Tag Archives: Itself

SpaceX Starship SN11 Blows Itself Apart During High-Altitude Test

This site may earn affiliate commissions from the links on this page. Terms of use.

The in-development Starship rocket is key to SpaceX’s future plans, from lunar missions to Mars colonization. Elon Musk’s spaceflight company has been open with its Starship testing, even with the results haven’t been flattering. In the most recent test, the Starship SN11 reached an altitude of about eight kilometers, and then something went wrong. We don’t know exactly what happened yet, but the vessel came down in pieces. Musk quipped on Twitter that at least the crater was in the right place. Say what you will about Elon Musk, he’s pretty unflappable, even when his most ambitious aerospace project struggles to get off the ground. 

The Starship is being developed with reusability in mind like the Falcon 9. SpaceX envisions a fleet of reusable Starships that can take off, land, and then fly again after refueling. While it shares this property with the Falcon 9, the two devices don’t share hardware. The Starship is larger, made of different materials, and has new engines. 

SpaceX has thus far only succeeded in landing the rocket after a low altitude test. In the last flight, featuring SN10, the rocket flew high into the atmosphere, and then landed on the launch pad. It looked like everything would work out, but damage to the fuel system from the harder-than-expected landing led to an explosion several minutes later. The new SN11 flight looks like a step backward as it didn’t even reach the ground in one piece. 

The final image from the Starship (see above) live stream featured one of the craft’s three Raptor engines reigniting for the descent sequence. Contact with the vehicle was lost moments later. Musk said following the incident that the issue appeared to be with the number 2 engine, which didn’t reach operating pressure, but it shouldn’t have been needed to get the rocket on the ground safely. Something else, possibly related to the engine, occurred after the landing burn was supposed to start. However, SpaceX can’t begin to piece together the specifics until it can examine the debris later today. 

This failed test is one more potential setback for SpaceX’s aggressive timeline. Musk has said he hopes to fly a group of passengers, including Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa, around the moon and back in 2023. He’s also pushed the idea that Starships could begin transporting Mars colonists in less than a decade, a timeline that most scientists consider unreasonable. Musk might not have a chance to convince everyone his vision is possible if the rocket doesn’t stop exploding.

Now read:

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

ExtremeTechExtreme – ExtremeTech

The Meghan and Harry interview: A ‘damaging’ view on race as Palace history repeats itself

Hello, royal watchers. This is a special edition of The Royal Fascinator, your dose of royal news and analysis. Reading this online? Sign up here to get this delivered to your inbox.


The revelations just kept coming Sunday night as Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, gave Oprah Winfrey — and a worldwide television audience — their view on why they had to leave the upper echelons of the Royal Family.

The reasons were many, but amid all they had to say, there was one statement that stood out and seems particularly serious for the House of Windsor: Meghan’s declaration that a senior member of the Royal Family had worries about the colour of the skin of their first child before he was born.

In an interview Monday on CBS This Morning, Winfrey said Harry told her neither Queen Elizabeth nor Prince Philip were part of conversations about Archie’s skin colour.

“I think it’s very damaging — the idea that a senior member of the Royal Family had expressed concern about what Archie might look like,” Carolyn Harris, a Toronto-based royal author and historian, said in an interview late Sunday night.

Meghan told Winfrey the concern had been relayed to her by Harry, and when questioned further on it, Harry refused to offer more specifics, saying it’s a “conversation I’m never going to share.”

And that, Harris suggests, speaks to the seriousness of the matter.

“It’s very clear that Harry didn’t want to go into details feeling that it would be too damaging for the monarchy.”

WATCH | Royal Family expressed concerns about son’s skin colour, Meghan tells Oprah:

Meghan told Oprah Winfrey that the Royal Family didn’t want her and Prince Harry’s son to be made a prince or receive security partly over concerns over how dark the baby’s skin would be. 0:15

It will take time to digest the impact of all that Harry and Meghan had to say to Winfrey. But some early comments in the British media this morning suggest Harry and Meghan’s account will have a profound impact.

“They have revealed the terrible strains inside the palace. They have drawn a picture of unfeeling individuals lost in an uncaring institution. They have spoken of racism within the Royal Family. This was a devastating interview,” the BBC’s royal correspondent, Jonny Dymond, wrote in an online analysis

“But Harry describing his brother and father as ‘trapped,’ and Meghan revealing that she repeatedly sought help within the palace only to be rebuffed is a body blow to the institution.”

‘A damning allegation’

The Guardian reported that Harry and Meghan telling Winfrey of conversations in the Royal Family about Archie’s skin colour is “a damning allegation that will send shockwaves through the institution and send relations with the palace to a new low.”

Many themes and issues developed over the two-hour broadcast, which sprinkled lighter moments — they’re expecting a girl, they have rescue chickens and Archie, age almost two, has taken to telling people to “drive safe” — with much more serious concerns, including the lack of support they say they received, particularly as Meghan had suicidal thoughts.

WATCH | Meghan had suicidal thoughts during royal life:

The Duchess of Sussex told Oprah Winfrey that she had asked for help from the Royal Family for her mental health, but received none. 0:22

“A theme that emerges again and again, and it’s something that Harry explicitly states in the interview, is the Royal Family being concerned with the opinion of the tabloid press,” said Harris. “This may very well have influenced decisions not to speak out about the way Meghan was being treated and that may have influenced some other decisions as well.”

One of those might be the question of security, something that was of considerable concern to the couple when they learned royal support for it would be withdrawn.

“The Royal Family has frequently in the past received bad press regarding minor members … receiving security,”said Harris.

