Russian gamers race to prevent nuclear ‘war’


Inside a room styled as a Soviet-era nuclear bunker, a couple of Russians race to prevent a catastrophic strike on the United States.

Their quest — the latest craze in Moscow — is to find the nuclear launch codes and deactivate a hidden red button, which has already been pressed by a mad Russian general.

It’s complete fantasy; just an interactive game hosted in a building in a former industrial area of the city, harking back to the fears of the Cold War.

But amid the current tensions with Russia, in which potential nuclear confrontation with the West has again been raised, it feels a little unsettling.

“I’m worried because there is very stupid information from both sides,” said Maxim Motin, a Russian who has just completed the Red Button Quest game.

“I know that normal people all over the world don’t want any war,” he added.

A nation preparing for conflict

But Russian officials have been preparing the nation for the possibility of conflict, stoking deep-seated concerns about a standoff with the West, Russia’s old Cold War rival.

Russian television has been broadcasting a mass training exercise, involving up to 40 million people across the country. It is designed to prepare responses, the government says, for a chemical or nuclear attack.

The Russian Emergency Situations Ministry issued this picture from a nationwide civil defense drill

The video shows emergency workers with protective suits and gas masks leading the civil defense rehearsal, the biggest of its kind since the collapse of the Soviet Union. It suggests the Kremlin wants Russians to take the threat of war very seriously.

Of course, all-out conflict between Russia and the West remains highly unlikely.

Analysts say the principle of Mutually Assured Destruction — or MAD — still holds as a deterrent, just as it did during the Cold War.

Lithuania issues manual on what to do if Russia invades

But with tensions growing over Syria, Ukraine, and the Baltic states, analysts say a small risk of contact, misunderstanding and escalation between the nuclear superpowers has become very real.

“I don’t think nuclear war is likely,” says Fyodor Lukyanov, editor of Russia in Global Affairs, a prominent foreign policy journal.

“But when two nuclear superpowers are operating with their military machines in the same area, very close to each other and they don’t have proper coordination, any unintended thing can happen,” he told CNN.

Kremlin playing up fears

It is a risk the Kremlin seems keen to play up, with state television upping its hardline rhetoric in recent weeks.

In its flagship current affairs show, Russia’s top state news anchor, Dmitry Kiselyev — dubbed the Kremlin’s propagandist-in-chief by critics — recently issued a stark warning of global war if Russian and US forces clash in Syria.

“Brutish behavior towards Russia could have nuclear dimensions,” he declared.

Russia, US move past Cold War to unpredictable conflict

The Russian defense ministry has also released details of the latest intercontinental ballistic missile being added to its nuclear arsenal.

The Satan 2, as it’s known, will be the world’s most destructive weapon, guaranteeing Russia’s place as a top nuclear power.

It is an apocalyptic vision that adds a further sense of realism to the fantasy quest being acted out by gamers in Moscow.

“I know that now in schools in Russia they tell the children that our main enemy is the US,” said Alisa Sokoleva, another Moscow gamer.

“But it sounds ridiculous to me and I’m totally sure that war is impossible,” she adds.

The quest game players - pretending to be a special ops team - are the only ones who can avert war

Back in the fake Cold War bunker, the Russian gamers have cracked the launch codes and deactivated the missile launch. The United States, it seems, has again been saved from this virtual Russian nuclear attack.

Hopefully, the real world will be spared such a confrontation too.



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This NASA astronaut voted from space


Story highlights

  • Shane Kimbrough is a NASA astronaut
  • He voted in the 2016 election
Shane Kimbrough, a NASA astronaut currently living on board the International Space Station, filed his ballot in Tuesday’s presidential election, according to a Tumblr post by NASA.
NASA told Yahoo News that Kimbrough filed his ballot in the 2016 election from the space station sometime over the past few days.

For astronauts who will be in space on Election Day, the voting process starts a year before launch. At that time, they are able to select the elections in which they want to participate.

Then, six months before the election, astronauts are provided with the form “Voter Registration and Absentee Ballot Request — Federal Post Card Application.”

NASA astronaut David Wolf was the first American to vote in space while on the Russian Mir Space Station in a 1997 local election, according to NPR.



