Arizona Ramps Up Tech Workforce, Skills to Meet Chips Job Boom

Taiwanese chip giant TSMC is building a second U.S. facility in the southwest state of Arizona, highlighting the Biden Administration’s push to bring more of the semiconductor supply chain to the United States. But are there enough trained workers there to meet the demand? Michelle Quinn has our story from Arizona, where they are ramping up training for workers and students at all levels. Videographer: Levi Stallings  …

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Boeing’s Final 747 Rolls Out of Washington State Factory

After more than half a century, the last Boeing 747 rolled out of a Washington state factory on Tuesday. The 747 jumbo jet has taken on numerous roles — a cargo plane, a commercial aircraft capable of carrying nearly 500 passengers, and the Air Force One presidential aircraft — since it debuted in 1969. It was the largest commercial aircraft in the world and the first with two aisles, and it still towers over most other planes. The plane’s design included a second deck extending from the cockpit back over the first third of the plane, giving it a distinctive hump that made the plane instantly recognizable and inspired a nickname, the Whale. More elegantly, the 747 became known as the Queen of the Skies. It took more than 50,000 Boeing employees less than 16 months to churn out the first 747. The company has completed 1,573 more since then. But over the past 15 years or so, Boeing and its European rival Airbus released new wide-body planes with two engines instead of the 747’s four. They were more fuel-efficient and profitable. Delta was the last U.S. airline to use the 747 for passenger flights, which ended in 2017, although some other international carriers continue to fly it, including the German airline Lufthansa. The final customer is the cargo carrier Atlas Air, which ordered four 747-8 freighters early this year. The last was scheduled to roll out of Boeing’s massive factory in Everett, Washington, on Tuesday night. Boeing’s roots are in the Seattle area, and it has assembly plants in Washington state and South Carolina. The company announced in May that it would move its headquarters from Chicago to Arlington, Virginia. The move to the Washington, D.C., area puts its executives closer to key federal government officials and the Federal Aviation Administration, which certifies Boeing passenger and cargo planes. Boeing’s relationship with the FAA has been strained since the deadly crashes of its best-selling plane, the 737 Max, in 2018 and 2019. The FAA took nearly two years — far longer than Boeing expected — to approve design changes and …

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Biden Touts Advanced Chips Manufacturing in Visit to Arizona Semiconductor Plant

President Joe Biden’s visit Tuesday to a massive construction project in north Phoenix highlighted Arizona’s role in a major U.S. policy shift on semiconductor manufacturing. The Biden administration is pushing to boost domestic chips manufacturing with more than $50 billion in subsidies in the new CHIPs and Science Act. The president’s visit to the new fabrication facility being built by Taiwanese chips giant TSMC came as the firm announced it would build a second fabrication facility and triple its investment in Phoenix to $40 billion. Biden says it is good news for TSMC’s biggest customer, Apple. “These are the most advanced semiconductor chips on the planet. Chips will power iPhones and MacBooks,” Biden said. “Apple had to buy all the advanced chips from overseas. Now, they are going to bring more of their supply chain here at home. It can be a game changer.” U.S. technology firms have long outsourced semiconductor manufacturing overseas, particularly with TSMC, the world’s largest foundry. Calls to change that increased when the U.S. found itself scrambling for chips in the supply chain breakdowns prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Recent tensions with China added to the sense of urgency. China sees Taiwan as a part of its territory, and U.S. policymakers were worried about the long-term ability to source high-end chips, essential for computers, smartphones, cars, fighter planes and data centers. The Biden administration has been pushing to make the most cutting-edge chips in the U.S. Ahead of Biden’s visit Tuesday, TSMC announced it would ratchet up the kind of technology it makes in Arizona beyond the 4-nanometer technology slated to begin production in 2024. In addition, TSMC said it would begin producing 3-nanometer technology in its second fabrication facility by 2026. Those advanced chips deliver faster processing and use less power. “This state-of-the-art manufacturing facility behind us is a testimony that TSMC is also taking a giant step forward to help build a vibrant semiconductor ecosystem in the United States,” said Mark Liu, TSMC’s chairman. The president toured the construction site and was part of the TSMC plant’s “first tool-in” ceremony, the moment when a …

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Biden to Visit Arizona Computer Chip Facility