‘Negative headlines’

“There were a lot of negative headlines regarding Beatrice and Eugenie continuing to receive security and their father’s [Prince Andrew’s] insistence they receive security despite being comparatively minor members of the Royal Family who do not undertake public engagements representing the Queen.”

There was also a sense out of Sunday’s interview that issues that troubled the Royal Family in the past may still be a worry now.

“Even in the 21st century after all of the problems that the Royal Family encountered in the 1990s with the breakdowns in the marriages of Prince Charles and Prince Andrew … there still doesn’t seem to be a consistent means of mentoring new members of the Royal Family,” said Harris.

Meghan said she had to Google the lyrics for God Save the Queen, and was filled in at the last minute about having to curtsy to Elizabeth just before meeting her for the first time.


Queen Elizabeth, Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, pose for a picture at a Buckingham Palace reception following the final Queen’s Young Leaders Awards ceremony in London on June 26, 2018. Both Meghan and Harry spoke warmly of the Queen during the interview Sunday night. (John Stillwell/Reuters)

Throughout the interview, Harry and Meghan repeatedly expressed respect and admiration for the Queen, if not for how the Royal Family as an institution operates.

But there is considerable murkiness around just who may be responsible for some of the more serious issues they raised.

“We know they respect the Queen and have a good personal relationship with the Queen. We know that Meghan had a conflict with Kate but says Kate apologized and Meghan forgave her and she doesn’t think Kate’s a bad person,” said Harris.

Lacking ‘specific details’

“But when it comes to who made racist comments about Archie’s appearance or who was dismissive directly of Meghan’s mental health, [on] that we don’t have specific details.”

High-profile royal interviews such as this — particularly one by Harry’s mother Diana, in 1995 — have a track record of not turning out as the royal interviewees may have intended, and it remains to be seen the lasting impact of this one. 

Harris sees parallels with Diana’s interview, as she “spoke frankly” about a lack of support from the family, and felt that she had been let down by Prince Charles.


Meghan spoke with Winfrey before they were joined by Harry. (Harpo Productions/Joe Pugliese/Reuters)

Harry talked of hoping to repair his relationship with his father — “I will always love him but there’s a lot of hurt that happened” — but said he felt really let down, and noted a time when his father wasn’t taking his calls.

Harris expects the interview will prompt further critical scrutiny of Charles, and Harry’s older brother Prince William.

The relationship with William has already been under intense scrutiny, and is clearly still a delicate matter for Harry, who hesitated noticeably before responding as Winfrey pressed him on it. 

“Time heals all things, hopefully,” Harry said.

How Buckingham Palace responds to all this remains to be seen. Generally, the public approach in matters such as this is silence, and a determination to be seen as carrying on with regular duties.

Whether a member of the family might make a more informal comment — say in response to a question from someone at a public event — also remains to be seen. 

WATCH | Meghan says Royal Family failed to protect her and Prince Harry:

The Duchess of Sussex told Oprah Winfrey that things started to worsen with the Royal Family after she and Harry were married. 0:23

But from what did emerge Sunday evening, there is a sense that whatever efforts the House of Windsor has made to put a more modern face on the monarchy, they appear not to have yielded the fruit that might have been hoped.

“There’s been some elements of modernization, but it’s very clear that the institution has difficulty adapting to the needs of individuals who marry into the Royal Family,” said Harris. “It’s clear that Meghan came away from her experiences feeling that she was not supported or mentored in her new role.”


Sign up here to have The Royal Fascinator newsletter land in your inbox every other Friday.

I’m always happy to hear from you. Send your ideas, comments, feedback and notes to royalfascinator@cbc.ca. Problems with the newsletter? Please let me know about any typos, errors or glitches.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

CBC | World News

Goodale’s report on Flight PS752 tragedy says Iran should not be ‘investigating itself’

The prime minister’s special adviser on the destruction of Flight PS752, Ralph Goodale, issued a report today saying that Iran should not be left in charge of the investigation — since it was the actions of the Iranian military that caused the deadly crash in the first place.

“The party responsible for the situation is investigating itself, largely in secret,” former federal cabinet minister Ralph Goodale wrote in the report, released this afternoon. “That does not inspire confidence or trust.”

“In the circumstances of this case, as known thus far, there are indications of incompetence, recklessness and wanton disregard for innocent human life.”

Goodale said that while international procedures assign the responsibility for investigating such air disasters to the country where the crash took place, those rules create a “conflict of interest” in military-related incidents and lack “safeguards” to “ensure independence, impartiality or legitimacy.”

“This undermines the investigation’s credibility and enables a sense of impunity in avoiding essential questions,” Goodale wrote. 

Goodale’s 74-page report comes ahead of the one-year anniversary of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) shooting down the Ukraine International Airlines plane on Jan. 8 shortly after takeoff in Tehran with surface-to-air missiles. The attack killed all 176 people onboard, including 138 people with ties to Canada.

Justin Trudeau appointed Goodale in March to oversee Canada’s response, with a focus on the plight of grieving families. The federal government was accused of doing little for families in the wake of the Air India disaster in 1985 and the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crash of last year.

As a “country, we must acknowledge shortcomings in our responses to previous tragedies and ensure vital lessons are taken to heart,” wrote Goodale. 

Case was ‘complex and difficult’

Goodale said investigating the crash was “complex and difficult” in part because Canada does not have diplomatic relations with Iran and has identified it in Canadian law as a “state supporter of terrorism.” He said Iran has “not yet been forthcoming” in answering questions posed by Canada — including a key one about the fact that Iran’s airspace was left open the night its military forces fired missiles at U.S. locations in Iraq.

“Many of the key details of this horrific event remain unknown to Canada, to the other Coordination Group nations and to the families,” said Goodale. 

