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Technology

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Can you see it? The fire in the photo above?

A single tree burning doesn't put up much smoke.

There's a flash of lightning, sizzling across the sky. Then, a pause, as bark smolders and flames creep, building heat until poof: a signal in the sky.

Philip Connors, gazing outward from a tower, sees it as a new dent on the crest of a distant ridge. He's spent thousands of hours contemplating the contours of southwest New Mexico. The fuzzy smudge is out of place.

More From Edward Snowden

Sep 14, 2019

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

If Edward Snowden returns to the United States, he faces three felony charges for leaking thousands of classified documents about the National Security Agency's surveillance programs. He's been living in Russia since 2013. Elsewhere in this program, he explains how he ended up there and maintains he's not giving information to the Russian government.

Uber's bright red Jump bikes will no longer be seen on the streets of San Diego and Atlanta.

The company has confirmed it will soon pull its ride-share bikes from those two cities. Over the summer, both San Diego and Atlanta ratcheted up regulations on shareable bikes and electric scooters.

The company's bikes are also temporarily unavailable in Providence, R.I., according to Uber spokesman Matthew Wing. The company also stopped bike-sharing in Dallas and San Antonio earlier this summer, after announcing it would close down in Staten Island, N.Y.

Friday News Roundup - Domestic

Sep 13, 2019

With guest host Todd Zwillich.

We round up the week’s top news from around the country.

Former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford announced he will challenge President Donald Trump in the 2020 Republican primaries.

Regulate us. That's the unexpected message from one of the country's leading tech executives. Microsoft President Brad Smith argues that governments need to put some "guardrails" around engineers and the tech titans they serve.

If public leaders don't, he says, the Internet giants will cannibalize the very fabric of this country.

"We need to work together; we need to work with governments to protect, frankly, something that is far more important than technology: democracy. It was here before us. It needs to be here and healthy after us," Smith says.

When Edward Snowden landed at the Moscow airport in 2013, having just divulged valuable secrets about National Security Agency surveillance programs, he was immediately stopped by Russian authorities.

A smooth-talking Russian intelligence officer sat Snowden down in an airport lounge and informed him the U.S. government had canceled his passport while Snowden had been in the air. The Russian added, "Life for a person in your situation can be very difficult without friends who can help. Is there some information, perhaps, some small thing you could share with us?"

Lyft is facing a flood of lawsuits from women around the country who say the ride-hailing company has known for years — and failed to stop — what they describe as an epidemic of sexual assault and rape involving some of its drivers.

"This is out of control. And this needs to stop," says attorney Laurel Simes, a partner in a San Francisco firm representing several dozen women who are suing the company.

In a photo taken last March, a teenage boy is sitting at his desk with a plastic pellet gun that looks a lot like an AR-15. The airsoft rifle is propped up on the arm of a chair, pointing at the ceiling, and the boy, Eric, is looking at the camera. We're not using his last name to protect his privacy.

Eric's friend took the picture. At the time, Eric says, he didn't realize his friend had captioned the photo "Don't come to school Monday" and had sent it to others on Snapchat.

Lawmakers in California have advanced a bill aimed at ensuring minimum wage, workers' compensation and other benefits for contract workers in the gig economy.

The state Senate passed the measure known as Assembly Bill 5 on Tuesday evening. The move is likely to have major ramifications for on-demand delivery and ride-hailing companies such as Uber, DoorDash and Lyft, which classify most of their workers as independent contractors.

Apple is entering the video-streaming race, taking on Netflix, Amazon, Disney and others with a monthly subscription of $4.99. The company also announced three new iPhones, even as their sales have been slowing.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

With the clock counting down to Election Day 2020, what are the FBI and other national security agencies doing to protect against the foreign interference that marred the 2016 campaign?

They say they're doing a lot.

Lessons learned

American officials acknowledge they were caught a bit flat-footed in 2016 by Russia's active measures operation. U.S. intelligence agencies saw various pieces of what the Russians were up to, officials say, but did not put it all together until it was too late.

Updated at 3:08 p.m. ET

State attorneys general of 48 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia announced a major probe Monday into Google's dominance in search and advertising for practices that harm competition as well as consumers. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is leading the bipartisan pack.

