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16Jun/180

The scary truths about Trump’s nuclear summit

The summit came after a year-and-a-half of both men terrorizing the world with open threats of thermonuclear annihilation and childish public insults. Trump derisively nicknamed the North Korean dictator "Rocket Man" and called him "fat and short," while Kim called Trump "a mentally deranged U.S. dotard." This week's historic meeting was nearly scrapped by Trump in a threatening yet passive-aggressive letter to Kim that tried to make the cancellation look like it was North Korea's idea.

On behalf of the United States, Trump conceded to Kim the discontinuation of joint military exercises with South Korea and to withdraw troops stationed there; he also gave Kim international standing and lavished him with compliments. He echoed North Korean rhetoric, which characterizes the military exercises as "very provocative."

In response to accusations about giving away the farm for a handful of rocks and rusty Nuka Cola bottle caps, USA Today reported that other than agreeing to a meeting, Trump said: "I gave up nothing."

In return, we got a crazy-vague joint statement wrapped in a PR stunt. All North Korea gave us was a meeting. The signed agreement had no specifics about denuclearization. The 1.5-page document ignored North Korea's existing stockpile of nuclear weapons, had no verification provisions whatsoever, and failed to address ongoing issues of its attacks, kidnappings, and physical threats on Japan and South Korea.

North Korea has historically avoided true nuclear disarmament, preferring to qualify any agreements instead as denuclearization of the peninsula. "That has always been interpreted as a call for the United States to remove its 'nuclear umbrella' protecting South Korea and Japan," wrote Reuters. The country has promised denuclearization since the 1990s and has repeatedly ignored that promise as a rule.

Emerging from the summit as a victorious bringer of peace on Earth, Trump tweeted that "everybody can now feel much safer than the day I took office. There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea."

It was a stunning concession when Trump announced, "We will stop the war games which will save us a tremendous amount of money." It shocked and baffled South Korea and other allies, the Pentagon, US military officials and members of the Republican Party. This came hot on the heels of Trump saying it would be better if South Korea and Japan protect themselves.

South Korea and Japan are not feeling the same love in the air as Trump and Kim. "His announcement was a surprise even to President Moon Jae-in's government in Seoul," wrote Reuters. "One South Korean official said he initially thought Trump had misspoken." South Korea's largest newspaper, Chosun Ilbo, openly worried that the North will keep its nuclear weapons program permanently as a result of Trump's concessions, describing the summit as "dumbfounding and nonsensical."

You see, we've allied ourselves to help protect South Korea for some pretty big reasons. If, like Trump, you're encountering a North Korea-US summit with no prep whatsoever, here's a quick bit of background.

North and South Korea have been divided since 1945; for a short period Russia occupied the North while the US occupied the south; during the war, China aided the north and the US aided the south (we lost 54,246 lives, and 7,704 American soldiers are still unaccounted for). The Korean War ended with an armistice agreement but no peace settlement, so technically the war has never ended. American military remains in the south as part of a mutual defense treaty.

Fast forward to 1963, and the world finds out that the North has begun building a nuclear reactor. Then a nuclear weapons program in the 1980s. The first time North Korea committed to denuclearization was 1992's Joint Declaration of the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula — though historically, nuclear inspectors have been barred from surveying North Korean facilities.

Earlier this year, a team of Stanford University experts — one who visited North Korean nuclear facilities multiple times — formulated a detailed plan for the dismantlement of the North Korean program with a 10- to 15-year estimate. In statements surrounding the summit, Trump — who has no science adviser — said: "I think whoever wrote that [estimate] is wrong."

Before going into the summit, Trump bragged about his lack of preparation and said that he "will know, just [by] my touch, my feel" how to assess Kim Jong-un's nuclear plan.

Trump, who coasted into the White House on his sole qualification as a dealmaker, came straight to the North Korean denuclearization summit after failing to make a deal about milk with Canada. That was at the G-7 summit in Quebec, to which he arrived late and left early and wholly tanked by withdrawing the US from the signed trade declaration, all while somehow managing to piss off the one country known as the world's friendliest. He spent the weekend petulantly talking smack about the Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau, whom he called "very dishonest and weak."

He ran from G-7 straight into the arms of Kim Jong-un, with whom he seemed genuinely pleased. As a token, Trump commissioned a gift for North Korea's leader in the form of a fake Hollywood movie trailer about the two of them, starring together, bringing peace and happiness to the world. It included lines like "featuring President Donald Trump and Chairman Kim Jong Un ... in a meeting to remake history." He played it on an iPad for the dictator in their private meeting. The Washington Post reported that when it aired in the press room, journalists assumed the video was North Korean propaganda.