“Iran bears responsibility for that because — at least thus far — it has not conducted its investigations (safety, criminal or otherwise) in a truly independent, objective and transparent manner, and answers to critical questions have not been forthcoming.”

For days after the crash, Iranian officials denied any wrongdoing — until evidence gathered around the world showed otherwise. Only then, when “confronted with irrefutable evidence, they belatedly admitted Iran’s responsibility for this deadly travesty” and committed to an investigation, says Goodale’s report. 

Iran has blamed human error and other deficiencies 

Iran has provided updates about its investigation and has “suggested that a lengthy chain of human errors and other deficiencies resulted in the mistaken firing of the Iranian missiles” at the aircraft, the report said.

Canada has rejected Iran’s interim investigation report, which claims that the missiles were not properly reoriented after being moved and that a communication breakdown caused two IRGC members guarding the missile to misidentify the commercial plane as a threat and open fire twice without getting approval from senior ranking officers.

“Given the extraordinary nature of this description of events, it is understandable that the victims’ families find Iran’s explanations to be difficult to accept — at least so far,” wrote Goodale. 

Goodale also criticized Iran for the half-year it took to read out the plane’s black box flight data recorders — something which is supposed to happen “without delay” after an incident, according to international conventions.

“In the end, it took more than six months, fuelling anxiety and harming credibility,” he wrote.

Iran also turned down Canada’s request to become an accredited representative in the investigation, which would have given Canada more first-hand knowledge. Instead, Goodale wrote, Canada’s status was “limited to that of an observer.”

Six people in Iran have been charged in connection with the destruction of Flight PS752. Goodale’s report points out that Iran has not released any further details, including “who these people are, what they are alleged to have done, their degree or level of responsibility, the evidence being used against them, the substance of their defence, and the exact judicial process by which their guilt or innocence is being or will be determined.”

Canada’s response 

The report devotes a chapter to describing how federal officials responded behind the scenes after hearing reports of the crash.

Canada has its own forensic examination and assessment team trying to piece together evidence it’s gathering from family members. The independent Transportation Safety Board of Canada will review Iran’s final investigation report when it’s completed and “point out any deficiencies as necessary,” said the report. The International Coordination Response group, made up of countries that lost citizens in the crash, will continue pushing for answers and reparations from Iran, Goodale wrote.

CBC News has reported family members in Canada who have criticized Iran’s government after losing their loved ones in the downing of Flight PS752 have reported they’re being targeted with threats and intimidation — and they blame Tehran.

In his report, Goodale urges Canadian police and national security agencies to investigate every case of threats and harassment against Canadians and says they should be “prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”

His report also contains a list of recommendations on how Canada should respond to mass casualty events like Flight PS752 in the future. They include putting families’ needs at the forefront, combating misinformation and fear by quickly organizing a response, gathering relevant facts early, providing mental health and post traumatic stress counselling services, and delivering facilitation letters to families in lieu of death certificates.

Goodale also cites the idea of creating a national centre of expertise to help law enforcement and the government coordinate and prepare for mass casualty events. 

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

CBC | World News

United Arab Emirates banks on social reform to help pull itself out of economic slump

Recent reforms in the United Arab Emirates affecting everything from women’s rights to alcohol sales are a sign the majority-expat country sees liberalization as key to its economic prosperity. 

The move to reform a series of laws governing individual freedoms and social mores comes as the country of nearly 10 million people and a $ 524-billion economy struggles with a plunge in oil prices and the coronavirus pandemic. 

“I think they are very pragmatic reforms that have to do with economics and … the need to socially liberalize in order to economically thrive,” said Bernard Haykel, a professor of near eastern studies at Princeton University. 

U.A.E., a federation of seven emirates, is reporting more than 165,250 cases of COVID-19 and about 567 deaths. 

Nearly 90 per cent of the population of the young Gulf state, which is just shy of 50 years old, are foreigners, many of them migrant workers in construction, domestic or service jobs. 

The expatriate population includes roughly 40,000 Canadians, who are mainly concentrated in the international business and tourist hubs of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, the capital. 


Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, prime minister and vice-president of the United Arab Emirates and ruler of Dubai, has been introducing a range of social changes this year. (Christopher Pike/Reuters)

Relaxation of Islamic laws

The changes, which came into effect on Nov. 7, include introducing tougher laws against the harassment of women, an overhaul of how divorce and separation proceedings are decided, changes to the division of assets and the decriminalization of alcohol consumption. 

In the eyes of the state, the aim of the reforms is to boost the country’s economic and social standing and “consolidate the U.A.E’s principles of tolerance,” the state-run Emirates News Agency, or WAM, reported. 

It’s a position that could also put the country, which has branded itself as an international destination for work and travel, in good stead as it prepares to attract at least 25 million visitors to the World Expo, to be held for the first time in the Middle East in October 2021. 


A cyclist rides along a road in Dubai as the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest skyscraper, is seen in the skyline behind. The U.A.E.’s oil-dependent economy was forecast to shrink by as much as six per cent, or $ 31 billion, this year as the country suffered from slumping oil prices and the impact of the pandemic on industry, shipping and travel. (Giuseppe Cacace/AFP/Getty Images)

The sweeping changes mean that individuals no longer have to buy a special licence to purchase or consume alcohol as long as they are 21. In the past, Muslims were banned from obtaining such licences, which is no longer the case.

Under updated inheritance laws, assets and estates of non-Emirati citizens will no longer be divided under Islamic law, known as Sharia, but according to the laws of their country of citizenship — regardless of religion. 

The moves are in line with new divorce proceedings, which allow non-Emirati couples who divorce in the U.A.E. to have the law of the country where the marriage took place enforced. Previously, non-Muslim expats had to petition for the application of their home country laws. 

