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YELP WARNS CALIFORNIA LAWSUIT COULD SCRUB CRITICAL REVIEWS is warning that a California lawsuit targeting critical posts about a law firm could lead to the removal of negative reviews and leave consumers with a skewed assessment of restaurants and other businesses. Lawyer Dawn Hassell said the business review website is exaggerating the stakes of her legal effort, which aims only to remove from Yelp lies, not just negative statements, that damaged the reputation of her law firm. 9

Though its impact is in dispute, the case is getting attention from some of the biggest Internet companies in the world, which say a ruling against Yelp could stifle free speech online and effectively gut other websites whose main function is offering consumers reviews of services and businesses. A San Francisco judge determined the posts were defamatory and ordered the company to remove them two years ago, which a second judge and a state appeals court upheld. Yelp is asking the state Supreme Court to overturn the order. The high court faces an Oct. 14 deadline to decide whether to hear the case or let the lower-court ruling stand. Experts expect Yelp to prevail. “There were a lot of people who were unhappy about this opinion,” said Eric Goldman, codirector of the High Tech Law Institute at Santa Clara University School of Law. Internet giants Facebook, Twitter and Microsoft said in a letter to the California Supreme Court last month that the ruling “radically departs from a large, unanimous and settled body of federal and state court precedent” and could be used to “silence a vast quantity of protected and important speech.” Yelp said it would give businesses unhappy about negative reviews a new legal pathway for getting them removed. They could sue the person who posted the content and then get a court order demanding the Internet company remove it. But Hassell disputes the ruling would do anything that drastic. 10


Her 2013 lawsuit accused a client she briefly represented in a personal injury case of defaming her on Yelp by falsely claiming that her firm failed to communicate with the client, among other things.

San Francisco Superior Court Judge Donald Sullivan ordered the client and Yelp to remove the statements. Hassell said the client failed to answer her lawsuit or remove the posts, so she had to seek a court order demanding that Yelp do it. “We have an impeccable reputation,” she said of her firm, Hassell Law Group. “We have a right to protect it.” Yelp says the judge’s order violates a 1996 federal law that courts have widely interpreted as protecting Internet companies from liability for posts by third-party users. A federal appeals court cited the law in a Monday ruling saying Yelp’s star rating system did not make it responsible for a negative review of a Washington state locksmith business because the overall rating is based on user reviews. In Hassell’s case, a three-judge appeals panel has said the order requiring Yelp to remove the defamatory statements did not violate the 1996 Communications Decency Act because the company was not facing liability. That’s because Hassell’s lawsuit named her former client and not Yelp, the appellate court said. The review site says the law is broader and prevents the courts from treating the company as the speaker or publisher of users’ posts regardless of whether it’s named in a lawsuit. 12


The ruling “would really inhibit a website’s ability to provide a balanced spectrum of views online and make it more doubtful that people would get the information they need to make informed decisions,” said Aaron Schur, Yelp’s senior director of litigation. Yelp uses an algorithm to weed out biased and malicious reviews and encourages users to contact the company if they receive a final determination from a court that a review is defamatory. In Hassell’s case, Yelp has questioned the court’s finding that the posts were defamatory. Hassell said her lawsuit will not affect negative reviews on Yelp. She said she was the victim of lies and spent a considerable amount of effort and money to get a court to rule that the former client’s comments were defamatory. “You can give critical reviews about people on the Internet,” she said. “It doesn’t mean it’s going to be defamation. You can’t write untruthful content to hurt somebody.” Goldman of the Santa Clara University School of Law didn’t think the courts treated Hassell differently because her business is a law firm, as opposed to a restaurant or other business in the service industry. Daphne Keller, an Internet law expert at Stanford Law School and former attorney at Google, said prior court decisions favor Yelp and she would be surprised if the California Supreme Court didn’t reverse the ruling. “It should be a no-brainer for Yelp to win,” she said.





The latest software update for Mac computers, MacOS Sierra, brings iPhone services to Apple laptops and desktops and further breaks down walls between devices. It also borrows an iPad feature for watching video while you work and offers ways to automatically free up storage space. The free update is available Tuesday through the Mac’s app store. If you have any crucial third-party software or accessories, you might want to hold off until you verify that they will work properly with Sierra. Check with the software or accessory maker, or look for any complaints online. Be sure to back up your data before upgrading. 17

Once you have Sierra, here are things to look for:

iPHONE COMES TO THE MAC Sierra brings two features already found on iPhones: the Siri virtual assistant and Apple Pay. Siri can help with directions, web searches, reminders and even Mac-specific commands, such as putting the Mac to sleep. I find it odd, though, to talk to a computer, so I still use the keyboard and trackpad most of the time. Unlike Microsoft’s Cortana assistant on Windows computers, however, Siri won’t take typed requests in public settings such as coffee shops; all you can do is talk to her. Where Siri helps is in letting me pin results to the Mac’s notification center, so I can continually get baseball standings and scores after asking Siri just once. I can also drag and drop Siri results such as weather and maps into email, Word documents and other apps. Apple’s payment service, meanwhile, now works with websites that enable it, although you’ll still need an iPhone or Apple Watch nearby to complete the transaction. Apple Pay saves you the trouble of re-entering credit card and shipping information. The Photos app is getting new search and highlights options to match updates in iOS 10, the aiPhone system update/a released last week. As with iOS 10, Messages on the Mac gets larger emojis and previews of web pages, rather than raw links. It also gets the ability to display, but not create, some of the expression options introduced in iOS 10.


DEVICES WORK AS ONE Apple’s devices now all work together much better, though you’ll only notice if you have an iPhone or Apple Watch in addition to a Mac. When you copy text or an image from one device, you can paste it in another signed in to the same Apple ID. This feature proved crucial on a train when I typed a passage in a Word document but didn’t have Wi-Fi to send it in before a deadline. I copied the passage with the usual Command-C combination. I then pasted it into email on the iPhone with the usual long press on the screen. I sent that in with the phone’s cellular connection. My boss didn’t need to know I wasn’t in the office yet. It works the other way, too. When I see an interesting website on the phone, I can paste a relevant passage into a Mac document without revisiting the site. And if you have an Apple Watch, you can now unlock the Mac simply by waking up the computer with the watch on. No more typing in passwords. Setting that up took time because the Mac required that I tighten my Apple ID security settings first, but now the Mac unlocks instantly.


SAVING SPACE Sierra brings several space-saving features, including the automatic deletion of files from the trash can after 30 days. Normally, you need to manually empty the trash can every now and then. As space runs low, the Mac will also remove files you can get again online - namely, iTunes video and email attachments. If you choose to sync your desktop and document folder through iCloud, the Mac will also delete older files and keep them online only. You’ll still see the file on the Mac, but when you open it, the Mac will retrieve it from iCloud, presuming you’re online.


VIDEO ON THE MAC A picture-in-picture feature, already in iPads for a year, lets you watch video in a small window that stays on top, even as you move windows around. It works with iTunes and some Safari video. In fact, as I wrap up this story, I’m watching the movie “Inside Out” in a corner. No spoilers, please.


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Obama administration officials previewed long-awaited guidance Monday that attempts to bring self-driving cars to the nation’s roadways safely - without creating so many roadblocks that the technology can’t make it to market quickly. Traditional automakers and tech companies have been testing self-driving prototypes on public roads for several years, with a human in the driver’s seat just in case. The results suggest that what once seemed like a technology perpetually over the horizon appears to be fast approaching, especially with car companies announcing a string of investments and acquisitions in recent months. 25


Federal officials have been struggling with how to capitalize on the technology’s promised safety benefits - the cars can react faster than people, but don’t drink or get distracted - while making sure they are ready for widespread use. The new guidance represents their current thinking, which they hope will bring some order to what has been a chaotic rollout so far. Self-driving cars have the potential to save thousands of lives lost on the nation’s roads each year and to change the lives of the elderly and the disabled, President Barack Obama said in an op-ed published Monday by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “Safer, more accessible driving. Less congested, less polluted roads. That’s what harnessing technology for good can look like,” Obama wrote. But he added: “We have to get it right. Americans deserve to know they’ll be safe today even as we develop and deploy the technologies of tomorrow.” One self-driving technology expert said the overall tenor of the guidance signaled that the federal government truly has embraced autonomous driving. “In terms of just attitude, this is huge,” said Bryant Walker Smith, a law professor at the University of South Carolina who closely tracks the technology. He also cautioned that many details remain unclear. Under the proposal, the federal transportation regulators, rather than states, should be in charge of regulating self-driving cars since the vehicles are essentially controlled by software, not people, administration officials said. 27