Reuters explained that prior to Trump's elevation of Kim, he "was an international pariah accused of ordering the killing of his uncle, a half-brother and hundreds of officials suspected of disloyalty." It added: "The North Korean leader had been isolated, his country accused by rights groups of widespread human-rights abuses and under U.N. sanctions for its nuclear and ballistic-missile programs."

The Washington Post noted the UN's report "described the country as a ruthless police state where as many as 120,000 people are kept in political gulags under horrific conditions; other prisons, effectively labor camps, hold people for ordinary crimes. Telephone calls are monitored, and citizens are punished for watching or listening to foreign broadcasts."

Now put that in the context of nuclearization. According to U.S. military intelligence, defense experts and north "watchers" (cited in Newsweek), in 2017 it was estimated that North Korea has "enough plutonium stored up to create a minimum of six nuclear weapons, but other estimates were as high as 10 to 16 nuclear weapons."

So if Kim is a dictator with nukes and very aggressive hackers, there's no reason to doubt that both Kim and Trump are fine with holding the world hostage under threat of nuclear annihilation for whatever their real endgames really are. Last August Trump warned that any North Korean attack "will be met with fire, fury and frankly power, the likes of which the world has never seen before."

For North Korea's grand finale to its founder's 105th birthday party in April 2017, it celebrated with a propaganda video showing missiles being launched.

"Eventually the nukes found their target, San Francisco, and exploded in massive fiery eruptions, engulfing the city in flames. The audience appeared to applaud San Francisco's destruction," wrote nervous Bay Area press. "The image of flickering flames overlaid shots of an American flag and a military cemetery."

Let's just hope they stick to comparing the size of their buttons.

Image: Jonathan Ernst / Reuters (Trump / Kim video)

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2018/06/15/the-scary-truths-about-trump-s-nuclear-summit/

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16Jun/180

Comcast says it’s no longer throttling heavy internet users’ speeds

"As reflected in a June 11, 2018 update to our Xfinity Internet Broadband Disclosures, the congestion management system that was initially deployed in 2008 has been deactivated," Comcast said on its website. "As our network technologies and usage of the network continue to evolve, we reserve the right to implement a new congestion management system if necessary in the performance of reasonable network management and in order to maintain a good broadband internet access service experience for our customers, and will provide updates here as well as other locations if a new system is implemented."

Comcast told CNET that the congestion management system had been "essentially inactive for more than a year." It added, "With well over 99 percent of our internet customers using more modern DOCSIS gateways and modems, congestion on individual channels is no longer an issue that needs to be managed."

The disclosure came the same day the FCC's rollbacks of net neutrality protections went into effect. A transparency rule requires ISPs to report their network management practices, including instances of throttling, blocking and paid prioritization.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2018/06/15/comcast-no-longer-throttling-heavy-users-speed/

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16Jun/180

‘Lucifer’ will get a fourth season on Netflix

Every time a show gets cancelled or even seems close to being cancelled, fans cry out for Netflix to save it. The streaming service has hosted new seasons of several TV shows that other outlets sent to the grave (The Killing, Arrested Development, Longmire), and today announced another one: Lucifer. The series used to air on Fox before it was cancelled last month, but after a long #SaveLucifer campaign on social media -- and, according to Deadline, negotiations over domestic and international streaming rights of prior seasons -- the show will go on.

Like Brooklyn Nine-Nine and The Expanse, middling ratings and a complicated streaming situation and played a role in Lucifer's status. Hulu has its streaming rights in the US, while Amazon (which was also reportedly interested) has the rights in the UK and Germany. Just one more thing to keep in mind when you're thinking about picking up a new series.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2018/06/15/netflix-lucifer-s4/

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16Jun/180

Let’s hope Trump didn’t give Kim Jong Un the wrong ‘direct number’

There's no way to know for sure from the outside, but let's hope not. If he in fact gave Kim his personal phone number, there are several avenues Kim's intelligence corps could approach from. A known flaw in Signaling System 7 — the protocol used to allow roaming and ensure that data can pass between different wireless carrier networks — could feasibly be used to monitor phone calls, text messages and even device locations. Needless to say, having that sort of awareness of a sitting president's actions has the potential to be highly destabilizing.

Putting fundamental network vulnerabilities aside, there's also the issue of malware to contend with. North Korea has long leaned on malicious software to infiltrate networks and generally wreak havoc — remember the WannaCry cyber-nightmare that held businesses and hospitals ransom last year? Yeah, North Korea. Analysts from the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI have filed no less than eleven reports describing the tactics and behaviors of North Korean malware since last year, including one that was published just days after President Trump's historic summit with Kim Jong-Un in Singapore.

