Nikola Motor Company Reveals Hydrogen Fuel Cell Truck With Range of 1,200 Miles

An anonymous reader quotes a report from ValueWalk: Nikola Motor Company just unveiled a huge class 8 truck which will run on hydrogen fuel cells. Nikola claimed that the truck’s operational range will be as much as 1,200 miles (1,900 km), and it will …

An anonymous reader quotes a report from ValueWalk: Nikola Motor Company just unveiled a huge class 8 truck which will run on hydrogen fuel cells. Nikola claimed that the truck’s operational range will be as much as 1,200 miles (1,900 km), and it will be released in 2020. Nikola designed the Nikola One for long-haul transport across a large landmass. The truck will deliver over 1,000 horsepower and 2,000 foot-pounds of torque. Provided these claims are true, the vehicle will provide nearly double the power of the current-gen diesel-powered semis/articulated lorries, notes Ars Technica. The leasing cost of the trucks will include the fuel price, servicing costs and warranty, but exactly how the lease will work is not known now, notes Ars Technica. The company says it has already accepted nearly $3 billion in future orders. A fully-electric drivetrain which gets power from high-density lithium batteries runs the vehicle, and a hydrogen fuel cell charges the batteries on the go. Its reach is presently limited, as hydrogen fueling stations currently exist in only small numbers. This made Nikola decide to construct a network of 364 hydrogen fueling stations across the U.S. and Canada, just like Tesla with its network of Superchargers. Milton claims it will come with a smart dashboard which has the capability of picking the most cost-efficient route for drivers. Also one or two full-size beds will be included inside the vehicle’s enormous cab. It will have other luxuries and necessities as well, such as Wi-Fi, a refrigerator, 4G LTE connectivity, freezer, a 40-inch curved 4K TV with Apple TV and a microwave.

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Major league notebook: Rosters were nearly expanded

The sides were close to adding a 26th player during contract negotiations.

NEW YORK — Baseball players and owners had a deal to expand active rosters from 25 to 26 players for most of the season, but the union backed away in the final stages of collective bargaining.

As part of the deal, the limit from Sept. 1 on would have been lowered from 40 to 28.

“We thought we were going to make an agreement, had a tentative agreement,” Commissioner Rob Manfredsaid Friday, “but nothing’s done until it’s done.”

The union head, Tony Clark, characterized the talks differently and said the parties may revisit the topic during the five-year contract they agreed to Wednesday.

ANGELS: Slugger Albert Pujols underwent surgery on his right foot, possibly sidelining him past opening day.

Pujols had the procedure to release his plantar fascia, the ligament connecting the heel to the toes. He was bothered by plantar fasciitis repeatedly during the regular season.

MAJOR LEAGUE Baseball is increasing penalties for using banned stimulants and is adding more random drug tests.

The suspension for a second stimulant violation goes from 25 to 50 games under a change to the sport’s drug agreement announced by the commissioner’s office and players’ association. A third violation would result in a 100-game penalty, up from 80.

WHITE SOX: Chicago agreed to a $3 million, one-year contract with outfielder Avisail Garcia and a $3.5-million, one-year deal with second baseman Brett Lawrie.

Garcia, 25, hit .245 with 12 home runs, 51 RBI and 59 runs over 120 games last season.

ATHLETICS: Oakland agreed to a $4 million, one-year contract with first baseman Yonder Alonso to avoid salary arbitration.

The A’s also tendered contracts to all remaining players on their roster.

TWINS: Minnesota hired James Rowson as hitting coach.

Rowson was the minor league hitting coordinator for the New York Yankees for seven of the last nine seasons. Between stints, Rowson, 40, was the hitting coach for the Chicago Cubs for 1½ seasons after a midyear promotion from minor league hitting coordinator.

RANGERS: Texas received right-hander pitcher Brady Dragmire on a waiver claim from Pittsburgh.

Texas also lost left-hander David Rollins to Philadelphia, his fourth team since the World Series.

CUBS: Chicago agreed to a one-year deal with left-hander Brian Duensing.

NATIONALS: Washington didn’t tender a contract to outfielder Ben Revere, making him a free agent.

CARDINALS: St. Louis didn’t tender a contract for 2017 to right-hander Seth Maness, who had elbow surgery in August.

NATIONALS-PADRES: Washington reacquired catcher Derek Norris from San Diego for minor league right-hander Pedro Avila.

METS: Catcher Rene Rivera agreed to a $1.75 million, one-year contract, a raise of $50,000.