A shift in attitudes on mental health

Under the new rules, there are stronger penalties for those who subject women to harassment, and lenient sentences have been abolished for so-called honour crimes committed by men against female relatives under the guise of protecting the honour of the family. 

The country has been making a number of social changes in recent years. Last December, the charge of sexual harassment was added to the penal code and allowed men to be recognized as victims of harassment.


Like the rest of the United Arab Emirates, Dubai has branded itself as an international destination for tourists and business. The roughly 40,000 Canadians who live and work in U.A.E. are mainly concentrated in that city and the capital, Abu Dhabi.  (Ahmed Jadallah/Reuters)

The reforms also usher in some changes aimed at addressing mental health issues that have been exacerbated during the pandemic. Under the new rules, those who attempt suicide will no longer face potential prosecution by the courts. In addition, in May, the U.A.E. National Programme for Happiness and Well-being set up a mental health helpline for those dealing with stress and anxiety. 

Monica Salloum, 22, who moved from U.A.E. to Toronto to study in 2017, hopes the reforms will lead to more access to mental health support. Such help was not easily available when she was attending high school in U.A.E.  

“It was definitely a stressful time for me, and I struggled to make long-term decisions,” she said. “I could tell a lot of my friends were dealing with emotional distress, too, so I hope the changes help people overcome those barriers and get access to mental health wellness.” 

Though some of the laws, such as the prosecution of suicide attempts, were rarely invoked, the reforms offer legal assurances that they won’t ever be.

Unmarried couples now free to share a home

The reforms include lifting the ban on unmarried couples living together, which was a source of stress for people such as Jean Paul Khlat, a 46-year-old Canadian citizen who’s been working as a management consultant for the U.A.E. for the past 15 years. 

“The landlord gave us a lot of problems,” Khlat said of living with an ex-partner. “He didn’t have a problem with us specifically, but he was afraid of getting in trouble with the law. It was too much pressure on us, both on the legal side and socially.”

The reforms reflect a series of secular-leaning concessions for the oil-dependent Gulf state and a shift in cultural attitudes, which some observers say could help the country’s financial situation. 


A couple watches the sunset in Dubai this August. The recent reforms include the lifting of a ban on unmarried couples living together. (Giuseppe Cacace/AFP/Getty Images)

The economy was forecast to shrink by as much as six per cent, or $ 31 billion, this year, according to the most recent World Bank update in October. 

An estimated 900,000 jobs, affecting about 10 per cent of the population, were lost in the U.A.E. according to an Oxford Economics report in May. The report pointed to an expat exodus across the Gulf region due to layoffs during the pandemic and workers without citizenship or permanent residency having to return home. 

Pandemic impact 

The spread of the coronavirus forced the U.A.E. in April and May to issue lockdown orders and impose travel restrictions and curfews. Restrictions on movement, which have since eased, drastically impacted industrial, shipping and transportation activity.

Dubai, the most populous city, has spent $ 2.42 billion so far this year to help prop up the local economy. 


A man at Al Bateen Executive Airport in Abu Dhabi wears a mask to protect himself against the coronavirus as he stands before a reflection of the plane carrying U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last week. The pandemic has impacted U.A.E.’s economy and claimed almost 600 lives. (Patrick Semansky/AFP/Getty Images)

“The core challenge of a country like the U.A.E. is their almost exclusive dependence on oil revenue for their economy and their livelihood,” Princeton’s Haykel said.

“For them to become less dependent on oil, they have to manufacture and produce things or provide services that generate wealth. To do that, they have to become places that are attractive to their own people and to outsiders.” 

While the social reforms are being praised among some residents, a UN analysis published in September said the pandemic put the status of residence and work permits for migrant workers in flux, leaving them vulnerable to exploitation. 

Unlike in neighbouring Saudi Arabia, which earlier this year loosened restrictions on 10 million workers, allowing them to change jobs and leave the country without their employer’s permission, the U.A.E. still leaves workers’ legal status in the hands of employers, who act as their sponsors.


A health worker checks the body temperature of a migrant worker who has recovered from COVID-19 in the Warsan neighbourhood of Dubai, where people infected or suspected of being infected by the coronavirus are quarantined. The pandemic caused layoffs across the Gulf region as migrant workers without citizenship or permanent residency had to return to their home countries. (Karim/Sahib/AFP/Getty Images)

Trade unions are illegal in the country, and workers who unionize or strike can be deported. Advocacy groups such as the London-based International Campaign for Freedom in the United Arab Emirates have in recent years highlighted the plight of migrant construction workers, many of whom work in exploitative and hazardous conditions.

While U.A.E. wants to frame the recent reforms as in line with its image as a “liberal beacon in the Middle East,” it remains to be seen whether they will address the concerns of the more vulnerable members of the expat population, said Bessma Momani, senior fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation in Waterloo, Ont.

“They want to be seen as this model place of pluralism and openness and tolerance, but there’s a dark side to the Emirates when you look at how they treat foreign workers,” Momani said.

“The Western expats, in many ways, are part of the elite. Yes, it sounds great to them, but they’re not the most vulnerable of foreign workers.”

WATCH  | Changes in U.A.E. this year included normalization of diplomatic relations with Israel:  

A historic Middle East agreement has been signed at the White House, after U.S. President Donald Trump helped broker a deal for Israel to normalize relations with both Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates. 1:58

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

CBC | World News

Watch SpaceX’s Latest Starship Prototype Blow Itself to Bits

This site may earn affiliate commissions from the links on this page. Terms of use.