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Cell phones and screens are keeping your kid awake


For children and teens, using cell phones, tablets and computers at night is associated with losing sleep time and sleep quality, new research finds. Even children who don’t use their phones or the other technologies littering their bedrooms at night are losing shut-eye and becoming prone to daylight sleepiness, the analysis published today in JAMA Pediatrics finds.

The analysis found “a consistent pattern of effect across a wide range of countries and settings,” said Dr. Ben Carter, lead author and a senior lecturer in biostatistics at King’s College London.

Carter and his colleagues weeded through the medical literature to identify hundreds of applicable studies conducted between January 1, 2011, and June 15, 2015. They chose 20 research reports involving a total of 125,198 children, evenly divided by gender, with an average age of 14½ years. After extracting pertinent data, Carter and his co-authors performed their own meta-analysis.

Few parents will be surprised by the results: The team found a “strong and consistent association” between bedtime media device use and inadequate sleep quantity, poor sleep quality and excessive daytime sleepiness.

Surprisingly, though, Carter and his team discovered that children who did not use their devices in their bedrooms still had their sleep interrupted and were likely to suffer the same problems. The lights and sounds emitted by the technology, as well as the content itself, may be too stimulating.

Though Carter admits that a weakness of the analysis was “how the data was collected in the primary studies: self-reported by parents and children,” many of us will probably recognize our own families’ habits reflected in the statistics.

Electronic bedroom

A large-scale poll conducted in the United States by the National Sleep Foundation (PDF) reported in 2013 that 72% of all children and 89% of teens have at least one device in their sleep environment. Most of this technology is used near bedtime, that same report found.

According to Carter and his co-authors, this omnipresent technology negatively influences children’s sleep by delaying their sleep time, as they finish watching a movie or play one more game.

Light emitted from these devices may also affect the circadian rhythm, the internal clock timing biological processes, including body temperature and hormone release, the researchers explain. One specific hormone, melatonin, induces tiredness and contributes to the timing of our sleep-wake cycles. Electronic lights can delay the release of melatonin, disrupting this cycle and making it harder to fall asleep.

Carter and his co-authors also suggest that online content may be psychologically stimulating and keep children and teens awake far past the hour when they turn off their devices and try to sleep.

“Sleep is vital for children,” said Dr. Sujay Kansagra, director of the pediatric neurology sleep medicine program at Duke University Medical Center, who was not involved in the new analysis. “We know that sleep plays a crucial role in brain development, memory, self-regulation, attention, immune function, cardiovascular health and much more.”

Kansagra, author of “My Child Won’t Sleep,” noted that the period of greatest brain development is in our first three years of life, which corresponds to when we need and get the most sleep. “It’s hard to believe that this would be a coincidence.”

Kansagra said it’s possible that parents underreported kids using devices at night, but more likely, the technology is simply interfering with sleep hygiene. “For example, children who are allowed to keep devices in their room may be more likely to avoid a good sleep routine, which we know is helpful for sleep,” he said.

Practicing good sleep hygiene

Dr. Neil Kline, a representative of the American Sleep Association, agrees that sleep plays an integral role in a child’s healthy development, even though “we don’t know all of the science behind it. There is even some research which demonstrates an association between ADHD and some sleep disorders.”

In many respects, the findings of the new study are no surprise. “Sleep hygiene is being significantly impacted by technology, especially in the teen years,” said Kline, who bases his opinion not only on research but on his own “personal experience and also the anecdotes of many other sleep experts.”

Sleep hygiene — tips that help facilitate good, continuous and adequate sleep — include having a room that is quiet. “And that would mean removing items that interfere with sleep, including electronics, TV and even pets if they interfere with sleep,” Kline said.
One more important tip comes from the National Sleep Foundation, which recommends at least 30 minutes of “gadget-free transition time” before bedtime. Power down for better sleep.

Other recommendations for good sleep hygiene include not exercising (physically or mentally) too close to bedtime; establishing a regular sleep schedule; limiting exposure to light prior to sleep; avoiding stimulants such as alcohol, caffeine and nicotine in the hours before bedtime; and creating a dark, comfortable and peaceful sleep environment.



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What parents should know about the VR gear kids want


From Google’s inexpensive Cardboard VR viewer to Sony’s new PlayStation VR, this guide will help you figure out what makes sense for your family’s interests, needs, and budget. Here are your options if you want to dip your toe in the water, wade knee-deep, or really swim with the VR big fish.

