Robots Amazon is about to reveal what’s next for Alexa and the Echo at its biggest event of the year (AMZN)


Robots Jeff Bezos Amazon spheres

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.

SEATTLE, Washington — Amazon held an event at its Seattle, Washington, headquarters on Wednesday where it unveiled new devices across its Echo and Alexa lineup. 

Not only did Amazon release an updated, high-end version of its popular Echo speaker, but it also expanded into new product categories entirely, like earbuds, a smart ring, and smart glasses.

We updated our live blog below throughout the event, so scroll below to learn about the news as it was announced. 

Robots Echo Loop is another Day One product. It’s a smart ring made of a titanium frame that have microphones built in for Alexa connectivity. It will cost $130.

Robots Echo Frames look just like prescription glasses with Alexa built-in. There’s no camera or display built in. The glasses have directional microphones that let you hear Alexa’s responses, but not others around you. The glasses work with your phone and are controlled by your voice. You can also choose to turn off the microphone at any time. You can also filter which notifications Alexa will issue through the glasses, and which ones will remain on your phone.

Robots Now Limp is talking about Amazon’s product development strategy. He’s talking about Day One Editions, a program for products that are finished, but may have some limitations. Echo Frames, a new pair of smart glasses, is one of those products.

Robots The buds will have Alexa built-in, so you can ask it questions on the go. They’re available for preorder today for $130.

Robots Amazon is announcing the Echo Buds too, the previously rumored AirPods competitor. The drivers in the earbuds are inspired by the same ones used by professional artists, says Limp. They will last for five hours on a single charge, and up to 20 hours with the case. The earbuds also have Bose’s active noise reduction technology, which can be turned on with a double-tap. You can also tap and hold to get access to Siri or the Google Assistant, whichever assistant happens to be the native one on your phone.

Robots Now Limp is talking about Alexa in cars. The company is adding GM to its lineup of partners that support Alexa. Cars that are already on the road can get Alexa through an over-the-air update.

Robots Fetch is another product that could take advantage of Amazon Sidewalk. It sits around your dog’s collar, and can tell you if your dog leaves your yard so long as you have one of Amazon’s sidewalk sensors.

Robots Now Limp is talking about Amazon Sidewalk, a new low-bandwidth network that uses the existing spectrum to extend the distance at which you can control devices like smart lights.

Robots Amazon is also launching a Smart Oven. It supports voice control just like the microwave, but there’s also a new feature called scan to cook. You can take pre-packaged food items and scan them, and it will pre-program the smart oven accordingly. It costs $250 and is available for preorder today and comes with an Echo Dot.

Robots Amazon is also launching the first Ring indoor camera too. It’s launching today for $60.

Robots There’s also a new stick-up Ring camera coming soon too. It can run off battery or a solar-power accessory so it can be plugged anywhere throughout the home. It supports 1080p HD video and night vision among other features. It’s getting a 30% price cut making it $100, says Limp.

Robots Now we’re talking about Ring. “When you add Ring to a neighborhood, crime is reduced,” says Limp. Amazon is announcing the Ring retrofit alarm kit so that older sensors can be re-used when connected to a Ring alarm hub.

Robots Amazon is announcing another new product called the Echo Flex. It’s a tiny access point for smart home devices that has Alexa built-in, and it’s designed to be put in rooms all over the home where you may not have an Echo. There are already two accessories for it: a smart motion sensor and a smart night light. Preorders start today and it’s only $25.

Robots Now we’re talking about Alexa Guard. You can now add it to routines, so that you can let it know you’re heading to work so that it locks the doors and turns off the lights with a single command. Amazon is also adding a new detector that can detect human activity through an Echo. It will look for indicators like the sound of footsteps or water running. This only happens when you set it to away mode.

Robots Amazon is also launching a new feature for Ring video doorbells that allows it to act as a concierge that can take a message if you’re not home.

Robots Amazon is also updating its Hunches feature to help you understand when you may need to replace components in connected devices. Alexa would be able to remind you to change batteries or the ink cartridge in a printer, for example. Alexa will also suggest routines for you by picking up on your daily habits.

Robots Amazon is adding APIs to Alexa for Wi-Fi control too. This should make it possible to turn on the guest Wi-Fi network by asking Alexa, for example. Asus and TP-link will be adding this to their router lineup before the end of the year, Limp says.