U.S. President Joe Biden is traveling to Arizona on Tuesday to visit a computer chip facility, underscoring the Grand Canyon state’s position in the emerging U.S. semiconductor ecosystem. Biden will visit a Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) plant in north Phoenix. He will tour the plant and deliver remarks celebrating his economic plan and the “manufacturing boom” it has caused, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said during Monday’s briefing. TSMC is the world’s largest contract manufacturer of semiconductor chips. In August, Biden signed the CHIPS and Science Act, legislation aimed at countering China’s massive subsidies to its chip industry. It includes about $52 billion in funding for U.S. companies for the manufacturing of chips, which go into technology like smartphones, electric vehicles, appliances and weapons systems.   Arizona is among the states trying to attract federal funding. The president will be on hand in Phoenix to celebrate the TSMC plant’s “first tool-in,” which is the moment when a building is ready for manufacturing equipment to move in. Projects in the region are creating thousands of new jobs including the TMSC facility in north Phoenix, the technology firm Intel expanding southeast of the city and suppliers from around the world moving in. A 3,700-square-meter cleanroom at nearby Arizona State University in Tempe is helping to meet the workforce demands of Arizona’s burgeoning semiconductor sector. There, students, companies and startups work on hardware innovations. With 30,000 engineering students, Arizona State is home to the country’s largest college of engineering and a driver in meeting next-generation demand. “Chips and Science Act is a once in a lifetime opportunity. This is the moment. This is the moment to build out capabilities, infrastructure, expertise,” Kyle Squires, dean of engineering schools at Arizona State University, told VOA recently. “We’re bringing this capability back into the U.S. You’ve got to have a workforce ready to engage it.” VOA’s Michelle Quinn contributed to this report. …

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3 Chinese Astronauts Return to Earth After 6-Month Mission

Three Chinese astronauts landed in a northern desert on Sunday after six months working to complete construction of the Tiangong station, a symbol of the country’s ambitious space program, state TV reported. A capsule carrying commander Chen Dong and astronauts Liu Yang and Cai Xuzhe touched down at a landing site in the Gobi Desert in northern China at approximately 8:10 p.m. (1210 GMT), China Central Television reported. Prior to departure, they overlapped for almost five days with three colleagues who arrived Wednesday on the Shenzhou-15 mission for their own six-month stay, marking the first time China had six astronauts in space at the same time. The station’s third and final module docked with the station this month. The astronauts were carried out of the capsule by medical workers about 40 minutes after touchdown. They were all smiles, and appeared to be in good condition, waving happily at workers at the landing site. “I am very fortunate to have witnessed the completion of the basic structure of the Chinese space station after six busy and fulfilling months in space,” said Chen, who was the first to exit the capsule. “Like meteors, we returned to the embrace of the motherland.” Liu, another of the astronauts, said that she was moved to see relatives and her fellow compatriots. The three astronauts were part of the Shenzhou-14 mission, which launched in June. After their arrival at Tiangong, Chen, Liu and Cai oversaw five rendezvous and dockings with various spacecraft including one carrying the third of the station’s three modules. They also performed three spacewalks, beamed down a live science lecture from the station, and conducted a range of experiments. The Tiangong is part of official Chinese plans for a permanent human presence in orbit. China built its own station after it was excluded from the International Space Station, largely due to U.S. objections over the Chinese space programs’ close ties to the People’s Liberation Army, the military wing of the ruling Communist Party. With the arrival of the Shenzhou-15 mission, the station expanded to its maximum weight of 100 tons. Without attached spacecraft, …

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Ukrainian Engineers Scramble to Keep Mobile Phones Working

With Ukraine scrambling to keep communication lines open during the war, an army of engineers from the country’s phone companies has mobilized to help the public and policymakers stay in touch during repeated Russian missile and drone strikes. The engineers, who typically go unseen and unsung in peacetime, often work around the clock to maintain or restore phone service, sometimes braving minefields to do so. After Russian strikes took out the electricity that cellphone towers usually run on, they revved up generators to keep the towers on. “I know our guys – my colleagues – are very exhausted, but they’re motivated by the fact that we are doing an important thing,” Yuriy Dugnist, an engineer with Ukrainian telecommunications company Kyivstar, said after crunching through 15 centimeters of fresh snow to reach a fenced-in mobile phone tower on the western fringe of Kyiv, the capital. Dugrist and his coworkers offered a glimpse of their new daily routines, which involve using an app on their own phones to monitor which of the scores of phone towers in the capital area were receiving electricity, either during breaks from the controlled blackouts being used to conserve energy or from the generators that kick in to provide backup power. One entry ominously read, in English, “Low Fuel.” Stopping off at a service station before their rounds, the team members filled up eight 20-liter jerrycans with diesel fuel for a vast tank under a generator that relays power up a 50-meter cell tower in a suburban village that has had no electricity for days. It’s one of many Ukrainian towns that have had intermittent power, or none at all, in the wake of multiple rounds of devastating Russian strikes in recent weeks targeting the country’s infrastructure – power plants in particular. Kyivstar is the largest of Ukraine’s three main mobile phone companies, with some 26 million customers – or the equivalent of about two-thirds of the country’s population before Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion drove millions of people abroad, even if many have since returned. The diesel generators were installed at the foot of the cell phone …