States have historically set the rules for licensing drivers, but when the driver becomes a computer “we intend to occupy the field here,” Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said. States, he said, should stick to registering the cars and dealing with questions of liability when they crash. Automakers should also be allowed to self-certify the safety of autonomous vehicles by following a 15-point checklist for safe design, development, testing and deployment, said officials who briefed reporters. Though companies are not required to follow the guidance - it is voluntary and does not carry the force of formal regulation - Foxx said he expects compliance. “It’s in their vested interest to go through the rigors that we’re laying out here” to gain the confidence of both regulators and the public, Foxx said. In somewhat contradictory fashion, officials also said the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is examining whether it should have “pre-market approval” authority, in which the government inspects and approves new technologies like autonomous vehicles. That would be a departure from the agency’s historic self-certification system and might require action from Congress. Officials spoke to reporters ahead of a news conference scheduled for Tuesday at which they plan to provide greater detail of their guidance to automakers and states, as well as new powers and resources NHTSA may require. NHTSA has been striving to make the guidelines a concise framework, rather than a lengthy set of detailed standards and regulations. The agency’s 29


administrator, Mark Rosekind, has said he wants the guidelines to be flexible to keep pace with industry innovation. Some consumer advocates have objected to administration’s decision to pursue voluntary guidelines instead of drafting safety rules and standards that are legally enforceable. If the government had followed its process for issuing rules, it would have provided the public greater opportunity to weigh in on proposed regulations and required NHTSA to address any concerns that are raised before regulations become final, they say. But the rulemaking process is often laborious and can take years to complete. Automakers sought the NHTSA guidance in part because they fear a patchwork of state laws will slow or complicate deployment of self-driving cars. Some state lawmakers see the advent of autonomous cars as a way to attract technology companies and spur economic growth, and are proposing laws friendly to the technology. The Michigan legislature, for example, is considering bills that would allow the testing of self-driving cars without brakes or pedals on state roads. New York, on the other hand, has a longstanding law that requires drivers keep one hand on the wheel at all times, which undermines the rationale for self-driving technology. Last week, Uber began offering free rides in self-driving cars to customers in Pittsburgh, making it the first company in the U.S. to offer use of the vehicles to the public. The cars have a person sitting in the driver’s seat ready to handle situations beyond the abilities of the technology. 31



What if your computer or smartphone could tell if you’re happy or sad? A new device developed by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology can detect a person’s emotions using wireless signals reflecting off a person’s body to measure human behavior. Researchers from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory say their EQ-Radio device is 87 percent accurate in telling if someone is excited, happy, angry or sad. It’s as accurate as an electrocardiogram monitor, which uses a sensor on the body, in measuring heartbeats. They say it could one day be used by film studios and advertising agencies to gauge audience reaction, in homes to adjust temperature based on mood, or in health care. MIT’s team plans to present the work at a mobile computing conference next month. 33


Liu Jingtang was a Samsung loyalist. The Shanghai technology consultant traded up steadily through its smartphones to the new Note 7. But Liu’s devotion was shaken by the Korean tech giant’s confusing response to its latest product safety scare. Liu, 32, said Samsung Electronics quickly confirmed his Note 7 wasn’t covered by a recall announced last week. But he said after reports China might have suffered its first explosion of the problem-plagued phone, Samsung’s announcement that it saw no problem with the battery with no other explanation left him baffled. “My loyalty to Samsung is bound to decline by a lot,” said Liu. “Samsung was my priority, but not anymore.” 34


China should be a bright spot for Samsung as it wrestles with a global recall of 2.5 million of its new flagship smartphones. The company has not confirmed any in China suffer the same problems that led to fires in the United States. But its brand has been battered by complaints it is doing too little to reassure Chinese owners their handsets are safe. The potential damage to its image threatens to disrupt Samsung’s efforts to use the Note 7 to propel faster growth in a crowded Chinese market where it has slipped to sixth place after being the No. 1 brand as recently as mid-2014. Chinese consumers are unusually alert to safety issues following an avalanche of scandals over shoddy or fake food, medicines and other goods. They also are sensitive about being treated as well as Western consumers. “I think consumers are pretty unhappy with Samsung,” said Ben Cavender of China Market Research Group. “Consumers start to feel like they are being taken advantage of, that they are not being accorded the same respect here as they are abroad.” Asked what it was doing to reassure Chinese consumers, Samsung said in a statement it is confident about the safety of Note 7s sold by authorized outlets. IKEA suffered a similar backlash in June after the Swedish furniture recalled dressers in the United States and Canada due to concerns they could tip over and harm children. When the company didn’t immediately do the same in China, people posted angry comments online asking whether it valued Chinese lives less. IKEA announced a recall in China in July. 36


Samsung has blamed the fires on a manufacturing flaw in batteries and said Note 7 units sold in China would not be affected because theirs came from a different supplier. On Monday, Samsung said its investigation into the first report of a Galaxy Note 7 fire in China found unspecified “external factors” might be to blame. It said it was unable to investigate a second fire report because the consumer refused to hand over the charred phone. Liu, the technology consultant, said the statement made him question why Note 7 phones sold in China would be different from those sold abroad. “They hastily put out this statement. Was that really good? I think it was unsatisfactory,” said Liu. As for external factors, he said, “does that mean the customer deliberately heated it over a fire? That doesn’t make much sense.” Samsung surprised customers by saying no phones in China were covered by its global recall and then recalling 1,858 phones. It said those were distributed for testing before sales to the public began. “For Samsung to recall only 1,858 units in China while it recalls 1 million in the United States seems insincere,” said a comment left on a website of the Communist Party newspaper People’s Daily. “Whether those phones that are not recalled will wind up being a problem or not will be a bomb planted in the hearts of customers,” it said. Samsung is the world’s biggest smartphone brand by number of units sold but in China it trails market leader Huawei Technology Ltd. 38


and three other local brands - Vivo, Xiaomi and Oppo. Apple Inc.’s iPhone was in fifth place in the first half of this year. The Note 7 “was a good opportunity (to expand sales), but they blew it,” said Liu. Working in Samsung’s favor is the fact that phones are sold through retailers in China instead of carriers. That allows users to switch brands quickly and new competitors to enter the market. “In any given month, a brand is going to leapfrog another brand and come up with a brighter screen or bigger battery of faster charging,” said Cavender. On Tuesday, the Note 7 was on sale at electronics retailers and shops run by stateowned phone carrier China Mobile Ltd., though employees said customers were asking about the reports of explosions.


“Sales for Note 7 were slightly affected by the incident but we are still selling them,” said a saleswoman who was reached by phone at an outlet of Suning, the country’s biggest electronics retailer, in the Wangjing neighborhood on Bejiing’s northeast side. “We are making explanations to customers every day, it is up to the customer to believe it or not.” The Note 7 was sold out in black and only available in gold at a China Mobile store in the capital’s eastern business district, said a salesman who would give only his surname, Li. He said a customer bought one Tuesday and no one asked about the report of an explosion. “There are some customers who only favor Samsung and they don’t bother asking questions,” said Li. Longer term, the Note 7 in China is likely to “take a major sales hit,” said Cavender. “People who want to buy a phone are going to switch to Apple or to a local brand like Huawei,” said Cavender. “Or if they want a Samsung, they probably are going to wait for the next generation, because they don’t want to take the risk that they will get a faulty product.” 41



Many people in the New York City area were alerted Monday (19) morning to a screeching, buzzing message about a man wanted in connection with explosions in the area over the weekend. A Saturday explosion in Manhattan injured 29 people. Other devices were found in the New York City area but caused no injuries. The alert read, “WANTED: Ahmad Khan Rahami, 28-yr-old male. See media for pic. Call 9-1-1 if seen.” Police had him in custody later Monday, after a New Jersey bar owner reported a person asleep in the bar’s doorway. What are these alerts and how do they work? 43

WHAT ARE WIRELESS EMERGENCY ALERTS? According to the Federal Communications Commission, these text-like messages let cellphone users in a particular area receive notices about what are deemed critical emergencies. Messages can be about weather threats, Amber alerts for missing children or emergencies like a chemical spill. The wireless industry, the FCC and the Federal Emergency Management Agency started this program in 2012, according to the wireless trade group CTIA. FEMA said Monday that it was not the first time the system had been used to ring out a search for a dangerous suspect, but the agency could not immediately provide a past example. 44


HOW ARE THESE SENT? FEMA authorizes messages from a local, state, federal, or tribal government agency and sends them on to wireless carriers. In this case, FEMA said the alert was issued by the New York Office of Emergency Management. Messages appear on phones just like texts and are accompanied by a loud alarm. The phone also vibrates, which the FCC says helps people with hearing or vision disabilities. The alerts don’t count as texts, so people on limited text plans won’t get charged extra. Some phones, especially older ones, might not be equipped to receive these messages, though. The alerts aren’t affected by network congestion and are based on cell tower locations, so if you’re on vacation in California, you won’t get alerts for New York, even if your phone is registered there. The FCC says targeting is typically down to the county level.

CAN YOU GET RID OF THEM? The FCC says some alerts can be blocked, if the carrier allows it - but not alerts issued by the president. On iPhones, the setting is under “Notifications.” On Android, look for “Emergency broadcasts” under “Sound,” though your phone maker may have moved that. On Samsung’s Galaxy S7 phone, for instance, the setting is under “Privacy and Emergency.” Hit “Emergency Alerts,” then “More,” then “Settings.”



WHAT ARE DRAWBACKS OF THE SYSTEM? The current technology supports only text and 90 characters. That leads to a slightly awkward phrase like “See media for pic� of Rahami, rather than a link to a photo or a photo itself being sent. The FCC has proposed permitting longer messages, embedded links or possibly even images like maps. The wireless industry has said it is wary of including links because they could lead to network congestion or confused customers.