Keep in mind, virtual reality is a quickly changing technology, so always check out the companies’ websites, professional reviews on sites like CNET, and user reviews before you take the leap.

Virtual reality viewers are inexpensive, handheld devices that offer three-dimensional views and the feeling of being in a different place. The viewers’ lenses work by extending the depth of static images or animation but do not allow you to interact with your environment. To use them, download any app labeled “VR” in either iTunes or Google Play, launch the app, and insert your smartphone into the viewer. Most viewers use your phone’s button or another basic input to control the action.

Key features

• Inexpensive

• Compatible with most smartphones and iOS or Android apps labeled “VR” (except for the View-Master, which uses specially designed apps)

• More like a 3D movie than true VR

• Best for educational content and games

• Selection of high-quality apps is currently fairly limited. Try the New York Times’ VR Virtual Reality Stories and these recommendations.

Products in this category

Google Cardboard ($14.99)
Literally made of cardboard, this handheld device that you put together yourself is a fun, novel way of experiencing virtual reality. Use with any smartphone and iOS or Android VR apps. Google offers lots of different viewers, including the steampunk-looking Google Tech C-1 Glass VR Viewer ($14.99).

This is a comfortable viewer with adjustable lenses, a head strap, and an easy-to-use trigger input. Comes with a cardboard, handheld motion-controller that adds some oomph to games. Works with most smartphones and any iOS or Android VR apps.

Geared for learning rather than gaming, the View-Master is available in a range of packages that let you explore dinosaurs, space, wildlife, and more. Each pack includes insertable picture reels (your phone provides the horsepower). Works with most smartphones and specially designed View-Master iOS or Android apps.

VR Headsets: Best for Big Kids and Tweens

When video games become an addiction

Moving up in price and features are VR headsets. They’re similar to viewers in that you download VR apps from the app store and insert your phone in them. Headsets work with the exact same apps as the viewers (except for the Samsung Gear VR and Google Daydream Viewbut give you a more immersive experience.

The advantages of headsets are that they’re more comfortable to wear for a longer time, they fit better (preventing light leaks), they have better lenses, and they often have earphone ports. That’s why some people like to use them to view videos. They don’t make the videos three-dimensional, but they provide a personal-movie-theater-type experience. They also typically have built-in game controllers on the headset itself or work with handheld controllers, giving you more options in apps than you would have with a simple viewer.

Key features

• Pricier than viewers

• Compatible with most smartphones (except the Samsung Gear VR and Google Daydream View) and iOS or Android apps labeled “VR”

• More believable, you-are-there experience, but limited ability to interact with your environment

• Good for games, educational content, and movie viewing

• Selection of high-quality apps is currently fairly limited. Try the New York Times’ VR Virtual Reality Stories and these recommendations.

• Headsets have minimum age requirements set by the manufacturers; check the age before you buy.

From geek dens to gallery walls: Why gaming is now for adults and art lovers

Products in this category

This big purple headset is made of flexible foam and has audio ports and dual input buttons for easy game control. Works with most iOS and Android VR apps.

Google Daydream View ($79; shipping November 2016)
Made of fabric, this lightweight plush headset is designed specifically for Google’s brand-new Daydream VR platform. The platform includes Daydream-compatible phones (such as the company’s Pixel phone), apps, and controllers. Daydream View comes with a controller and the company says there will be 50 apps at launch, including games, educational content, and streaming services.
Samsung Gear VR ($99)

Designed exclusively for Samsung phones, the Gear VR includes an input pad on the side of the headset and works with bluetooth controllers, both of which let you navigate games easily. Works with Gear VR-compatible games (including Minecraft Gear VR Edition).

Individually adjustable lenses, a snug fit, and a smartphone tray you can customize to your phone make the Kix a good option for quality VR on any smartphone. Works with most iOS and Android VR apps.

Consoles: Best for 12 and Up

Teen gamers do better at math than social media stars, study says

Right now, the only VR gaming console is offered by Sony. The company’s just-in-time-for-the-holidays PlayStation VR headset works with the PlayStation 4. If you don’t have a PS4 already, you could buy the PlayStation 4 Slim or a PlayStation 4 Pro (also brand-new for the holidays) and the PSVR. The headset plus the horsepower provided by the console provides an immersive, interactive VR experience.