SpaceX has made the Falcon 9 the heart of its launch operations, sending both cargo and now people into space. However, the private spaceflight company plans to transition its operations to its Starship rocket in the future. Developing that craft has been slow going, though. Just a month after nailing a pressurization test, the Starship SN4 prototype exploded during an engine test. It’s not clear what happened, but CEO Elon Musk has offered some hints

The Starship will eventually have enough power to send large payloads to destinations in the outer solar system, but first SpaceX needs to get the kinks worked out. The company ran through a few prototypes trying to pass a “cryo” pressurization test that simulates full fuel tanks in the vacuum of space. The fourth vessel (SN4) was the first to pass that test in late April. 

The Starship explosion happened late on Friday, the day before arguably SpaceX’s biggest success yet when it successfully launched astronauts to the International Space Station. Of course, the Starship and Falcon 9 are separate projects and the explosion did not affect NASA’s launch timetable. The rocket was supposed to remain stationary and ignite its engines, known as a static fire test. The team completed that test, but the rocket began releasing clouds of vapor shortly afterward. The explosion takes place at about 1:24 in the video below. 

Following the historic Falcon 9 launch, a Reuters reporter managed to ask Musk about the Starship incident. “What we thought was going to be a minor test of a quick disconnect ended up being a big problem,” Musk said. That seemingly confirms speculation that the problem had to do with the rocket’s ground support equipment, specifically the quick disconnect umbilical. 

The quick disconnect is an apparatus that connects to the bottom of the rocket to load fuel and relay telemetry. It’s designed to quickly detach from the Starship during launch. It’s likely the “test” Musk referred to was assessing the ability of the quick disconnect module to disconnect and reconnect. In the process, it may have leaked fuel that then ignited. 

SpaceX is currently manufacturing three more Starship prototypes. The first of those will have three Raptor engines, allowing it to perform a high-altitude test flight. SpaceX’s plans for the other prototypes are unknown at this time. They’ll probably all mate with a redesigned quick disconnect panel that doesn’t cause explosions.

Now read:

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

ExtremeTechExtreme – ExtremeTech

U.S. threatens to strip Hong Kong of special status, says China is modelling region ‘after itself’

The United States government has threatened to strip Hong Kong of the special legal status that has enabled it to remain a global business powerhouse in a move that could escalate tensions with China.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday that he informed the U.S. Congress of his view that in light of recent events, Hong Kong is no longer autonomous from China.

“No reasonable person can assert today that Hong Kong maintains a high degree of autonomy from China given facts on the ground,” he said in a statement.

Pompeo’s announcement would enable Congress to end longstanding rights to freer trade and travel between Hong Kong and the U.S. that are more open than conditions applied to mainland China.

“Hong Kong and its dynamic, enterprising and free people have flourished for decades as a bastion of liberty, and this decision gives me no pleasure,” Pompeo said.

“But sound policy-making requires a recognition of reality. While the United States once hoped that free and prosperous Hong Kong would provide a model for authoritarian China, it is now clear that China is modelling Hong Kong after itself.”

Change would have implications for tariffs, travel

That sets the stage for what one analyst said would be “the nuclear option”: stripping the region’s status under the 1992 U.S.-Hong Kong Policy Act, which recognizes Hong Kong as distinct from China.

“That would have many implications, including extending all U.S. tariffs that exist on China to Hong Kong,” said Bonnie Glaser of the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies.

“It would make travel to the U.S. for Hong Kongers more difficult, and it would likely trigger a departure of many expatriates living and working in Hong Kong.”


Pro-democracy protesters are arrested by police in Hong Kong on May 24. (Isaac Lawrence/AFP via Getty Images)

The implications of that would ripple across the world, and Canadians would feel it, too, said Lynette Ong of Toronto’s Munk School.

Speaking in a weekend interview, before Pompeo’s announcement, she said any pension fund, capital market or business with interests in Hong Kong would be affected if the region lost that legal status.

“That would have quite massive ramifications. That’s not a decision that should be taken lightly,” Ong said. “It has implications not only for the United States — but for everybody. For you and me.” 

U.S. still has some cards to play against China

CBC News reached out to a half-dozen North American authorities on China last weekend after pro-democracy politicians were arrested and Beijing threatened a law expanding its control over the country’s semi-autonomous enclave.

Police turned a water cannon on thousands of protesters crowding the streets last weekend as they marched against China’s move to ban secessionist and subversive activity.

The general view of the experts contacted was that Washington still has several tools at its disposal. Aside from threatening Hong Kong’s crucial trade status, it can punish rights abusers with sanctions and grant U.S. visas to protesters.

But they shared three warnings. 

First, such actions might not work. Second, they might even rebound to harm the U.S. and Hong Kong itself. And, finally, there’s a high-ranking wild card: U.S. President Donald Trump.

Trump, the ultimate wild card

It’s still unclear how deeply Trump cares about the Hong Kong issue. He’s sent mixed signals. 

On the one hand, he promised last week he’d react “very strongly” to any Beijing power grab and elaborated Tuesday that he’d have an “interesting” announcement soon. He’s also made standing up to China one of his main re-election arguments

Yet there’s scant evidence of Trump taking an interest in the political freedoms of Hong Kong residents. He tweeted 118 times during the three-day Memorial Day long weekend yet Hong Kong didn’t come up once in his Twitter feed.


Trump’s clearest tweet about Hong Kong is six years old, and what he said back then was that former president Barack Obama shouldn’t bother supporting its protesters.

Hong Kong — a long-term U.S. dilemma

American uncertainty about Hong Kong was etched into its response from the very first day the former British colony reverted to Chinese control.

Then-secretary of state Madeleine Albright flew in for the 1997 celebration but made a point of snubbing one event. Voicing a fear that residents’ political freedoms might disappear, she skipped the opening of the new Hong Kong legislature.