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Musk’s Company Aims to Soon Test Brain Implant in People

Tech billionaire Elon Musk said his Neuralink company is seeking permission to test its brain implant in people soon. In a “show and tell” presentation livestreamed Wednesday night, Musk said his team is in the process of asking U.S. regulators to allow them to test the device. He said he thinks the company should be able to put the implant in a human brain as part of a clinical trial in about six months, though that timeline is far from certain. Musk’s Neuralink is one of many groups working on linking brains to computers, efforts aimed at helping treat brain disorders, overcoming brain injuries and other applications. The field dates to the 1960s, said Rajesh Rao, co-director of the Center for Neurotechnology at the University of Washington. “But it really took off in the ’90s. And more recently we’ve seen lots of advances, especially in the area of communication brain computer interfaces.” Rao, who watched Musk’s presentation online, said he doesn’t think Neuralink is ahead of the pack in terms of brain-computer interface achievements. “But … they are quite ahead in terms of the actual hardware in the devices,” he said. The Neuralink device is about the size of a large coin and is designed to be implanted in the skull, with ultra-thin wires going directly into the brain. Musk said the first two applications in people would be restoring vision and helping people with little or no ability to operate their muscles rapidly use digital devices. He said he also envisions that in someone with a broken neck, signals from the brain could be bridged to Neuralink devices in the spinal cord. “We’re confident there are no physical limitations to enabling full body functionality,” said Musk, who recently took over Twitter and is the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX. In experiments by other teams, implanted sensors have let paralyzed people use brain signals to operate computers and move robotic arms. In a 2018 study in the journal PLOS ONE, three participants with paralysis below the neck affecting all of their limbs used an experimental brain-computer interface being tested by …

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Arizona Aims to Become a Semiconductor Powerhouse

The United States is pushing to regain its position as a center for semiconductor manufacturing and research as part of a Biden administration plan to make the nation less reliant on supply chains in Asia. VOA’s Michelle Quinn reports from the Southwest state of Arizona on competition for billions of dollars in federal funding to bolster domestic chip manufacturing. Additional videographer: Levi Stallings …

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US Bans Huawei, ZTE Equipment Sales, Citing National Security Risk

The Biden administration has banned approvals of new telecommunications equipment from China’s Huawei Technologies HWT.UL and ZTE 000063.SZ because they pose “an unacceptable risk” to U.S. national security. The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said Friday it had adopted the final rules, which also bar the sale or import of equipment made by China’s surveillance equipment maker Dahua Technology Co 002236.SZ, video surveillance firm Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Co Ltd 002415.SZ and telecoms firm Hytera Communications Corp Ltd 002583.SZ. The move represents Washington’s latest crackdown on the Chinese tech giants amid fears that Beijing could use Chinese tech companies to spy on Americans. “These new rules are an important part of our ongoing actions to protect the American people from national security threats involving telecommunications,” FCC Chairperson Jessica Rosenworcel said in a statement. Huawei declined to comment. ZTE, Dahua, Hikvision and Hytera did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Rosenworcel circulated the proposed measure — which effectively bars the firms from selling new equipment in the United States — to the other three commissioners for final approval last month. The FCC said in June 2021 it was considering banning all equipment authorizations for all companies on the covered list. That came after a March 2021 designation of five Chinese companies on the so-called “covered list” as posing a threat to national security under a 2019 law aimed at protecting U.S. communications networks: Huawei, ZTE, Hytera Communications Corp Hikvision and Dahua. All four commissioners at the agency, including two Republicans and two Democrats, supported Friday’s move. …