Key features

• Expensive

• Limited to Sony PlayStation

• Totally immersive and interactive; potential for motion sickness

• Games tend to be mature but plentiful, including Batman Arkham VR, 100ft Robot Golf, Final Fantasy XV VR, Battlezone, and Resident Evil 7.

• Sony’s recommended age minimum is 12.
Take a ride on a virtual reality roller coaster

Products in this category

Includes everything you need to turn your PS4 into a VR machine, including a headset, a camera, two motion controllers, a game, and cables.

PlayStation 4 Slim ($299.99); PSVR sold separately

A newly redesigned, slimmer version of the PS4, this one has improved graphics, a lighted controller, and runs quieter.

PlayStation 4 Pro ($399.99); PSVR sold separately

Better graphics, faster action, and optimized to work better with specific “Pro-Enhanced” games

Super-powerful headsets: Best for Teens

You may have heard of the ominous-sounding Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. These are the ultra-powerful VR headsets that provide a fully immersive experience; some call it “the Holodeck” in reference to the alternate reality from Star Trek. Both require high-end, powerful PCs (which cost upwards of $500).

Key features

• Super expensive

• Require compatible games (for example, Everest VR is a Vive exclusive) and high-powered computers

• Full interactivity with your environment

• Games tend to be mature, including The Assembly and Deus Ex Mankind Divided.

• Best for families with teens; Oculus Rift’s manufacturer age minimum is 13; Valve states the Vive is “not for children.”

Products in this category

Offers a “room-scale experience.” If your kids play on the Steam gaming network, they’ve certainly seen ads for the HTC Vive, as it’s made by the same company, Valve, that owns Steam. Steam is offering some Vive-only games designed to take advantage of this headsets’ unique capabilities.

Comes with everything to make VR a reality — except the computer: a headset, a sensor, a remote, cables, an Xbox controller, and a game.



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Winners of the ‘Oscars of watches’ on show at Dubai

The winners of this year’s “Oscars of watchmaking” have been chosen, with a wide range of time pieces recognized for their engineering perfection and eye-catching design.

An industry jury chose the world’s best watches in fifteen different categories including sports, jewellery and travel time watch, with the awards presented by the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG) in Geneva earlier this month.

The grand prize for the world’s best watch, the Aiguille d’Or Grand Prix, was awarded to the Chronomètre Ferdinand Berthoud FB 1 from Ferdinand Berthoud.

This limited-edition white gold and titanium time piece, which retails for more than $200,000, has a leather strap and is powered by a hand-wound movement comprised of more than 1,120 components.

The Public Prize, chosen by votes submitted internationally online and at select international watch exhibitions, was awarded to the 33 bis Quai des Bergues by Czapek Genève.

The winning watches were shown in Seoul, Rome and Geneva before they arrived in Dubai on November 15 for their final hurrah at Dubai Watch Week.

Watches from Audemars Piguet, Montblanc, MB&F, Piaget, TAG Heuer and Tudor brands, along with Chanel, Eberhard & Co, Fabergé and Grönefeld, were also honored by this year’s 27-person international jury.

Check out the gallery above to see the full list of this years winners.



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Ethiopian Airlines crash: Three generations of one family perished


“My heart isn’t really excited. I feel like there’s something bad ahead, but I don’t know what,” the WhatsApp message read.

Karanja was traveling from Canada to Kenya with her three children and her mother. She was so worried about the trip, she sent a similar message expressing her fear of the impending journey to her father before she boarded the flight.

Thousands of miles away in Kenya, worried about her older sister’s premonition, Kelly Karanja asked her the exact day she’d arrive and told her to pray about it.

“10th. Will let you know the time,” Carol Karanja messaged.

Carol Karanja never made it to their Kenyan homeland. She was among the 157 people killed when the plane crashed just minutes after takeoff from Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa.  Also killed was her mother, Ann Wangui Karanja, and her three children: Ryan Njoroge, 7, Kellie Pauls, 4, and 9-month-old daughter, Rubi Pauls.

Rubi was born in Ontario, where the family lived. She was going home for the first time to meet her Kenyan family.

Her son had a gift for his grandfather

Kelly Karanja said her sister was deeply spiritual.

“She was always the telepathic one,” she said. “She was also jovial, funny, selfless, the one who brought the family together. We are not able to put into words the kind of woman she was. She was just awesome.”

Before her flight, Carol Karanja texted her father, John Quindos Karanja, and expressed her fear for the impending journey.