For more information:





Comcast plans to launch a cellphone service roughly in the middle of next year, although it would be limited to areas of the country where it’s a cable provider. That could potentially make the cable giant a competitor to carriers like Verizon and AT&T for a subset of the country. Comcast has just over 28 million customers. It plans to create a service that would run on its 15 million Wi-Fi hotspots and use Verizon’s wireless network, which it has a deal to resell. Comcast CEO Brian Roberts confirmed the company’s plans at an investment conference Tuesday in New York. 51

He suggested that Comcast was looking at the mobile service as an add-on to customer bundles, and combining wireless service with Comcast cable or internet would likely make customers stick with Comcast longer. It could also mean some savings for Comcast customers. “If Comcast is to make this a compelling offer, especially given their lack of history in wireless, they’re going to have to offer some steep discounts in their bundles,” telecom analyst Jan Dawson of Jackdaw Research said in an email. Several attempts by big cable companies to offer wireless service have foundered, like the Wi-Fi-only phone launched by New Yorkarea cable company Cablevision in early 2015 (Cablevision is now owned by European telecom Altice). Cox Communications, one of the biggest cable companies, pulled the plug on its short-lived mobile phone service in 2011, saying it didn’t have the heft necessary to compete, including the ability to sell certain popular smartphones.


Image: Andrew Harrer




CUPERTINO FIRM KEEPS PACE IN THE SMARTWATCH MARKET Earlier this month, Apple unveiled its new Apple Watch Series 2, and the early reviews have been positive ones. With a whole host of improvements and additions – including water resistance and GPS tracking – it is clear that Apple means business and wants to dominate the market after a lukewarm Watch launch last year. Initial reviews for the second iteration included that of TechRadar, which said that the new Watch “refined” many of the core features that Apple Watch owners already know and love - so does Apple have another winning device on its hands?

Apple Watch Series 2 review - TechRadar



HEALTH AND SPORTS TAKE CENTER STAGE It is clear that Apple is placing an even greater focus on fitness for the second edition of the Apple Watch. Two major new features – namely GPS tracking and water resistance – are designed to complement running and swimming respectively, with both delivering an improved health-tracking functionality compared to the previous model of the Watch. Something that is interesting to note, however, is that Apple has removed the Sport edition branding from the Apple Watch line, a clear indicator that every version of the Series 2 is designed to be sporty.


WATER RESISTANCE FINALLY REACHES THE WATCH Every ‘entry point’ of the new Apple Watch has been given a water-resistant makeover, meaning that you can now finally take your device with you when you go for a swim – or even a shower! A new mechanism has been designed to ‘eject’ water from the Watch’s speaker system, while every other orifice has been given a waterresistant coating to enable underwater use. For swimmers, this means even greater flexibility, and the chance to measure their strokes, lengths and heart rate throughout their sporting sessions. Apple Watch Series 2 review - CNET


EDITION COMES WITH A NEW WHITE CERAMIC BODY The Apple Watch Edition has always been a contentious product. For those who have the cash to splash, a couple of thousand dollars won’t seem like that big a deal – but with Apple known for its annual product releases, does anybody need to spend quite that much on a product that will be out of date in a year or two? Apple clearly seems to think so, announcing a new Ceramic model at $1,249. With its stunning white ceramic design – which is, of course, waterproof – this new Apple Watch Edition is the ultimate swimming and style companion.


A HIGHLY IMPRESSIVE PROCESSOR AND PERFORMANCE The new Ceramic model aside, the upgraded Apple Watch’s appearance is almost identical to that of the previous model. One thing that has definitely changed, however, is the under-thehood performance. A second generation dualcore S2 processor measures in at 50% faster than the previous model, while a new GPU offers two times the graphics performance of the Series 1. A new S2 processor is also being shipped with the Series 1 model at a reduced price for those wanting to save $100. The “completely re-engineered” model’s screen is also twice as bright as that of the first Watch - indeed, it boasts the brightest display of any Apple product, its 1,000 nits representing a significant increase on the previous model’s 450. This should make the outdoor viewing of your Watch’s display easier than ever, but 61



Apple Watch Series 2 review: all about fitness - The Verge


The Verge did have some criticism, claiming that the display “doesn’t always wake up every time” the user’s wrist is raised, as well as that it’s “not always possible to see [the display] in direct sunlight”. There is therefore evidence that Apple still has some work to do on this aspect of an otherwise impressively performing smartwatch.

NIKE PLUS OFFERING MARKS RENEWAL OF OLD PARTNERSHIP It may not represent the first time Nike has paired with Apple for a new product launch, as those who remember the Nike + iPod range will attest, but the new Apple Watch Nike Plus is certainly the most exciting of the two iconic brands’ collaborations to date. A new Nike-branded Apple Watch comes with a breathable watch band, a new social network of sorts - called Nike+ Run Club - and a host of attractive features for sports lovers. The new model is priced the same as the regular Series 2 Watch at $369, but won’t be available until late October.

WATCHOS 3 MAKES THINGS EVEN BETTER Released as a free upgrade last week, the new operating system for the Apple Watch is taking things to the next level. Centered on customization, watchOS 3 introduces new watch faces, iMessage stickers and more notifications, which should enable you to enjoy your smartwatch experience more than ever before. WatchOS has long been criticized for its clunky, slow and hard-to-use interface, but the new version of the system means that apps now 65


“react instantly”, with “fewer instances of the pinwheel” now also required than ever before.

GPS GIVES FITNESS FANATICS MORE ROOM TO RUN One of the widest-rumored and best-received features of the new Watch is its ability to work with GPS. You will no longer need to pair your Watch with your iPhone to take advantage of its accurate pace and distance measurements on a run, meaning that you can leave the house with nothing but your smartwatch - and running gear, of course. John Gruber of the Daring Fireball site said that the GPS automatically switching to the iPhone when close by thereby enabling the user to save battery was a highlight. Buzzfeed’s Nicole Nguyen also praised the GPS technology, adding that she would no longer “have to wait for satellites to find my position before starting a workout”, given the device’s use of local data, plus GPS and Wi-Fi, to detect her location. Alongside the obvious benefits of GPS technology, the new Apple Watch could deliver geo-push notifications – allowing bars, restaurants and shopping malls to send you information when you are within reach – while Uber could use the technology to enable you to track cabs without your phone. Everybody’s favorite game right now, Pokémon Go, will also arrive on the Watch App Store this fall, as the Bluetooth-enabled Pokémon Go Plus wearable also looms on the horizon. Apple has yet to reveal how much scope there will be for developers and third parties to use the GPS, or whether fitness apps will be able to take advantage of the technology. Pairing the 67

technology with Apple’s Workout API certainly seems like an attractive feature, but to find out more about the possibilities, we’ll need to wait for updates to watchOS 3 and new apps and developers to enter the marketplace.

LISTENING TO MUSIC ON THE GO If you want to listen to music on the go, the Watch’s new AirPods are headphones that you should definitely consider. With pairing between the two taking mere seconds, the Apple Watch Series 2 is the perfect companion to your new wireless headphones, whether you want to listen to music or enjoy a motivating speech on your morning jog. Early reviews of the AirPods have been fairly positive; Engadget wrote


that they were “stunned Apple squeezed as much tech into the AirPods as they did”, while Business Insider added that the headphones “never felt like they’d slip out, even while walking around or working out at the gym”. Despite critics suggesting that the Watch would never succeed, as well as slow sales compared to the iPhone and iPad ranges, Apple is determined to make its wearable a success. 69

It’s clear that the Series 2 model represents a significant step in the right direction, resulting in a faster, water-resistant and independent device designed to improve our health and day-to-day lives. The decision on whether to upgrade, however, is yours. If you especially want to take your wearable to the swimming pool or out on a jog without your phone, the Series 2 is certainly a worthwhile investment. If, however, you are a more casual user, it may be best to wait for the additional substantial improvements that future generations of the Watch will presumably bring. The smartwatch market may be an intensely competitive one, but with the Watch Series 2, Apple is well-placed to achieve a strong foothold for the year ahead. We can’t wait to see how the coming months unfold for one of the Cupertino firm’s most important product categories in the year 2016.

by Benjamin Kerry & Gavin Lenaghan






A wildfire burning at a central California Air Force base on Sunday forced the postponement of a satellite launch, officials said. An Atlas 5 rocket was to carry a satellite known as WorldView-4 into orbit from Vandenberg Air Force Base. The satellite is designed to produce high-resolution images of Earth from space. The fire burning in a remote canyon didn’t immediately threaten the space launch complex, Col. Paul Nosek said on the base’s Facebook page. But he said the blaze required firefighters to be redeployed from standing by at the launch. 74

Image: Jeff Spotts



Nearly 800 firefighters were trying to corral the fire that was nearly 2 square miles in size. The launch will be postponed until at least Sept. 26, according to United Launch Alliance, a joint venture by Lockheed Martin and Boeing Co. The satellite is the latest in a series of imaging satellites built by Lockheed Martin. It is operated by Colorado-based DigitalGlobe, which provides images for government and private customers. The satellite is designed to spot the make of a car from nearly 400 miles (643.71 kilometers) above Earth.