Robots Now we’re talking about Wi-Fi and eero, the mesh router company Amazon acquired earlier this year. Amazon is launching an all-new eero. It has a dual-band radio and covers the whole home in mesh Wi-Fi coverage. Amazon claims you can set it up in 10 minutes or less. It launches today for $99 and is coming to Europe later this year. It’ll be available in a 3-pack also for $249.

Robots All devices that are part of the program can be set up from the Alexa app.

Robots Amazon is also launching a new program called “Certified for Humans,” which appears to be a seal of approval for devices that are easy to install and set up. Certain smart lights, plugs, and small appliances will be part of the program at launch.

Robots Amazon is also launching a new device called the Echo Glow, which is a tiny bedside lamp with different modes. You can ask Alexa to put it in dance party mode, for example. It’ll ship in time for the holidays.

Robots Amazon is also launching the Alexa Education Skill API, which lets services like Coursera to connect to Alexa. So parents can ask Alexa what homework their kids have, or how their child performed on a recent test.

Robots We’re seeing a demo of how the subscription service Food Network Kitchen works on the Echo with Alexa. Can ask Alexa for recipes and questions about specific ingredients. Limp is now video calling Bobby Flay through the Echo.

Robots Amazon is launching a new Echo Show too, the Echo Show 8. It has an HD 8-inch display and the privacy shutter that the Echo Show 5 has. It’s $130 and available for preorder today.

Robots Amazon is also updating the Alexa Smart Screen SDK, which lets third parties incorporate Amazon’s visual Alexa experience into their own smart TVs and smart screens.

Robots Now we’re talking about Fire TV. Limp is summing up the announcements that were made at the IFA conference in Berlin. There are now 37 million monthly active users on Fire TV around the World, he says.

Robots Amazon said it gave some artists in the music industry early access to the device, like Charlie Puth and 5 Seconds of Summer among others. The Echo Studio will cost $200 and goes up for preorder today.

Robots Echo Studio has three midrange speakers on the left, right, and top, which it uses to model the space. There’s a directional tweeter up front, and at the base there’s a 5 and a quarter inch bass driver.

Robots Amazon is announcing another new Echo: the Echo Studio. It brings 3D audio like Dolby Atmos into the living room, says Limp. The device models the room around you so that no matter where you place the speaker, it should sound good. It seems like a competitor to Apple’s HomePod.

Robots There’s also an Echo Guest Connect mode that allows friends to play their own music through your Echo.

Robots Amazon is also announcing an all-new Echo. The sound architecture from the Echo Plus is now coming to the standard Echo. It will be available in new fabric designs too. Preorders start today and it will still cost $99.

Robots Amazon is also rolling out frustration detection for Alexa. This feature will help Alexa when you’re frustrated at it for misunderstanding a request.

Robots Alexa can also mimic celebrity voices thanks to the new neural text to speech model. Now we’re watching a video with Samuel L. Jackson advertising the feature. Customers can add it to Alexa for $0.99.

Robots Alexa will be more emotive and expressive too, says Limp. If your favorite sports team wins, Alexa can sound more excited. It will also have a newscaster-like voice for reading news briefings. The expressions will roll out over the coming months and years.

Robots There’s a new multilingual mode for Alexa too, and it will be able to automatically switch between languages.

Robots Amazon is also announcing neural text to speech, which should model Alexa’s voice so that it’s much more natural and fluid.

Robots Amazon is announcing a new Echo Dot with a clock. It has an LED display that should be easy to see from across the room, Limp says. You can also see the outside temperature when you ask. When your alarm goes off, you can tap the top to get nine more minutes of sleep. It costs $60 and is available for pre-order today.

Robots Limp is now talking about the Echo Dot. It’s a top-selling Echo with a 4.6-star rating review.

Robots New utterances are coming to Alexa, too. One utterance will be “Alexa, why did you do that?” to help users understand why a false trigger might have happened.

Robots He’s also talking about privacy controls built into Ring. There’s a new feature coming called Home mode that lets users set the device to stop recording audio or video when they’re at home.Limp is emphasizing the control users have over their data, such as the Alexa Privacy Hub, which contains all of the privacy settings for Alexa.

Robots Amazon has also built privacy into the hardware itself. He’s showing us the schematic for the mute button on the Echo Dot. This shows how the microphone becomes disconnected when the mute button is pushed. There’s also a physical shutter on the Echo Show 5, Limp points out.

