New PlayStation Controller Aims to Make Gaming Easier for People with Disabilities

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Paul Lane uses his mouth, cheek and chin to push buttons and guide his virtual car around the Gran Turismo racetrack on the PlayStation 5. It's how he's been playing for the past 23 years, after a car accident left him unable to use his fingers. Playing video games has long been a challenge for people with disabilities, chiefly because the standard controllers for the PlayStation, Xbox or Nintendo can be difficult, or even impossible, to maneuver for people with limited mobility. And losing the ability to play the games doesn't just mean the loss of a favorite pastime, it can also exacerbate social isolation in a community already experiencing it at a far higher rate than the general population. As part of the gaming industry's efforts to address the…
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Hackers Attack Guatemalan Government Webpages

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In what Guatemalan authorities described as a national security incident, hackers affiliated with the activist group Anonymous disabled multiple government webpages Saturday. The attacks were in support of demonstrations led by Indigenous organizations in the Central American country. For almost two weeks, demonstrators have been calling for the resignation of Guatemalan Attorney General Consuelo Porras, saying she has tried to undermine the popular vote that made progressive Bernardo Arévalo the president-elect. Posting on the social media website X, formerly known as Twitter, hackers under the handle @AnonGTReloaded announced, "This October 14 #Anonymous will attack the Government of Guatemala, but this time we do not come alone." The hackers targeted government webpages with floods of automated traffic until they crashed, a technique known as distributed denial-of-service attacks. Webpages for Guatemala's judicial…
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Amid Mental Health Crisis, Toy Industry Takes on a New Role: Building Resilience

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As more children emerge from the pandemic grappling with mental health issues, their parents are seeking ways for them to build emotional resilience.  And toy companies are paying close attention.  While still in its early phase, a growing number of toy marketers are embracing MESH — or mental, emotional and social health — as a designation for toys that teach kids skills like how to adjust to new challenges, resolve conflict, advocate for themselves, or solve problems.  The acronym was first used in child development circles and by the American Camp Association 10 years ago and gained new resonance after the pandemic. Rachele Harmuth, head of ThinkFun, a division of toy company Ravensburger, and resilience expert and family physician Deborah Gilboa, formed a MESH taskforce earlier this year with the…
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‘Ring of Fire’ Eclipse Moves Across the Americas, From Oregon to Brazil

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First came the darkening skies, then the crescent-shaped shadows on the ground, and finally an eruption of cheers by crowds that gathered Saturday along the narrow path of a rare "ring of fire" eclipse of the sun.  It was a spectacular show for some parts of the western United States as the moon moved into place and the ring formed.  There were hoots, hollers and yelps for those with an unfettered view in Albuquerque, where the celestial event coincided with an international balloon fiesta that typically draws tens of thousands of spectators and hundreds of hot air balloon pilots from around the world.  They got a double treat, with balloons lifting off during a mass ascension shortly after dawn and then the eclipse a couple hours later. Organizers had 80,000…
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Environmentalists Say They’ll Sue Over Snail Species Living Near Nevada Lithium Mine

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In an ongoing legal battle with the Biden administration over a Nevada lithium mine, environmentalists are poised to return to court with a new approach accusing U.S. wildlife officials of dragging their feet on a year-old petition seeking endangered species status for a tiny snail that lives nearby. The Western Watersheds Project said in its formal notice of intent to sue that the government's failure to list the Kings River pyrg as a threatened or endangered species could push it to the brink of extinction. It says the only place the snail is known to exist is in 13 shallow springs near where Lithium Americas is building its Thacker Pass Mine near the Oregon line. President Joe Biden has made ramped-up domestic production of lithium a key part of his…
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US Universities Help Malawi Establish First AI Center

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Malawi launched its first-ever Centre for Artificial Intelligence and STEAM — Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics — Friday at the Malawi University of Science and Technology. Established with support from various U.S.-based universities, the center aims to provide solutions to the country's innovation and technology needs. The project's leader, Zipangani Vokhiwa, a science professor at Mercer University in the U.S. and a Fulbright scholar, says the center will help promote the study and use of artificial intelligence, or AI, and STEAM for the socioeconomic development of Malawi and beyond. "Economic development that we know cannot go without the modern scientific knowledge and aspect so the center will complement vision 2063 for Malawi as a country that needs to be moving together with the country developments in science," Vokhiwa said.…
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Pfizer Slashes Revenue Forecast on Lower COVID Sales, Will Cut Costs

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Pfizer slashed its full-year revenue forecast by 13% and said Friday it will cut $3.5 billion worth of jobs and expenses due to lower-than-expected sales of its COVID-19 vaccine and treatment. Pfizer earned record revenue in 2021 and 2022, topping $100 billion last year, after developing its vaccine Comirnaty with German partner BioNTech SE and antiviral treatment Paxlovid on its own. Last year, revenue from those two products exceeded $56 billion. But annual vaccination rates have dropped sharply since 2021 and demand for treatments has dipped as population-wide immunity has increased from vaccines and prior infections. Pfizer and rivals have begun selling an updated COVID vaccine for this fall. "We remain proud that our scientific breakthroughs played a significant role in getting the global health crisis under control," Pfizer CEO…
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Virtually Certain 2023 Will Be Warmest Year on Record, US Agency Says