Samsung says new Galaxy Note 7 smartphones will be available in U.S. stores starting Wednesday to replace about 1 million devices that are being recalled because their batteries can catch fire. The South Korean company has been scrambling to fix problems caused by faulty batteries in the latest version of its top-of-the-line smartphone, which first went on sale last month. When it first offered on Sept. 2 to replace the affected Note 7 phones, Samsung said it would swap them for models of its other phones, such as the Galaxy S7, until supplies of replacement Note 7 devices became available. Samsung followed up last week by announcing that U.S. consumers who had purchased one of the recalled phones could choose between a replacement or a refund for the device, which sells for about $850. That offer was jointly announced with officials at the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission after Samsung was criticized for not coordinating more closely with the commission. 79


Safety officials have urged Note 7 owners to turn off their phones and return them immediately. They cited reports of Note 7 batteries overheating in the United States, including 26 instances where individuals were burned and 55 that caused property damage. The problem doesn’t affect all Note 7 phones, because Samsung uses batteries from different suppliers. But the company has said about 2.5 million devices may be affected worldwide, including 1 million sold in the United States. Samsung also said it’s pushing out two software updates through wireless carriers. One will show a green battery icon to confirm that a Note 7 device is a new one that doesn’t have the battery problem. The other will display a short notice to owners of older phones covered by the recall, telling them to turn off their device and take it in for a replacement. About a quarter of affected phones had been exchanged in the United States by Tuesday, according to a spokeswoman for Samsung’s U.S. subsidiary. She was unable to say how many Note 7 buyers sought refunds, but said “the vast majority” received a different Samsung phone as a replacement.



Saying they were doing something no other government has done, Obama administration officials rolled out a plan Tuesday they say will enable automakers to get self-driving cars onto the road without compromising safety. In drawing up 112 pages of guidelines, the government tried to be vague enough to allow innovation while at the same time making sure that car makers, tech companies and ride-hailing firms put safety first as the cars are developed. Only time will tell whether the mission was accomplished, but the document generally was praised by businesses and analysts as good guidance in a field that’s evolving faster than anyone imagined just a few years ago. “How do you regulate a complex software system?” asked Timothy Carone, a Notre Dame University professor who has written about the future of automation. “They want to allow innovation, but they want to be very proscriptive in managing the risk side of this. In my mind, they’re trying to manage the unknown.” 82

Image: Olivier Douliery



The guidelines from the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration don’t tell companies specifically how to get to an autonomous car that can safely carry people down the road, leaving a lot to interpretation. But they tell companies to explain how they’ll comply with a 15-point safety assessment before they roll out the cars. And the guidelines also make clear that NHTSA will force recalls if software doesn’t perform as it should. The agency, for the first time in its history, may even seek authority from Congress to approve technology before it goes on the road. “We want to be as nimble and flexible as we can be, recognizing that we will never, ever compromise on what we think is safe,” Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said at a Washington news conference. Among other things, the safety assessment asks automakers to document how the car detects and avoids objects and pedestrians, how the car is protected against cyberattacks and what sort of backup system is in place in case the computers fail. Companies that already have even semiautonomous vehicles on the road will have to submit assessments four months after the government’s 60-day comment period ends. Companies that are developing autonomous and semi-autonomous vehicles will be asked to submit assessments before those cars go on the road. For now, the assessments are voluntary, but the government intends to make them mandatory after a lengthy rule-making process. 85


The guidelines come as the government has struggled with how to capitalize on the technology’s promised safety benefits - the cars can react faster than people, but don’t drink or get distracted - while making sure they are ready for widespread use. Officials hope the guidelines will bring order to what has been a chaotic rollout so far. The Transportation Department also said it, rather than the states, would be responsible for regulating cars controlled by software. States have historically set the rules for licensing drivers, but Foxx said states should stick to registering the cars and dealing with questions of liability when they crash when the driver is a computer. The guidelines allow automakers to seek exemptions from NHTSA from federal safety standards that might be outdated, such as a rule requiring a steering wheel in brake pedals in a vehicle without a human driver. California currently requires a steering wheel and brake pedals, but NHTSA has the authority to approve vehicles without them if the agency decides they’re safe. The government also wants cars, whether partially or fully self-driving, to collect and share data from crashes and near-misses so companies and the government can learn from the experience. Data isn’t currently collected industrywide. NHTSA made clear that it can use its current recall authority to regulate the new cars. It warned automakers that self-driving cars that still rely on a human driver to intervene in some circumstances must have a means for keeping the driver’s attention. If they don’t, that “may be Image: Kim Kyung-Hoon



defined as an unreasonable risk to safety and subject to recall,” the department said. NHTSA says the warning isn’t aimed at electric car maker Tesla Motors. But it would address events like a fatal crash in Florida that occurred while a Tesla Model S was operating on the company’s semi-autonomous Autopilot system. The system can brake when it spots obstacles and keep cars in their lanes. But it failed to spot a crossing tractor-trailer and neither the system nor the driver braked. Autopilot allows drivers to take their hands off the steering wheel for short periods. Tesla has since announced modifications so Autopilot relies more on radar and less on cameras, which it said were blinded by sunlight in the Florida crash. The company has maintained that Autopilot is a driver assist system and said it warns drivers they must be ready to take over at any time. Some consumer advocates have objected to voluntary guidelines instead of safety rules that are legally enforceable. “Consumers need more than just guidelines. This new policy comes with a lot of bark, but not enough bite,” Marta Tellado, President and CEO of Consumer Reports, said in a statement. Industry reaction, however, was largely favorable. Former NHTSA Administrator David Strickland, who now represents a coalition involving Ford, Google, Lyft, Uber, and Volvo Cars, said the guidelines are a foundation of how to test and deploy autonomous cars. Yet if a manufacturer doesn’t follow the guidelines “it will be open and apparent,” he said.


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iOS 90

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Mac OS X 93


Movies &

TV Shows


The Shallows A surfer becomes stranded 200 yards from the shore, and soon finds herself under threat from a great white shark in a struggle for survival.

FIVE FACTS: 1. The movie was partly shot on the Australian Gold Coast, with other filming taking place in a giant swimming pool. 2. The screenplay for the movie appeared on the 2014 Black List, a list of the “most liked” unmade scripts of the year. 3. The film’s original title was In the Deep. 4. Nancy’s nickname for the film’s seagull character is Steven Seagull, a pun on actor Steven Seagal.

by Jaume Collet-Serra Genre: Thriller Released: 2016 Price: $14.99

5. Nancy makes her stand for survival on the number “42” buoy - significant, given that 42 is considered in pop culture to be the answer to the meaning of life.

143 Ratings

Rotten Tomatoes


% 95

Cast Interview



Hunt for the Wilderpeople A rebellious kid and his foster uncle go missing in the wild New Zealand bush, triggering a national manhunt.

FIVE FACTS: 1. The film was the first local feature to gross over NZ$1 million in its opening New Zealand box office weekend. 2. It is the fourth movie with Taika Waititi as director to premiere at Sundance Festival, following Eagle vs Shark, Boy and What We Do in the Shadows. 3. One part of the chase scene involving the red Toyota Hilux closely imitates - shot for shot - a 1980s New Zealand TV commercial for the car. 4. An open casting call was held for a young teenage Maori girl to play Kahu, with Tioreore Ngatai-Melbourne the successful applicant.

by Taika Waititi Genre: Comedy Released: 2016 Price: $14.99

69 Ratings

5. Ricky expresses a hatred for Kingi in his haiku - Kingi being a character in Boy, another film directed by Taika Waititi.

Rotten Tomatoes






Cast Interview





Skeleton Tree Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds The infamous and inimitable singersongwriter’s 16th studio album is his most experimental, chilling and heartbreaking yet, but still offers the enticing songwriting for which he is known.

FIVE FACTS: Genre: Alternative Released: Sep 09, 2016 8 Songs Price: $9.99

75 Ratings

1. Cave’s son Arthur, 15, died after falling from a cliff at Ovingdean near Brighton, England on July 14, 2015. 2. One More Time with Feeling, a documentary film about the aftermath of Cave’s son’s death and the recording process of Skeleton Tree, accompanied the album’s release. 3. The album debuted at number two on the United Kingdom’s midweek albums chart, selling 17,600 copies in its first three days of release. 4. A film about Cave’s life, titled 20,000 Days on Earth and directed by artists Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard, was released in mid-2014, shortly before his 57th birthday.

‘Jesus Alone’

5. Cave has collaborated with a wide range of other artists, including Johnny Cash, the Flaming Lips and Kylie Minogue.



‘I Need You’


Here Teenage Fanclub One of the seminal alternative rock acts of the ‘90s, Teenage Fanclub’s 11th studio album is one of the most anticipated of the year.

FIVE FACTS: 1. The group’s third album Bandwagonesque was voted the album of the year for 1991 by music magazine Spin, beating Nirvana’s landmark album Nevermind. 2. . Kurt Cobain once called Teenage Fanclub “the best band in the world”. 3. In May 2015, Teenage Fanclub was the support act for Foo Fighters at their Old Trafford Cricket Ground gig in Manchester, UK. 4. In 2006, the band held two special concerts in London and Glasgow, playing the Bandwagonesque album in its entirety. 5. The band was once signed to the nowdefunct Creation Records, which also boasted such acts as Oasis, Primal Scream and My Bloody Valentine.