The ‘USB Killer’ Has Been Mass Produced — Available Online For About $50

New submitter npslider writes: The “USB Killer,” a USB stick that fries almost everything that it is plugged into, has been mass produced — available online for about $50. Ars Technica first wrote about this diabolical device that looks like a fairly …

New submitter npslider writes: The “USB Killer,” a USB stick that fries almost everything that it is plugged into, has been mass produced — available online for about $50. Ars Technica first wrote about this diabolical device that looks like a fairly humdrum memory stick a year ago. From the report: “The USB Killer is shockingly simple in its operation. As soon as you plug it in, a DC-to-DC converter starts drawing power from the host system and storing electricity in its bank of capacitors (the square-shaped components). When the capacitors reach a potential of -220V, the device dumps all of that electricity into the USB data lines, most likely frying whatever is on the other end. If the host doesn’t just roll over and die, the USB stick does the charge-discharge process again and again until it sizzles. Since the USB Killer has gone on sale, it has been used to fry laptops (including an old ThinkPad and a brand new MacBook Pro), an Xbox One, the new Google Pixel phone, and some cars (infotainment units, rather than whole cars… for now). Notably, some devices fare better than others, and there’s a range of possible outcomes — the USB Killer doesn’t just nuke everything completely.” You can watch a video of EverythingApplePro using the USB Killer to fry a variety of electronic devices. It looks like the only real defense from the USB Killer is physically capping your ports.

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Sen. Collins has reservations about privatizing Medicare, repealing Affordable Care Act

Those positions would put Maine’s Republican senator at odds with party leaders, who are expected to pursue both initiatives in the new year.

Sen. Susan Collins of Maine said Friday that she’s unlikely to support efforts to privatize Medicare and might not vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act, positions that would put her at odds with Republican party leaders.

Though Collins opposed the Affordable Care Act and says it needs many fixes, she might not support repealing the law if a suitable, detailed replacement is not identified. However, Collins stressed in a brief interview Friday that she’s not sure how she would vote on the issue.

Plans to abolish the ACA and privatize Medicare have accelerated since voters elected businessman Donald Trump to the presidency on Nov. 8. Rep. Tom Price, a Georgia Republican nominated by Trump to lead Health and Human Services, has proposed gutting the ACA and privatizing Medicare.

Collins is a moderate Republican and her vote could be crucial if those initiatives are taken up by the Senate, where Republicans will hold a slim majority come January.

Sen. Angus King of Maine, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats, said he is opposed to efforts to repeal the ACA or privatize Medicare.

Collins said plans to privatize Medicare – which have been proposed by Price and House Speaker Paul Ryan – have many problems, and she’s voted against similar ideas. Privatizing Medicare would provide skimpier benefits and be more costly to seniors, critics say.

“Suffice it to say I have a number of reservations,” Collins said Friday during an interview by phone. “A complete upending of a program (Medicare) that by and large serves seniors well is not something that appeals to me.”

President Obama has vetoed several previous efforts by Republicans to eliminate the ACA, rebuffing numerous attempts since it became law in 2010.

But once Trump becomes president in January, it’s much more likely that he would sign an ACA repeal into law.

Pending the outcome of a runoff in Louisiana this month, Republicans probably will control the Senate by a 52-48 majority. If that’s the case, it would take only three Republican defections to derail efforts to repeal the ACA or privatize Medicare.

Collins said her “number one” goal for any ACA repeal effort would be to protect people who have purchased Affordable Care Act marketplace insurance. That group includes about 10 million people, while Medicaid expansion covers an additional 15-18 million. Maine is one of 19 states that has not expanded Medicaid. The uninsured rate has plummeted in the U.S. since the ACA went into effect.

“You can’t just drop insurance for 84,000 people,” Collins said, referring to people who have signed up for ACA insurance in Maine.

Collins said she’s interested in an approach advocated by Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., who recently told reporters that an ACA replacement should be the “first” focus of Congress.

“I think what we need to focus on first is what would we replace it with and what are the steps that it would take to do that?” Alexander said, according to a report in Slate magazine.

Collins said her first impression is to agree with Alexander.

“It strikes me as a more cautious approach,” she said.

Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-California, the Republican House majority leader, has advocated for the opposite approach, eliminating the ACA and giving Congress two to three years to come up with a replacement.

But Collins also said that without a specific bill in front of her, she can’t commit to voting one way or the other.

“I’m hesitant to speculate on something that doesn’t exist,” she said.

Collins said there are many components of the ACA that she would like to change,such as allowing insurers to sell catastrophic plans, easing requirements on small businesses and reducing the narrow networks that some insurers offer.

Emily Brostek, executive director of Consumers for Affordable Health Care, an Augusta-based health advocacy group and supporter of the ACA, was encouraged to hear that Collins is taking a thorough look at repealing the ACA and seems opposed to privatizing Medicare.