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Following another month of record-breaking temperatures throughout the globe in September, the year 2023 is all but certain to be the warmest on record, a U.S. agency said Friday. The unwelcome news comes as world leaders prepare to meet for the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Dubai in late November where phasing out fossil fuels, the main driver of human-caused climate change, will be top of the agenda. "There is a greater than 99% probability that 2023 will rank as the warmest year on record," the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said in its monthly update. The calculation was based on data gathered through September and on simulations of possible outcomes based on the historical record, from 1975 to present. "September 2023 was the fourth month in a row…
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NASA Launches Probe to Study Rocky Asteroid

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The U.S. space agency, NASA, launched a rocket Friday from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The rocket carried a probe designed to study a metal-rich asteroid that scientists think might be the remnants of small planet or planet-like object.  The rocket, built by the private space company SpaceX, took off early Friday, starting NASAs Psyche probe on a 3.5-billion kilometer, six-year journey to the asteroid of the same name, orbiting between the planets Mars and Jupiter.  Using Earth-based radar and optical telescope data, scientists hypothesize that the asteroid Psyche could be part of the metal-rich interior of a "planetesimal," a building block of a rocky planet that never formed.   NASA scientists say Psyche may have collided with other large bodies during its early formation and lost its outer…
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US Seeks to ‘Diversify’ China-Dominated Africa Minerals Supply Chain

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Africa is the site of a new battle for influence as Washington ramps up efforts to build an alternative critical minerals supply chain to avoid reliance on China. Beijing dominates the processing of critical minerals such as cobalt, lithium and other resources from the continent that are needed for the transition to clean energy and electric vehicles. But at the Green Energy Africa Summit this week in Cape Town, which was held on the sidelines of Africa Oil Week, few were willing to talk about it directly. Asked whether the U.S. was playing catch-up with China, one of the panel’s speakers, Deputy Assistant Secretary in the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Energy Resources Kimberly Harrington, said simply that Washington was looking to "diversify." For his part, fellow panelist Chiza Charles…
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EU Urges Big Tech to Tackle Terrorist Content After Hamas Attack

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The European Union has expanded its warnings that tech companies must remove illegal content from their platforms, or risk facing severe legal penalties. Following the militant Islamist group Hamas' attack on Israel and Israel's retaliatory airstrikes in the Palestinian enclave of Gaza, social media firms have seen a surge in misinformation related to the conflict, including doctored images and mislabeled videos, alongside images of graphic violence. On Tuesday, EU industry chief Thierry Breton told Elon Musk to curb disinformation on his messaging platform X, warning it was being used to disseminate illegal content and false information in the wake of recent violence in the Middle East. Breton issued a similar warning to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Wednesday, urging the company to ensure strict compliance with European law. In his…
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NASA Shows Off Its First Asteroid Samples Delivered by Spacecraft

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NASA on Wednesday showed off its first asteroid samples delivered last month by a spacecraft — the most ever returned to Earth. Scientists and space agency leaders took part in the reveal at Johnson Space Center in Houston. The ancient black dust and chunks are from the carbon-rich asteroid named Bennu, almost 60 million miles away. NASA's Osiris-Rex spacecraft collected the samples three years ago and then dropped them off sealed in a capsule during a flyby of Earth last month. Scientists anticipated at least a cupful of rocks, far more than what Japan brought back from a pair of missions years ago. They're still not sure about the exact quantity. That's because the main sample chamber has yet to be opened, officials said. "It's been going slow and meticulous,"…
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‘Ring of Fire’ Solar Eclipse Will Slice Across Americas on Saturday

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Tens of millions in the Americas will have front-row seats for Saturday's rare "ring of fire" eclipse of the sun.  What's called an annular solar eclipse — better known as a ring of fire — will briefly dim the skies over parts of the western U.S. and Central and South America.  As the moon lines up precisely between Earth and the sun, it will blot out all but the sun's outer rim. A bright, blazing border will appear around the moon for as much as five minutes, wowing sky gazers along a narrow path stretching from Oregon to Brazil.  The celestial showstopper will yield a partial eclipse across the rest of the Western Hemisphere.  It's a prelude to the total solar eclipse that will sweep across Mexico, the eastern half…
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Another US State Sues TikTok, Saying It Lures Children Into Destructive Habits

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Utah on Tuesday became the latest U.S. state to sue TikTok, alleging the company is "baiting" children into addictive and unhealthy social media habits. TikTok lures children into hours of social media use, misrepresents the app's safety and deceptively portrays itself as independent of its Chinese parent company, ByteDance, Utah claims in the lawsuit. "We will not stand by while these companies fail to take adequate, meaningful action to protect our children. We will prevail in holding social media companies accountable by any means necessary," Utah Governor Spencer Cox, a Republican, said at a news conference announcing the lawsuit, which was filed in state court in Salt Lake City. Arkansas and Indiana have filed similar lawsuits, while the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to decide whether state attempts to regulate social…
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Digital Currency: Beacon of Hope in Fight Against Myanmar Junta