Robots Now he’s giving us examples of the privacy measures Amazon has built into Alexa and the Eco. In the last year, Amazon has made the Alexa wake word engine 50% more accurate to prevent false awakenings, he says.

Robots Limp is talking about how Amazon often looks at customer reviews for feedback. He’s talking about privacy concerns that have come up regarding Alexa. “Privacy is foundational to everything we do,” he says.

Robots Now the event is starting, and Amazon’s Dave Limp is on stage. He’s showing us the original “working backwards” document that outlined the idea for the Amazon Echo.

Robots And the Alexa-compatible microwave that Amazon announced last year.

Robots Amazon Microwave

Business Insider/Lisa Eadicicco

Robots There’s also a smart home pop-up that’s filled with Alexa-enabled household products, like the June smart oven.

Robots Amazon June Oven

Business Insider/Lisa Eadicicco

Robots Attendees gather outside the Amazon Spheres before the event begins.

Robots Amazon Spheres

Business Insider/Lisa Eadicicco

Robots Exclusive FREE Slide Deck: 40 Big Tech Predictions for 2019 by Business Insider Intelligence


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Amazon Alexa

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Robots Robots are shrinking American paychecks – Business Insider


Robots Shadow Robotics handIsobel Hamilton/Business Insider

  • A new study has shown that robots are lowering the wages of American workers. 
  • Two economists from the Federal Reserve of San Francisco have found that in the last two decades, the portion of national income going to workers has declined — meaning that wages are suffering. 
  • The economists found that part of it is due to automation, with increased uses of robotics filling gaps in jobs and reducing bargaining power for workers. 
  • View Markets Insider’s homepage for more stories. 

Robots are eating into American wages.

That’s according to a new study by economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, which found that the portion of national income that goes to American workers has depleted over the last few years while automation has risen. 

In the study, the bank said that “a strong labor market and low unemployment traditionally help boost wages.”

But over the past two decades, the bank found that the portion of national income going to workers has actually dropped, “from about 63% in 2000 to 56% in 2018.”

While the bank mentioned factors such as declining union membership and outsourcing has hindered bargaining power amongst workers, the San Francisco Fed said the most likely reason was due to the rise in automation. 

“Businesses have more options to automate hard-to-fill positions now than in the past,” said Sylvain Leduc and Zheng Liu, who led the study, adding that “with rapid advances in robotics and artificial intelligence, robots can perform more jobs and tasks that required human skills only a few years ago.”

Leduc and Liu also added that the decline in prices of robotics equipment has made it much more profitable to automate than before. 

As a result, the bank said that “in this environment, workers may be reluctant to ask for significant pay raises out of fear that an employer will replace their jobs with robots.”

Robots labor share v automationFederal Reserve Bank of San Francisco

Leduc and Liu added that since the early 2000s, labor share in the US has fallen about 7%, with a bulk of that falling in the financial crash, and remaining low since.

The economists said: “The significant decline in the labor share reflects that increases in real wages have not kept up with labor productivity improvements over the past two decades.”

On the flip side, Leduc and Liu said that “automation gives employers another option in wage negotiations and thus weakens workers’ bargaining power.”

As a result, according to their research, wages have been kept much lower than they would have without the rise of robotics and automation. 

However, the economists did highlight that robotics within work was a good thing: “Although automation weighs on the labor share in our model, it nevertheless has a positive impact on aggregate employment and thus has contributed to the steady decline in the unemployment rate in recent years,” said Liu and Leduc. 

“The option to automate jobs boosts the incentive for firms to create jobs, because they can adopt a robot to perform the job if the search process fails to yield a match with a worker.”

“Therefore, our model does not predict that automation triggers a form of technological unemployment,” the economists added.

Robots An Australian billionaire and politician is demanding $500,000 from a YouTube creator and threatening to sue for calling him a ‘dense Humpty Dumpty’ (GOOGL, GOOG)


  • Australian billionaire and political donor Clive Palmer is threatening a defamation lawsuit against the YouTube channel Friendly Jordies and its main star, Jordan Shanks.
  • The letter claims Shanks defamed Palmer by calling him, “Fatty McF—head” and “dense Humpty Dumpty.”
  • A letter from Palmer’s lawyer demands $500,000 in damages, legal costs, and that Shanks “make no further publication of and concerning” Palmer within 28 days.
  • If those conditions aren’t met, the letter says a defamation lawsuit will commence.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Australian billionaire, political donor, and political party leader Clive Palmer is threatening to sue an Australian YouTuber over what he says are defamatory statements.