“The day before the flight my daughter sent me a message — and she told me, ‘ I’m not excited. I don’t know what is happening dad. I am fearing and I don’t know what it is in me,’ She had fears,” her father said. “So I thought that was normal. We never interacted again.”

Ryan, her eldest son, was close with his grandfather, and they would speak every day via video call, John Quindos Karanja said.

A few days before they flew out, Ryan told his grandfather he planned to borrow some money from his dad and buy him a present, Kelly Karanja said.

The day after they got the news, the grandfather turned to family members and said: “I wonder what Ryan was bringing for me?”

John Quindos Karanja lost his wife, his daugher and his three grandchilren in the plane crash.

She was a mother, a wife and an accountant

Before relocating to Hamilton, Ontario, in May 2017, Carol Karanja split her time between Boston and Kenya. She also previously lived in Bermuda, where her husband, Paul Njoroge, works and did not accompany the family on the trip.

Carol Karanja’s friends painted a picture of a doting mom who juggled a hectic work schedule as an accountant at an energy firm in Canada.

“She enjoyed cooking for them, breakfast, lunch, dinner. She was a true homemaker,” said Florence Brown, her friend of six years who lives in Bermuda. “It took a while for me to convince her that it was OK to give her kids some KFC, some TV dinners, especially when she was overwhelmed and busy.”

One of the last messages Carol Karanja posted on Facebook asked for tips on what to feed Rubi during the flight.

“She is so fussy when hungry and nursing her isn’t enough ‘cos she is a big girl now. She eats more than my four-year-old; what can I carry for her?” she asked her friends.

Rubi Pauls, 9 months, was killed in the crash. She was with her mother, siblings and grandmother.

A devastated community mourns

Back home in Kenya, a devastated family is trying to come to terms with the loss of three generations.

A constant stream of visitors come to the family compound outside the town of Nakuru since news of the crash broke. More than 100 people have poured in each day since Sunday.

Inside the home hidden behind a bright blue gate, a group of women make huge pots of tea for the visitors as they sit and share memories. They are part of a local group mentored by Ann, the matriarch of the family and a former primary school teacher.

Boeing 737 Max 8 planes grounded after Ethiopian crash

“We’ll never get another person like her — she’s left a gap that no one can fill. She was so generous to us. We have to be generous to honor her,” said Monica Magiri, a neighbor.

The discussion turns to questions about the safety of the Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft after airlines around the world grounded the aircraft. But Carol Karanja’s brother says he has no interest in pointing fingers after his family’s tragedy.

“If you look at having to point blame on others, I think it will make the healing process a bit more hard for us,” Quindos Mwangi Karanja said.

“I might not know exactly whether to blame the plane but let the experts finish their investigations. And then they are able to tell us the way forward.”

CNN’s Farai Sevenzo and Briana Duggan reported from Kenya, and Faith Karimi reported and wrote from Atlanta. Stephanie Busari contributed to this report.



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Flying a sports car with wings



Tampa, Florida (CNN) — When it comes to piloting a plane, I have zero experience.

In fact, I’ve never even considered attempting it.

Nevertheless, as we swoop over Florida’s Tampa Bay on a gorgeous November morning, I enthusiastically take over the controls of the ICON A5, a two-seater amphibious plane that looks like a sports car, maneuvers like a jet ski and is so intuitive, the company says that even a novice can learn to fly it in less than 30 hours.

At 23 feet long and weighing in a 1,510 pounds, it’s known as a sea light-sport aircraft.

Designed to help you focus on the freedom of flying without worrying if the plane will react unpredictably, there’s nothing else quite like it on the market.

Now that I’m in control, my whole body tenses for a good five minutes. Am I really ready to pilot this shiny new machine all by myself? I’m not entirely sure.

However, I take comfort in the fact that the A5 was built specifically for people like me, and it was designed to drive like a car.

Plus, the fact that Icon’s CEO and founder, Kirk Hawkins, is next to me in the cockpit doesn’t hurt either. He can take over the controls at any time.

So far, so good.

We glide smoothly through the air at about 1,000 feet, and I’m comfortable enough to take in the sights. Lovely Fort De Soto Park doesn’t disappoint.

Squiggles of dreamy white dunes are surrounded by water that looks like it should be in the Caribbean.