While much of the conversation around North Korean malware deals with PC exploits, the country isn't foreign to more mobile kinds of attacks. Reports from last year indicated that the NK-affiliated Lazarus Group (best known for its role in the massive Sony Pictures hack) successfully propagated malware targeted at South Korean citizens by embedding it in a free Bible app. And earlier this year, McAfee researchers reported that North Korea's Sun Team successfully targeted defectors who had fled to South Korea with a trio of apps that hid in Google's Play Store. It's fairly unlikely that President Trump would blindly install an app from a link received by, say, SMS, but given North Korea's sometimes surprising talent for technical espionage, we should hope the president gave Kim some other phone number instead.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2018/06/15/donald-trump-kim-jong-un-personal-number/

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16Jun/180

A major upgrade to the Large Hadron Collider is underway

Within the LHC, clouds of protons fly around the 27-kilometer ring at nearly the speed of light and there are four points at which they can collide. To see the increase in collisions the LHC team is looking for, they need to be able to squeeze the particle beams at those interaction points, which will increase the odds that all of those protons will run into each other. To do that, the researchers will add around 130 new magnets to the LHC. They'll also be building some surface-level structures like electrical and ventilation buildings, a structure to house compressors, access to a sub-surface shaft and a cooling tower. Underground, a shaft, a cavern, a gallery and service galleries will be built as well. The work will largely be carried out at one spot in Switzerland and another in France.

The improved structure will be known as the High-Luminosity LHC -- luminosity being a term that refers to the number of collisions in a given period of time. More collisions mean more observations of rare phenomena and more chances for discovery. As an example, CERN notes that the upgrade will increase the number of Higgs bosons that can be produced by the LHC from 1.2 million to 15 million.

"The High-Luminosity LHC will extend the LHC's reach beyond its initial mission, bringing new opportunities for discovery, measuring the properties of particles such as the Higgs boson with greater precision and exploring the fundamental constituents of the universe ever more profoundly," CERN Director-General Fabiola Gianotti said in a statement. Work at the LHC will be paused twice while the new structures are put into place.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2018/06/15/upgrade-large-hadron-collider-cern/

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16Jun/180

Trump’s 2020 campaign might include ex-Cambridge Analytica staff

Data Propria is a new data analysis firm that provides ad-targeting services and the AP says at least four ex-Cambridge Analytica employees are affiliated with the company. Oczkowski confirmed that three people on his team previously worked at Cambridge Analytica, one of which is CA's former lead data scientist David Wilkinson.

However, Oczkowski has denied that Data Propria is working on Trump's 2020 campaign, as has Parscale. Parscale told the AP that he hasn't handed out any contracts for the re-election campaign just yet and Oczkowski said Data Propria had changed course since the AP reporters overhead his conversation. He added that anything he would have said about Trump's 2020 campaign would have been speculative. However, Data Propria has secured a contract to perform work for the Republican National Committee.

Following reports that it had improperly obtained personal information on millions of Facebook users, Cambridge Analytica ultimately shut down and filed for bankruptcy. It's currently being investigated by the FBI and the Department of Justice.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2018/06/16/trump-2020-campaign-cambridge-analytica-staff/

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16Jun/180

Expect AT&T’s ‘WarnerMedia’ to expand HBO’s budget

Now that Time Warner is officially a part of ATT, it's getting a new game. Unveiled in an internal memo, brands like HBO, Turner and Warner Bros. will call WarnerMedia home. We're not in love with the name either, but as-is, you will probably interact with the various channels and studios under it in the same way as usual and it's easier to remember that Time Warner Cable hasn't been connected to the business in years. ATT exec John Stankey is taking over WarnerMedia (with CNN's Jeff Zucker, HBO's Richard Plepler and Warner Bros.' Kevin Tsujihara reporting to him), and revealed a bit about his plans in a series of interviews.

Bloomberg has the impression that Stankey plans for HBO to have a bigger library and more content ready for viewing on-demand. Going forward, it sounds like he's proposing a push that will enhance direct-to-customer options like HBO Now, but we'll have to see how it shakes out and if HBO's $2.5 billion budget expands to take on Netflix (which is spending $8 billion this year) Amazon and the rest. Talking to the New York Times he was less definitive, saying "at the end of the day, we want our technology and we want our content to drive more customer engagement. If we have the opportunity to do that by investing we are going to invest to make that happen."