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Musk Plans to Relaunch Twitter Premium Service, Again

Elon Musk said Friday that Twitter plans to relaunch its premium service that will offer different colored check marks to accounts next week, in a fresh move to revamp the service after a previous attempt backfired. It’s the latest change to the social media platform that the billionaire Tesla CEO bought last month for $44 billion, coming a day after Musk said he would grant “amnesty” for suspended accounts and causing yet more uncertainty for users. Twitter previously suspended the premium service, which under Musk granted blue-check labels to anyone paying $8 a month, because of a wave of imposter accounts. Originally, the blue check was given to government entities, corporations, celebrities and journalists verified by the platform to prevent impersonation. In the latest version, companies will get a gold check, governments will get a gray check, and individuals who pay for the service, whether or not they’re celebrities, will get a blue check, Musk said Friday. “All verified accounts will be manually authenticated before check activates,” he said, adding it was “painful, but necessary” and promising a “longer explanation” next week. He said the service was “tentatively launching” Dec. 2. Twitter had put the revamped premium service on hold days after its launch earlier this month after accounts impersonated companies including pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly & Co., Nintendo, Lockheed Martin, and even Musk’s own businesses Tesla and SpaceX, along with various professional sports and political figures. It was just one change in the past two days. On Thursday, Musk said he would grant “amnesty” for suspended accounts, following the results of an online poll he conducted on whether accounts that have not “broken the law or engaged in egregious spam” should be reinstated. The yes vote was 72%. Such online polls are anything but scientific and can easily be influenced by bots. Musk also used one before restoring former U.S. President Donald Trump’s account. “The people have spoken. Amnesty begins next week. Vox Populi, Vox Dei,” Musk tweeted Thursday using a Latin phrase meaning “the voice of the people, the voice of God.” The move is likely to put …

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Twitter, Others Slip on Removing Hate Speech, EU Review Says

Twitter took longer to review hateful content and removed less of it in 2022 compared with the previous year, according to European Union data released Thursday. The EU figures were published as part of an annual evaluation of online platforms’ compliance with the 27-nation bloc’s code of conduct on disinformation. Twitter wasn’t alone; most other tech companies signed up to the voluntary code also scored worse. But the figures could foreshadow trouble for Twitter in complying with the EU’s tough new online rules after owner Elon Musk fired many of the platform’s 7,500 full-time workers and an untold number of contractors responsible for content moderation and other crucial tasks. The EU report, carried out over six weeks in the spring, found Twitter assessed just over half of the notifications it received about illegal hate speech within 24 hours, down from 82% in 2021. In comparison, the amount of flagged material Facebook reviewed within 24 hours fell to 64%, Instagram slipped to 56.9%, and YouTube dipped to 83.3%. TikTok came in at 92%, the only company to improve. The amount of hate speech Twitter removed after it was flagged slipped to 45.4% from 49.8% the year before. TikTok’s removal rate fell by a quarter to 60%, while Facebook and Instagram saw only minor declines. Only YouTube’s takedown rate increased, surging to 90%. “It’s worrying to see a downward trend in reviewing notifications related to illegal hate speech by social media platforms,” European Commission Vice President Vera Jourova tweeted. “Online hate speech is a scourge of a digital age and platforms need to live up to their commitments.” Twitter didn’t respond to a request for comment. Emails to several staff on the company’s European communications team bounced back as undeliverable. Musk’s $44 billion acquisition of Twitter last month fanned widespread concern that purveyors of lies and misinformation would be allowed to flourish on the site. The billionaire Tesla CEO, who has frequently expressed his belief that Twitter had become too restrictive, has been reinstating suspended accounts, including former President Donald Trump’s. Twitter faces more scrutiny in Europe by the middle of next …

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Musk Restores Trump’s Twitter Account After Online Poll