In statements made by YouTube creator Jordan Shanks on the channel Friendly Jordies, Shanks calls Palmer, “Fatty McF—head” and a “dense Humpty Dumpty.”

Those statements, among others, are what Palmer says are “defamatory” statements.

Robots Jordan Shanks / FriendlyJordies YouTube channel

YouTube creator Jordan Shanks, of Friendly Jordies.


In a letter sent by Australian law firm Alexander Law, Palmer demands an “offer to make amends” — a legal term in defamation cases that applies to a set of demands for settling a defamation suit.

In the case of Palmer’s threat against Shanks, the demands are:

  1. $500,000, plus legal fees.
  2. That Shanks “make no further publication of and concerning” Clive Palmer.

If Shanks doesn’t comply within 28 days, the letter says, Palmer’s lawyers will commence with a defamation lawsuit.

Based on the video Shanks released about the letter from Palmer’s lawyers, it doesn’t sound like the firm will have to wait the 28 days. “I’m not gonna capitulate to you, you fat toad,” Shanks says in the video. “In short, see you in court tub tub.”

In the video, released on Sunday, Shanks goes through the letter from Palmer’s lawyers and breaks down why he’s willing to fight the billionaire.

He even went as far as to release themed shirts based on the legal threat:

Robots Clive Palmer shirts (Friendly Jordies)

Friendly Jordies

It is unclear if Palmer will proceed with the lawsuit, and Alexander Law didn’t respond to a request for comment as of publishing.

Either way, it doesn’t sound like Shanks is too worried about potentially losing the case.

“In Clive’s attempt to pervert the law, he made one tiny miscalculation,” Shanks says in the video released on Sunday, “I’m a millennial. Going bankrupt doesn’t scare me. I don’t have a house.”

Electrical cars EV Dutch farm mystery: Man suspected of holding family against will

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Media captionPolice discovered a hidden room at a remote farmhouse in the Netherlands

A man arrested after a family were found hidden at a remote Dutch farmhouse is suspected of holding them against their will, prosecutors say.

The 58-year-old suspect, named locally as Josef B, will appear in court on Thursday.

He was held on Tuesday for failing to co-operate during a police search at the farm in the province of Drenthe.

Officers found the family after the eldest son ordered beer at a bar in a nearby village.

The son, identified locally as Jan, was not at the farm near the village of Ruinerwold at the time of the search. Police found his five grown-up siblings and a man they told officers was their father.

Police have not yet confirmed that man’s age or identity and have told the BBC it is a question they are trying to solve.

Another man, reportedly Austrian national Jose B, was also at the farm and arrested for refusing to cooperate. Although he rents the property, police do not know his connection to the family.

Dutch prosecutors said the suspect was believed to have been involved in “illegal deprivation of liberty and harming the health of others”.

He was due to appear before an examining magistrate and prosecutors said they were seeking an extension of his custody.

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The farmhouse, part-hidden by trees, is accessible via a bridge over a canal

Two properties linked to the inquiry were being searched by police on Wednesday in the village of Zwartsluis, 16km (10 miles) to the south-west of the farm at Ruinerwold.

Electrical cars EV How were the family discovered?

The mystery unfolded after the eldest of the six children, aged 18 to 25, turned up at a local bar in Ruinerwold and ordered beer, before asking the owner for help, broadcaster RTV Drenthe reported.

Bar owner Chris Westerbeek described how the man had come in, ordered five beers and drunk them.

“Then I had a chat with him and he revealed he had run away and needed help… then we called the police,” he said.

“He had long hair, a dirty beard, wore old clothes and looked confused. He said he’d never been to school and hadn’t been to the barber for nine years,” he told public broadcaster RTV Drenthe. It later emerged that Jan had been active on several social media accounts, posting photos on Facebook of Ruinerwold in the dark earlier this month, and a series of articles about action to fight climate change.

Police went to the farm and found the man’s five siblings, as well as another man and the 58-year-old suspect.

“We found six people living in a small room in the house which could be locked but wasn’t a basement,” they said in a statement late on Tuesday. “It is unclear whether they were there voluntarily.”

Local reports described Josef B as a handyman.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” local mayor Roger de Groot told reporters on Tuesday. He revealed that some of the family had not been registered locally and also indicated that the 58 year old was not the father.

