Honolulu, July 19 (AP/UNB) — Hundreds of protesters trying to stop the construction of a giant telescope on land some consider sacred continue to gather at the base of Hawaii's tallest mountain.
Protest leader Kaho'okahi Kanuha says Friday is shaping up to be another calm day. He says protesters have been bracing for law enforcement to show up in force ever since Gov. David Ige signed an emergency proclamation Wednesday giving authorities more control over access to the Big Island mountain.
That was the day officers arrested 34 protesters.
It's the fifth day of protests at Mauna Kea in response to closing the road to the summit so that construction equipment can be taken up. No trucks have gone up.
There have been protests in other parts of Hawaii, including at the Capitol in Honolulu.
Baltimore, July 19 (AP/UNB) — A former National Security Agency contractor who stored two decades' worth of classified documents at his Maryland home was sentenced Friday to nine years in prison.
Harold Martin, 54, apologized before he was sentenced in Baltimore's federal court to a theft prosecutors called "breathtaking" in scope.
"My methods were wrong, illegal and highly questionable," Martin told Judge Richard Bennett.
The punishment was in line with the nine-year sentence called for under his plea agreement, in which he admitted guilt to a single count of willful retention of national defense information.
"This case is enormously significant not only for the Justice Department but also for the intelligence community," Robert Hur, the United States Attorney in Maryland, told The Associated Press in an interview before the sentencing. "In any case where you have someone who holds a security clearance at the level that Mr. Martin did and chooses to betray that public trust in such a profound way, it puts national security at risk."
The sentencing resolves a mysterious case that broke into the open in 2016, when FBI agents conducting a raid found a massive trove of stolen government documents inside his home, car and storage shed.
The information — prosecutors initially said 50 terabytes had been found, though Hur said that estimate had been revised significantly downward — spanned from the mid-1990s to the present and included personal details of government employees and "Top Secret" email chains, handwritten notes describing the NSA's classified computer infrastructure, and descriptions of classified technical operations.
The case attracted particular attention since the raid took place just weeks after a mysterious Internet group calling itself the Shadow Brokers surfaced online to advertise the sale of hacking tools stolen from the NSA. The U.S. believes that North Korea and Russia were able to capitalize on stolen hacking tools to unleash punishing global cyberattacks.
Prosecutors never linked Martin to the Shadow Brokers or charged him in the theft, and Hur said there was no evidence he had ever transmitted classified information to anyone. But prosecutors say he nonetheless jeopardized national security through habitually taking home secret and classified government documents and carelessly storing them.
Defense lawyers, meanwhile, described him as a compulsive hoarder who never betrayed his country. One of his lawyers, James Wyda, said Martin's tendencies did not reflect "spycraft" and resisted any efforts to compare him to fellow former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who is accused of disclosing classified information.
But Hur said that characterization minimized the crime.
"This isn't just hoarding," Hur told the AP. "It isn't like wandering into someone's house and finding stacks of newspapers or library books or junk. This is highly classified information, the compromise of which is going to do grave damage to national security."
Dhaka, Jul 19 (AP/UNB) - The woodsy community of Wolcott, Connecticut, doesn't see a lot of crime. But when the police chief heard about an opportunity to distribute doorbell cameras to some homes, he didn't hesitate.
The police who keep watch over the town of 16,000 raffled off free cameras in a partnership with the camera manufacturer. So far, the devices have encountered more bears than criminals, but Chief Ed Stephens is still a fan. "Anything that helps keep the town safe, I'm going to do it," he said.
But as more police agencies join with the company known as Ring, the partnerships are raising privacy concerns. Critics complain that the systems turn neighborhoods into places of constant surveillance and create suspicion that falls heavier on minorities. Police say the cameras can serve as a digital neighborhood watch.
Critics also say Ring, a subsidiary of Amazon, appears to be marketing its cameras by stirring up fear of crime at a time when it's decreasing. Amazon's promotional videos show people lurking around homes, and the company recently posted a job opening for a managing news editor to "deliver breaking crime news alerts to our neighbors."
"Amazon is profiting off of fear," said Chris Gilliard, an English professor at Michigan's Macomb Community College and a prominent critic of Ring and other technology that he says can reinforce race barriers. Part of the strategy seems to be selling the cameras "where the fear of crime is more real than the actual existence of crime."
The cameras offer a wide view from wherever they are positioned. Homeowners get phone alerts with streaming video if the doorbell rings or the device's heat sensors detect a person or a passing car. Ring's basic doorbell sells for $99, with recurring charges starting at $3 a month for users who want footage stored. Ring says it stores the recordings for two months.
Many law enforcement agencies nationwide said the idea to partner with Ring came after the company promoted its product at law enforcement conferences.
