China Plans Online Payment Rules That May Hit Ant, Tencent

hackingbear writes: People’s Bank of China, the country’s central bank, said on Wednesday that any non-bank payment company with half of the market in online transactions or two entities with a combined two-thirds share could be subject to antitrust probes, potentially dealing another blow to financial technology giant Ant Group Co. and its biggest rival Tencent Holdings Ltd. Ant’s Alipay accounts of 55.6% of the Chinese online payment market, while Tencent’s WeChat accounts for 38.8%, according to iResearch data.

“If a monopoly is confirmed, the central bank can suggest the cabinet impose restrictive measures including breaking up the entity by its business type,” reports Yahoo Finance. “Firms already with payment licenses would have a one-year grace period to comply with the new rules, the PBOC said.” Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba and Ant Groups, emerged in public as he spoke to 100 rural teachers through a video call on Wednesday for the first time since China began clamping down on his businesses, ending several months of speculation over his whereabouts. Ma last appeared publicly at a conference where he castigated China’s (and that of the world’s) financial regulatory systems in front of a room of high-ranked officials. His controversial remark, according to reports, prompted the Chinese regulator to abruptly halt Ant’s initial public offering, which would have been the biggest public share sale of all time.

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Source: Slashdot – China Plans Online Payment Rules That May Hit Ant, Tencent

Biden Rejoins Paris Climate Accord, Works To Overturn Trump's Climate Policies

During his first moments in the Oval Office on Wednesday, President Biden returned the United States to the Paris climate accord and directed federal agencies to begin unraveling Donald Trump’s environmental policies. The Washington Post reports: Biden’s executive order recommitting the United States to the international struggle to slow global warming fulfilled a campaign promise and represented a stark repudiation of the “America First” approach of Trump, who officially withdrew the nation from the Paris agreement Nov. 4 after years of disparaging it. Biden also ordered federal agencies to review scores of climate and environmental policies enacted during the Trump years and, if possible, to quickly reverse them. Nearly half of the regulations the new administration is targeting come from the Environmental Protection Agency, on issues as varied as drinking water, dangerous chemicals and gas-mileage standards.

Biden is expected to take even more sweeping action next Wednesday, according to a document obtained by The Washington Post. He plans to sign an executive order elevating climate in domestic and national security policy; direct “science and evidence based decision-making” in federal agencies; reestablish the Presidential Council of Advisers on Science and Technology and announce that U.S. data that will help underpin the Climate Leadership Summit that Biden will host in Washington in late April.
“While many of Biden’s actions Wednesday will take effect over time — the country will again formally become a party to the Paris agreement 30 days from now,” the report adds. He’s also planning to rescind the presidential permit Trump granted the Keystone XL pipeline to transport crude oil from Canada across the border into the United States, and is instructing the EPA and Transportation Department to strengthen fuel efficiency standards for cars and light trucks, which Trump weakened.

Furthermore, the report says Biden “plans to impose a temporary moratorium on all oil and natural gas leasing activities in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, which is home to caribou, polar bears and Indigenous people.”

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Source: Slashdot – Biden Rejoins Paris Climate Accord, Works To Overturn Trump’s Climate Policies

Kia Will Lead Apple Car Project Work Under Hyundai Motor, Report Says

Hyundai Motor, the parent automaker of Hyundai and Kia, will task the Kia division with Apple Car work. The brand also said on Wednesday it’s looking at cooperation with foreign firms surrounding self-driving and electric vehicles. CNET reports: Kia made no mention of Apple, though the comment follows the reported connections to the tech giant. Earlier this month, various reports pegged the Apple Car as alive and well inside the tech company and said we could see a final vehicle in 2024 at the earliest. A separate report said the company may show a prototype of the vehicle next year. Interestingly, one of the reports last month also named Kia’s factory in Georgia as the rumored home for Apple Car production, which coincides with news of Kia’s possible involvement in the latest round of rumors.