The Sunshine Skyway Bridge, with its series of long-spanning cables, is equally impressive.

The adrenaline is still racing. And as most surreal experiences go, it just keeps getting better.

For starters, there’s another ICON A5 to my left, which is thrilling in itself. We are flying in formation, and my job is to mimic its movements. You’d think this would be intimidating, but it’s not.

It’s just plain fun.

That’s music to Hawkins’ ears. He’s the brains behind this newfangled plane, an idea 10 years in the making.

As a former Air Force F-16 pilot and a Stanford Business School grad, he has focused most of his adult life on making sport flying available to the masses.

“The idea for us was to create an airplane where the average human being can go out and experience the world without having the burden of becoming a professional pilot,” he says.

So it makes sense that the dashboard looks like what you see in your car. There are only a few gauges that I don’t recognize.

“It’s the Apple approach to things,” he says. “You humanize it, and make it intuitive and easy and cool.”

He’s so confident people will want to fly (and buy) his planes that he just opened a flight-training facility at Peter O. Knight Airport.

Located on Davis Island, five minutes from downtown Tampa, it’s a place where both beauty and sailboats abound.

The company’s other training center is in Vacaville, California, where ICON is headquartered.

Wide eyes and open windows

By 9 a.m., it’s time for a brief water-landing pitstop.

Hawkins takes over the controls. I’ve been too busy learning to fly in formation (not something non-pilots get to try very often) and interviewing Hawkins to even think about learning to do a water landing myself. It’s something Hawkins tells me most people can master in about 30 minutes.

A few negative-Gs and 360-degree turns later and it becomes a fun roller-coaster ride in the sky. Plus, it’s an open-air flight, so I occasionally flop my arms out. Just because I can.

At a few hundred feet above the water, it’s easy to spot a boater waving at us, a flock of pelicans and even stingrays.

“We’re gonna pull over here and stop and get out for a second,” he says.

Surely he’s kidding, right? But after landing the plane on the water, he takes off his seatbelt, and I realize he’s not.

Seconds later, he pops the roof and we climb onto the wings, which could easily double as diving boards. Suddenly, this feels less like a plane outing and more like I’m on a boat sunbathing.

Everything is drenched in a mesmerizing golden hue. I can imagine picnicking on the beach nearby. Or taking the plane somewhere for a remote weekend camping trip.

Because the plane has a range of about 430 miles on a full tank, it’s made for short getaways.

“This entire thing is about inspiring people,” he explains. “Once you learn to fly, you will never be the same. You will look at the sky different, you will look at the planet different.”

Designed to make flying simple

“The primary motor skills for operating a plane are pretty easy,” Hawkins tells me. “We have people landing by themselves with an instructor on their very first day, within 30 minutes.”

That said, they’ve painstakingly taken the time to design it for safety. The goal of the spin-resistant airframe feature is that if the pilot makes mistakes, the airplane doesn’t lose control.

As a backup, there’s a complete airplane parachute.

“The spin resistance feature is a big deal as it’s the first airplane that the FAA has deemed spin-resistant,” says Chris Dupin, a flight instructor and US Air Force officer. “A significant number of general aviation fatalities are from loss of control accidents that involve an unrecovered spin on the base to final turn.”

Plus, there’s the angle of attack indicator, something you don’t typically see in a light aircraft. It shows you where the wing is happy (in the green) or where it could stall (in the red).

The pilot’s job is to keep the wing within the green or yellow section of the gauge. This is part of what makes water takeoffs and landings so easy to learn.

Becoming a barnstormer

“Kirk Hawkins has an extremely creative and innovative idea for pilot training that is more intuitive; teaching the feel of flight first and the principals and structure later, not unlike how people learn to drive,” says Christine Negroni, veteran aviation journalist and author of “The Crash Detectives.”

“The world is facing a pilot shortage, so the idea of teaching differently, so that different learning styles can be accommodated could very well expand the pool of pilot candidates.”

On that note, about 40% of the folks who’ve put down deposits for the ICON A5 are not pilots, which means this plane is drawing aviation newbies.

After an hour and a half of flying time, Hawkins lands us on the airport runway, a maneuver that you can tackle after you’ve mastered several water landings. It’s a bit trickier since it requires more precision and knowledge about crosswinds.

At this point, if I owned this plane, I’d hook it up to a trailer, fold the wings up, drive it home, and park it in the garage.