“That’s the kind of leadership that Mainers have come to expect and appreciate,” Brostek said.

Brostek said if plans to partially repeal the ACA move forward – such as eliminating the individual mandate to purchase insurance and axing subsidies to help people purchase insurance – the entire system could collapse and insurers could flee the marketplace during the uncertainty. The ACA was devised as a series of interlocking components, and removing one could cause the others to fall apart in a chain reaction.

King said if the individual mandate is revoked, people would wait to purchase insurance until they were extremely sick, perhaps “on the ambulance ride to the hospital.” That would drive up the cost of insurance, he said.

“I’ll be the first to say the ACA is not perfect,” King said. “But I’ve heard a lot about repealing, but I haven’t heard much about how it would be replaced.”

King said the proposal to privatize Medicare is “an awful idea.”

“I can’t understand why people want to change a Medicare system that has worked well for 50 years,” he said. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it is an old Maine motto and it should apply in this situation.”

Both King and Collins said they don’t know yet whether they would vote to approve Price for Health and Human Services. King said Price “has a tall mountain to climb” to get his vote, considering Price’s stance on the ACA and Medicare.


New Hampshire father charged in beating death of 2½-year-old daughter

Roger Dana is charged with second-degree murder in the death of Madison Dana.

BERLIN, N.H. — New Hampshire officials say an arrest has been made in the death of a 2½-year-old girl in the city of Berlin. Prosecutors say 43-year-old Roger Joseph Dana was charged Friday with second-degree murder in the death of Madison Dana.

Police said the youngster was taken to the Androscoggin Valley Hospital on Nov. 27 after a 911 call. An autopsy found she died of blunt impact injuries, and the manner of death was ruled a homicide.

Prosecutors said the father assaulted the girl multiple times, causing her death.

High court considers cases of church-affiliated hospitals’ pension plans

Lower courts ruled against the three hospitals, saying their pensions do not qualify as ‘church plans.’

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court will decide whether some of the nation’s largest health providers can rely on their church affiliation to avoid complying with federal laws covering pension benefits for workers.

The justices agreed Friday to take up cases involving three nonprofit hospital systems being sued for underfunding their employee pension plans. Lower courts ruled against the hospitals, saying their pensions do not qualify as “church plans.”

Florida’s offense must find a way, and in a hurry

The Gators have been underwhelming and now, in the SEC title game, will face Alabama and the nation’s best defense.

ATLANTA — Talk about a mismatch. Alabama’s defense is the best in the nation. Florida’s offense looks like one of the worst.

They’ll face off Saturday in the Southeastern Conference championship game with the top-ranked Crimson Tide (12-0, 8-0 SEC) heavily favored to lock up its third straight trip to the College Football Playoff with a win over the No. 15 Gators (8-3, 6-2).

Alabama hasn’t given up a defensive touchdown in 17 quarters, which covers its November schedule. The Tide leads the nation in three major categories, giving up the fewest points, rushing yards and total yards.

“When we go out there Saturday, we just try to dominate,” defensive lineman Jonathan Allen said. “Just do your job and just dominate the opposing offense. That’s the legacy.”

Florida will get a jarring reminder of its high-scoring legacy when former coach Steve Spurrier helps with the coin toss.

These Gators are a long way from the Fun ‘n’ Gun days.

Over its last 10 quarters, Florida has one offensive touchdown – a 98-yard pass from Austin Appleby to Tyrie Cleveland that sparked an SEC East-clinching win over LSU. The Gators rank No. 114 nationally in total yards, ahead of only six other Power Five schools, and haven’t shown much ability to move the ball running or passing.

Now this offensively challenged team must contend with the stingiest defense in the land.

Coach Jim McElwain joked it might be best to skip the filmwork just so his players wouldn’t see what they’re up against.

Then he turned serious.

“The thing you point out is really how close you are from a consistency standpoint,” McElwain said, doing his best to put a positive spin on such a dire predicament. “We had our opportunities last couple games, yet the mindset of finishing is something we have to do.”

Good luck with that against the Tide, which has given up 10 points or less in eight games.

“Obviously with these guys that we’re playing, the thing that really stands out is how short the explosive play reel is when you look at it,” McElwain said. “They don’t give a lot of big plays up. You’ve got to go earn it.”

Under Coach Nick Saban, Alabama has earned the right to be called one of college football’s greatest dynasties. Since the beginning of the 2008 season, the Tide is 110-12 with four national championships.

Saban has won five national titles, one shy of the record held by Bear Bryant.

Of course, Saban is merely focused on the next one. “Can’t really fall in love with what we’ve done in the past,” he said.