That fear of lost autonomy is now materializing, and a quarter-century later, the United States is running into a hard deadline for picking a path on Hong Kong.

The main difference now is that the U.S., no longer the unrivalled superpower it was in 1997, is running lower on options for influencing events within China.


Anti-government protesters set up roadblocks under umbrellas during a march against Beijing’s plans to impose national security legislation in Hong Kong on May 24. (Tyrone Siu/Reuters)

‘The beginning of the end of Hong Kong’s uniqueness’

When asked if the U.S. is still capable of affecting Hong Kong’s trajectory, Ong hesitated.

“Maybe. Maybe, possibly,” she said.

“I hate to say this, but I think it’s the beginning of the end of Hong Kong’s uniqueness.” 

WATCH | Thousands in Hong Kong protest China’s national security bill on Sunday:

Protesters and police clash in Hong Kong as thousands take to the streets to push back against a Chinese national security bill some warn could erode Hong Kong’s autonomy. 2:04

Bill Bishop, a writer and businessman who’s lived in Beijing and Washington and writes a daily China newsletter, Sinocism, expressed skepticism in a weekend interview that the U.S. would take major action in defence of Hong Kongers.

“I don’t think [Trump] actually cares about the human rights stuff,” Bishop said.

Still, the U.S. has significant interests in Hong Kong, with 85,000 American citizens and more than 1,300 businesses located there. 

Hong Kong also remains a critical point of contact between China and the outside world. A majority of the foreign business investment in China occurs through Hong Kong.


Pan-democratic legislator Chu Hoi-dick scuffles with security during a committee meeting in Hong Kong’s legislature, known as the Legislative Council. ( Tyrone Siu/Reuters)

Three potential U.S. policy tools

A former Canadian ambassador to China, David Mulroney, said it’s still possible for democracies to influence the course of events in Hong Kong.

He said it’s imperative to push back and buy time for Hong Kong residents to vote this fall in their legislative elections, which might allow them to send a strong pro-democracy message.

“It’s very late in the day, but it’s not too late,” he said.


Anti-government protesters demonstrated on New Year’s Day to call for better governance and democratic reforms in Hong Kong. (Tyrone Siu/Reuters)

Mulroney identified three broad sets of actions the U.S. and allies might take:

Migration: Protesters should be reassured, Mulroney said, that they would be allowed to enter the U.S. if they have been arrested for political dissent. 

Trump’s national security adviser Robert O’Brien said in a weekend interview with NBC that he expects an exodus of financial capital and human talent from Hong Kong: “You’re … going to have a terrible brain drain.”

Bishop, however, said he doubts Trump would open the immigration floodgates — he’s actually restricting immigration during the pandemic.

Sanctions: Mulroney said the U.S. and allies could freeze assets and deny entry to rights-violators.

Glaser said there could be targeted sanctions against entities and individuals who violate the terms of the 1984 U.K.-China agreement.

The agreement promised Hong Kong a high degree of autonomy for 50 years after the transfer, meaning until 2047.


Hong Kong’s last British governor, Chris Patten, left, sits with U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright during a June 30, 1997, banquet for the handover of the territory to China. (Reuters file)

Stripping Hong Kong’s status: That’s what Pompeo alluded to Wednesday. Under a U.S. law passed last year with near-unanimous support, the State Department must report annually to Congress on whether Hong Kong still deserves the distinction set out in the 1992 law.

The death of Hong Kong?

Can any U.S. action scare China’s president, Xi Jinping, into reversing course?

“To be honest, not much at this point [would make a difference],” Bishop said over the weekend. 

“The U.S., the international community, can condemn and punish. But I think it’s very unlikely — if in fact not totally impossible — that any such punishment will actually lead to Beijing changing its decision or modifying its behaviour.”


Xi arrives for a plenary session Monday of the National People’s Congress in Beijing, where new security laws for Hong Kong are under discussion. (Thomas Peter/Reuters)

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

CBC | World News

How France found itself in the middle of a coronavirus catastrophe

Emmanuel Macron opened his official visit to Italy on Feb. 26 with a big two-cheek kiss for Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte. Then he was off for a 20-minute round of handshaking in the streets of Naples, even though the Italian coronavirus outbreak was already big news there. 

In Paris on March 9, the day neighbouring Italy was locked down, Macron went strolling with his wife on the Champs-Élysées, telling restaurant patrons he wanted to “send a message of confidence to the French economy.”

In retrospect, it wasn’t such a great idea. France is now among the worst-performing countries in handling the outbreak. 


French President Emmanuel Macron and Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte came in close contact twice during their summit in Naples in late February, when the coronavirus pandemic was unfolding. Macron also embarked on a round of hand-shaking on the city’s streets. (The Associated Press)

“In France, the French president is like a king. He’s a republican king,” says Mathieu Magnaudeix, one of France’s top investigative journalists. “It’s very clear they didn’t grasp how important the situation was. It’s a failure of the whole system. It’s a failure of French executive power and especially the president.”

Occasionally, the president was challenged. On a Feb. 28 visit to a French hospital, he was confronted by a doctor about how public hospitals were effectively on fire like the famous Notre Dame Cathedral and needed his immediate attention.

Macron pushed back, saying, “OK, so I can count on you?” The doctor quickly responded, “Oh yes, you can count on me, but the opposite still needs to be proven.”


Before long, France was embroiled in a full-scale heath crisis, with so many cases of COVID-19 that hospitals and some seniors’ care homes were overwhelmed with patients. (MARTIN BUREAU/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

There is a lot of anger directed at the French government right now, Magnaudeix says.

