with respect and compassion. I am speaking out against misogyny. I am listening," U.S. military veteran Dave Harrell said. Colbert has a pretty straightforward plan, which she describes in an email.  "The only thing I feel we can do is each one do the right thing. And say something when it happens. SAY SOMETHING WHEN IT HAPPENS."

Iridium to Rely on Used SpaceX Boosters for Next 2 Launches

Iridium Communications says its next two launches of new-generation satellites will use refurbished SpaceX Falcon 9 first-stage boosters that have flown previously. The announcement Thursday is another step in SpaceX’s effort to reduce launch costs.   The company has launched a few used boosters and is trying to expand acceptance of reusability across the industry. Hawthorne, California-based SpaceX has had successful landings of Falcon 9 first stages after launches from both coasts. Iridium is in the midst of seven launches to replace its satellite fleet that provides global mobile voice and data communications. The McLean, Virginia, company says insurers confirmed there is no increase in premiums for “flight-proven” rocket use. Thirty new satellites are in orbit and the fourth launch is scheduled for Dec. 22 at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.

Experimental Virtual and Mixed Reality Technologies Can be Applied to Military of the Future

In military training, the body and mind are often pushed to the limit. In some cases, it could prove to be deadly.  "We are killing more Marines and soldiers in training than in combat. Why does that happen? A lot of times it is fatigue," Lt. Col. Warren Cook of the U.S. Marine Corps said. Cook spoke on a panel of military personnel at the University of Southern California's Global Body Computing Conference in Los Angeles. Commanding officers and scientists discussed the benefits of using technologies such as wearable sensors to help recruits be more aware of their body's limits so they can train better and safer.    WATCH: Experimental Virtual and Mixed Reality Technologies Can be Applied to Military of the Future "We are still in test-and-evaluation mode, so we have been testing ... most of what we have been testing are commercial products. We do have a suite of sensors that we have integrated into a system for physiological status monitoring to include the Zephyr heart monitor and a variety of other fundamental measures, but we have tested Fitbits," said chief scientist Charlene Mello with the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center. "How can we, through science and technology, generate lethality for the young Marine and sailor in a more efficient manner," Cook asked. VR, augmented and mixed reality Virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality projects are being developed that can have military applications. One mixed reality project at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies (USC ICT) involves drones small enough to fit in the palm of a hand. The drones can follow and capture a person's movements so they can be analyzed under a training simulation.  "When you combine performance capture that is autonomously driven with a lot of this biodata, it is going to change the way that athletes train. It is going to change the way that the military trains and operates, and it is going to change the way that we interact with the world," said Todd Richmond, director of Advanced Prototype Development at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies. Another project at USC ICT is a virtual and augmented reality application called Monticello, where the user can interact with a virtual expert. "If you are in a hostile environment and you have been trained to spot dangerous areas versus safe areas, you could use this augmented reality to perhaps take a picture of a corridor or an area that you are currently occupying, and a virtual expert could mark on the application dangerous areas vs. safe areas where you could place yourself," Adam Reilly, USC ICT's research programmer said. Another USC ICT project is called Bystander, a virtual reality prototype that helps people prevent sexual harassment and assault. "The military is very interested in this area of research because they have programs already to try and mitigate sexual assaults, sexual harassment. It's a big problem in the military," said David Nelson, project manager of USC's Mixed Reality Lab and creative director of the Mixed Reality Studio. Nelson said taking an online course on mitigating sexual harassment and assault is different than a fully immersive experience where the student user can see something happening and try to physically stop it. "We believe that's a really different experience if you immerse somebody in a situation because you can read a story and say, 'Well, this is how I would react or this is how I would act in that circumstance' but until you're actually in it, you really don't know how you would behave. So the goal of this project was to really try and foster more active bystander participation," Nelson said. Commanding officers and scientists at the University of Southern California's Global Body Computing Conference agreed that technology can be useful in keeping servicemen and women mentally and physically healthy, which can translate to better performance in combat. "If you're trained well, you will behave well in combat," Col. Jeffrey Holt of the U.S. Marine Corps said. 

Experimental Virtual and Mixed Reality Technologies Can be Applied to Military of the Future

The U.S. Military is looking at technologies such as wearable sensors, virtual and augmented reality to enhance the training of its recruits. At a recent meeting of military personnel and academics at the University of Southern California's Global Body Computing Conference, commanding officers talked about why there is a need for ever more modern technology. VOA's Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles on some of the emerging technologies that can help the military.

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