Facebook denies reluctance to give data to German investigators

BERLIN Facebook rejected on Monday claims made by Germany's state authorities that it was reluctant to co-operate with them on criminal investigations, saying many of the requests it received for user data were incorrectly formulated.Several regional interior ministers have complained that the social media group is hesitant to respond to requests for data and have called on the Federal Justice Ministry to introduce new laws.But Facebook said it had provided "round the clock assistance" to the authorities in Bavaria following a spate of violent attacks in Munich, Wuerzburg and Ansbach last month.A spokeswoman for the Justice Ministry said it was examining whether there was a need to change the law or whether there was a problem with its implementation.A recent spate of attacks in Germany has highlighted the importance security agencies give to working with social networks to uncover possible links to militant groups. Police said the Ansbach bomber had six Facebook accounts including one held under a false identity. Traces of an online messaging conversation found on his phone also suggest he was influenced by an unknown person up until the time of the attack, Bavaria's interior minister said.Germany's spy chief called on Monday for a more intensive exchange of information between social networks and security agencies in the fight against terrorism."Social networks are an important communication method for jihadists. Therefore closer co-operation between the security agencies and the operators of social networks is necessary," Hans-Georg Maassen, the head of the BfV domestic intelligence agency, told the Rheinische Post newspaper. Facebook produced data for 42 percent of requests in Germany relating to criminal cases in the second half of 2015, compared with 54 percent in France and 82 percent in Britain. It said it rejected requests that were overly broad or vague.The company said it worked with law enforcement officials to help them use their systems, but said there were still a large number of officers that didn't know how to make a successful request. "Along with our points of contact in Law Enforcement we work tirelessly to raise awareness of the correct procedures," a Facebook spokeswoman said.A spokesman for the Interior Ministry said co-operation between Facebook and the BKA federal police agency and the BfV was good."Conversations are constructive and co-operation is also fruitful as far as we can see," he said, adding they were not in a position to judge how well Facebook worked with the state authorities. (Reporting by Caroline Copley; Editing by Greg Mahlich)

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Study finds cosmic rays increased heart risks among Apollo astronauts

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. Apollo astronauts who ventured to the moon are at five times greater risk of dying from heart disease than shuttle astronauts, U.S. researchers said on Thursday, citing the dangers of cosmic radiation beyond the Earth's magnetic field. The study by researchers at Florida State University and NASA found that three Apollo astronauts, including Neil Armstrong, the first person to walk on the moon, or 43 percent of those studied, died from cardiovascular disease, a finding with implications for future human travel beyond Earth.The research, published in the journal Scientific Reports, was the first to look at the mortality of Apollo astronauts, the only people so far to travel beyond a few hundred miles (km) of Earth.It found that the chief health threat to the Apollo astronauts came from cosmic rays, which are more prevalent and powerful beyond the magnetic bubble that surrounds Earth.NASA disputed the findings, saying it was too early to draw conclusions about the effect of cosmic rays on Apollo astronauts because the current data is limited. The results of the study have implications for the United States and other countries, as well as private companies, such as Elon Musk’s SpaceX, which are planning missions to Mars and other destinations beyond Earth.For the study, the researchers examined the death records of 42 astronauts who flew in space, including seven Apollo veterans, and 35 astronauts who died without ever going into space.They found the Apollo astronauts’ mortality rate from cardiovascular disease was as much as five times higher than for astronauts who never flew, or for those who flew low-altitude missions aboard the space shuttle that orbited a few hundred miles above Earth. A companion study simulated weightlessness and radiation exposure in mice and showed that radiation exposure was far more threatening to the cardiovascular system than other factors, lead scientist Michael Delp said in an interview."What the mouse data show is that deep space radiation is harmful to vascular health," he said. So far, only 24 astronauts have flown beyond Earth’s protective magnetic shield, in missions spanning a four-year period from December 1968 to December 1972.Of those, eight have died, seven of whom were included in the study. The cause of death of the eighth astronaut, Apollo 14's Edgar Mitchell, who died in February 2016, has not been released, so he was excluded from the study, Delp said. Mitchell was the sixth person to walk on the moon.Delp and colleagues are working on a follow-up study that includes more detail on family medical histories, smoking and other factors. (Reporting by Irene Klotz; Editing by Julie Steenhuysen and Peter Cooney)

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Solar-powered plane circles globe, returns to UAE