Elon Musk reinstated Donald Trump’s account on Twitter on Saturday, reversing a ban that has kept the former president off the social media site since a pro-Trump mob attacked the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, as Congress was poised to certify Joe Biden’s election victory. Musk made the announcement in the evening after holding a poll that asked Twitter users to click “yes” or “no” on whether Trump’s account should be restored. The “yes” vote won, with 51.8%. “The people have spoken. Trump will be reinstated. Vox Populi, Vox Dei,” Musk tweeted, using a Latin phrase meaning “the voice of the people, the voice of God.” Shortly afterward, Trump’s account, which had earlier appeared as suspended, reappeared on the platform complete with his former tweets, more than 59,000 of them. His followers were gone, at least initially. It is not clear whether Trump would return to Twitter. An irrepressible tweeter before he was banned, Trump has said in the past that he would not rejoin even if his account was reinstated. He has been relying on his own, much smaller social media site, Truth Social, which he launched after being blocked from Twitter. And on Saturday, during a video speech to a Republican Jewish group meeting in Las Vegas, Trump said that he was aware of Musk’s poll but that he saw “a lot of problems at Twitter,” according to Bloomberg. “I hear we’re getting a big vote to also go back on Twitter. I don’t see it because I don’t see any reason for it,” Trump was quoted as saying by Bloomberg. “It may make it, it may not make it,” he added, apparently referring to Twitter’s recent internal upheavals. The prospect of restoring Trump’s presence to the platform follows Musk’s purchase last month of Twitter — an acquisition that has fanned widespread concern that the billionaire owner will allow purveyors of lies and misinformation to flourish on the site. Musk has frequently expressed his belief that Twitter had become too restrictive of freewheeling speech. His efforts to reshape the site have been both swift and chaotic. Musk …

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Botswana Records Surge in Lithium Batteries Theft as Global Demand Soars

Authorities in Botswana are reporting increased thefts of lithium batteries from mobile phone towers amid a surge in global demand for the battery in electric vehicles. The southern African nation’s biggest mobile network operator says it has lost more than $100,000 worth of lithium batteries in the past week alone. Botswana police spokesperson Diteko Motube said most of the stolen batteries are being smuggled across the border to Zimbabwe. Motube said five suspects from Zimbabwe and a Botswanan national were arrested this week while in possession of batteries worth more than $100,000. The batteries were stolen from Botswana’s leading mobile network service provider, Mascom. Company spokesperson Tebogo Lebotse-Sebego said the thefts are derailing their service delivery. “This issue is certainly a crisis and it is affecting our quality of services ambitions,” said Lebotse-Sebego. “We are working closely with the relevant law enforcement offices and other administrators, including the community to find sustainable solutions to arrest the situation.” Electric cars fuel demand There is a surge in global demand for lithium batteries – and their components – due to their use in electric cars. However, Zimbabwean-born UK based economic and political analyst Zenzo Moyo said the thefts in Botswana could be the result of the frequent power outages experienced in some southern African countries. “It is not surprising that these lithium batteries are in high demand now mainly because of the load shedding that is being experienced in southern Africa especially in Zimbabwe and South Africa,” said Moyo. Some households use lithium batteries for solar lighting, while light industries also rely on them. Moyo said there is a huge market for the batteries in countries — such as Zimbabwe — that are turning to alternative energy sources. “The economic hardships that Zimbabwe face cannot be used as an excuse for any kind of theft whether these are batteries or not,” he said. “If you look at the numbers that (the police) intercepted — these are huge numbers — it indicates that the people who were carrying these batteries are either runners or were selling them. There is a huge market for …

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Taiwan’s APEC Envoy at the Center of Processor Chip Tension

Taiwan’s envoy to a gathering of Asia-Pacific leaders is the 91-year-old billionaire founder of a computer chip manufacturing giant that operated behind the scenes for decades before being thrust into the center of U.S.-Chinese tension over technology and security. Morris Chang’s hybrid role highlights the clash between Taiwan’s status as one of China’s top tech suppliers and Beijing’s threats to attack the self-ruled island democracy of 22 million people, which the mainland’s ruling Communist Party says it part of its territory. Taiwan’s decision to send Chang instead of a political leader to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Thailand reflects the island’s unusual status. The United States and other governments have agreed to Chinese demands not to have official relations with Taiwan or have their leaders meet its president. Chang transformed the semiconductor industry when he founded Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corp. in 1987 as the first foundry to produce chips only for customers without designing its own. That allowed smaller designers to compete with industry giants without spending billions of dollars to build a factory. TSMC has grown into the biggest chip producer, supplying Apple Inc., Qualcomm Inc. and other customers and turning Taiwan into a global tech center. TSMC-produced chips are in millions of smartphones, automobiles and high-end computers. Despite that, TSMC ranks high on any list of the biggest companies that are unknown outside their industries. Chang, a Texas Instruments Inc. veteran who served as TSMC chairman until 2018, represented then-President Chen Shui-bian at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in 2006. He was re-appointed to the same job in 2018, 2019 and 2020 by President Tsai Ing-wen. “Taiwan’s semiconductor industry, especially TSMC, plays a pivotal role in the domestic and even the world economy,” Tsai told reporters on Oct. 20. “At this important moment, Chang is an irreplaceable candidate to serve as the representative of our country’s APEC leaders.” Britain’s trade minister, Greg Hands, said London wants closer cooperation with Taiwan on semiconductors during a visit this month. Britain is home to Arm, a leading chip designer. Taiwan is in a “very challenging environment” and APEC is the …