Genre: Alternative Released: Sep 09, 2016 12 Songs + digital booklet Price: $7.99

10 Ratings

‘I’m In Love’



‘Thin Air’




“Sully” kept afloat in its second weekend at the box office. The Warner Bros. dramatization of the Miracle on the Hudson directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Tom Hanks remained at No. 1 with $21.6 million, bringing its total domestic haul to $70.2 million. Lionsgate’s horror revival “Blair Witch” was a distant No. 2 with a $9.6 million debut. Working Title Films’ comedy threequel “Bridget Jones’s Baby” with Renee Zellweger back as the titular character opened at No. 3 with $8.6 million. Oliver Stone’s “Snowden,” which stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt as NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, debuted at No. 4 with $8 million, marking the lowest box office opening in the filmmaker’s career. 111

The top 20 movies at U.S. and Canadian theaters Friday through Sunday, followed by distribution studio, gross, number of theater locations, average receipts per location, total gross and number of weeks in release, as compiled Monday by comScore:


“Sully,” Warner Bros., $21,653,017, 3,525 locations, $6,143 average, $70,194,368, 2 weeks.


“Blair Witch,” Lionsgate, $9,576,057, 3,121 locations, $3,068 average, $9,576,057, 1 week.


“Bridget Jones’s Baby,” Universal, $8,571,785, 2,927 locations, $2,929 average, $8,571,785, 1 week.


“Snowden,” Open Road, $8,000,058, 2,443 locations, $3,275 average, $8,000,058, 1 week.


“Don’t Breathe,” Sony, $5,640,232, 3,208 locations, $1,758 average, $75,369,013, 4 weeks.





“When the Bough Breaks,” Sony, $5,483,126, 2,246 locations, $2,441 average, $22,655,858, 2 weeks.


“Suicide Squad,” Warner Bros., $4,701,834, 2,740 locations, $1,716 average, $313,774,166, 7 weeks.


“The Wild Life,” Lionsgate, $2,771,443, 2,493 locations, $1,112 average, $6,785,712, 2 weeks.


“Kubo and the Two Strings,” Focus Features, $2,540,031, 1,757 locations, $1,446 average, $44,272,005, 5 weeks.


“Pete’s Dragon,” Disney, $2,152,802, 1,948 locations, $1,105 average, $72,917,327, 6 weeks.



“Hell or High Water,” Lionsgate, $2,074,974, 1,505 locations, $1,379 average, $22,875,505, 6 weeks.


“Bad Moms,” STX Entertainment, $1,765,403, 1,486 locations, $1,188 average, $110,010,331, 8 weeks.


“Hillsong - Let Hope Rise,” Pure Flix, $1,357,243, 816 locations, $1,663 average, $1,357,243, 1 week.


“No Manches Frida,” Lionsgate, $1,291,512, 456 locations, $2,832 average, $9,195,621, 3 weeks.


“The Secret Life Of Pets,” Universal, $1,231,895, 1,005 locations, $1,226 average, $363,388,255, 11 week.





“Sausage Party,” Sony, $1,203,151, 1,181 locations, $1,019 average, $95,338,012, 6 weeks.


“Jason Bourne,” Universal, $1,098,085, 1,008 locations, $1,089 average, $160,408,000, 8 weeks.


“War Dogs,” Warner Bros., $1,025,050, 902 locations, $1,136 average, $41,675,235, 5 weeks.


“Mechanic: Resurrection,” Lionsgate, $802,401, 958 locations, $838 average, $20,142,970, 4 weeks.


“The Light Between Oceans,” Disney, $785,939, 1,133 locations, $694 average, $11,186,715, 3 weeks.

Universal and Focus are owned by NBC Universal, a unit of Comcast Corp.; Sony, Columbia, Sony Screen Gems and Sony Pictures Classics are units of Sony Corp.; Paramount is owned by Viacom Inc.; Disney, Pixar and Marvel are owned by The Walt Disney Co.; Miramax is owned by Filmyard Holdings LLC; 20th Century Fox and Fox Searchlight are owned by 21st Century Fox; Warner Bros. and New Line are units of Time Warner Inc.; MGM is owned by a group of former creditors including Highland Capital, Anchorage Advisors and Carl Icahn; Lionsgate is owned by Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.; IFC is owned by AMC Networks Inc.; Rogue is owned by Relativity Media LLC.



Finally, the computer hackers of the world have a TV show they can call their own. “Mr. Robot,” a mind-bending drama in which a morphine-using computer-security drone gets enmeshed in a revolutionary plot against corporate domination, is notable for many things - unreliable narration, an ominous Christian Slater, hallucinatory plot twists, a foreboding and dystopic atmosphere shot through with black humor. (There’s also the star turn by Rami Malek as young hacker Elliot Alderson; he took home an Emmy for best lead actor in a dramatic series Sunday night. Malek opened his acceptance speech with a callback to one of his character’s first lines: “Please tell me you’re seeing this, too.”) 120


But the show is also unusually dedicated to getting the details of hacker culture and computer vulnerabilities right. That’s won it a devoted following among people who know more than a little about both subjects - and who are used to seeing cartoonish hacker stereotypes and ludicrous technical jargon in mainstream programs.

SWEATING THE SMALL STUFF “For me the biggest thing was, I watched all of season one and didn’t throw anything at the TV,” said longtime hacker Marc Rogers during a panel discussion that packed a ballroom at the recent Def Con hacker convention in Las Vegas. Rogers joined the show as one of its hacker consultants for its second season, which wraps up Wednesday night. He’s one of a small group of real-world experts, including computersecurity mavens and a former FBI cybercrime specialist, who share the same mission: Keep the hacks realistic while making sure that the show is still good TV. Because if they don’t, they’re going to hear about it from the real-life hackers. “It’s insane,” said Kor Adana, a “Mr. Robot” writer who worked as a network security analyst before breaking into show business. “Even if we show part of a screen for a millisecond, It will get screenshotted and it will get dissected and someone will post a really intricate write up about what we’re doing; whether it makes sense or whether we’re just phoning it in.” Adana, who manages the team of consultants in addition to serving as a writer, said the focus on accuracy has always been part of “Mr. Robot.” The 122


show’s creator, Sam Esmail, dabbled in hacking as a teenager, then saw family members in Egypt use social media and other technology to push for political change during the Arab Spring.

HACKING IN ITS DNA Esmail liked the idea of young people changing the world via their superior understanding of technology. That’s more or less what the hacker characters in “Mr. Robot” try to do - though they’re not always successful, Adana said. But Esmail insisted on doing it right. Adana and another consultant joined the show during the first season, with Adana pitching ideas in the writer’s room. Nobody wanted to see “Mr. Robot” mocked online like two hackingcentric CBS thrillers, “Scorpion” (which features faked-up computer code in its logo) and the now-canceled “CSI: Cyber.” As with any TV show, though, the story comes first. The consultants brainstorm to create realistic hacks that get Elliot from point A to point B in the story; only then do they write the code that will show up on screens. And while real-life hackers tend to reuse hacks that work, characters on the show need to keep coming up with new ones to keep things interesting. Next, the consultants work with the props department to make sure the sets feature appropriate hardware and give the code to an animator, who creates the text that actually appears in the show. They take care to ensure the code is typo free, although they do tweak some elements to ensure they’re not providing a “how to” guide for aspiring hackers.



CONVINCING HACKERS “Seconds of screen time could be hours of discussion,” Rogers said, adding that late night phone calls from Adana to sort out last-minute technical issues aren’t uncommon. Sometimes hacks are yanked if they can’t be fixed. For example, a ransomware attack originally written into the second season premier was ultimately cut and replaced after consultants decided it wouldn’t really work on a technical level. Adana and the consultants are also responsible for fleshing out the show’s hacker characters, ensuring that they’re more than quirky, borderline


autistic geniuses. Elliot, for instance, is at heart an idealist who wants to change the world for the better, although he’s also a flawed and frequently unstable person who has a complicated relationship with both mainstream society and reality itself. “I think the young, and kind of angry, rebellious, anti-authority hackers related to him in a way,” Adana said. “He’s idealistic in the same way as a lot of hacktivists (who) want to change the world. They want to make an impact through technology and that’s what he’s doing.”





In the waters off the coast of Hawaii, a tall buoy bobs and sways in the water, using the rise and fall of the waves to generate electricity. The current travels through an undersea cable for a mile to a military base, where it is fed into Oahu’s power grid - the first wave-produced electricity to go online in the U.S. By some estimates, the ocean’s endless motion packs enough power to meet a quarter of America’s energy needs and dramatically reduce the nation’s reliance on oil, gas and coal. But wave energy technology lags well behind wind and solar power, with important technical hurdles still to be overcome. To that end, the Navy has established a test site in Hawaii, with hopes the technology can someday be used to produce clean, renewable power for offshore fueling stations for the fleet and provide electricity to coastal communities in fuel-starved places around the world. “More power from more places translates to a more agile, more flexible, more capable force,” Joseph Bryan, deputy assistant secretary of the Navy, said during an event at the site. “So we’re always looking for new ways to power the mission.” Hawaii would seem a natural site for such technology. As any surfer can tell you, it is blessed with powerful waves. The island state also has the highest electricity costs in the nation - largely because of its heavy reliance on oil delivered by sea - and has a legislative mandate to get 100 percent of its energy from renewables by 2045.