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"Digital currencies have played a pivotal role in backing Myanmar's Spring Revolution," following a military takeover of the government in February 2021, said NUG Deputy Minister of Planning, Finance and Development Min Zayar Oo, in a statement to VOA. The minister was appointed by the National Unity Government, or NUG, made up of members of Myanmar's former democratically elected government and other opponents of the junta. Centralized digital currencies, however, can be a double-edged sword, with authoritarian regimes seeking to use them as a tool for financial surveillance and censorship.  "The primary advantage for pro-democracy activists lies in the fact that these currencies operate independently of government control, enabling individuals to offer support to their chosen recipients discreetly, without disclosing their identities," said Aung Paing, an expert on digital currencies…
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Vodafone to Create Open RAN Chip Sets With Intel

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Vodafone underlined its commitment to Open RAN networks on Monday by confirming it would create purpose-built chipset architecture for the nascent technology with Intel INTC.O. The European operator also said it had made its first 4G calls using Open RAN over network sites shared with Orange ORAN.PA in Romania, and it was partnering with Nokia NOKIA.HE to pilot the technology in Italy. Open RAN allows mobile operators to mix and match equipment from various suppliers, potentially increasing flexibility. Progress has been slow, however, and the market remains dominated by proprietary solutions from Ericsson, Nokia, and Huawei, although the latter has been hit by government restrictions in countries including Britain. Vodafone agreed in 2022 to work with U.S. chipmaker Intel on the potential to design its own chip architecture. The company's…
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Monday Is World Mental Health Day

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Monday is World Mental Health Day. This year’s theme is “Mental health is a basic universal human right.” People all over the world who have mental health conditions, according to the World Health Organization, face discrimination. “Having a mental health condition should never be a reason to deprive a person of their human rights or to exclude them from decisions about their own health,” WHO said in a statement. “Yet all over the world, people with mental health conditions continue to experience a wide range of human rights violations.” The WHO says, “one in eight people globally are living with mental health conditions, which can impact their physical health, their well-being, how they connect with others, and their livelihoods.” World Mental Health Day was initiated in 1992 by the World…
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App Shows How Ancient Greek Sites Looked Thousands of Years Ago

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Tourists at the Acropolis this holiday season can witness the resolution of one of the world's most heated debates on cultural heritage. All they need is a smartphone. Visitors can now pinch and zoom their way around the ancient Greek site, with a digital overlay showing how it once looked. That includes a collection of marble sculptures removed from the Parthenon more than 200 years ago that are now on display at the British Museum in London. Greece has demanded they be returned. For now, an app supported by Greece's Culture Ministry allows visitors to point their phones at the Parthenon temple, and the sculptures housed in London appear back on the monument as archaeologists believe they looked 2,500 years ago. Other, less widely known features also appear: Many of…
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US Sex Education Classes Often Don’t Include LGBTQ+ Students

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In fifth grade, Stella Gage's class watched a video about puberty. In ninth grade, a few sessions of her health class were dedicated to the risks of sexual behaviors. That was the extent of her sex education in school. At no point was there any content that felt especially relevant to her identity as a queer teenager. To fill the gaps, she turned mostly to social media. "My parents were mostly absent, my peers were not mature enough, and I didn't have anyone else to turn to," said Gage, who is now a sophomore at Wichita State University in Kansas. Many LGBTQ+ students say they have not felt represented in sex education classes. To learn about their identities and how to build healthy, safe relationships, they often have had to…
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Pharmacist Shortages, Heavy Workloads Challenge US Drugstores

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A dose of patience may come in handy at the pharmacy counter this fall. Drug and staffing shortages haven't gone away. Stores are starting their busiest time of year as customers look for help with colds and the flu. And this fall, pharmacists are dealing with a new vaccine and the start of insurance coverage for COVID-19 shots. Some drugstores have addressed their challenges by adding employees at busy hours. But experts say many pharmacies, particularly the big chains, still don't have enough workers behind the counter. Chris Adkins said he left his job as a pharmacist with a major drugstore chain a couple years ago because of the stress. Aside from filling and checking prescriptions, Adkins routinely answered the phone, ran the register and stocked pharmacy shelves. "I just…
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Nearly 1,000 Birds Die After Colliding With Chicago Building

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A massive number of migrating birds collided with McCormick Place — a Chicago convention center — this week, resulting in an unprecedented number of bird deaths. Dave Willard has collected dead and injured birds from around the center during the migration season for about 40 years. In an interview with the Audubon website, Willard said that he and his colleagues collected 964 dead birds and approximately 80 “stunned live ones.” “It was truly unprecedented,” he said of Thursday’s event. Hundreds more dead and injured birds were subsequently found around the city. Before this week’s catastrophe, the largest number of dead birds he had collected was 200. “Unfortunate weather” combined with “disorienting brightly lit buildings” confused the birds, resulting in the high death and injury numbers. “You pick up a Rose-breasted…
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