Briefing :-31/3/17

Here is CurrentHow’s Briefing™ for the 31st of March 2017 :-

1. Trump’s ex-National Security Advisor Flynn talking to the Congress about testifying in Russia probe : Lawyer :-

Trump's ex-National Security Chief Flynn talking to Congress about testifying in Russia probe: Lawyer
The Wall Street Journal reported that Flynn had sought immunity from the FBI and the House and Senate intelligence panels in exchange for his testimony. The newspaper said he had so far found no takers. 

President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, has discussed with congressional committees giving testimony in their investigations of potential ties between the Trump campaign and Russia, his lawyer said on Thursday.

The Wall Street Journal, citing officials with knowledge of the matter, reported on Thursday that Flynn had sought immunity from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the House and Senate intelligence panels in exchange for his testimony. The newspaper said he had so far found no takers.

The House of Representatives panel denied the Journal report. “Michael Flynn has not offered to testify to HPSCI in exchange for immunity,” committee spokesman Jack Langer said in a statement.

The FBI declined to comment. The Senate committee did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Flynn was fired in February as national security adviser for failing to disclose talks with Russia’s ambassador about US sanctions on Moscow. The talks occurred before Trump took office in January.

Flynn’s lawyer, Robert Kelner, confirmed in a statement that his client had held discussions with the House and Senate intelligence committees. His statement did not mention the FBI.

He said Flynn “is now the target of unsubstantiated public demands by Members of Congress and other political critics that he be criminally investigated.”

Kelner said Flynn would not “submit to questioning in such a highly politicised, witch hunt environment without assurances against unfair prosecution.”The FBI and the House and Senate intelligence committees are investigating allegations that Russians hacked Democratic Party computers and publicly disclosed the information in a bid to tip the November presidential election in favour of Trump, whose views were seen as more in line with the Moscow’s. They are also looking into possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russians.

2. SpaceX makes aerospace history with successful launch and landing of a used rocket :-

Image result for spacex
The reusable launch technology developed by SpaceX promises to reduce the cost of launch by atleast 50% in the medium-term.

After more than two years of landing its rockets after launch, SpaceX finally sent one of its used Falcon 9s back into space. The rocket took off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, this evening, sending a communications satellite into orbit, and then landed on one of SpaceX’s drone ships floating in the Atlantic Ocean. It was round two for this particular rocket, which already launched and landed during a mission in April of last year. But the Falcon 9’s relaunch marks the first time an orbital rocket has launched to space for a second time.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk appeared on the company’s live stream shortly after the landing and spoke about the accomplishment. “It means you can fly and refly an orbital class booster, which is the most expensive part of the rocket. This is going to be, ultimately, a huge revolution in spaceflight,” he said.

This evening’s mission was a critical milestone for SpaceX, which has been working to make its rockets partially reusable since as early as 2011. Up until now, practically all orbital rockets have been expendable, so they’re basically thrown away once they launch into space. That means an entirely new rocket — which can cost tens to hundreds of millions of dollars to make — has to be built for each mission to orbit. SpaceX’s strategy has been to land its rockets after launch in an effort to fly them again and again. That way the company can partially save on manufacturing costs for each mission.

SpaceX doesn’t save the entire Falcon 9 rocket after each launch though. It saves the first stage — the 14-story core of the Falcon 9 that contains the main engines and most of the fuel needed for launch. About a few minutes after takeoff, the first stage separates from the top of the rocket and makes a controlled descent back to Earth — either landing on solid ground or on one of the company’s autonomous drone ships in the ocean. Prior to tonight’s launch, SpaceX had attempted 13 of these rocket landings and eight vehicles had successfully stuck the touchdown. But as SpaceX slowly acquired a growing stockpile of recovered rockets these last two years, the company had yet to actually reuse one of these vehicles.

 Now with today’s launch, SpaceX has proven that part of a used Falcon 9 can successfully launch to space again. And the fact that the vehicle successfully returned to Earth in one piece means that the rocket is poised to launch for a third time. Now SpaceX can boast nine successful rocket landings, as well as a Falcon 9 that has gone to and from space two times now.
If SpaceX wants to maximize the economic benefits of its reusable rockets, the best method is to launch these vehicles as frequently as possible. But before a rocket can launch again, it has to be inspected, refurbished, and tested a few times to ensure that it’s ready for spaceflight. It took SpaceX up to four months to get this rocket ready for flight today, according to Shotwell, but the company is working to trim down that turnaround time. SpaceX could have a lot of practice on that front soon, as it expects to launch up to six pre-flown Falcon 9s this year.
3. Samsung launches new flagship smartphones :-
Image result for s8
Samsung launched its latest flagship phones, the Galaxy S8 and the Galaxy S8+,  at an event in New York City.
Samsung unveiled its new Galaxy S8 and S8+ smartphones, incorporating the virtual assistant Bixby, as the market leader seeks to rebound from a chaotic handset recall and a corruption scandal.

Boasting some of the largest wrap-around screens ever made, the long-awaited S8 is the South Korean tech giant’s first new premium phone since the Note 7 debacle in October, which wiped out $5.48 billion of profit and helped Apple overtake Samsung as the world’s top smartphone maker in the fourth quarter.

Fitted with screens of 5.8 and 6.2 inches, the Galaxy S8 and S8+ include Samsung’s upgraded digital assistant Bixby, competing in a crowded field that includes Apple’s Siri, Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa.

The most striking feature of the new phones is what Samsung dubs an “infinity display” – an expanded glass screen that covers the entire front of the device and appears to curve seamlessly around its edges. The home button has been replaced with a pressure-sensitive section embedded under the screen.

Both phones are water resistant and allow for biometric authentication with fingerprint and iris scanners.

Bixby marks a further step into services for the world’s biggest smartphone vendor, allowing users to shop, search for images and get details about nearby places with image recognition technology.

Samsung is hoping the design update and the new features – nothing revolutionary but focused on making life easier for consumers – will be enough to revive sales in a year Apple is expected to introduce major changes to its iPhones for their 10th anniversary, including the very curved screens that have become staples of the Galaxy brand.

Samsung’s services chief Sriram Thodla said Bixby would allow for better navigation of applications on the phone. “We’ve built intelligence into the camera,” he said, adding, “If you see something you want to buy, just point the camera at it and Bixby will find it from one of our partners.”

The digital assistant will also enhance the phone’s capabilities as a remote control for connected home devices, Thodla said. The South Korean electronics giant late last year bought Viv, an artificial intelligence startup with co-founders who were part of the team that built virtual assistant Siri, which Apple bought some seven years ago.

As Samsung’s top-line handsets, the Galaxy S8 models will challenge the latest Apple iPhones. The new phones will be available starting April 21, Samsung said. In the US market, they will be sold through major carriers and retailers, with unlocked devices priced from $725.

The Galaxy S8 release comes after Samsung was forced to recall its Note 7 phones for catching fire due to overheating batteries. The debacle cost the South Korean company billions of dollars in lost profit and hammered its global reputation and credibility, during a torrid period that has also seen it embroiled in a corruption scandal.

 

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