Get some air time

If you want your own ICON A5, get in line. More than 1,800 customers have put deposits down.

For those who aren’t ready to shell out $207,000 to buy one, there’s the option of stopping by ICON’s training facility in Tampa, or the facility in Vacaville, California, to fly for the day.

The Sport Flying Introduction class is 1.5 hours for $595. To snag your Sport Pilot License, you will need to spend 20-plus hours and pricing varies.

Sarah Sekula is an Orlando-based travel writer and video host. Follow her adventures @wordzilla and @wordzillapics.



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How to outsmart fake news in your Facebook feed


It doesn’t have to be this way. Fake news is actually really easy to spot — if you know how. Consider this your New Media Literacy Guide.

1. Does the story come from a strange URL?

Zimdars says sites with strange suffixes like “.co” or “.su,” or that are hosted by third party platforms like WordPress should raise a red flag. Some fake sites, like National Report, have legitimate-sounding, if not overly general names that can easily trick people on social sites. For instance, several fake reports from abcnews.com.co have gone viral before being debunked, including a June article that claimed President Obama signed an order banning assault weapon sales.

2. Does the headline match the information in the article?

Mantzarlis says one of the biggest reasons bogus news spreads on Facebook is because people get sucked in by a headline and don’t bother to click through.

Just this week, several dubious organizations circulated a story about Pepsi CEO Indra Nooyi. “Pepsi STOCK Plummets After CEO Tells Trump Supporters to ‘Take Their Business Elsewhere’,” trumpeted one such headline.

However, the articles themselves didn’t contain that quote nor evidence that Pepsi’s stock saw a significant drop (it didn’t). Nooyi did make recorded comments about Trump’s election, but was never quoted telling his supporters to “take their business elsewhere.”

3. Is it a recent story, or an old one that has been re-purposed?

Sometimes legitimate news stories can be twisted and resurrected years after the fact to create a false conflation of events. Mantzarlis recalls an erroneous story that actually cited a legitimate piece of news from CNNMoney.

A blog called Viral Liberty recently reported that Ford had moved production of some of their trucks from Mexico to Ohio because of Donald Trump’s election win. The story quickly caught fire online — after all, it seemed like a great win for the domestic auto industry.

It turns out, Ford did move some manufacturing from Mexico to Ohio — in 2015. It had nothing to do with the election results at all.

4. Are the supporting videos or photos verifiable?

Photos and videos can also be taken out of context to support a false claim. In April, the liberal site Occupy Democrats posted a video that purportedly showed a young woman getting removed from a bathroom by police for not looking feminine enough. This was during the height of the HB2 “bathroom bill” controversy, and the article clearly linked the two. “IT BEGINS,” read the headline.

However, there was no date on the video or evidence that it was shot in North Carolina, where the “bathroom bill” was to be passed.

In fact, according to Snopes, the same video was published to a Facebook page in 2015, meaning it predated the HB2 controversy.

5. Does the article cite primary sources?

It’s not just political news that can be bogus. Now8News is one of the most infamous fake-but-looks-real site, specializing in the kind of weird news stories that often go viral.

One such article claims Coca-Cola recalled Dasani water bottles after a “clear parasite” was found in the water. There was even an accompanying gross-out picture that allegedly showed the parasite, though some basic Googling reveals it is most likely a photo of a young eel.

Regardless, the article had no statement or claim from any company. Clearly this would be a big story. Dasani or any number of consumer advocacy groups would publish statements or news releases about it, right? There are none to be found — because the story is 100% fake.

6. Does the story feature quotes, and are they traceable?

A favorite meme of Liberal Facebook groups features a fake quote from Donald Trump that is allegedly from a People Magazine interview in 1998:

“If I were to run, I’d run as a Republican. They’re the dumbest group of voters in the country. They believe anything on Fox News. I could lie and they’d still eat it up. I bet my numbers would be terrific.

This one is easily debunked if you take even a moment to think about it: People.com has extensive archives, and this quote is nowhere to be found in them.

7. Is it the only outlet reporting the story?

During this election season, Pope Francis was roped into three super viral, and completely false, stories. According to various (fake) websites, the Pope endorsed three US Presidential candidates: First, Bernie Sanders, as “reported” by National Report and USAToday.com.co. Then, Donald Trump, as “reported” by fake news site WTOE 5 News. Finally, another fake news site KYPO6.com reported he had endorsed Hillary Clinton!

