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Science

Facebook turns to artificial intelligence to tackle suicides

Facebook plans to use artificial intelligence and update its tools and services to help prevent suicides among its users.

The world’s largest social media network said it plans to integrate its existing suicide prevention tools for Facebook posts into its live-streaming feature, Facebook Live, and its Messenger service.

Artificial intelligence will be used to help spot users with suicidal tendencies, the company said in a blogpost on Wednesday.

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Snap is said to have worked on a drone

Snap has long been known as the maker of Snapchat, an app that sends disappearing messages, photographs and videos. But over the past few years, the company has repositioned itself as a modern-day camera company.

One of the products that Snap has worked on to bolster that direction is a drone, according to three people briefed on the project who asked to remain anonymous because the details are confidential. A drone could help Snap’s users take overhead videos and photographs, and then feed that visual data to the company.

It is unclear when or if Snap’s drone would become available to consumers. Like many technology companies, Snap often works on experiments, many of which are killed or repurposed into other projects. A Snap spokeswoman declined to comment.

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UN reports Antarctica’s highest temperatures on record

The UN’s World Meteorological Organization published the highest temperatures on record in three Antarctic zones Wednesday, setting a benchmark for studying how climate change is affecting this crucial region.

“Verification of maximum and minimum temperatures help us to build up a picture of the weather and climate in one of Earth’s final frontiers,” Michael Sparrow, a polar expert with the WMO-affiliated World Climate Research Programme, said in a statement.

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Disruption in Amazon’s cloud service ripples through internet

Web users experienced widespread glitches on Tuesday, from news sites to government services, after Amazon’s popular cloud service that hosts their data suffered a technical disruption.

Amazon’s Simple Storage Service, or Amazon S3, had difficulty sending and receiving clients’ data for more than 3-1/2 hours, according to company status reports online.

Amazon did not disclose the cause, and some of its smaller cloud applications in North America continued to have trouble.

The far reach of the disruption underscored the increasing dependence of organizations on the cloud for cheap and secure data storage. Amazon Web Services (AWS) is the world’s biggest cloud business.

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Google takes on cable with “YouTube TV” — 40 channels for $35

Google just joined the “skinny bundle” TV war with YouTube TV, a paid subscription service that streams a slew of premium broadcast and cable networks to your mobile device, tablet, computer, and anything with Chromecast.

Just $35 a month gets you six accounts and access to live TV from more than 40 providers including the big broadcast networks, ESPN, regional sports networks and dozens of popular cable networks. Subscriptions include cloud DVR with unlimited storage, AI-powered search and personalization, and access to YouTube Red programming. YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki calls it the evolution of television, and a bid to “give the younger generation the content that they love with the flexibility they expect.”

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Hundreds of North American bee species face extinction: study

More than 700 of the 4,000 native bee species in North America and Hawaii are believed to be inching toward extinction due to increased pesticide use leading to habitat loss, a scientific study (PDF) showed on Wednesday.

The Center for Biological Diversity’s report concluded that of the 1,437 native bee species for which there was sufficient data to evaluate, about 749 of them were declining. Some 347 of the species, which play a vital role in plant pollination, are imperiled and at risk of extinction, the study found.

“It’s a quiet but staggering crisis unfolding right under our noses that illuminates the unacceptably high cost of our careless addiction to pesticides and monoculture farming,” its author, Kelsey Kopec, said in a statement.

Habitat loss, along with heavy pesticide use, climate change and increasing urbanization are the main causes for declining bee populations, the study found.

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Toxic waste dumped in community in southeast Nigeria’s Delta

Toxic waste has been dumped in a farming town in southeast Nigeria’s restive oil-producing Delta region, a state government official and a community leader said on Wednesday.

It was dumped in Koko, a town in the Warri north local government district of Delta state, said Thankgod Seibi, special assistant to the state’s governor on community development.

“The waste was brought in from a foreign country into Nigeria and dumped at Koko. The state government has not done anything about it yet,” he said. Seibi did not give details of the foreign country.

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China orders aluminum, steel cuts in war on smog

China has ordered steel and aluminum producers in 28 cities to slash output during winter, outlined plans to curb coal use in the capital and required coal transport by rail in the north, as Beijing intensifies its war on smog, a policy document shows.

The government has called on steel producers to halve output in four northern provinces – Hebei, Shanxi, Shandong, Henan – as well as Beijing and Tianjin, during the peak winter heating months around late November to late February. The size of the cuts will depend on the level of regions’ emissions cuts.

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Congo expels Greenpeace employee, filmmaker, investigating logging

Authorities in Democratic Republic of Congo have expelled a Greenpeace employee and a filmmaker following a trip to forest communities affected by industrial logging.

The expulsions last month follow similar moves against foreign researchers over the past year that have drawn accusations the government is cracking down on criticism due to heightened political tensions.

The government denies this.

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Elon Musk’s SpaceX plans to fly two private citizens around the Moon by late next year

SpaceX said Monday it plans to fly two private citizens on a mission around the moon by late 2018 as part of a lunar journey that would last about a week and travel deeper into space than any human has ventured before.

SpaceX founder Elon Musk would not name the two individuals, who he said approached the company and would pay for the flight.

In a call with reporters, Musk said he is not in competition with the government space agency, and that if NASA wanted to partner on the lunar mission that would take priority over the two private individuals.

“What matters is the advancement of space exploration and exceeding the high-water mark that was set in 1969 with the Apollo program,” he said. “And having a really exciting future in space that inspires the world.”

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