While we wait for that to develop, one thing that's first up is the "$15" TV streaming package that ATT CEO Randall Stephenson mentioned in his testimony. According to Bloomberg, the low-cost service will launch "in a few days" with Turner programming anchoring it, and a distinct lack of sports. There's also going to be a Netflix-esque use of data to inform programming decisions, not to mention the advertising and analytics business ATT is building up based on "customer insights" from TV, mobile and internet subscribers.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2018/06/16/att-time-warner-warnermedia/

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16Jun/180

Ask Engadget: Should I switch to a Chromebook?


Devindra Hardawar
Senior Editor

Ah the Transformer Pad -- what a callback to the heyday of Android tablets. If you were able to stick it out with that thing for so long, you'll be amazed at the plethora of detachable options today.

Unfortunately, everyone has practically given up on building Android tablets, but in their place you'll find plenty of slates running Windows 10. ASUS's Transformer Mini line is the closest option to its Pad devices, and we also really liked the Microsoft's Surface 3.

The big drawback with those devices is that they're a few years old; PC makers have been neglecting 10-inch machines lately. The plus side, though, is that you can likely find them heavily discounted. And don't be afraid to consider refurbished hardware, which can net you some savings.

There's also the Chromebook Flip C302, which is a great device, but it's also much larger than the other options. If you're willing to wait a bit, we're expecting a new small Surface from Microsoft later this year. And, now that PC makers are pushing "Always Connected" devices, there's a good chance we'll see even more 10-inch devices soon.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2018/06/16/ask-engadget-should-i-switch-to-a-chromebook/

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16Jun/180

A chat with ‘Super Meat Boy Forever’ creator Tommy Refenes

Unlike in parenthood, Refenes has experience in the video game industry. He's famous in the world of independent development for his programming work on Super Meat Boy, a legendary 2010 platformer that helped usher in the modern marketplace for indie games. He's also a film star: Refenes and game designer Edmund McMillen were the focus of the 2012 documentary Indie Game: The Movie, which tracked the development and surprisingly successful launch of Super Meat Boy. The movie was a critical and commercial hit, picking up an award for documentary editing at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival.

"I didn't think it would turn into a movie that goes to Sundance or goes on Netflix, and that millions of people have watched and recognize me at Starbucks in the middle of nowhere kind of thing," Refenes says. "That's strange and now when I go and show a game, people come up to me and their nervous to talk to me."

Super Meat Boy, meanwhile, performed so well that Refenes had a moment to breathe after more than a year of high-stress programming and surprise publishing deadlines (most of which was documented in Indie Game: The Movie). But fans were still clamoring for more Meat Boy, and in 2014, Team Meat announced Super Meat Boy Forever, an endless runner heading to mobile platforms.

That's when development on Super Meat Boy Forever stuttered, and eventually stopped. McMillen left Team Meat to work on The Binding of Isaac and other projects, and Refenes took some time to focus on family and personal life. He got married. He breathed.

And then he came back. Refenes revived Super Meat Boy Forever in 2017, bringing on Offspring Fling designer Kyle Pulver and Undertale artist Temmie Chang. It was still an endless runner, but it wasn't for mobile platforms any longer -- Nintendo gave the game a Switch spotlight at PAX Prime 2017, and it's also heading to Sony and Microsoft's latest consoles, alongside Steam. (It'll hit Android and iOS eventually, Refenes promises.)

Today, Super Meat Boy Forever is coming together as a streamlined endless runner with quasi-procedurally generated levels. Each stage in Super Meat Boy Forever is broken into platforming chunks -- there are about 100 sawblade-packed scenes for the first level alone, each of which can link to the other shards to create a unique landscape with every new instance.

Even though it's an endless runner, Super Meat Boy Forever still feels like Super Meat Boy -- it's ridiculously difficult, including punching, sliding, jumping and wall-sliding moves, and it's packed with twitchy gameplay moments. This is a game built for speedrunning, even though it was initially designed for mobile devices.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2018/06/15/super-meat-boy-forever-tommy-refenes-indie-interview-e3/

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16Jun/180

Netflix’s ‘Kiss Me First’ is a VR thriller landing June 29th

The movie is made by the same people who brought UK drama series Skins to life, which ran from 2007 to 2010, with a final season broadcast in 2013. Kiss Me First is based on a YA novel by Lottie Moggach, about Leila, a teenager who gets addicted to a video game called Agora. She meets Tess and the pair quickly become friends. Tess then disappears, Leila takes on the missing friend's identity in the game, and secrets are revealed. The mix of live action and CGI is on display in the trailer, though it's hard to say whether that will impact the storytelling for good or ill: we'll have to wait until the end of the month to find out.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2018/06/15/netflix-kiss-me-first-vr-thriller-june-29th/

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