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Technology

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Nearly 50 years ago, computer visionary Robert Taylor helped lay the foundations for what we know today as the internet.

Taylor, who had Parkinson's disease, died Thursday at his home in Woodside, Calif., his son Kurt Taylor tells NPR.

Researchers have come up with a new way to extract water from thin air. Literally.

This isn't the first technology that can turn water vapor in the atmosphere into liquid water that people can drink, but researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of California, Berkeley, say their approach uses less power and works in drier environments.

It's been lean times for some of YouTube's most popular video producers. In the last two weeks ad rates have gone down as much as 75 percent. The producers are caught up in a struggle between advertisers and YouTube over ad placement.

In recent weeks, reports showed ads from major brands placed with extremist and anti-Semitic videos. Companies such as General Motors, Audi and McDonald's pulled out of YouTube. That means there's less money for everyone.

Now YouTube is trying to convince these companies to come back. And that's meant adjusting the algorithm that places ads.

Mike Pompeo, director of the Central Intelligence Agency, slammed WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange in a full-throated public denunciation Thursday before an audience for foreign policy specialists in Washington, D.C.

Real quick, here's a list of ingredients you're unlikely to find in your next Burger King Whopper:

  • Chocolate candy
  • Toenail clippings
  • Cyanide
  • Rat
  • Medium-sized child

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Alison Lu was in shock on election night. The Harvard Business School student had voted for Hillary Clinton, and she couldn't fathom how Donald Trump had managed to win the presidency.

She opened her Facebook page searching for answers, but she didn't find any Trump-supporting friends. "None of them [Trump voters] showed themselves on my Facebook feed," she says.

There's a lot of excitement at the Border Security Expo in San Antonio, where vendors schmooze with government buyers and peddle their wares.

Copyright 2017 WBUR. To see more, visit WBUR.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

As the Trump administration considers steps to implement what the president has called extreme vetting of foreigners at the border, one aspect of security screening has already been amped up.

The number of people who have been asked to hand over their cellphones and passwords by Customs and Border Protection agents has increased nearly threefold in recent years. This is happening to American citizens as well as foreign visitors.

In at least 20 state capitols across the country this year, the wireless industry is pushing legislation to streamline local permitting for the next generation of cellular technology.

In Washington state, that's putting the industry on a collision course with cities and towns.

Instead of soaring towers with antennas on top, future cell sites will adorn power poles and streetlights.

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

This story starts with a lost email.

Annie Hudson had spent weeks crafting the text. She was documenting tiny elements of a memory — events so ordinary that they would certainly be forgotten, yet so treasured that she wanted to keep hold.

She wanted the email to be perfect. Kept tinkering, revising. It lived in the "Drafts" folder on her iPhone.

Then, came a notice: "Software Update." Annie followed the prompts. Her phone got up-to-date fixes. The draft of the email disappeared.

President Trump wants America to use more "clean coal" to make electricity. He hasn't elaborated on what kind of coal that might be.

It's daunting to think about the number of products Apple has created that have transformed how most people use technology: the original Mac with the first mass-produced mouse, the iMac, the iPod, the iPhone, the iPad.

But fast-forward to 2017, and it appears that a lot of innovation is coming from other companies. Amazon has a hit with its Echo, a speaker device that responds to voice commands. Reviewers say Microsoft's Surface competes with the Mac. And now, Samsung's Galaxy S8 smartphone is getting raves because of its battery life and high-end screen.

A new tractor often costs hundreds of thousands of dollars, but one thing not included in that price is the right to repair it. That has put farmers on the front lines of a battle pitting consumers against the makers of all kinds of consumer goods, from tractors to refrigerators to smartphones.

How Misinformation Spreads On The Internet

Apr 9, 2017

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LOURDES GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

Reading The Game: Bioshock Infinite

Apr 9, 2017

For years now, some of the best, wildest, most moving or revealing stories we've been telling ourselves have come not from books, movies or TV, but from video games. So we're running an occasional series, Reading The Game, in which we take a look at some of these games from a literary perspective.

It's been a week now and the issue is still unresolved: Did a tweet from Dan Scavino — Donald Trump's golf caddie turned presidential social media guru — violate the Hatch Act?

The Hatch Act is a 1939 law barring federal employees in the executive branch (except the president and vice president) from participating in certain types of political activity on government time or using the government's resources.

Just three days after Google announced that it had "closed the gender pay gap globally" on Equal Pay Day, a Department of Labor official testified in federal court that there is "systemic" discrimination against women at Google.

Taser International has sold a whole lot of stun guns since its founding in 1993. By the company's estimation, nearly two-thirds of all law enforcement patrol officers in the U.S. carry a Taser.

But since 2009, Taser has also been selling body cameras worn by police officers. The company says its cameras are now used by 36 of the 68 major law enforcement agencies across America, including the Los Angeles Police Department, which bought more than 7,500 of the devices.

Twitter has dropped a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security, saying the demand that prompted the suit — that Twitter reveal the anonymous user behind an "alt-gov" account — has been withdrawn.

The original lawsuit, filed by the social media giant on Thursday, alleged that DHS had demanded that Twitter reveal the user behind "@ALT_uscis," an account allegedly run by current and former Citizenship and Immigration Services employees.

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

We're going to look ahead now to some of the most important stories of the day.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Up first - the U.S. strike on Syria. This is a story that starts with this sound.

(SOUNDBITE OF MISSILES LAUNCHING)

Twitter is suing the Department of Homeland Security after the agency demanded to know the identity of the person behind the "@ALT_uscis" or "Alt Immigration" Twitter account, one of several "rogue" accounts ostensibly created by anonymous employees of the federal government.

In telecom circles, Comcast's plans and efforts to wade into the mobile market go back years. On Thursday, the company finally revealed the specifics of what its new service will look like.

Comcast is calling its cellphone program Xfinity Mobile, expected to launch in the next few weeks. Its target audience is existing Comcast customers — the company hopes they'll be drawn by the savings from adding mobile service to a home Internet service or bigger bundles.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

You probably feel like sometimes you are literally living on your smartphone or tablet. You're catching up on the news, maybe you're playing some games.

(SOUNDBITE OF CANDY CRUSH GAME)

UNIDENTIFIED VOICE: Tasty.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

When you hear Alana Hope Levinson talk about the death threats she got late last year, in response to a Gizmodo story she wrote railing against "manthreading," she speaks so lackadaisically, you could almost forget how serious it all was.

"I had to alert security at work," she half-jokes, as if that really didn't happen. (It happened.) "Yeah, I mean people were just tweeting at me that they wanted to kill me, and stuff like that."

Driverless cars could transform the way our country moves, potentially making roads more efficient and possibly saving lives because of fewer traffic accidents. But for all the benefits of a driverless future, this next-generation transportation is threatening the livelihood of America's professional drivers, including scores of people of color.

YouTube is launching a streaming TV service Wednesday. It's one of many — Sling, PlayStation Vue and local cable companies among them. But Google-owned YouTube TV offers several features the others don't.

They include a cloud-based DVR with no storage limits, allowing users to record as many shows as they want for later playback. Membership also gives access to original series and movies featured on its other subscription streaming service, YouTube Red. And customers can create up to six accounts on one membership, with up to three streams running at once.

FBI Director James Comey has warned that Russia will try once again to influence U.S. elections, possibly as early as next year. To prepare, the federal government has declared elections to be a part of the nation's critical infrastructure that demands special attention.

But the federal government's focus has state and local election officials, who are very protective of how they do things now, extremely nervous.

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