ABU DHABI A solar-powered aircraft successfully completed the first fuel-free flight around the world on Tuesday, returning to Abu Dhabi after an epic 16-month voyage and demonstrating the potential of renewable energy.The plane, Solar Impulse 2, touched down in the United Arab Emirates capital at 0005 GMT (0405 local time) on Tuesday. It first took off from Abu Dhabi on March 9, 2015, beginning a landmark journey of about 40,000 km (24,500 miles) around the globe and nearly 500 hours of flying. Unfavorable weather at times hindered smooth flying, causing the plane to be grounded for months in some countries. Swiss explorers Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg, Solar Impulse founders and pilots, took turns piloting the aircraft with a wingspan larger than a Boeing 747 and weighing only as much as a family car. The Swiss team is campaigning to bolster support for clean energy. The propeller-driven aircraft's four engines are powered exclusively by energy collected from more than 17,000 solar cells built the plane's wings. Excess energy is stored in four batteries during daylight hours to keep the plane flying after dark.Over its entire mission, Solar Impulse 2 cruised at altitudes of up to 9,000 meters and at an average speed of between 45 and 90 km (12.5 and 25 miles) per hour. The plane had 16 stopovers along the way including in Oman, India, Myanmar, China, Japan, the United States, Spain and Egypt. Abu Dhabi’s green energy firm Masdar is the official host partner of Solar Impulse 2. Oil-rich Abu Dhabi is investing billions in industry, tourism and renewables to diversify its economy away from oil. (Reporting by Stanley Carvalho, editing by Sami Aboudi and Hugh Lawson)

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Yahoo reports lackluster results as sale looms

Yahoo Inc's (YHOO.O) quarterly earnings fell short of Wall Street expectations on Monday in what may be the company's last financial report before it sells its core business.Yahoo reported adjusted earnings of 9 cents per share, short of the 10 cents that analysts expected. It also announced a $482 million write-down on the value of Tumblr, the social media service that it acquired in 2013 for $1.1 billion.Total revenue rose to $1.31 billion from $1.24 billion a year earlier, though that seeming improvement was the result of a change in the way the cost of acquiring traffic is counted. After deducting fees paid to partner websites for traffic, revenue fell to $841.2 million from $1.04 billion.Revenue in the company's emerging businesses, which Chief Executive Officer Marissa Mayer calls Mavens - mobile, video, native and social advertising - showed some life, rising 25.7 percent to $504 million in the second quarter ended June 30.Gross search revenue for the quarter was $765 million, a 17 percent decrease from the same period last year. The company posted a net loss of $439.9 million, or 46 cents per share, compared with a loss of $21.6 million, or 2 cents per share, a year earlier. "If search continues to decline as much as it has that's something that's going to be called into question," said JMP Securities analyst Ronald Josey.Yahoo is in the process of auctioning off its search and advertising business and is expected to choose a winner this week. The company said its board has made "great progress on strategic alternatives" but did not comment further on the auction process. Verizon Communications Inc (VZ.N) and AT&T Inc (T.N) are said to be in the running, as well as private equity firm TPG Capital and a consortium lead by Quicken Loans founder Dan Gilbert and backed by billionaire Warren Buffett.Yahoo's fortunes have waned under Chief Executive Marissa Mayer, who has made little progress in her attempts to gain ground against newer, bigger Internet players such Facebook Inc (FB.O) and Alphabet Inc's (GOOGL.O) Google. The tepid progress in turning around the business attracted pressure from activist investors who pushed Yahoo to launch an auction of its core business in February. Yahoo has also said it could spin off the business.Yahoo's shares were little changed at $37.92 in trading after the bell. (Reporting by Supantha Mukherjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty, Jonathan Weber and Chris Reese)

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Megaupload coming back? Founder Kim Dotcom plans a relaunch in 2017

Flamboyant German tech entrepreneur Kim Dotcom is planning to relaunch file-sharing website Megaupload in January 2017, five years after the U.S. government took down the site accusing it of piracy.Megaupload, founded in 2005, had boasted of having more than 150 million registered users and 50 million daily visitors. At one point, it was estimated to be the 13th most frequently visited website on the internet.Dotcom, who announced his plans in a series of tweets on Friday, said most of the Megaupload users would get their accounts reinstated with premium privileges.He also hinted and that the new website will use bitcoins. (bit.ly/29r9UIA)Dotcom did not immediately respond to a mail seeking comment.Dotcom and three others were arrested on Jan. 20, 2012, after armed New Zealand police raided his country estate at the request of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation. U.S. authorities had said Dotcom and three other Megaupload executives cost film studios and record companies more than $500 million and generated more than $175 million by encouraging paying users to store and share copyrighted material, such as movies and TV shows. (reut.rs/29Ja8Ji)Dotcom, who has New Zealand residency, has denied charges of internet piracy and money laundering and has been fighting extradition to the United States.He has contended that the website was merely a storage facility for online files and should not be held accountable if stored content was obtained illegally. A New Zealand court in 2013 granted Dotcom access to all evidence seized by police in the raid of his house. (reut.rs/2a1Ti7g)While Kim Dotcom's net worth was not known, he became well known for his lavish lifestyle as much as his computer skills.He used to post photographs of himself with cars having vanity plates such as "GOD" and "GUILTY", shooting an assault rifle and flying around the world in his private jet. The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation estimated in 2012 that Dotcom personally made around $115,000 a day during 2010.The assets seized earlier included nearly 20 luxury cars, one of them a pink Cadillac, works of art, and NZ$10 million invested in local finance companies. (reut.rs/29GXjjR)"I'll be the first tech billionaire who got indicted, lost everything and created another billion $ tech company while on bail," he tweeted on Sunday. (Reporting by Supantha Mukherjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)

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