Some departments have chosen to simply use Ring's Neighbors app, which encourages residents to share videos of suspicious activity. Other agencies agreed to provide subsidies, matched by Ring, to offer hundreds of discounted cameras in hopes of tapping into footage of residential streets, yards and sidewalks. And some police chiefs raffle off the devices.
Ring would not disclose the number of communities with such partnerships. Sharing video is always voluntary and privacy is protected, according to the company and police.
"There is nothing required of homeowners who participate in the subsidies, and their identity and data remain private," spokeswoman Brigid Gorham said. She said customers can control who views their footage, and no personally identifiable information is shared with police without a user's consent.
Realistically, though, if police want video for an investigation, they can seek a search warrant.
Tech industry analyst Carolina Milanesi said engaging with police and offering incentives is a "very smart move by Ring" and a missed opportunity for competitors, including Google's Nest and smaller companies such as Arlo Technologies and SimpliSafe.
But a staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California called the system "an unmitigated disaster" for the privacy of many neighborhoods.
Through the subsidy programs, Amazon "gets to offer, at taxpayer dime, discounted products that allow it to really expand its tentacles into wide areas of private life way more than it already has," Mohammad Tajsar said.
The Los Angeles suburb of Arcadia has spent $50,000 to offer discounts on 1,000 cameras. Several other communities in the region also participate in subsidy programs, and officials in Los Angeles County just voted last month to get on board.
Officers can view a "heat map" that shows the general area where cameras are, but they do not see a camera's actual location. If police want a video, they must contact Ring to see if the resident is willing to share, said Jennifer Brutus, senior management analyst for the Arcadia Police Department.
Arcadia launched its program at the end of 2017, and in the following year, the city saw a 25% decrease in residential burglaries, Brutus said. It's hard to quantify how much of that is directly related to Ring, but she said the devices act as a deterrent.
In one case, a doorbell camera caught footage of four burglary suspects trying to enter a residence. Three were arrested at the time, but a fourth got away. After the homeowner gave Arcadia detectives some Ring video clips, police identified and arrested the last suspect.
Hammond, Indiana, also put up money to offer Ring cameras at a discount. Lt. Steve Kellogg said the partnership was a natural move for a city that already uses cameras to read license plates.
"You cannot enter or leave our city without ... being captured on film," he said, adding that doorbell cameras are the next logical step. "We thought, 'Well, the only angle we don't really have is cameras right by the homes.'"
He said sharing video is voluntary.
Green Bay, Wisconsin, gets one free camera for every 20 people who sign up for the Ring app through a city link. Initially, police required recipients of those free cameras to agree to provide any video police requested. It dropped the requirement after The Associated Press began reporting this story.
In the Minneapolis suburb of Coon Rapids, a thief stole a 7-foot, 150-pound bald eagle carving from Larry Eklund's yard earlier this year. Police had a key piece of evidence: an image of the suspect looking directly into Eklund's doorbell camera.
A few days went by with no leads. Then officers posted the video on social media. Hours later, the carving was returned.
"If we wouldn't have had the Ring, we would have never been able to recognize the guy," Eklund said. "I'm sure it would've been just really hard to get it back."
But Coon Rapids opted not to partner with Ring and instead started its own in-house volunteer camera registry. Trish Heitman, a community outreach specialist for the police department, said the city did not want to promote a particular camera brand.
Another big issue was confidentiality. Coon Rapids keeps its list of registered camera owners private. If a crime occurs near a camera, police can contact homeowners in the registry to see if they want to share video.
If any partnership required data sharing, "we would never do it," Heitman said.
Back in Wolcott, Ernie Field won a free Ring camera and said he had to register for the app to qualify for the raffle. Now he gets alerts on his phone when a car drives by and a short video when his daughter gets home from school.
"I don't know if there's more crime now, or we just know about it more because of social media," he said.
Field, who said he had been looking at other cameras, wondered whether Wolcott's partnership gave Amazon an unfair advantage.
"They have a monopoly over a lot of things," he said. "And they're kind of taking over everything."
Cape Canaveral, Jul 19 (AP/UNB) — Virgin Galactic's Richard Branson said Thursday his spaceship has just a few more test flights before he jumps on board for the first tourist trip.
The British billionaire celebrated his 69th birthday at NASA's Kennedy Space Center during 50th anniversary festivities for humanity's first moon landing. His guests were 100 other aspiring astronauts who have put down deposits to launch into space with Virgin Galactic. Like Branson, many in the crowd were inspired to fly into space by Apollo 11, which he called "the most audacious journey of all time."
Branson said three or four test flights will be conducted from New Mexico, beginning this fall, before engineers allow him to fly. The two suborbital test flights to date — conducted in December and February over California's Mojave Desert — provided several minutes of weightlessness.
