United States

Arts, Entertainment, Culture • TV & Movies
Apple TV+: Poet Amanda Gorman to be interviewed by Oprah Winfrey
Oprah Winfrey interviews National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman on “The Oprah Conversation” Friday, March 26, exclusively on Apple TV+.
Oprah Winfrey interviews National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman on “The Oprah Conversation” Friday, March 26, exclusively on Apple TV+. Credit: Apple TV+

Oprah Winfrey is going to interview US inaugural poet Amanda Gorman in an upcoming episode of Apple TV+'s The Oprah Conversation on March 26.

"In this remarkable new interview, Gorman joins Oprah for a heartfelt conversation that celebrates the legendary literary heroes who inspire her work, and introduces viewers to her mother and the other important women in her life who have encouraged her pursuit of poetry," Apple TV+ wrote. Gorman also reveals her process for crafting the poem that captivated the world and catapulted her to fame, and shares personal stories from her upbringing that led her to this moment. As she reflects on the impact of her work, she looks ahead to share her hopes for the future, both personally and for the nation.

“Amanda Gorman is a young woman who stepped into a moment in history with enormous grace and dignity,” said Oprah Winfrey. “I was enthralled by her youthful spirit from the first moment we met, and very much looked forward to hearing her unpack all that has happened to her the past few months,” so Oprah Winfrey.

Regional News • Americas • United States
Rachel Levine confirmed as first transgender federal official
Rachel Levine confirmed as first transgender federal official
Credit: Governor Tom Wolf from Harrisburg, via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

Rachel Levine was confirmed as assistant secretary of health by the US Senate on Wednesday, making her the first openly transgender to be confirmed as a federal official. The vote was 52-48, with only two Republicans (Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski) joining the Democrats.

Business • Markets
Elon Musk announces Tesla now accepts Bitcoin as payment
Elon Musk announces Tesla now accepts Bitcoin as payment
Credit: Steve Jurvetson (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

Bitcoin jumped 5% after billionaire Elon Musk announced Tesla would accept the digital asset as payment. Musk published his tweet soon after Twitter users noticed the updated bitcoin support for all models of Tesla's cars across online US stores.

The carmaker disclosed last month it invested $1.5 billion in the digital asset and said it would soon begin accepting it as payment for its products.

Arts, Entertainment, Culture • Celebrities & Public Figures
Actor George Segal dies aged 87
Actor George Segal dies aged 87
Credit: IMDb (Twitter Reproduction)

American actor and musician George Segal has died of complications from bypass surgery in Santa Rosa, California at the age of 87.

"The family is devastated to announce that this morning George Segal passed away due to complications from bypass surgery," his wife Sonia Segal said in a statement provided by Sony Television.

Health
Pfizer wants to develop its own mRNA vaccines
Pfizer wants to develop its own mRNA vaccines
Credit: Ashles Winkler for Pendect

After the success of the Covid vaccine developed jointly with Biontech, US pharma giant Pfizer wants to further expand its vaccine business - possibly even without its German partner. "We're happy to work with Biontech, but we don't have to work with Biontech," Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla told the Wall Street Journal.

The novel mRNA technology has "dramatic potential" and Pfizer is confident it can now develop mRNA vaccines on its own, Bourla said, according to the editorial version distributed on the newspaper's website. "We have developed our own expertise." The two companies would continue to cooperate on Covid-19 vaccines.

Business • Markets
Microsoft in talks to acquire Discord for more than $10 billion
Discord booth at the 2018 PAX West at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle, Washington.
Discord booth at the 2018 PAX West at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle, Washington. Credit: Gage Skidmore (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

According to sources talking to Bloomberg, Microsoft is in discussions with Discord to acquire the gaming-focused chat software for more than $10 billion.

VentureBeat reported earlier today that Discord was exploring a $10 billion-plus sale after multiple potential buyers expressed interest and that it had signed an exclusive acquisition discussion with one party, suggesting a deal could be close.

Discord's software is free for most users. Still, the company makes money through $9.99 monthly Nitro subscriptions that offer more advanced features like higher resolution screen sharing, extra sticker packs, and larger upload limits.

Technology • Smartphones, Hardware & Gadgets
New York politician introduces "No Killer Robots Act" in order to ban armed robots
New York politician introduces "No Killer Robots Act" in order to ban armed robots
Credit: Courtesy of Twitter / BostonDynamics

New York City council member Ben Kallos has introduced the "No Killer Robots Act" as a preventative measure to expand the so-called Public Oversight of Surveillance Technology (POST Act) and prohibit the New York City Police Department (NYPD) from using or threatening to use armed robots in the future. Similarly, Kallos urges that robots not be used in a way "that has a high probability of causing death or serious bodily injury."