It used to take at least nine months for a patient to schedule an initial appointment with a psychiatrist at Meridian Health Services in Indiana. Now, it takes days, thanks to a program that allows doctors to connect over the Internet with patients, reaching those even in remotest corners of the state.

That has also helped with recruitment. Over the last several years, Meridian's staff of psychiatric specialists, including nurse practitioners, tripled from four to 12.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Troll Watch: Deepfakes And 2020

Sep 8, 2019

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Americans are preparing more than ever to safeguard voting as the nation looks ahead to the Democratic primaries and the general election next year.

What no one can say for certain today is whether all the work may turn out to be superfluous — or whether it'll be enough.

When the city of New Bedford, Mass., was hit by a ransomware attack in July, with hackers demanding $5.3 million in bitcoin to release the city's data, town officials tried an old law enforcement tactic to deal with hostage-takers: open dialogue and stall for time.

Friday News Roundup - Domestic

Sep 6, 2019

Hurricane Dorian is moving up the eastern United States after devastating the Bahamas.

Democratic candidates’ climate change plans came under scrutiny during last night’s climate town hall.

Updated at 5:44 p.m. ET

The push to investigate Big Tech is picking up steam.

Attorneys general from eight states and the District of Columbia have launched a formal investigation into Facebook over anti-competitive practices, the New York attorney general's office confirmed Friday morning. And later in the day, Google's parent acknowledged that the Department of Justice is looking into antitrust issues at the search giant.

More than a million Americans have donated genetic information and medical data for research projects. But how that information gets used varies a lot, depending on the philosophy of the organizations that have gathered the data.

Some hold the data close, while others are working to make the data as widely available to as many researchers as possible — figuring science will progress faster that way. But scientific openness can be constrained b y both practical and commercial considerations.

Three major projects in the United States illustrate these differing philosophies.

Copyright 2019 KCRW. To see more, visit KCRW.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Big Tech representatives met with law enforcement and intelligence officials to discuss how to align their efforts to defend the 2020 election.

Facebook and Microsoft confirmed the meeting, which took place at Facebook's campus in Menlo Park, Calif., on Wednesday.

The conversations — and the announcement that they took place — reflected a new consensus in the worlds of technology and national security about the need to prepare beforehand for disinformation or other influence operations aimed at the 2020 presidential race.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Did the United States government punish YouTube strongly enough? The Federal Trade Commission fined the channel's owner, Google, for marketing to children without their parents' consent.

(SOUNDBITE OF YOUTUBE VIDEO)

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Google will pay $170 million to settle allegations by the Federal Trade Commission and New York's attorney general. The complaint alleges Google's video platform YouTube earned hundreds of millions of dollars by tracking, profiling and targeting ads to children without parental consent. That is a violation of federal law.

NPR's Anya Kamenetz reports the FTC means to make YouTube safer, but some members of the commission itself say the settlement is too lenient.

Updated at 11:29 a.m. ET

Google and its YouTube subsidiary will pay $170 million to settle allegations that YouTube collected personal information from children without their parents' consent, the Federal Trade Commission said Wednesday.

A group of guys are staring into a laptop, exchanging excited giggles. Every couple minutes there's an "oooooh" that morphs into an expectant hush.

The Las Vegas scene seems more like a college dorm party than a deep dive into the democratic process.

Cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon are being tossed around. One is cracked open and spews foam all over a computer keyboard.

"That's a new vulnerability!" someone yells.

Engineers Can Help Save The Earth

Sep 3, 2019

More than two decades ago, the CEO of BP, one of the biggest oil and gas companies in the world – gave a speech to the 1997 graduating class at Stanford University.

In the speech, John Browne acknowledged for the first time the link between the fossil fuel industry and global warming.

Afterward, the American Petroleum Institute declared that Browne had “left the church.”

With five months before primary season begins, election officials around the country are busy buying new voting equipment.

Their main focus is security, after Russians tried to hack into U.S. election systems in 2016. Intelligence officials have warned that similar attacks are likely in 2020, from either Russia or others intent on disrupting U.S. elections.

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