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Neighbours believe the family lived on vegetables grown on the farm

Electrical cars EV What do we know about the property?

Ruinerwold is a village with a population of less than 3,000. The farm is outside the village and is accessible by a bridge over a canal.

The farm, which is part-hidden behind a row of trees, also has a large vegetable plot and a goat.

A neighbour told Dutch media that he had only ever seen one man on the farm, no children, and that there had been animals on the grounds, such as geese and a dog.

The local postman said he had never delivered a letter there. “It’s actually pretty strange, now I come to think about it,” he told Algemeen Dagblad news connection.

The farmhouse and the surrounding grounds were cordoned off.

It was unclear what had happened to the children’s mother, although the mayor said she had died some time ago.

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Electrical cars EV Sandy Hook shooting: Parent awarded $450,000 for defamation

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electrical cars  EV Noah Pozner

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Family handout

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Noah Pozner was one of 20 children killed at Sandy Hook

A US jury has awarded $450,000 (£350,000) to the father of a boy killed in the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook school, in a defamation lawsuit against a conspiracy theorist writer.

In June a Wisconsin judge ruled that James Fetzer had defamed Leonard Pozner by claiming he had fabricated the death certificate of his son Noah.

Mr Fetzer, who co-wrote Nobody Died at Sandy Hook, said he would appeal.

Noah, aged six, was the youngest of 26 people killed in the shooting.

In the Dane County court in Wisconsin, Mr Pozner thanked the jury for recognising “the pain and terror that Mr Fetzer has purposefully inflicted on me and on other victims of these horrific mass casualty events, like the Sandy Hook shooting”.

In his book, written with co-author Mike Palacek, Mr Fetzer claimed that the Sandy Hook shooting was a hoax, manufactured by the Obama administration as part of an effort to tighten gun laws.

The book, and a later blog post by Mr Fetzer, included several false statements about Noah’s death certificate, including claims that Mr Pozner had circulated fabricated copies.

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Media captionThe sister of a Sandy Hook victim tells the BBC she is getting threats from conspiracy theorists

Mr Pozner reached a settlement with Mr Palacek last month. The terms have not been disclosed.

On Tuesday, Mr Pozner emphasised that the case was not about First Amendment protections for free speech.

“Mr Fetzer has the right to believe that Sandy Hook never happened. He has the right to express his ignorance,” hr said, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.

“This award, however, further illustrates the difference between the right of people like Mr Fetzer to be wrong and the right of victims like myself and my child to be free from defamation, free from harassment and free from the intentional infliction of terror.”

Mr Pozner’s lawyer Genevieve Zimmerman described Mr Fetzer’s claims in both the 2015 book and 2018 blog post as “alt-right opium”.

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Getty Images

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Alex Jones faces multiple defamation suits related to his claims about Sandy Hook

It is one of several defamation cases launched in the wake of Sandy Hook, many led by Mr Pozner.

He and Noah’s mother, Veronique De La Rosa, have also sued prominent conspiracy theorist Alex Jones for defamation. The pending case is one of at least five faced by Mr Jones.

Last week, a Texas court ruled that Mr Jones could not invoke free-speech law to end a separate suit, waged by Scarlett Lewis, the mother of Sandy Hook victim Jesse Lewis.

Parents of Sandy Hook victims who have spoken publicly about their experiences have been targeted by trolls, both online, as well as in person.

Electrical cars EV Straws, stirrers and polystyrene cups face Welsh ban

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electrical cars  EV Plastic straws

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Straws are among the items officials will consider banning

Straws, stirrers, cotton buds and single-use plastic cutlery could be banned in Wales next year.

The Welsh Government is to consult on restricting the sale of a wide range of the most commonly littered plastic.

Deputy minister Hannah Blythyn announced the proposals as AMs across the Welsh Assembly demanded a new law to tackle plastic pollution.

Ministers in England are planning controls on straws, stirrers and cotton buds from April.

The Welsh plans would go further, however, implementing an EU directive banning single-use plastics.

Ms Blythyn, deputy minister for housing and local government, told the Welsh Assembly ministers want to bring forward “a ban or restriction” on the sale of the “most commonly littered single-use plastic items”.

“This includes straws, stirrers, cotton buds, single-use plastic cutlery, and expanded polystyrene food packaging and drinks containers,” she said.

Others include balloon sticks, plates, and polystyrene cups.