“We basically lost two months or three months, three very important months, where we could have helped prevent this pandemic from getting bigger and bigger in France,” he said. “After all of that is over, the government will have to be accountable for what they’ve done or not done.”

It wasn’t all the government’s fault. On March 12, Macron finally went on TV to announce he was closing schools and calling for physical distancing because France was now at war with COVID-19.

The very next day, the public flooded into Parisian terraces and courtyards to enjoy the sunshine with their friends and relatives. Many people seemed to pay no attention to the possibility that France could share Italy’s horrible fate. 


Mathieu Magnaudeix, an investigative journalist with French online publication Mediapart, says France’s response to the pandemic is ‘a failure of the whole system.’ (Mathieu Magnaudeix)

“We had the example of Wuhan under our eyes and then we had the example of Italy under our eyes,” says Dr. Catherine Hill, a leading French epidemiologist. 

“Instead of thinking that those were examples, people just hoped for the best and they talked about the Italian scenario as if it was a Western movie made by Italians or something exotic. It’s ridiculous! The same causes tend to have the same consequences.” 

Intensive care units overwhelmed


Eric Maury, an intensive care physician at Hôpital Saint-Antoine in Paris, said there are thousands more intensive care patients in France than its health-care system can handle. (Eric Maury)

Sure enough, the consequences have arrived. A tidal wave of COVID-19 patients is overwhelming France’s hospitals.

Intensive care doctor Eric Maury estimates there are 5,000 ICU beds in France.

“Actually there are more than 7,000 patients requiring ICU, so we have actually more patients than France can treat in ICU beds,” he said.

On Sunday, the death toll topped 14,000.

France has responded to the shortage with an amazing mobilization of high-speed trains and aircraft to move patients from saturated hospitals in Paris and the eastern portion of the country to less busy hospitals in other regions, and even other countries. 

“They sent patients to Germany, to Switzerland, to Luxembourg because [the system] was overwhelmed,” Maury said. “There were too many patients to take care of and there were no more ICU beds, no ventilators.”

The comparisons to other countries are astonishing. While France is reputed to have one of the best health care systems in the world, neighbouring Germany performed five times the per-capita number of COVID-19 tests. Now France has six times the per-capita number of German deaths from the disease.


A woman carries some shopping home in Marseille, in southern France, just after nationwide confinement measures came into effect on March 17. (AP Photo/Daniel Cole)

France claims to have a suspiciously low number of confirmed cases, but epidemiologists like Hill don’t believe it.

“My estimate is that you have to multiply the published figures by something like 50, so there’s an enormous gap,” she said.

WATCH | COVID-19 catastrophe in France:

The overconfidence shown by French President Emmanuel Macron as neighbouring Italy went into lockdown to contain COVID-19 was followed by a lack of regard for physical distancing recommendations and has resulted in the most lethal outbreak in the world.   6:05

There was a scandal in France when it turned out that a much-discussed stockpile of masks and other protective equipment was far smaller than promised. Macron toured a mask production line and promised more were on the way.

Intensive care physicians like Maury say there is no sign of relief yet.

“What I am telling the government is if there is no protection, we are not going to take care of patients,” he said. “It’s not possible to do that.” 

Return to normal?

Even as France is flying patients to other countries, the government is announcing plans to return to normal.

Experts like Hill doubt that’s possible without a large increase in testing. 

“Half of the contaminations are caused by individuals who do not know they are infectious,” she said. “There are millions of people in France who are positive right now. How do you release the quarantine? You really have to start testing massively to sort out the people who are contagious and bring them aside.”

And like Canada, France has a shockingly high proportion of deaths in nursing homes. 


A man runs on the forecourt of the Basilica of Sacre-Coeur on top Montmartre hill during a nationwide confinement to counter the new coronavirus. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

It’s something Macron did not seem to see coming back on March 6, when he joined the dinner table at a Paris seniors’ residence and didn’t pay attention to physical distancing.

Today, the number of seniors who have died of COVID-19 in France is roughly 5,000. The deaths in seniors’ homes are perhaps the most shocking element of France’s lamentable coronavirus record.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

CBC | World News

Whale Fail: Magic Leap Reportedly Considering Selling Itself

This site may earn affiliate commissions from the links on this page. Terms of use.

It may have wowed the world with its “Whale” demo a few years ago, but after raising over $ 2B and selling an estimated 6,000 headsets in the first six months after launch, Magic Leap may have met its Snake River Canyon. The company is reportedly working with an advisory firm to explore options.

According to Bloomberg, Magic Leap could be worth up to $ 10B. This is amusing for several reasons, ranging from “Has anyone checked the Dow lately?” to the colossal difference between what Magic Leap promised and what it delivered. To refresh you, what Magic Leap promised looked like this:

What Magic Leap delivered, on the other hand, looked like this:

The rather large gap between Lens the first and second videos likely has something to do with the company’s difficulty remaining in business, along with the $ 2,300 price tag. It’s not clear how many headsets the company has sold since the first six months they were available, but proof surfaced last year that the company had assigned all of its patents to JP Morgan Chase as collateral. I am not an expert in the ways of corporate finance, but typically when you’ve assigned your patents as collateral on a loan, you have to either turn them over or pay it back. The implication here is that whoever bought Magic Leap would have to pay off the debt to actually own the IP.

Fun fact: If Magic Leap has now managed to sell 20,000 headsets, it paid $ 130,000 in development costs per headset and sold them for $ 2,300. That sort of discrepancy might explain why the company is reportedly circling the drain now. It’s also part of why the $ 10B valuation is so crazy. If Magic Leap couldn’t make its revolutionary technology work properly after pouring $ 2.3B into the project, why on Earth would any company want to acquire it for $ 10B just to fail again?