Still, it could be five to 10 years before wave energy technology can provide an affordable alternative to fossil fuels, experts say. For one thing, developers are still working to come up with the best design. Some buoys capture the up-and-down motion of the waves, while others exploit the side-to-side movement. Industry experts say a machine that uses all the ocean’s movements is most likely to succeed. Also, the machinery has to be able to withstand powerful storms, the constant pounding of the seas and the corrosive effects of saltwater. “The ocean is a really hard place to work,” said Patrick Cross, specialist at the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, which helps run the Hawaii test site. “You’ve got to design something that can stay in the water for a long time but be able to survive.” The U.S. has set a goal of reducing carbon emissions by one-third from 2005 levels by 2030, and many states are seeking to develop more renewable energy in the coming decades. Jose Zayas, a director of the Wind and Water Power Technologies Office at the U.S. Department of Energy, which helps fund the Hawaii site, said the U.S. could get 20 to 28 percent of its energy needs from waves off the U.S. coasts without encroaching on sensitive waters such as marine preserves. “When you think about all of the states that have water along their coasts ... there’s quite a bit of wave energy potential,” he said. Wave energy technology is at about the same stage as the solar and wind industries were in the 1980s. Both received substantial 132


government investment and tax credits that helped them become energy sources cheap enough to compete with fossil fuels. But while the U.S. government and military have put about $334 million into marine energy research over the last decade, Britain and the rest of Europe have invested more than $1 billion, according to the Marine Energy Council, a trade group. “We’re about, I’d say, a decade behind the Europeans,” said Alexandra De Visser, the Navy’s Hawaii test site project manager. The European Marine Energy Centre in Scotland, for example, has 14 grid-connected berths that have housed dozens of wave and tidal energy devices from around the world over the past 13 years, and Wave Hub in England has several such berths. China, too, has been building and testing dozens of units at sea. Though small in scale, the test project near Kaneohe Bay represents the vanguard of U.S. wave energy development. It consists of two buoys anchored a half-mile to a mile off the coast. One of them, the Azura, which stands 12 feet above the surface and extends 50 feet below, converts the waves’ vertical and horizontal movements into up to 18 kilowatts of electricity, enough for about a dozen homes. The company working with the Navy, Northwest Energy Innovations of Portland, Oregon, plans a version that can generate at least 500 kilowatts, or enough to power hundreds of homes. The other buoy, a 50-foot-wide, doughnutshaped device called the Lifesaver, was developed by a Norwegian company. The 3-foot134

Image: Justin Klure



tall ring is anchored to the ocean floor with cables; when the buoy is moved by the sea, the cables move, turning the wheels of a generator. It is producing on average of just 4 kilowatts but is capable of generating more. Test sites run by other researchers are being planned or expanded in Oregon and California to take advantage of the powerful waves that pound the West Coast. One of those projects, Cal Wave, run by California Polytechnic State University, hopes to provide utility-scale power to Vandenberg Air Force Base. The Hawaii buoys are barely noticeable from shore without binoculars, but developers envision dozens of machines working all at once, an idea that could run into the same kind of opposition that wind turbines have faced from environmentalists, fishermen and tourist groups. “Putting 200 machines on the North Shore of Oahu within a mile or two off the coast might be difficult, said Steve Kopf, CEO of Northwest Energy Innovations. “Nobody wants to look out and see wind turbines or wave machines off the coast.”





Image: Toby Talbot

For more than a decade, members of a littleknown group called the Pain Care Forum have blanketed Washington with messages touting prescription painkillers’ vital role in the lives of millions of Americans, creating an echo chamber that has quietly derailed efforts to curb U.S. consumption of the drugs, which accounts for two-thirds of the world’s usage. In 2012, drugmakers and their affiliates in the forum sent a letter to U.S. senators promoting a hearing about an influential report on a “crisis of epidemic proportions”: pain in America. Few knew the report stemmed from legislation drafted and pushed by forum members and that their experts had helped author it. The report estimated more than 100 million Americans - roughly 40 percent of adults - suffered from chronic pain, an eye-popping statistic that some researchers call deeply problematic. The letter made no reference to another health issue that had been declared an epidemic by federal authorities: drug overdoses tied to prescription painkillers. Deaths linked to addictive drugs like OxyContin, Vicodin and Percocet had increased more than fourfold since 1999, accounting for more fatal overdoses in 2012 than heroin and cocaine combined. An investigation by The Associated Press and The Center for Public Integrity reveals that similar feedback loops of information and influence play out regularly in the nation’s capital, fueled by money and talking points from the Pain Care Forum, a loose coalition of drugmakers, trade groups and dozens of nonprofits supported by industry funding that has flown under the radar until now. 141

Hundreds of internal documents shed new light on how drugmakers and their allies shaped the national response to the ongoing wave of prescription opioid abuse, which has claimed the lives of roughly 165,000 Americans since 2000, according to federal estimates. Painkillers are among the most widely prescribed medications in the U.S., but pharmaceutical companies and allied groups have a multitude of legislative interests beyond those drugs. From 2006 through 2015, participants in the Pain Care Forum spent over $740 million lobbying in the nation’s capital and in all 50 statehouses on an array of issues, including opioid-related measures, according to an analysis of lobbying filings by the Center for Public Integrity and AP. The same organizations reinforced their influence with more than $140 million doled out to political campaigns, including more than $75 million alone to federal candidates, political action committees and parties. That combined spending on lobbying and campaigns amounts to more than 200 times the $4 million spent during the same period by the handful of groups that work for restrictions on painkillers. Meanwhile, opioid sales reached $9.6 billion last year, according to IMS Health, a health information company. “You can go a long, long way in getting what you want when you have a lot of money,” said Professor Keith Humphreys of Stanford University, a former adviser on drug policy under President Barack Obama. “And it’s only when things get so disastrous that finally there’s enough popular will aroused to push back.” 142

Obama gave his first speech on the opioid epidemic last fall. In July, Congress passed its first legislation targeting the crisis, an election-year package intended to expand access to addiction treatment. But the law includes little new funding and no restrictions on painkillers, such as mandatory training for prescribers, a step favored by federal advisory panels. Obama administration officials say they have tried to strike a balance between controlling the harms of opioids and keeping them available for patients. “We did not want to deny people access to appropriate pain care,” said Michael Botticelli, Obama’s drug czar. “We were all trying to figure out what the balance was, and that’s still the case going forward.” Painkillers are modern versions of ancient medicines derived from the opium poppy, also the source of heroin. Prescription opioids were long reserved for the most severe forms of pain associated with surgery, injury or terminal diseases like cancer. That changed in the 1990s with a surge in prescribing for more common ailments like back pain, arthritis and headaches. A combination of factors fueled the trend, including new medical guidelines, insurance policies and pharmaceutical marketing for long-acting drugs like OxyContin. The drug’s manufacturer, Purdue Pharma, pleaded guilty and agreed to pay more than $600 million in fines in 2007 for misleading the public about the risks of OxyContin. But the drug continued to rack up blockbuster sales, generating more than $22 billion over the last decade. 143

Despite having no physical address or online presence, the Pain Care Forum hosts highranking officials from the White House, Food and Drug Administration and other agencies at its monthly gatherings. Purdue’s Washington lobbyist, Burt Rosen, cofounded the forum more than a decade ago and coordinates the group’s meetings, which include dozens of lobbyists and executives. Purdue declined to make Rosen available for interviews and did not answer specific questions about its lobbying activities or financial support for forum participants. Purdue said it supports a range of advocacy groups, including some with differing views on opioids. “In practice and governance, the Pain Care Forum is like any of the hundreds of policy coalitions in Washington and throughout the nation,” the company said in a statement, adding: “Purdue complies with all applicable lobbying disclosure laws and requirements.” While Purdue, Endo Pharmaceuticals and other members have maintained the forum does not take policy positions, the AP and Center for Public Integrity’s reporting shows the group’s participants have worked together to push and draft federal legislation, blunt regulations and influence decisions around opioids. Opioid drugmakers say they are striving to improve the safety of their products and how they are used. They point to new harder-tocrush pills and initiatives that, among other things, allow states to share databases designed to spot “doctor shopping” by patients.



Elsewhere, experts are reevaluating the effectiveness of opioids for most forms of chronic pain, noting little long-term research. “The biggest myth out there is that there’s a conflict between reducing our dependence on opioids and improving care for patients in pain,” said Dr. Caleb Alexander, co-director of Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Drug Safety and Effectiveness. “It’s an artificial conflict, but there are lots of vested interests behind it.”

‘THE EPIDEMIC OF PAIN’ By spring 2014, the figure that 100 million Americans suffered from chronic pain was getting new attention: as a talking point for the nation’s top drug regulator. The head of the FDA used the statistic to illustrate the importance of keeping painkillers accessible, despite the escalating toll of opioid addiction and abuse in American communities.