Proposals are at an early stage. The Welsh Government intends to ban the items but a consultation would need to be held – it is currently pegged for early next year.

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Hannah Blythyn announced the plans during a debate on single-use plastics

The Welsh Government announced the plans during a debate on single-use plastics, called by Labour AM Huw Irranca-Davies.

Backed by AMs from Labour, Plaid Cymru and the Conservatives, the former MP called for the Welsh Government would establish Wales “as a World-leader in reducing plastic waste”.

Calling for a new law, he proposed “appropriate taxes and levies to significantly reduce the production and use of single use plastics in Wales”.

He told AMs the Welsh Government should “consider now phasing out all single-use carrier bags totally” – beyond the charging that currently takes place.

“Wales is in a great position to lead globally on significantly reducing single-use plastic waste, using the best international practice, evidence and research, using our new powers over taxes and levies to drive behavioural change,” he said.

Electrical cars EV FA Cup first round: Bury expulsion means bye to second round for one team

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electrical cars  EV Gates at Gigg Lane

Bury were founded in 1885 and have twice won the FA Cup

One club will receive a bye to round two of the FA Cup when the first-round draw is made on Thursday, following Bury’s removal from the competition.

The Shakers were expelled from the English Football League – and subsequently the cup – in August.

The 47 remaining League One and League Two clubs will join 32 non-league outfits in the first round in November.

The club that receives the bye will also be awarded the £36,000 prize money for a first-round winner.

The final club left in the pot on Thursday will receive the bye.

When then-holders Manchester United did not compete in the 1999-2000 FA Cup campaign because of the FIFA Club World Championship in Brazil, a “lucky losers” system was used rather than awarding a team a bye.

In that year, with an odd number of teams involved in the third-round draw, Darlington were selected at random from the 20 teams who had been knocked out in the second round and lost 2-1 at Aston Villa.

What is Bury’s latest situation?

Bury were beaten 1-0 by Luton Town in the second round of last season’s FA Cup

Bury are the first club to have their league membership withdrawn since Maidstone were liquidated in 1992.

On Wednesday, they were granted a 14-day extension after a winding-up petition brought by HM Revenue & Customs was adjourned in the High Court.

The club have been given the additional time to pay back smaller businesses, reports BBC Radio Manchester.

A prospective buyer for the club ended their interest on Monday, leaving Bury on the brink of liquidation.

A group of Bury supporters have already been working on plans to form a phoenix club and, if successful, would have to apply to the Football Association for entry into the English non-league pyramid next season.

Electrical cars EV Human ‘mini-brain’ develops slowest among primates

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electrical cars  EV Chimp Mini-brains

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Sabina Kanton

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Four lab-grown chimpanzee “mini-brains”. Each one is about the size of a small pea

New research shows that human “mini-brains” develop more slowly than those of other primates.

“Mini-brains” are miniature collections of cells that allow scientists to study how the brain develops.

A Swiss team has grown artificial human, chimp and macaque versions in their lab from stem cells.

In a study published in Nature journal, the team produced an “atlas” of the genes involved in each stage of the three types of brain development.

They say the work will help them to answer the basic question of what makes us human.

Stem cells are the body’s master cells, which can then grow into more specialised tissues.

The recent emergence of the technology to grow brain tissue from stem cells has enabled researchers to directly compare brain development in different primates. The “mini-brains” are grown for four months and are about the size of a pea.

Known formally as “cerebral organoids”, they are simple structures consisting of different types of brain cells and are not capable of any functions.

The researchers noted that the three types of brain developed at the same speed to begin with, but once the cells began to specialise into different types of neurons, the macaque’s developed the fastest, followed by the chimpanzee, with the human brain being the slowest.

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Media captionThe “mini brain” is roughly the size and developmental level of a nine-week foetus

Co-author Prof Barbara Treutlein of Basel University, Switzerland, said the slow development might be required to develop the larger and more complex human brain.

“It seems that we take more time to develop our brains but the end state that we reach is more complex. Maybe it takes this additional time to get the greater number of connections between neurons and reach the higher cognitive functions we have. But we don’t really know yet why this might be the case,” she told BBC News.

All cells develop by following instructions contained in DNA. But the genetic information of humans and chimps has comparatively few differences yet their brains are very different. Prof Treutlein believes that the resolution of this this apparent dichotomy is that the timing and sequence of how brain-building instructions are read from the genes are different. To assess this, her team took thousands of snapshots of what the genes were doing at each stage of brain development of the three types of mini-brains.