Reportedly, Apple is hard at work on breakthrough EV battery technology and automated driving systems to help usher in a game changing car. Choosing an established automaker to handle final production seems simple, since Apple has zero history of building cars. If you need an example of how difficult it is to build cars, take a look at Tesla’s relatively short history in the business.

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Source: Slashdot – Kia Will Lead Apple Car Project Work Under Hyundai Motor, Report Says

A Chinese Hacking Group Is Stealing Airline Passenger Details

An anonymous reader quotes a report from ZDNet: A suspected Chinese hacking group has been attacking the airline industry for the past few years with the goal of obtaining passenger data in order to track the movement of persons of interest. The intrusions have been linked to a threat actor that the cyber-security has been tracking under the name of Chimera. Believed to be operating in the interests of the Chinese state, the group’s activities were first described in a report [PDF] and Black Hat presentation [PDF] from CyCraft in 2020. The initial report mentioned a series of coordinated attacks against the Taiwanese superconductor industry.

But in a new report published last week by NCC Group and its subsidiary Fox-IT, the two companies said the group’s intrusions are broader than initially thought, having also targeted the airline industry. These attacks targeted semiconductor and airline companies in different geographical areas, and not just Asia, NCC and Fox-IT said. In the case of some victims, the hackers stayed hidden inside networks for up to three years before being discovered. “The goal of targeting some victims appears to be to obtain Passenger Name Records (PNR),” the two companies said. While the NCC and Fox-IT report didn’t speculate why the hackers targeted the airline industry and why they stole passenger data, this is pretty obvious. In fact, it is very common for state-sponsored hacking groups to target airline companies, hotel chains, and telcos to obtain data they could use to track the movements and communications of persons of interest.

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Source: Slashdot – A Chinese Hacking Group Is Stealing Airline Passenger Details

In Hidden Message on White House Website, Biden Calls For Coders

The recently updated website for President Joe Biden’s White House carried an invitation for tech specialists savvy enough to find it. From a report: Hidden in the HTML code on was an invitation to join the U.S. Digital Service, a technology unit within the White House. “If you’re reading this, we need your help building back better,” the message said. Former President Barack Obama launched the service in 2014 to recruit technologists to help revamp government services — for example by modernizing Medicare’s payment system or reforming hiring practices across government agencies. Tech specialists join the Digital Service for typically one or two years.

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Source: Slashdot – In Hidden Message on White House Website, Biden Calls For Coders

Opera Now Has a Game Engine To Go With Its Gamer-Focused Browser

Opera has acquired YoYo Games, a British game development platform best known for GameMaker Studio 2, and is launching its Opera Gaming division. Engadget reports: Opera has bought the company for a simple reason: Opera GX. The gamer-focused web browser was launched in early access back in June 2019. Its headline feature is a slide-out control panel that lets you limit the browser’s bandwidth and see which tabs are demanding the most CPU and RAM resources. Opera says it will create a new division, sensibly called Opera Gaming, by combining the Opera GX and GameMaker teams.

“We have always had big plans for improving GameMaker across all platforms, both from the perspective of improving accessibility and further developing the features available to commercial studios,” Stuart Poole, General Manager of YoYo Games said. “And now we can’t wait to see them arrive much sooner.”

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Source: Slashdot – Opera Now Has a Game Engine To Go With Its Gamer-Focused Browser

LG Considers Exiting Smartphones In 2021

After losing around $4.5 billion over the past five years, LG is considering exiting the smartphone market in 2021. The Verge reports: The Korea Herald reports that [LG CEO Kwon Bong-seok] sent out an internal memo to staff on Wednesday, hinting at a change in direction for LG’s phone business. “Since the competition in the global market for mobile devices is getting fiercer, it is about time for LG to make a cold judgment and the best choice,” says an LG official in a statement to The Korea Herald. “The company is considering all possible measures, including sale, withdrawal and downsizing of the smartphone business.” LG confirmed the internal memo was genuine in a statement to The Verge, noting that nothing has been decided yet. “LG Electronics management is committed to making whatever decision is necessary to resolve its mobile business challenges in 2021,” says an LG spokesperson. “As of today, nothing has been finalized.”