Branson declined to say when his flight might happen.
"My track record for giving dates has been so abysmal that I'm not giving dates anymore. But I think months, not years," he told The Associated Press.
The company is in the process of moving from Southern California to Spaceport America in the New Mexico desert near Truth or Consequences, which has set everything back four months, according to Branson. The test pilots need to practice landing there, he said, before passengers tag along.
"I certainly won't go into space before brave test pilots feel 100% comfortable that we've checked every box," Branson said.
In 2014, the company's experimental space plane broke apart during a California test flight, killing the co-pilot.
The winged spaceship is dropped in flight from a custom-designed airplane; once free, it fires its rocket motor to hurtle toward space before gliding back to Earth like NASA's old space shuttles. The latest test flight by VSS Unity reached an altitude of 56 miles (90 kilometers) while traveling at three times the speed of sound.
About 600 people, ranging from their teens to early 90s, have reserved a seat, according to a company spokeswoman. Tickets are $250,000.
Maryann Barry bought a ticket less than a month ago. She grew up near Cape Canaveral during the 1960s, and her late brother worked on NASA's Saturn V moon rockets. "This is my life coming full circle actually," said Barry, 58, who works for the Girl Scouts in Orlando.
When asked if she'll be afraid, Houston violinist Debbie Moran, 62, said she's trying to do everything she's ever wanted to do in life before her spaceflight in another few years.
"We all know it's not the safest thing in the world," she said. "I still have not told my mother."
"Everybody is fearful. But the point is you have to overcome the fear to get the excitement," said Arvinder Bahal, 73, a real estate investor from Boston who can't wait to see the world from afar without boundaries.
Branson said he did not remember his 19th birthday in London on July 18, 1969. But Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin's moon landing on July 20, 1969, was forever etched in his memory. Watching those first lunar footsteps on a little black and white TV, with his sisters and parents in the English countryside, was a turning point for him. He said it's why Virgin Galactic exists today.
He lifted a glass of Tang — the powdered orange drink made famous on America's pioneering spaceflights — as he made "a toast to space past, space present and, even more important for us all in this room, space future."
Jul 19 (AP/UNB)- Microsoft on Thursday reported quarterly profit of $13.2 billion, powered in large part by a steadily growing cloud computing business that the company says now accounts for almost a third of its total revenue.
CEO Satya Nadella even said in a call with investors that "our commercial cloud business is the largest in the world," although that's only true if you use Microsoft's unique definition. The company counts its widely-used office software and similar online services as part of its overall cloud business. That's in addition to cloud infrastructure such as data centers and servers, where Amazon is the market leader.
Microsoft said it had net income of $1.71 per share in the fiscal fourth quarter, which ended June 30. Earnings, adjusted for non-recurring gains, were $1.37 per share.
The results exceeded Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of 14 analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of $1.21 per share.
The increase in net income was 49% but was affected by a one-time tax benefit of $2.6 billion from transferring some properties from foreign subsidiaries to the U.S. and Ireland. The software maker also surpassed forecasts by posting revenue of $33.7 billion in the period, a 12% increase over the same time last year. Eleven analysts surveyed by Zacks expected $32.7 billion.
The company's fastest-growing segment was what it calls the "intelligent cloud," which includes server products and its Azure cloud computing platform. The segment's revenue was $11.4 billion, up 19% from a year ago.
Synergy Research Group analyst John Dinsdale says Microsoft is still a long away behind Amazon but well ahead of the rest of the pack as a provider of cloud infrastructure services. Microsoft has been gradually gaining share in that market, rising from 6% in 2016 to 16% in the first quarter of this year, he said.
But in the "commercial cloud" as defined by Microsoft, the company said Thursday that cloud business sales accounted for 30% of Microsoft's $125.8 billion in total revenue over the past year, up from 24% the previous year.
Nadella said it was a record fiscal year as a result of "our deep partnerships with leading companies in every industry."
In its latest corporate deal, the company announced this week that it's partnering with AT&T to migrate some of AT&T's "non-network infrastructure" onto Microsoft's cloud platform. Nadella described it Thursday as a "very significant deal" and the largest of its kind that the company has signed.
Nadella said this was also a "breakout year" for Microsoft Teams, the tech giant's effort to build a platform for workplace chatting and collaboration to compete with upstart Slack.
Microsoft last week revealed its Teams metrics for the first time, showing it has 13 million daily active users, which is more than the 10 million users that Slack reported earlier this year. Microsoft benefits from being able to bundle Teams as part of a software package that includes email and other products. That eliminates "the need for discrete apps" that can expose a company's security, Nadella said.