Put together the snapshots give what the researchers call an “atlas” of brain development for each primate brain. These atlases give researchers a resource with which to examine the roles of collections of genes in brain development.

According to Dr Grayson Camp, also at Basel University, the differences between the human and chimp brains should give an indication why our brains are more complex.

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Scientists are developing ethical guidelines should it ever become possible to grow functional human brains in the lab

“We want to find out whether the emergent properties of the human brain come from a small number of genetic changes that have a big effect or very many small genetic changes that have a cumulative effect,” he said.

Dr Madeline Lancaster of the UK’s Medical Research Council (MRC) said that the mini-brain approach was helping researchers, such as herself to answer the “basic question of what makes us human”.

“We have complex language and are capable of abstract reasoning and chimps don’t. Work with (mini-brains) won’t model those differences because they are not functioning brains,” she said.

“But they will help us understand the very important differences early on in development that set the stage for our cognitive abilities.

Electrical cars EV Consciousness question

Dr Lancaster is not connected with the Swiss team’s research, but uses mini-brains for her own research at the Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge. She is working with Prof Treutlein, Dr Camp and others in the field to develop an ethical framework for their research.

The mini-brains are relatively simple cellular structures and nowhere near capable of consciousness. But they will become more advanced as research progresses. The research community is therefore working with ethicists to develop a regulatory framework for the future, according to Dr Lancaster.

“It is always good to think ahead,” she said.

“We don’t want to run into a situation where someone has created something truly unethical and we try and deal with the consequences after the event.”

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Electrical cars EV Birmingham LGBT teaching protester criticises ‘imam’s’ claims

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electrical cars  EV Shakeel Afsar

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Shakeel Afsar is one of three named on an interim injunction which stops protests directly outside school gates

A man leading protests against primary school LGBT teaching in Birmingham has criticised a fellow campaigner for his language during one of the rallies.

A High Court hearing was told the man, referred to as the “imam from Batley”, shouted “there are paedophiles in there”, outside Anderton Park school.

Birmingham City Council wants an injunction which stops rallies outside the school gates to be made permanent.

Protest organiser Shakeel Afsal said he had not invited the man to take part.

The school in Balsall Heath has been at the centre of a campaign in which some parents and activists are trying to stop its LGBT relationship teaching. Many claim it contradicts their Islamic faith and is not “age appropriate”.

In May, the High Court granted a temporary injunction banning demonstrations at the school gates.

The latest hearing will decide whether this ban will be made permanent.

Mr Afsar, his sister Rosina and Amir Ahmed are named on the current injunction.

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Demonstrators gathered outside the High Court in Birmingham before Monday’s hearing

On Wednesday, at the High Court sitting in Birmingham, Mr Afsar was shown a video of himself standing near the “imam” at a demonstration on 24 May.

Jonathan Manning QC, for Birmingham City Council, said it also showed the man talking about “genderism, homosexuality, sex” in front of small children, adding it was “all the things you [protesters] say children shouldn’t be taught about”.

Mr Afsar said the man was “not part of our campaign” and he had tried to indicate to fellow organiser Mr Ahmed he should be stopped.

Mr Manning asked Mr Afsar, who does not have children at the school, about the book My Princess Boy, about a boy who dresses in girls clothing.

Mr Afsar said: “The name Princess Boy would suggest to parents of our faith that a transgender lifestyle is acceptable.”

Mr Manning replied: “A book about a little boy dressing up in girls clothes is nothing to do with a transgender lifestyle.”

The hearing continues.

Image copyright
PA Media

Image caption

Protests have continued outside the exclusion zone at Anderton Park Primary School

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Windshield Supplier Says Start of Tesla’s Shanghai Production Will Be October 14, 2019

Windshield Supplier Says Start of Tesla’s Shanghai Production Will Be October 14, 2019

Brian Wang |
September 26, 2019 |

The Shine website reports, Tesla Shanghai mass production is anticipated from October 14, together with the output of Model 3 vehicles,” said Ma Jun, head of a Windshield factory. Saint-Gobain Sekurit (Shanghai) makes windshields and glass roofs for the Model 3. They expect annual output is expected to reach 120 million yuan (US$17 million), and at the next stage they may increase their investment and produce for the Model Y.


Written by Brian Wang,

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