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Source: Slashdot – LG Considers Exiting Smartphones In 2021

CentOS Is Gone — But RHEL Is Now Free For Up To 16 Production Servers

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Last month, Red Hat caused a lot of consternation in the enthusiast and small business Linux world when it announced the discontinuation of CentOS Linux. Long-standing tradition — and ambiguity in Red Hat’s posted terms — led users to believe that CentOS 8 would be available until 2029, just like the RHEL 8 it was based on. Red Hat’s early termination of CentOS 8 in 2021 cut eight of those 10 years away, leaving thousands of users stranded. Red Hat’s December announcement of CentOS Stream — which it initially billed as a “replacement” for CentOS Linux — left many users confused about its role in the updated Red Hat ecosystem.

As of February 1, 2021, Red Hat will make RHEL available at no cost for small-production workloads — with “small” defined as 16 systems or fewer. This access to no-cost production RHEL is by way of the newly expanded Red Hat Developer Subscription program, and it comes with no strings — in Red Hat’s words, “this isn’t a sales program, and no sales representative will follow up.” Red Hat is also expanding the availability of developer subscriptions to teams, as well as individual users. Moving forward, subscribing RHEL customers can add entire dev teams to the developer subscription program at no cost. This allows the entire team to use Red Hat Cloud Access for simplified deployment and maintenance of RHEL on well-known cloud providers, including AWS, Google Cloud, and Microsoft Azure.

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Source: Slashdot – CentOS Is Gone — But RHEL Is Now Free For Up To 16 Production Servers

Ajit Pai is Officially Out of the FCC

Ajit Pai, the man who killed net neutrality, enacted a series of industry-friendly deregulatory moves for big telecom, and drank from a gigantic mug, is no longer around to terrorize the internet. The FCC confirmed to Motherboard that Pai is officially gone: “Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai today concluded his four years as Chairman, eight years as a Commissioner, and twelve years as an employee of the agency,â the agency said. His official FCC Twitter account, where he antagonized people who criticized him, has been deleted.

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Source: Slashdot – Ajit Pai is Officially Out of the FCC

Boeing Curbed Rocket Test Over Hydraulics Issue, NASA Says

Boeing’s test of the largest rocket in U.S. history ended earlier than expected on Jan. 16 because a hydraulic-system setting exceeded a preset limit, dealing another setback to the company’s space ambitions. From a report: The first firing of all four RS-25 engines on the Space Launch System rocket ended just 67.2 seconds into the planned eight-minute test. The so-called hot fire exercise at the NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi was designed to simulate a full flight from Earth. Engineers from NASA, Boeing and the engines’ maker, Aerojet-Rocketdyne Holdings, will assess data and determine whether a second test is needed or if the rocket is ready to ship to Florida’s Kennedy Space Center to prepare for its maiden flight. The SLS can be loaded with its super-chilled propellants — liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen — only nine times, which will be a consideration in whether to stage a second test at Stennis, NASA said Tuesday.

The shutdown “was triggered by test parameters that were intentionally conservative to ensure the safety of the core stage during the test,” NASA said in a blog post Tuesday. Preliminary inspections and data reviews “show the rocket’s hardware is in excellent condition,” the agency said. The test was cut short just as the engines began to pivot and test their thrust capability while rotating on gimbals. The premature end, before engineers collected a full array of data, represented another hurdle for Boeing’s space program. The SLS rocket has been plagued by years of delays and billions of dollars in cost overruns. The program has broad support in Congress because of the federal contracts and jobs it offers across many states. Boeing also is attempting to correct glitches with its Starliner spacecraft, which would ferry astronauts to and from the International Space Station under a NASA contract. Boeing said Monday it had completed qualification of Starliner’s flight software following an extensive review. A second test of the vehicle to the ISS is slated for March, following a botched flight in December 2019. A crewed flight is expected later this year.

