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Cambridge Analytica data leak rises to 87m users, Facebook admits

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Facebook has said more users may have been affected by the Cambridge Analytica data leak than previously thought.

Up to 87 million people may have had their personal information taken from Facebook, its chief technology officer Mike Schroepfer wrote in a blog post.

Previous estimates thought just over 50m users had been affected by Cambridge Analytica accessing data.

Most of the 87m people whose data was shared with the political consultancy, which worked on Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, were in the United States, he added.

A total of 70,632,350 users in the US were affected while 1.79m users were in the UK.

Mr Schroepfer did not detail how Facebook came to determine the higher estimate of 87m users affected.

He said Facebook would tell people if their information may have been improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica.

Facebook is taking steps to restrict the personal data available to third-party app developers, he added.

The largest social media company in the world – with a billion users – has seen its shares plunge as it faces anger from users, advertisers and politicians after a series of “fake news”, election-meddling and privacy scandals.

Facebook released a chart showing how many people had been affected by the Cambridge Analytica data grab
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Facebook released a chart showing how many people had been affected by the Cambridge Analytica data grab

Facebook’s chief executive Mark Zuckerberg will testify over the matter next week before the US House Energy and Commerce Committee, the panel said on Wednesday.

Mr Zuckerberg has so far resisted calls from the British government to face its digital committee over the data leak, which includes allegations about the site being used to influence the EU Referendum.

Facebook shares were down 1.4% on Wednesday to $153.90.

They are down more than 16% since the Cambridge Analytics scandal broke on 19 March.

The British-based consultancy has denied any wrongdoing, saying it engaged a university professor “in good faith” to collect Facebook data in a manner similar to how other third-party app developers have harvested personal information.

Nigeria announced on Monday it is joining the US and Britain in investigating improper involvement by Cambridge Analytica in its 2007 and 2015 elections.

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ISS forced to move to avoid collision with space junk | Science & Tech News

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Astronauts aboard the International Space Station had to carry out an “avoidance manoeuvre” to prevent it from being hit by space junk, NASA has said.

Its trajectory was changed to move it further away from the “unknown piece of space debris”, the US space agency wrote in a blog post on Tuesday.

The three crew members – two Russians and an American – relocated to their Soyuz spacecraft attached to the ISS during the operation, so they could evacuate if necessary.



Venus planet







How scientists found signs of life on Venus

Experts expected the space junk to pass within “several kilometres” of the ISS, but decided to move it “out of an abundance of caution”.

Russian and US flight controllers worked together to adjust the station’s orbit in an operation which took minutes.

The crew were able to continue with their regular activities after the manoeuvre was complete.

NASA said the crew were not in danger at any time.

More from International Space Station

“Maneuver Burn complete. The astronauts are coming out of safe haven,” NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said on Twitter.



Southern lights from the ISS







Southern lights (and UFOs at the end?)

It is the third time this year the International Space Station (ISS) has had to manoeuvre to avoid space debris, he said.

He tweeted: “In the last 2 weeks, there have been 3 high concern potential conjunctions. Debris is getting worse!”

Astronomer Jonathon McDowell, at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, tweeted the unknown object was a part of a 2018 Japanese rocket which broke into 77 pieces last year.

The ISS is orbiting around 260 miles (420km) above the Earth, travelling at a speed of about 17,130mph (27,568km/h).

At this velocity, even a small object has the ability to cause serious damage to the space station.

NASA has said these kinds of manoeuvres occur on a regular basis, with 25 having occurred between 1999 and 2018.

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China emissions pledge could help the world avoid climate catastrophe, says top diplomat | UK News

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Catastrophic climate change could be avoided because of China’s promise to be carbon neutral by 2060, the UK’s climate diplomat has told Sky News.

John Murton – who is the UK’s envoy for climate summit COP26 – says although the details need to be examined, he hopes other countries will now follow China’s lead to reduce their emissions.

“It’s a really important thing that China has made this commitment as there’s no way that the world would be able to meet Paris goals of keeping temperature rise to no more than 2C – and as close to 1.5C – if China hadn’t made this sort of commitment,” he said.



Chinese President Xi Jinping is pictured in his pre-recorded UN address







China pledges carbon neutrality by 2060

“So in that sense, it’s good news. We need to learn the details but what it does is tell other big emitters that these sorts of reductions are possible.”

Mr Murton said China’s pledge is a “positive thing” for the COP26 conference, which is due to be held in Glasgow next November, as it could persuade other nations to make similar targets.

China is the world’s worst polluter, but in a virtual speech at the United Nations General Assembly, President Xi Jinping said his country would be carbon neutral by 2060 and achieve a peak in carbon dioxide emissions before 2030.

It is the first time China has said it will end its net contribution to climate change.

But it is not just its domestic reliance on fossil fuels that environmentalists say needs to be cleaned up.

John Murton is the UK's climate diplomat
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John Murton is the UK’s climate diplomat

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development says China spent more than $1tn (£786bn) on foreign infrastructure. Over the last few years, the majority of that is thought to involve fossil fuels.

And it has coal projects in at least 28 countries totalling over $50bn (£39bn), according to global coal finance tracker EndCoal.org.

Professor Lord Nicholas Stern of the London School of Economics said: “A big majority of their investments in energy infrastructure would be in fossil fuels, coal and oil and gas, but what we must hope now is that given that China has changed its ambitions, upped its ambitions for emissions within China, that it will apply the same logic outside.

“China’s investments internationally should follow the same principles of China’s investments inside China and China has made statements to the effect that they will be – that China’s investments outside China will be sustainable but that is something that will now be tested.”

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Asteroid the size of a bus to hurtle past Earth closer than satellites tomorrow, NASA says | Science & Tech News

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An asteroid the size of a bus is set to pass Earth at a distance closer than both the Moon and satellites, according to NASA.

The asteroid, named 2020 SW, will fly past 13,000 miles (22,000 kilometres) above the Earth’s surface.

This distance means it will be closer than both the Moon and satellites – used for GPS, television and weather – that orbit our plan.

An illustration of an asteroid. File pic
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After passing, the asteroid will continue its orbit around the sun

The rock was only discovered on 18 September by the NASA-funded Catalina Sky Survey in Arizona.

It is estimated to be around five to 10 metres (15 to 30ft) wide, making it equivalent to the “size of a small school bus”.

Further observations carried out by astronomers identified a trajectory which ruled out any chance of the asteroid colliding with Earth.

“Although it’s not on an impact trajectory with Earth, if it were, the space rock would almost certainly break up high in the atmosphere, becoming a bright meteor known as a fireball,” the space agency said.

After the asteroid passes at noon, UK time, it will continue its journey around the sun.

This means it will not pass Earth again until 2041, where it will be a greater distance away from the planet.

Although the minor planet’s passing will not be visible to the naked eye, people with 12-inch telescopes should be able to spot it.

The passing will also be streamed in a live video feed broadcast by the Virtual Telescope Project.

Paul Chodas, a director at NASA’s Jet Propulsions Laboratory, said: “There are a large number of tiny asteroids like this one, and several of them approach our planet as close as this several times every year.

“In fact, asteroids of this size impact our atmosphere at an average rate of about once every year or two.”

There are believed to be more than 100 million small asteroids, similar to 2020 SW. However, they are hard to discover until they get very close to Earth.

Larger asteroids, which hold a greater threat if they did collide with Earth, can be detected while further away because they are brighter than small ones.

On 20 August, an asteroid made the closest fly-by of Earth ever recorded. At the time, NASA admitted it had not seen it until after it passed.

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