In an online essay, then-Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg said reducing the toll was a “highest priority,” but that her agency had to “balance it with another major public health priority: managing the pain that affects an estimated 100 million Americans.” That line populated her speeches and interviews for months. But Michael Von Korff of the Group Health Research Institute, whose research contributed to the statistic, said the number has no connection to opioids. Instead, he said, it mostly represents “people with run-of-the-mill pain problems who are already managing them pretty well.” Von Korff’s work is funded by federal, foundation and health insurance sources. He also is an

officer with Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing, a group that’s pushing for restrictions on the drugs. Pain Care Forum participants spent nearly $19 million on lobbying efforts that included the legislation requiring federal research on pain and the Institute of Medicine report that first highlighted the figure. Concerns about the use of the statistic in connection with opioids and ties between some of the report authors and the pharmaceutical industry were covered by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in 2014. Nearly half the experts assembled by the Institute of Medicine to write the 364-page report had served as leaders in Pain Care Forum-

affiliated groups, such as the American Pain Foundation, the American Pain Society and the American Academy of Pain Medicine - all supported by industry funding. Hamburg said in an email that the report was “another piece of scientific literature that helped inform the broader field,” which her agency had no role in producing. The Pain Care Forum discussed the legislation that led to the report at its first meeting in February 2005, according to notes by one of the group’s principal members, The American Pain Foundation. Memos from the now-defunct foundation are among hundreds of documents obtained through public information requests by the AP and the Center for Public Integrity from the city of Chicago, which accused six drugmakers of misleading the public about opioid risks in an ongoing lawsuit.


In June 2006, the forum organized a Capitol Hill briefing headlined “The Epidemic of Pain in America.” Briefing materials included statements like: “Appropriate use of opioid medications like oxycodone is safe and effective and unlikely to cause addiction in people who are under the care of a doctor and who have no history of substance abuse.” Attendees were asked to support a bill from then-Congressman Mike Rogers, which would later be rewritten by the forum and reintroduced in 2007 and 2009, according to the memos. It called for the Institute of Medicine - now a part of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine - to develop a comprehensive report on pain in America. Parts of the legislation eventually passed with Obama’s sweeping health care overhaul of 2010. Rogers, a Republican from Michigan, received at least $310,000 in contributions from forum groups from 2006 to 2015, which went to his campaign and to a leadership account that he could use to donate to his peers. Rogers, who left office last year, rejected the idea that he was influenced by the contributions, and said he began working on pain issues as a state senator after helping his brother through a series of back surgeries. “I think they said, ‘This guy is a champion, he’s doing something we believe in and we want to support guys like that,’” he said. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and former Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., who together introduced the Senate version of the bill, received more than $360,000 and $190,000 respectively from forum participants. 148


Staffers for Hatch did not respond to repeated requests for comment. Dodd, who left office in 2011, said in a statement: “Sen. Hatch and I worked together to increase awareness and understanding of this serious medical condition in the hopes of providing relief to the millions of Americans who suffer from chronic pain.” Phil Saigh, the executive director of the American Academy of Pain Medicine, said he informed the Pain Care Forum years ago that his group did not consider itself a member of the coalition. Yet the academy has continuously appeared in directories of forum participants since 2006, including as late as 2013, the most recent documents available. The academy and the American Pain Society say some of the funding they receive from drugmakers is in the form of grants used for expenses tied to educational meetings and events. Both organizations also operate separate “corporate councils,” in which companies are granted meetings with physicians in exchange for annual payments up to the $20,000 range. Jennifer Walsh, a spokeswoman for the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, said, “We stand by our report, the committee, and the process that produced it.” Experts who could personally profit from reports are prohibited from serving on its committees, she added. But the academies, which advise the federal government on scientific and medical topics, declined to release financial disclosure forms completed by panelists. Those on opposite sides of the opioids debate agree that the report raised important points about pain treatment, including warnings about the addictiveness of painkillers. 150

Image: Toby Talbot


After the report’s release in June 2011, the American Pain Foundation received $150,000 from Purdue to promote its findings through the Pain Care Forum. The foundation planned “congressional briefings and hearings” and “meetings with the leadership of various federal agencies,” according to a November 2011 letter. The foundation closed the next year. Senate investigators had asked about the nonprofit receiving nearly 90 percent of its funding from industry. Meanwhile, a handful of lawmakers tried to draw attention to rising rates of painkiller abuse. In 2010, then-Rep. Mary Bono, R-Calif., co-founded the Congressional Caucus on Prescription Drug Abuse, which focused on educating lawmakers about drug abuse. She clipped newspaper stories from her colleagues’ home states, but recalled, “They’d just say ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah,’ and move on to more pressing matters.” Bono, whose family had dealt with opioid addiction, drafted legislation in 2010 designed to curb opioid prescribing by requiring the FDA to limit the labeling for OxyContin and related drugs to “severe pain.” OxyContin had long been marketed for a broader indication listed on the label as “moderate-to-severe pain.”


According to Bono, a Purdue lobbyist visited her and threatened to pull back on its state-level funding for drug abuse initiatives. “They were just letting it be known that if I didn’t play nicer with them, they could cause some things to happen that I wouldn’t like,” she said. Purdue said in a statement that it met with Bono to support “her efforts to stop prescription drug abuse.” The company says it does not oppose measures that “improve the way opioids are prescribed,” even when they could reduce sales. Former Rep. Bill Brewster, D-Oklahoma, a contract lobbyist for Purdue at the time, said in an email that he recalled the conversation as “cordial and constructive.” Purdue spent nearly $800,000 on lobbying efforts that included Bono’s bill and subsequent versions of it. Pain Care Forum participants gave her campaigns more than $60,000 from 2006 through 2012. Bono’s bill, the Stop Oxy Abuse Act, never received a congressional vote or hearing, even after Republicans regained control of the House in the November 2010 elections. She lost her congressional seat in 2012.



‘WHAT’S A REGULATOR TO DO?’ In June 2012, a senior FDA official gave a presentation to the Pain Care Forum titled: “FDA and Opioids: What’s a regulator to do?” For several years, the FDA had been developing risk-management plans to reduce misuse of longacting opioids like OxyContin. With oversight of drugmakers and their marketing efforts, the agency seemed perfectly positioned to tackle the problem. But the plans that the FDA laid out lacked the major reforms suggested by the agency itself in 2009, when it announced the initiative. Instead of mandatory certification training for doctors and electronic registries to track opioid prescriptions to patients, the FDA official outlined much milder steps: Drugmakers would fund optional classes for prescribers and supply pharmacy brochures to patients about opioid risks. Over several years, the FDA seemed to have backed away from any significant restrictions. “It was my observation that the staff at FDA had really bought into the idea that pain was greatly undertreated in the United States,” said Dr. Elinore McCance-Katz, former chief medical officer with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration, a federal health agency. As early as December 2008, the Pain Care Forum was developing a strategy to “inform the process” at the FDA, according to meeting minutes from the American Pain Foundation. When the FDA sought public comment on how to proceed, the forum helped generate more than 2,000 comments opposing new barriers to opioids, according to a 2010 foundation 155


memo. Additionally, the forum produced a 4,000-signature petition opposing electronic registries for opioid prescriptions, which advocacy groups said would stigmatize patients. Finally, in July 2010, the FDA assembled a panel of outside advisers - primarily physicians - to review its plans to manage opioid risks, including voluntary doctor training. During a comment period, several members of the public warned it was a mistake. Dr. Nathaniel Katz, a former FDA adviser turned pharmaceutical consultant, traveled from Boston to implore the panel to support tougher requirements. “The days of prescribers not being trained how to safely prescribe the number one medication in the United States have to be brought to

an end by you today,” said Katz, who had previously chaired the FDA panel, according to a meeting transcript. Ultimately, the panel voted 25-10 against the measures developed by the FDA, saying they would have little effect on opioid abuse. But the FDA put them in place anyway, one month after the agency briefed the Pain Care Forum on the plans. The FDA is not required to follow the recommendations of its advisory panels. Agency officials said they decided that requiring certification for opioid prescribers would have been overly burdensome and disrupted care for patients. “You can’t imagine the bitter screeds we hear from the prescribing community about the paperwork involved,” said Dr. Janet Woodcock,


head of the FDA’s drug center. She added that the opioid crisis fundamentally stems from individual prescribing decisions, saying, “We don’t regulate medical practice.” In the last two years, the FDA has placed several limitations on opioids, including adding new bolded warnings to immediate-release opioids such as Vicodin and Percocet. But prescriber training remains optional, even after a second FDA advisory panel again recommended the step earlier this year. Woodcock says the agency is still weighing that recommendation.

CHARTING A ‘SAFER COURSE’ It was a federal agency hundreds of miles from Washington that finally sidestepped the influence of the pain care lobbyists. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, located in Atlanta, overcame threats of congressional investigation and legal action to publish the first federal guidelines intended to reduce opioid prescribing earlier this year.

Currently, states such as Massachusetts are imposing their own physician-training requirements, a development that Katz attributes to a lack of federal action.