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Source: Slashdot – Boeing Curbed Rocket Test Over Hydraulics Issue, NASA Says

Intel Outsources Core i3 To TSMC's 5nm Process

TSMC is to start making Intel’s Core i3 on its 5nm process in 2H21 says TrendForce. From a report: Market analyst Trendforce reports that foundry TSMC is to start making Intel’s Core i3 process later in the year on a 5nm process. This follows Intel’s well documented problems with its leading edge process technology at 10nm and 7nm. The Core i3 move to a 5nm process is set to be followed by mid-range and high-end CPUs being produced for Intel by TSMC on a 3nm process in 2H22. TrendForce did not give a source for the information, simply referencing “investigations.” Intel has long outsourced production significant amounts of its non-CPU chips to TSMC and UMC — about 15 to 20 percent of its output, according to TrendForce. This is partly because it has often acquired fabless startups that had brought products to market using foundry. It was usually not worthwhile to re-engineer such products to Intel processes. It is also because Intel has wanted to focus on leading-edge specialist processes, although with less success in recent years. That 15 to 20 percent outsource was likely worth $10.5 billion to $14 billion in 2020, given Intel’s annual revenue of $70bn.

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Source: Slashdot – Intel Outsources Core i3 To TSMC’s 5nm Process

Biden Sworn In as 46th President

Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States on Wednesday, taking office at a moment of profound economic, health and political crises with a promise to seek unity after a tumultuous four years that tore at the fabric of American society. New York Times: With his hand on a five-inch-thick Bible that has been in his family for 128 years, Mr. Biden recited the 35-word oath of office swearing to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution” in a ceremony administered by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., completing the process at 11:49 a.m., 11 minutes before the authority of the presidency formally changes hands.

The ritual transfer of power came shortly after Kamala Devi Harris was sworn in as vice president by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, her hand on a Bible that once belonged to Thurgood Marshall, the civil rights icon and Supreme Court justice. Ms. Harris’s ascension made her the highest-ranking woman in the history of the United States and the first Black American and first person of South Asian descent to hold the nation’s second highest office. The ceremony on a chilly, breezy day with a smattering of snowflakes brought to a close the stormy and divisive four-year presidency of Donald J. Trump. In characteristic fashion, Mr. Trump once again defied tradition by leaving Washington hours before the swearing in of his successor rather than face the reality of his own election defeat, although Mike Pence, his vice president, did attend. Live coverage: YouTube.

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Source: Slashdot – Biden Sworn In as 46th President

Valve and Five PC Games Publishers Fined $9.4M for Illegal Geo-Blocking

A four-year antitrust investigation into PC games geo-blocking in the European Union by distribution platform Valve and five games publishers has led to fines totalling $9.4 million after the Commission confirmed today that the bloc’s rules had been breached. From a report: The geo-blocking practices investigated since 2017 concerned around 100 PC video games of different genres, including sports, simulation and action games. In addition to Valve –which has been fined just over $1.94 million — the five sanctioned games publishers are: Bandai Namco (fined $412k), Capcom ($479k), Focus Home ($3.39 million), Koch Media ($1.2 million) and ZeniMax ($1.94 million). The Commission said the fines were reduced by between 10% and 15% owing to cooperation from the companies, with the exception of Valve who it said chose not to cooperate (a “prohibition Decision” rather than a fine reduction was applied in its case). The antitrust investigation begun in February 2017, with a formal statement of objections issued just over two years later when the Commission accused the companies of “entering into bilateral agreements to prevent consumers from purchasing and using PC video games acquired elsewhere than in their country of residence” in contravention of EU rules.

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Source: Slashdot – Valve and Five PC Games Publishers Fined .4M for Illegal Geo-Blocking

Google Sidelines Second Artificial Intelligence Researcher

Google artificial intelligence researcher Margaret Mitchell has been locked out of corporate systems, making her the second outspoken critic at the company to be sidelined after colleague Timnit Gebru departed in acrimonious circumstances last month. From a report: The Alphabet unit has an Ethical AI team, led by Mitchell, and a set of principles for developing the technology in a socially responsible manner. Gebru tweeted on Tuesday that Mitchell’s “corp access is now locked” and that the researcher had been told she would remain locked out “for at least a few days.”