Then again, once I think about it a little more, there actually is some logic to the idea. You just have to remember, Rony Abovitz literally talked people into investing $ 2.3-$ 2.6B in this company in the first place. As insane as that sounds — and for the value Magic Leap delivered for $ 2.6B, I’m honestly not sure printing 2.6B $ 1 bills and burning them as fuel in the winter would have been a worse way to spend them — it makes perfect sense, from his perspective. If you’d literally talked major figures in Silicon Valley into giving you billions of dollars when you didn’t have a product, it’d be easy to believe you still had some capability to convince them to pay even more.

Is it possible that Magic Leap was on the verge of a tremendous breakthrough that it needs just a little more funds to deliver on? Sure. It’s possible. But $ 2.6B later, it sure isn’t likely.

Given that Covid-19 has the stock market competing to see which index can crash the fastest, it’s a good bet that whatever Magic Leap ends up selling for, it won’t be $ 10B.

Now Read:

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

ExtremeTechGaming – ExtremeTech

Whale Fail: Magic Leap Reportedly Considering Selling Itself

This site may earn affiliate commissions from the links on this page. Terms of use.

It may have wowed the world with its “Whale” demo a few years ago, but after raising over $ 2B and selling an estimated 6,000 headsets in the first six months after launch, Magic Leap may have met its Snake River Canyon. The company is reportedly working with an advisory firm to explore options.

According to Bloomberg, Magic Leap could be worth up to $ 10B. This is amusing for several reasons, ranging from “Has anyone checked the Dow lately?” to the colossal difference between what Magic Leap promised and what it delivered. To refresh you, what Magic Leap promised looked like this:

What Magic Leap delivered, on the other hand, looked like this:

The rather large gap between Lens the first and second videos likely has something to do with the company’s difficulty remaining in business, along with the $ 2,300 price tag. It’s not clear how many headsets the company has sold since the first six months they were available, but proof surfaced last year that the company had assigned all of its patents to JP Morgan Chase as collateral. I am not an expert in the ways of corporate finance, but typically when you’ve assigned your patents as collateral on a loan, you have to either turn them over or pay it back. The implication here is that whoever bought Magic Leap would have to pay off the debt to actually own the IP.

Fun fact: If Magic Leap has now managed to sell 20,000 headsets, it paid $ 130,000 in development costs per headset and sold them for $ 2,300. That sort of discrepancy might explain why the company is reportedly circling the drain now. It’s also part of why the $ 10B valuation is so crazy. If Magic Leap couldn’t make its revolutionary technology work properly after pouring $ 2.3B into the project, why on Earth would any company want to acquire it for $ 10B just to fail again?

Then again, once I think about it a little more, there actually is some logic to the idea. You just have to remember, Rony Abovitz literally talked people into investing $ 2.3-$ 2.6B in this company in the first place. As insane as that sounds — and for the value Magic Leap delivered for $ 2.6B, I’m honestly not sure printing 2.6B $ 1 bills and burning them as fuel in the winter would have been a worse way to spend them — it makes perfect sense, from his perspective. If you’d literally talked major figures in Silicon Valley into giving you billions of dollars when you didn’t have a product, it’d be easy to believe you still had some capability to convince them to pay even more.

Is it possible that Magic Leap was on the verge of a tremendous breakthrough that it needs just a little more funds to deliver on? Sure. It’s possible. But $ 2.6B later, it sure isn’t likely.

Given that Covid-19 has the stock market competing to see which index can crash the fastest, it’s a good bet that whatever Magic Leap ends up selling for, it won’t be $ 10B.

Now Read:

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

ExtremeTechExtreme – ExtremeTech

Scientists Find Material in Meteorite Older Than the Solar System Itself

This site may earn affiliate commissions from the links on this page. Terms of use.

When we talk about extremely “old” things on Earth, that usually means a few billion years old. After all, Earth itself is only about four and a half billion years old. Scientists now say they’ve found something much much older on Earth. However, it didn’t come from Earth. Studying the remains of a meteorite have yielded the oldest known material ever studied up close. 

A team of researchers from the US and Switzerland collaborated to analyze the Murchison meteorite (see above), which fell to Earth in the 1960s. This is a carbonaceous chondrite, a very common but ancient type of asteroid. These objects are of interest because they contain the primordial material that coalesced to form the planets in our solar system. Like some sort of cosmic cereal box, this one had prizes inside. 

The researchers took samples from a fragment of the Murchison meteorite, crushed them, and dissolved the remains in acid. They were able to harvest tiny grains of material a few micrometers across. They have various compositions and ages, so categorizing them was a challenge. 

To figure out how old these hearty little flecks were, scientists had to turn to the cosmos itself. Space rocks drifting through the void are constantly bombarded by cosmic rays. These collisions leave subtle isotopic signatures, which can point to the age of the object. This process is known as surface exposure dating. In this analysis, the team found the long-lived Neon-21 isotope particularly useful in determining the age of the grains. 

One of the pre-solar grains, about 8 micrometers across.

While most of the material harvested from the Murchison meteorite was no more than a few hundred million years old, some of it was much, much older. Roughly 8 percent of the sample was around 7.5 billion years old, which is 3 billion years older than the solar system itself. 

Scientists are interested in carbonaceous chondrites because they are pristine samples of the material that formed the planets billions of years ago. By studying them, we can learn a great deal about how solar systems come together. There may be even more to learn from these space rocks, though. The realization that there are even older materials in them could help unravel mysteries on a galactic scale. For example, the team believes the composition of the pre-solar samples in the Murchison meteorite supports the idea that the galaxy went through a period of increased star formation seven billion years ago.

Now read:

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

ExtremeTechExtreme – ExtremeTech