Essentially, the agency said the risks of painkillers greatly outweigh the benefits for the vast majority of patients with routine chronic pain. Instead, the guidelines said, doctors should consider alternatives like non-opioid pain relievers and physical therapy.

“The FDA failed to make a decision that could have averted many of the thousands of deaths we’re seeing per year,” Katz said. “So when people continue to die and communities continue to be devastated, then others will arise to do the policing.”

For more than 15 years, CDC officials have tracked the precipitous rise in painkiller overdoses, which has been followed by a similar surge in heroin deaths. The CDC called the painkiller trend an epidemic in 2011, pushing Washington officials to do the same. The




agency’s director, Dr. Tom Frieden, labeled opioids “dangerous medications” that “should be reserved for situations like severe cancer pain.” When the CDC drafted its opioid guidelines, it moved quickly and quietly, initially giving outside groups just 48 hours to comment on draft guidelines distributed last September. Opioid proponents said the guidelines were not based on solid evidence and criticized the CDC for not disclosing outside experts who had advised the effort, alleging that they included physicians who were biased against painkillers. One pharma-aligned group, the Washington Legal Foundation, said the lack of disclosure constituted a “clear violation” of federal law. And a longtime Pain Care Forum participant now known as the Academy of Integrative Pain Management - asked congressional leaders to investigate how the CDC had developed the guidelines. A House committee asked the CDC to turn over documents about its advisers, but staffers said the probe did not uncover any violations.

Some of the most vigorous pushback came from Pain Care Forum affiliates embedded in the federal system. Under the 2010 pain legislation backed by the forum, the NIH had created a 19-member panel to coordinate pain research made up of federal officials, civilian physicians and pain advocates. At the group’s December meeting, panelists with connections to the Pain Care Forum called the CDC’s approach “horrible” and “shocking.” Dr. Richard Payne, a former board member of the American Pain Foundation, questioned whether the experts advising the CDC had “conflicts of interests in terms of biases, intellectual conflicts that needed to be disclosed.” Payne himself had received more than $16,240 in speaking fees, meals, travel and other payments from drugmakers, including Purdue, between 2013 and 2015, according to federal records. Myra Christopher, a long-time Pain Care Forum participant, said the panel should inform the CDC that it could not support the opioid guidelines and that their release should be delayed.


Christopher holds a chair at the nonprofit Center for Practical Bioethics, which receives funding from opioid drugmakers, and her position was established through a $1.5 million gift from Purdue. Both she and Payne also served on the Institute of Medicine panel on pain in America. Christopher and Payne said they were thoroughly vetted before serving on the panel and disclosed their past work and activities. Federal officials who oversee the panel responded that all members met federal requirements to serve, including completing financial disclosure forms, though the NIH said those cannot be publicly released. One week after the NIH panel’s critique, the CDC said it would delay finalizing its guidelines to allow more public comment and released a list of advisers. One of 17 “core experts” advising the agency reported serving as a paid consultant to Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll, the law firm suing multiple opioid drugmakers on behalf of the city of Chicago. In March, the final guidelines appeared. The first recommendation for U.S. doctors: “Opioids are not first-line therapy” for chronic pain. It was a statement considered common practice by many doctors as recently as the early-1990s, a decade before the Pain Care Forum formed in Washington. “We’re trying to chart a safer and more effective course for dealing with chronic pain,” Frieden said. “We don’t expect any magic. We don’t expect things to be better in 15 months when it’s taken 15 years to get this much worse.”




esla announced that it will build a battery storage system at a California utility substation that will have the largest output of any existing lithium-ion storage facility. Southern California Edison selected Tesla to construct the storage project in Riverside County, the company said in a statement. The facility will store 80 megawatt hours of electricity, or enough to power more than 2,500 households for a day, Tesla said. The system is designed to increase electrical grid reliability by taking a charge from it during offpeak hours and delivering power to customers during peak hours, the Los Angeles Times reported. It is expected to go online by the end of this year. 164

Image: Ringo H.W. Chiu



Edison and other California utilities are under a 2013 order by California’s Public Utilities Commission to install 1.3 gigawatts of storage capacity by 2020. One gigawatt is the equivalent of 1,000 megawatts. Southern California Edison is ahead of schedule to meet its 2016 storage targets, said utility spokesman Paul Griffo. The high cost of energy storage has been a factor limiting wider use of the technology. Tesla and Southern California Edison did not disclose the cost of the battery storage system. “Much like renewable resources, we expect to see a declining cost curve in energy storage over time,” Griffo said. Projects already are under development that will have five times the output of Tesla’s, the newspaper said.




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The company that made the camera and computer system for Tesla Motors’ semiautonomous Autopilot says the electric car maker ignored its warnings of safety problems. Israel-based Mobileye said Friday (16) that last year, prior to the release of Autopilot, it warned Tesla not to allow drivers to use the system without their hands on the steering wheel. The system Tesla rolled out in the fall allows drivers to remove their hands from the wheel while the car takes control of steering and other functions. Mobileye’s statement escalates a public spat with Tesla and will almost certainly draw the interest of two federal agencies investigation the death of a driver while using Autopilot in a May crash in Florida. At issue is whether Tesla rolled out the system before it was ready, essentially allowing it to be tested by owners. Mobileye stopped supplying components to Tesla a few weeks ago. 179


Mobileye, a huge player in an auto industry that is moving quickly toward autonomous cars, makes software that takes data from cameras and other sensors and decides when the car should take action such as applying the brakes. But in the Florida crash, Tesla said the cameras in the Tesla Model S failed to spot a crossing tractor-trailer due to bright sunlight. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which along with the National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash that killed former Navy Seal Joshua Brown, would not comment. Tesla said that Mobileye’s statements are inaccurate and stem from Tesla’s plans to develop its own vision system. When Tesla refused to stop development, Mobileye stopped support on future work “and released public statements implying that this discontinuance was motived by safety concerns,” the Palo Alto, California-based Tesla said in a statement. Mobileye previously had said its system was never designed to spot cross traffic, but it didn’t know if Tesla had modified the system.


The company said Friday that in May of 2015, Chairman Amnon Shashua raised concerns with Tesla CEO Elon Musk, saying that Tesla should not let drivers use Autopilot without their hands on the steering wheel. Later, in a face-to-face meeting, Musk said Autopilot would be “handson,” Mobileye said. Later in the year, Tesla deployed the system, which can maintain a set speed, keep the car within its lane and brake automatically. But Autopilot allowed drivers to take their hands off the wheel for short periods. Tesla says it tells drivers that they must continue to pay attention while Autopilot is working and be ready to retake control of the vehicle. The company also says it has never claimed or implied that Autopilot makes cars fully autonomous. Mobileye said it made “substantial efforts” to take more control of the Tesla project, but the two companies could not reach agreement. In July, Mobileye ended its relationship with the electric car company. Last week, Musk said Tesla would update the Autopilot system to rely more on radar sensors and less on cameras, which will dramatically reduce the number and severity of crashes.


Image: Simon Dawson




So many people are registering drones and applying for drone pilot licenses that federal aviation officials say they are contemplating the possibility of millions of unmanned aircraft crowding the nation’s skies in the not-toodistant future. In the nine months since the Federal Aviation Administration created a drone registration system, more than 550,000 unmanned aircraft have been registered with the agency, said Earl Lawrence, director of the FAA’s drone office. Speaking at the first meeting of a new government-industry drone advisory committee, Lawrence said new registrations are coming in at a rate of 2,000 a day. By comparison, the FAA says there are 260,165 manned aircraft registered in the U.S. 185

The FAA began issuing drone pilot licenses to commercial operators less than a month ago. Already, 13,710 people have applied to take the pilot exam, and 5,080 have passed it, Lawrence said. It’s clear the agency’s estimate of 15,000 licensed drone pilots by the end of 2016 will easily be exceeded, he said. The FAA now forecasts there will be more than 1.3 million licensed drone pilots by 2020. Lawrence asked the 35 committee members and dozens of attendees at the meeting: Will there eventually be hundreds of thousands of drones in the nation’s skies? Or will there be millions? Hobbyists and commercial operators alike are required by the FAA to register their aircraft, but agency officials acknowledged that they have no way of measuring how many unregistered drones are in use.


Image: Dickson Lee


U.S. drone sales are expected to top 2.4 million aircraft this year, more than double last year’s sales, according to the Consumer Technology Association, whose members include drone manufacturers. NASA is working with industry and the FAA to create a new low-altitude air traffic control system specifically for drones. Industry and government officials say such a system will be needed if there are to eventually be widespread drone deliveries by Amazon and other companies. Google and the Chipotle Mexican restaurant chain are currently testing drone deliveries of burritos at Virginia Tech.




Microsoft Corp. says its board has approved a dividend increase and a new $40 billion stock buyback plan. The Redmond, Washington, company said Tuesday it will pay a quarterly dividend of 39 cents on Dec. 8 to shareholders of record Nov. 17. That’s up 3 cents, or 8 percent, from its previous payout. The technology giant also said it’s on track to complete its existing $40 billion stock buyback plan by year-end. The new plan has no expiration and may be terminated anytime. Shares of Microsoft are up about 30 percent in the past year. In after-hours trading, the stock rose 67 cents to $57.48. 190


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