Science • Medicine
Independent US board "concerned" AstraZeneca may have included outdated information from its Covid-19 vaccine trial
Independent US board "concerned" AstraZeneca may have included outdated information from its Covid-19 vaccine trial
Credit: Gencat, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) has released a statement, saying that the Data and Safety Monitoring Board (DSMB), an independent group of experts that advises US National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, was concerned "that AstraZeneca may have included outdated information from that trial, which may have provided an incomplete view of the efficacy data."

"Late Monday, the Data and Safety Monitoring Board (DSMB) notified NIAID, BARDA, and AstraZeneca that it was concerned by information released by AstraZeneca on initial data from its COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial,” the statement says. “The DSMB expressed concern that AstraZeneca may have included outdated information from that trial, which may have provided an incomplete view of the efficacy data. We urge the company to work with the DSMB to review the efficacy data and ensure the most accurate, up-to-date efficacy data be made public as quickly as possible.”

Regional News • Americas • United States
Shooting in Boulder supermarket leaves 10 dead
Shooting in Boulder supermarket leaves 10 dead
Credit: MarcSallinger (Twitter Reproduction)

A gunman shot and killed ten people, including the first police officer who responded, at a Boulder, Colorado, King Soopers supermarket on Monday at 2:30 pm. The assailant was wounded on the scene and taken into custody, neither name of the shooter nor details about the mass shooting have yet been revealed. This was the seventh mass shooting in seven days in the United States.

"These were people going about their day, doing their shopping and their lives were cut abruptly short and tragically short by the shooter who is now in custody," Michael Dougherty, the district attorney for Boulder County, said at a news conference. "I hope that people of this country send the families of the loved ones their thoughts and prayers. But from my perspective, there's more for us to do than give them thoughts and prayers. We're going to go all out to ensure the right result is reached."

Regional News • Europe • United Kingdom
Buckingham Palace considers hiring diversity chief amid racism allegations
Buckingham Palace considers hiring diversity chief amid racism allegations
Credit: Carfax2, via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0)

Buckingham Palace has said that it is considering appointing a diversity chief, acknowledging that "more needs to be done" when it comes to diversity.

“This is an issue which has been taken very seriously across the royal households. We have the policies, the procedures and programmes in place but we haven’t seen the progress we would like and accept more needs to be done, we can always improve," a Royal source said. “Therefore we are not afraid to look at new ways of approaching it. The work to do this has been under way for some time now and comes with the full support of the family.”

Science • Medicine
AstraZeneca: US trial confirms vaccine safety
AstraZeneca: US trial confirms vaccine safety
Credit: Gencat, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

A US trial with over 32,000 participants has shown that the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine is both safe and effective, preventing symptomatic infections with a 79% efficacy and severe infections and hospitalizations with a 100% efficacy. The trial has also shown no safety concerns associated with blood clots.

Regional News • Americas • United States
Trump to create "his own platform" that will "redefine the game"
Trump to create "his own platform" that will "redefine the game"
Credit: The White House from Washington, DC, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Jason Miller, a spokesman of Donald Trump, has told Fox News's Howard Kurtz that the former president will return to social media "in probably about two or three months here with his own platform."

“And this is something that I think will be the hottest ticket in social media, it’s going to completely redefine the game, and everybody is going to be waiting and watching to see what exactly President Trump does. But it will be his own platform,” Miller said.

Asked for details, Miller said he couldn't go further into detail but "that it will be big once he [Trump] starts" and that there have been "lot of high-power meetings" at Mar-a-Lago with "numerous companies".

“But I think the president does know what direction he wants to head here and this new platform is going to be big and everyone wants him, he’s gonna bring millions and millions, tens of millions of people to this new platform,” so Miller.

Business • Markets
Home deliveries boost FedEx's sales past $20 billion, profit nearly triples
FedEx Truck
FedEx Truck Credit: Dano (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

FedEx shares have more than doubled in price since the pandemic forced government officials to shutter businesses and issue stay-at-home orders. The revenue for the quarter ended Feb. 28 grew 23% to $21.5 billion, boosted by a half-billion holiday package deliveries and COVID-19 vaccines shipments.

Average daily package volume for FedEx Ground, which counts Walmart among its top e-commerce shipping partners, jumped 25% to 13.2 million during the quarter.

The results came even as severe winter weather in February disrupted service at important facilities in Memphis, Indianapolis and North Texas and reduced quarterly operating income by about $350 million.