In all of these instances, subsequent reports all circled back to the fake ones. It’s always good to trace a story back to the original source, and if you find yourself in a loop — or if they all lead back to the same dubious site — you have reason to doubt.

8. Is your own bias getting in the way?

Both Zimdars and Mantzarlis say confirmation bias is a big reason fake news speads like it does. Some of that is built into Facebook’s algorithm — the more you like or interact with a certain interest, the more Facebook will show you related to that interest.

Similarly, if you hate Donald Trump, you are more likely to think negative stories about Donald Trump are true, even if there is no evidence.

“We seek out information that already fits with our established beliefs,” says Zimdars. “If we come into contact with information we don’t agree with, it still may reaffirm us because we will attempt to find faults.”

So if you find an outrageous article that feels “too good to be true,” use caution: It just might be.

9. Has it been debunked by a reputable fact-checking organization?

Did you know there is actually an International Fact-Checking Network (which Mantzarlis leads)? And that it has a code of principles? The code includes the ideals of nonpartisanship and transparency, among others. Sites like FactCheck.org, Snopes and Politifact abide by this code, so if you see a debunking there, you know you’re getting the real deal. View the whole list here.

10. Is the host on a list of unreliable news websites?

This is where things can get tricky. There’s obviously a big difference between “misleading” news, which is usually based in fact, and “fake” news, which is just fiction disguised as fact. Zimdars’ now-famous list covers both kinds, as well as satire and sites that capitalize on clickbait-type headlines. Snopes also maintains a list.

While Zimdars is glad her list has gotten so much attention, she also cautions that completely writng off some of the sites as “fake” is not accurate. “I want to make sure this list doesn’t do a great disservice to the ultimate goal,” she says. “It’s interesting that some of the headlines [about my list] are just as hyperbolic as the ones I am analyzing.”



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‘Roborace’ car makes street track debut in Marrakech

Autonomous car revolution

A new robot race car series is set to get underway in 2017.

Autonomous car revolution

Autonomous car revolution

Autonomous car revolution

The battery-powered prototype can reach speeds of 215 mph (350 kph), according to Roborace.

Autonomous car revolution

The “Roborace” series is scheduled to start in 2017 and will see 10 autonomous cars all competing on the same track.

Autonomous car revolution

The car successfully navigated the track at Formula E’s Marrakech ePrix in November. The all-electric race series will host robot races during ePrix weekends.

Autonomous car revolution

The car has been developed by a small team of engineers and computer scientists. “With this car we have several kinds of sensors,” Sergey Malygin, Roborace’s Artificial Intelligence developer, told CNN. “First of all there are lasers measurements — light-based, so we have information about the 3D objects around us.”

Autonomous car revolution

“Also we have cameras, radars, ultrasonics to get the information about other vehicles and base stations,” Malygin continues. “We also have precise positioning systems and optical speed sensors.”

Autonomous car revolution

“To get this information inside (the car), process it and get a valuable understanding of what is happening around us that’s something that needs a lot of computing power,” Malygin explains. The raw data is then deciphered by algorithms which tells the car where the walls are and where other cars are on the road.

Autonomous car revolution

Roborace engineer, Matas Simonavicius, says each wheel is individually powered, providing more stability and safety.
“One motor drives one wheel,” Simonavicius told CNN. “This way you can do torque vectoring — you can control the power to wheels much better, how it drives and the performance it gives out. It’s more advanced than the conventional stability control ABS.”

Autonomous car revolution

But are driverless cars a good idea?
“I think, yes,” Simonavicius says. “What’s the biggest cause of accidents at the moment? It’s human error.”

Autonomous car revolution

“That’s why we want to bring this car into a controlled environment where you cannot hurt any people and you can prove that it works,” Simonavicius argues.

Autonomous car revolution

“We’re trying to change people’s perspective of it. So they will see it at races and see it’s safe and does all these cool things.”



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Brazil school shooting: At least 6 killed


Two armed teens wearing hoods entered a school in the town of Suzano — about 50 kilometers east of Sao Paulo — and fired at students, the Sao Paulo government said.

Five students and a school official were killed in the shooting, the Sao Paulo government said.

Suzano police confirmed to CNN that the two attackers then killed themselves.



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