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Source: Slashdot – Google Sidelines Second Artificial Intelligence Researcher

China Builds Massive Covid-19 Quarantine Camp For 4,000 People as Outbreak Continues

China is rushing to build a massive quarantine camp that can house more than 4,000 people, after an outbreak of Covid-19 this month that has left tens of millions of people under strict lockdown. From a report: The quarantine camp is located on the outskirts of Shijiazhuang, the provincial capital of Hebei province, which surrounds the country’s capital, Beijing. China has largely contained the spread of the virus, with much of the country returning to normal. However, a sudden rise in cases has alarmed officials and raised concerns ahead of the Lunar New Year, the county’s most important annual festival, during which hundreds of millions of people are expected to travel to visit family members. Officials in Shijiazhuang, where the outbreak is centered, have initiated mass testing and strict lockdowns, moving entire villages into centralized quarantine facilities in a bid to curb the spread of the virus.

The new quarantine camp will house close contacts of confirmed Covid-19 patients, as authorities continue an extensive contact tracing and testing program. It was originally planned to house 3,000 people, but has since been expanded to a capacity of 4,160. More than 4,000 construction workers performed “six days’ and nights’ work” to complete the first phase, said Shijiazhuang Deputy Mayor Meng Xianghong on Tuesday. Authorities began construction on January 13 and the first section of the camp is now complete and ready for use, while construction continues on the second phase, according to state-owned broadcaster CCTV. Each prefabricated room is expected to measure 18 square meters (around 194 square feet), and will come with an en-suite bathroom and shower, desks, chairs, beds, Wi-Fi, and a television set, according to CCTV.

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Source: Slashdot – China Builds Massive Covid-19 Quarantine Camp For 4,000 People as Outbreak Continues

Trump Seeks To Curb Foreign Cyber Meddling on Last Day in Office

Outgoing President Donald Trump has signed an executive order aimed at thwarting foreign use of cloud computing products for malicious cyber operations against the United States, the White House said on Tuesday, Trump’s last full day in office. From a report: The order, first reported by Reuters, gives the Commerce Department authority to write rules to bar transactions with foreigners in cloud computing products or services, if a foreigner uses them for cyber attacks. “What we have seen in this space is that…an individual will rent thousands of pieces of this infrastructure inside the United States and resell them to actors who then abuse them,” a senior administration official told Reuters. “This provides the Secretary of Commerce the ability to say…’ There is no reason for you to continue to have access to the nation’s products,'” the person added, noting the restrictions could apply to jurisdictions as well as people and companies. The order also requires the agency to write rules in six months for U.S. providers of Infrastructure as a Service, a type of cloud computing, to verify the identity of foreigners with whom they do business and keep certain records.

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Source: Slashdot – Trump Seeks To Curb Foreign Cyber Meddling on Last Day in Office

Walmart's E-Commerce Chief Is Leaving To Build 'a City of the Future'

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Recode: Marc Lore, a serial entrepreneur who sold his startup to Walmart for $3 billion and then oversaw the transformation of the retail giant’s e-commerce business over the last four years, is leaving his full-time role with the company at the end of the month, he told Recode. His next big entrepreneurial swing will be something far afield from his current expertise: a multi-decade project to build “a city of the future” supported by “a reformed version of capitalism.” “It’s a new model for society we’ll be testing,” he teased.

Lore declined to offer more details, but said he would be prepared to reveal additional information in the coming months. Some who have heard of the project say one focus will be on giving everyday citizens direct economic upside in the city’s growth. “Imagine a city with the vibrancy, diversity and culture of New York City combined with the efficiency, safety and innovation of Tokyo and the sustainability, governance, and social services of Sweden,” reads the vision statement for the project. “This will be our New City.” “This is going to be a lifelong project,” he added. “It’s the thing I’m most passionate about.”