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EXPLAINER: Nasa’s New Mega Moon Rocket, Orion Crew Capsule

NASA is kicking off its new moon program with a test flight of a brand-new rocket and capsule. Liftoff was slated for early Wednesday from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The test flight aims to send an empty crew capsule into a far-flung lunar orbit, 50 years after NASA’s famed Apollo moonshots. The project is years late and billions over budget. The price tag for the test flight: more than $4 billion. A rundown of the new rocket and capsule, part of NASA’s Artemis program, named after Apollo’s mythological twin sister: Rocket power At 322 feet (98 meters), the new rocket is shorter and slimmer than the Saturn V rockets that hurled 24 Apollo astronauts to the moon a half-century ago. But it’s mightier, packing 8.8 million pounds (4 million kilograms) of thrust. It’s called the Space Launch System rocket, SLS for short, although a less clunky name is under discussion. Unlike the streamlined Saturn V, the new rocket has a pair of side boosters refashioned from NASA’s space shuttles. The boosters peel away after two minutes, just like the shuttle boosters. The core stage keeps firing before crashing into the Pacific. Less than two hours after liftoff, an upper stage sends the capsule, Orion, racing toward the moon. Moonship NASA’s high-tech, automated Orion capsule is named after the constellation, among the night sky’s brightest. At 11 feet (3 meters) tall, it’s roomier than Apollo’s capsule, seating four astronauts instead of three. For the test flight, a full-size dummy in an orange flight suit occupies the commander’s seat, rigged with vibration and acceleration sensors. Two other mannequins made of material simulating human tissue — heads and female torsos, but no limbs — measure cosmic radiation, one of the biggest risks of spaceflight. Unlike the rocket, Orion has launched before, making two laps around Earth in 2014. For the test flight, the European Space Agency’s service module was attached for propulsion and solar power via four wings. Flight plan Orion’s flight is set to last 25 days from its Florida liftoff to Pacific splashdown, about the same as astronaut trips. It …

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FBI Says It has ‘National Security Concerns’ About TikTok

FBI Director Christopher Wray said on Tuesday that the bureau has “national security concerns” about popular short-form video hosting app TikTok as the Chinese-owned company seeks U.S. government approval to continue operating in the country. Speaking during a U.S. House of Representatives Homeland Security Committee hearing on “worldwide threats to the homeland,” Wray said the FBI’s concerns about TikTok include “the possibility that the Chinese government could use it to control data collection on millions of users.” There is also concern, Wray said in response to a question, that the Chinese government could “control the recommendation algorithm, which could be used for influence operations … or to control software on millions of devices, which gives the opportunity to potentially technically compromise personal devices.” In written testimony, Wray called the foreign intelligence and economic threat from China “the greatest long-term threat to our nation’s ideas, innovation, and economic security.” But he declined to answer in an open session a lawmaker’s question about whether the Chinese government has been leveraging TikTok to collect data about U.S. citizens. Concerns about ties to Chinese government TikTok’s ties to the Chinese government have been a flashpoint among U.S. lawmakers and officials for years. The app grew in popularity in recent years after its parent company, ByteDance, a China-based company with suspected ties to the Chinese government, bought and later absorbed Musical.ly, which allowed users to create and share lip-sync videos. Citing national security concerns, then-President Donald Trump issued an executive order in 2020 that would effectively ban TikTok in the United States. But the social platform sued to block Trump’s executive order. Last year President Joe Biden revoked the Trump directive, asking the Treasury Department to examine security concerns associated with the app. The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), an interagency body headed by the Treasury Department that reviews the national security implications of foreign investments in U.S. companies, has been examining TikTok’s proposal to continue to remain active in the U.S. market and the risks associated with it. Noting that the FBI’s foreign investment unit is part of the CFIUS …

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