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Top Stories for the Week of January 2, 2019

  • Episode 589
  • January 2, 2019

Here are the stories we're following for the week of Wednesday January 2, 2019

Several US newspapers suffered major printing and delivery disruptions on Saturday following a cyber-attack.

Several US newspapers suffered major printing and delivery disruptions on Saturday following a cyber-attack.

The attack led to delayed distribution of The Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Baltimore Sun and other titles belonging to Tribune Publishing.

The company said it first detected the malware on Friday, which hit papers sharing the same printing plant.

The LA Times said the attack is believed to have come from outside the US.

An anonymous source with knowledge of the attack told the LA Times said "We believe the intention of the attack was to disable infrastructure, more specifically servers, as opposed to looking to steal information."

West Coast editions of the Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, which share the same production platform in Los Angeles, were also affected.

The virus hurt back-office systems used to publish and produce the newspapers.

Another publication, the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel was also "crippled this weekend by a computer virus that shut down production and hampered phone lines," according to a story on its website.

A Department of Homeland Security official said in a statement "We are aware of reports of a potential cyber incident affecting several news outlets and are working with our government and industry partners to better understand the situation".

Investigators at the Federal Bureau of Investigations were not immediately available for comment.


Sent to us by: Roy W. Nash

India will ban ecommerce companies such as Amazon and Walmart-owned Flipkart from selling products from companies in which they have an equity interest.

India will ban ecommerce companies such as Amazon and Walmart-owned Flipkart from selling products from companies in which they have an equity interest.

In a statement, the government also said that the companies will be prevented from entering into exclusive agreements with sellers. The new rules will be applicable from February 1.

The new regulations follow complaints from Indian retailers and traders, who say the giant e-commerce companies are using their control over inventory from their affiliates, and through exclusive sales agreements, to create an unfair marketplace that allows them to sell some products at very low prices.

The All India Online Vendors Association in October filed a petition with the anti-trust body Competition Commission of India alleging that Amazon favors merchants that it partly owns. The lobby group filed a similar petition against Flipkart in May, alleging violation of competition rules through preferential treatment for select sellers.

The new rules said that services provided to vendors on an e-commerce platform and by that entity’s affiliates should be done so at arm’s length and in a fair and non-discriminatory manner.

New rules will appease small traders and farmers who fear that U.S. companies are making a back door entry into India’s retail market and could squeeze out small corner shops that dominate Indian retailing.

The Confederation of All India Traders in a statement said that if the order is implemented in full then malpractices, predatory pricing policies and deep discounting by e-commerce players will no longer occur.

Amazon India said it is currently evaluating the new rules, while Flipkart did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


Sent to us by: Jeff Weston

The first autonomous freight train network is fully operational.

The first autonomous freight train network is fully operational.

On Friday, major mining corporation Rio Tinto announced that its AutoHaul autonomous train system in Western Australia had logged more than 1 million km since July. Rio Tinto calls its now fully operational autonomous train system the biggest robot in the world.

The train system serves 14 mines that deliver to four port terminals. Two mines that are closest to a port terminal will retain human engineers because they are very short lines.

The train system took ten years to build and cost Rio Tinto $916 million USD to implement. The trains are remotely monitored by a crew located 1,500km away in Perth.

According to the mining company, the autonomous trains make sure the rails are clear ahead and monitor internal systems as well, checking for faulty wheels or couplers and bringing the train to a stop if there's a problem.

The autonomous train system will allow Rio Tinto to cut down on the number of stops that the 2.4km long, iron ore-hauling trains have to make to change drivers. Prior to the operation of the autonomous train system, the mining company shuttled train drivers 1.5 million km per year due to shift changes. "The average return distance of these trains is about 800km with the average journey cycle, including loading and dumping, taking about 40 hours".

Additionally, the trains will be able to run six percent faster "by removing acceleration and braking variations caused by human drivers". Rio Tinto expects that its AutoHaul system will allow it to increase the region's iron ore production capacity by 20 million tons.


Sent to us by: Roy W. Nash

Elon Musk claims to be "on track" for a 2026 Mars colony mission – and reveals who will be on board the first trips.

Elon Musk claims to be "on track" for a 2026 Mars colony mission – and reveals who will be on board the first trips.

Messaging the billionaire on Twitter, a Musk fan asked: "How soon will the first group go to colonise Mars?"

And Musk replied: "7 to 10 years."

That's in line with previous estimations from Musk, who has say he hoped to launch missions between 2024 and 2030.

Musk also recently admitted that there was a 70% chance he himself would move to Mars.

The Tesla boss also replied to another Twitter user who said: "I only hope the first wave of explorers will be poets and not real estate developers."
Musk's response was that the initial Mars colonisation flights would be populated with creatives.

"Engineers, artists and creators of all kinds. There is so much to build," he said.

It's not the first time Musk has suggested that he'll send creative types to space.

Back in 2018, Musk revealed that Japanese billionaire art collector Yusaku Maezawa would be the first passenger on board his SpaceX trip to the Moon.

The 43-year-old entrepreneur didn't reveal how much he'd paid for the trip, but Musk said "He has made a significant deposit on the price, which is a significant price."

Yusaku told a thrilled conference in California: "I thought long and hard how valuable it would to become the first private passenger to go to the Moon.

"I thought about how this could contribute to world peace. This is my lifelong dream."

That mission to the moon doesn't have a launch date yet, but is expected to take place within the next few years.

Reaching the Moon is a far easier feat than Musk's planned Mars missions.

The billionaire recently admitted early travellers have a "good chance" of dying on the way.

SpaceX is currently working on a vessel named Starship.

It's believed that Starship will be able to make the voyage to Mars – with humans on board – within the next seven years.

SpaceX hopes to eventually create a "spacefaring civilisation", which would include Martian colonies populated by humans.

Tickets for the trip would cost "around a couple hundred thousand dollars", according to Musk.

Musk, however, reckons that living on Mars won't be cheery – and certainly not a luxury retreat.

"Your probability of dying on Mars is much higher than on Earth," the billionaire explained.

He also said that early Mars colonists would be working "non-stop to build the base" – and this would leave "not much time for leisure".

"And even after doing all this, it's a very harsh environment," he said.

And even if you survive the trip to Mars, it's entirely possible that you'll never be able to return to Earth.

"There's a good chance you die there," Musk warned. He says, "We think you can come back but we're not sure. Now does that sound like an escape hatch for rich people?"


Sent to us by: Robbie Ferguson



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