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Source: Slashdot – Walmart’s E-Commerce Chief Is Leaving To Build ‘a City of the Future’

Global Investments Into Clean-Energy Technology Reach Record High

Investments into clean-energy technologies totaled more than $500 billion for the first time ever, according to a BloombergNEF report released Tuesday. Axios reports: Technologies making energy and other material cleaner needs to expand rapidly if the world is to adequately address climate change in the coming decades. Global investment in the low-carbon energy transition was $501.3 billion in 2020, up 9% from 2019 despite the pandemic driving the world into a recession. This tally includes investments in renewables, energy storage, electric vehicle charging stations, hydrogen production, carbon capture projects and more. The largest areas of investment are renewable energy and electrified transportation.

The report also reflects another broader trend, which is that investment often lags in technologies beyond renewable electricity and electric cars. This includes carbon capture and most industrial processes like cement, according to the International Energy Agency.

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Source: Slashdot – Global Investments Into Clean-Energy Technology Reach Record High

Reddit's Former CEO Is Now In the Forest-Planting Business

Terraformation, a startup led by Yishan Wong, former CEO of Reddit, is demonstrating an approach to reforest the planet quickly enough to fight climate change. Fast Company reports: Trees can play a key role in capturing carbon at scale — by one estimate, nearly a trillion hectares of land could feasibly be reforested, and those trees could potentially store more than 200 gigatons of carbon. But efforts at reforestation are moving too slowly. “Essentially, we need to scale the solution in about 10 years, so that there is time for the forest to mature and become a carbon sink of reasonable size to meet various nations’ commitments to be net zero around 2040 or 2050,” says Yishan Wong, CEO of the Hawaii-based startup, called Terraformation.

One of the challenges the company identified was the lack of land: Some land that was originally forested is now covered by cities or used for farming. Other areas might not be available for sale. But there’s a large amount of desertified land that is available. The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification reports that around 4.7 billion acres on the planet — about twice the size of China — have been affected by drought or desertification, but could potentially be restored. Finding enough water to grow trees there is a challenge. But the folks at Terraformation believe that if desalinated water is used to irrigate seedlings, a restored forest will eventually be able to sustain itself.

In Hawaii, the startup built the world’s largest fully off-grid, solar-powered desalination system. With a half-acre of solar panels, there’s enough power to desalinate around 34,000 gallons of water per day, taken from a well on the site. A drip irrigation system sends the water to the roughly 1,900 native trees and shrubs that have been planted in the area so far. As the forest grows, proving that the system works, the company is working to replicate the same idea around the world. It’s creating seed banks that fit inside shipping containers and can store the millions of native seeds that are necessary for large planting projects. It’s also building open-source software that groups can use to collect data and track progress after trees are planted.

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Source: Slashdot – Reddit’s Former CEO Is Now In the Forest-Planting Business

President Trump Pardons Anthony Levandowski, Ex-Uber Engineer Sentenced To Prison For Stealing Trade Secrets From Google

On his final night in office, President Trump granted clemency to a total of 143 people, ranging from former adviser Stephen K. Bannon to rapper Lil Wayne. One name in particular that stands out in the tech community is none other than Anthony Levandowski, the former Google engineer that was sentenced to 18 months in prison for stealing trade secrets from Google.

“Levandowski left Google in 2016 to start his own self-driving truck company, which was quickly acquired by Uber for $680 million,” reports CNET. “These actions set off a chain of events that led to Google’s autonomous vehicle unit, Waymo, suing Uber over alleged theft of self-driving car trade secrets.”

Why would this tech executive be pardoned you may ask? The Press Secretary writes: “This pardon is strongly supported by James Ramsey, Peter Thiel, Miles Ehrlich, Amy Craig, Michael Ovitz, Palmer Luckey, Ryan Petersen, Ken Goldberg, Mike Jensen, Nate Schimmel, Trae Stephens, Blake Masters, and James Proud, among others…”

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Source: Slashdot – President Trump Pardons Anthony Levandowski, Ex-Uber Engineer Sentenced To Prison For Stealing Trade Secrets From Google