Technology • Internet & Web
YouTube launches "Shorts" in the US
YouTube Shorts Beta
YouTube Shorts Beta Credit: YouTube, Google

YouTube Shorts Beta, a short-form video experience and TikTok competitor, has launched in the US on Thursday. Shorts features "a multi-segment camera to string multiple video clips together, the ability to record with music, control speed settings, and more" and offers users a feed or short videos directly in the YouTube app instead of a separate app. YouTube announced it will add more features over the following weeks, including "the ability to use audio from videos across YouTube".

Regional News • Americas • United States
Bill Nelson to be nominated to head NASA – Biden administration
Bill Nelson to be nominated to head NASA – Biden administration
Credit: (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Isaiah J. Soliz/Released), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Former Florida senator Bill Nelson is poised to be nominated to head the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) by President Joe Biden. Nelson, a three-term US senator and one-time astronaut, would succeed Trump appointee Jim Bridenstine.

The news was followed by criticism as many had hoped Biden would nominate a woman for this position. “Given how many qualified and talented women were rumored to be in consideration, he’s putting great trust in his former Senate colleague,” so Lori Garver, a former deputy administrator of NASA.

Regional News • Americas • United States
US to reach 100m Covid-19 vaccine goal on Friday – Biden
US to reach 100m Covid-19 vaccine goal on Friday – Biden
Credit: The White House, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The United States will reach the Biden administration's goal to administer 100 million Covid-19 vaccine doses on Friday, President Joe Biden said.

"I am proud to announce that tomorrow, 58 days into our administration, we will have met my goal of administering 100 million shots to our fellow Americans," so Biden. "That's weeks ahead of schedule. Even with the setbacks we faced during the winter storms."

Regional News • Americas • United States
Disneyland theme parks in California plan to reopen on April 30
Tomorrowland at Disneyland
Tomorrowland at Disneyland Credit: Justin Brown (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

Walt Disney's two theme parks in California will reopen on April 30 to a limited number of guests. The company announced on Wednesday, over a year after they closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The resort includes the original Disneyland and the adjacent California Adventure theme parks.

Visitors aged 2 and up will need to wear masks, except when eating, drinking or swimming, and following other safety measures, including temperature checks before entering and social distancing on rides and throughout the parks.

Technology • Internet & Web
Report: Only 111 accounts are responsible for vast amount of anti-vaccination disinformation among US Facebook users
Report: Only 111 accounts are responsible for vast amount of anti-vaccination disinformation among US Facebook users
Credit: Illustration: Pendect, Ashley Winkler. (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

According to documents obtained by The Washington Post from an internal investigation at Facebook, 111 users were responsible for half of all anti-vaccination content on the U.S. part of Facebook. Besides, there might be a significant overlap between communities that are sceptical of vaccines and those affiliated with QAnon.

Facebook spokeswoman Dani Lever has stated that "Public health experts have made it clear that tackling vaccine hesitancy is a top priority in the COVID response, which is why we’ve launched a global campaign that has already connected 2 billion people to reliable information from health experts and remove false claims about COVID and vaccines,"

Technology • Internet & Web
Match Group to introduce background checks to its dating platforms
Match Group to introduce background checks to its dating platforms
Credit: Tinder

The internet and technology company Match Group is rolling out a background check feature to its dating platforms in the United States in cooperation with Garbo – a female-founded and non-profit background check platform "designed to help proactively prevent gender-based violence in the digital age". Match will offer the service to its users later this year on its dating platforms, including Tinder, PlentOfFish, OkCupid and Hinge.

“For far too long women and marginalized groups in all corners of the world have faced many barriers to resources and safety,” said Tracey Breeden, Head of Safety and Social Advocacy for Match Group. “We recognize corporations can play a key role in helping remove those barriers with technology and true collaboration rooted in action. In partnership with Match Group, Garbo’s thoughtful and groundbreaking consumer background check will enable and empower users with information, helping create equitable pathways to safer connections and online communities across tech.”

Regional News • Americas • United States
Deb Haaland confirmed as first Indigenous US cabinet secretary
Deb Haaland confirmed as first Indigenous US cabinet secretary
Credit: United States Congress Natural Resources Committee, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

In a 51 to 40 vote, the US Senate confirmed Deb Haaland as secretary of the interior on Monday, making her the first Native American cabinet member.

"The historic nature of my confirmation is not lost on me, but I will say, it is not about me. Rather, I hope this nomination would be an inspiration for Americans -- moving forward together as one nation and creating opportunities for all of us," Haaland said during her confirmation hearing.