Some things to watch for:

HURTS BLOSSOMS: While defense is always the name of the game at Alabama, the development of freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts has been a major part of the Tide’s success. He took over the starting job in Week 2 and gave the offense a dual threat, throwing for 2,454 yards and 21 touchdowns, and running for 840 yards and 12 TDs. Saban is most impressed with his maturity. “He has a resiliency to come back and focus on the next play,” the coach said.

LOCKDOWN CORNERS: Hurts will have to contend with two of the country’s best cornerbacks. Teez Tabor has four interceptions, Quincy Wilson has three, and both have returned a pick for a touchdown. If the Gators are to have any chance, it’s likely that either Tabor and Wilson will have to come up with a game-changing play.

KIFFIN’S FUTURE: There’s plenty of speculation about how much longer Lane Kiffin will be Alabama’s offensive coordinator. He’s been mentioned for head coach openings at Oregon and Houston, and LSU’s new coach, Ed Orgeron, reportedly wants him as his offensive coordinator. “I know nothing about it,” Saban said. “He’s never mentioned it to me. I’m sure he would if there was something out there.”

DAVIS RETURNS: Florida linebacker Jarrad Davis, the team’s defensive leader and second-leading tackler, returned to practice after missing three games with ankle injuries. He’s a senior and Georgia native who desperately wants to play in the title game. “If you can give the team one play, whatever that play might be, that’s what it’s all about,” McElwain said.

STORIED RIVALS: It’s only appropriate that Alabama and Florida meet in the SEC’s 25th championship game. They played in the first threes, and this will be their ninth meeting overall for the title. In a nod to the inaugural game in 1992, the coin toss will be conducted by Spurrier, former Alabama coach Gene Stallings and Roy Kramer, the SEC commissioner then.

Pope Francis puts American priest on path to sainthood

The Rev. Stanley Rother of Oklahoma was killed in 1981 during Guatemala’s civil war.

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has put an American priest killed during Guatemala’s civil war on the path to possible sainthood by declaring him a martyr.

Francis signed a martyrdom decree Thursday for the Rev. Stanley Rother of Oklahoma. He was killed in 1981, one of several priests slain during Guatemala’s 1960-1996 civil war. Rother had been in Guatemala translating the New Testament into an Indian dialect.

The martyrdom declaration paves the way for Rother’s beatification. Unlike regular candidates, martyrs don’t need a Vatican-certified miracle attributed to their intercession to be beatified. A miracle, however, is necessary to be declared a saint.

Rams’ defense needs turnaround

Los Angeles has been shredded recently, and now must go against Tom Brady on the road.

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — The Los Angeles Rams’ defense isn’t often embarrassed and is rarely humbled.

Its veterans have been one of the NFL’s best units for the past few years, and they’ve been among the best again this season. Even after the past 64 minutes 2 seconds of playing time.

The Rams (4-7) flew to New England on Friday after a week of rededication and recovery from their most humiliating defensive game in years. Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints dropped 49 points and 555 yards last weekend in Los Angeles’ sixth loss in seven games.

“It’s going to tell a lot about us this week,” said cornerback Trumaine Johnson, the Rams’ highest-paid player. “After that game last week, hopefully we go out there and compete. Man, I really don’t like going back and talking about it. But everything wasn’t working, as a whole defense.”

Combined with the Miami Dolphins’ two long scoring drives in the final minutes to win a game otherwise dominated by Los Angeles’ defense two weeks ago, the Rams have given up nine touchdowns and 707 yards on their opponents’ last 15 drives.

Johnson realizes that’s an inauspicious way to go into another long trip and a cold-weather game against Tom Brady. The Rams can’t change much about their personnel or schemes in such a short time, but are hoping the embarrassment will spark a return to form.

“Sometimes you get a wake-up call,” defensive coordinator Gregg Williams said. “We’ve been pretty dominant for four or five weeks, and all of a sudden that wakes you up. I haven’t had any problem holding their attention in the meetings this week.”

The numbers are grim: New Orleans’ 555 yards were the third-most allowed in the 80-year-old franchise’s history. It was easily the Rams’ worst defensive game under Williams, the third-year coordinator, or Coach Jeff Fisher, who needs a huge finish to avoid his fifth straight losing season. The Saints’ 49 points were the most allowed by the Rams since 2002, and one fewer than Los Angeles gave up in its previous four games combined.

The reasons are varied. Middle linebacker Alec Ogletree acknowledges his defense wasn’t lined up properly on several key plays, while Williams alluded to young players making positional mistakes that cost dearly.

But if the Rams’ mental toughness was dented by the failures, they haven’t indicated it during the week of practices for the Patriots.

“We definitely were mad about it, and disappointed,” defensive lineman Aaron Donald said. “But we know what we’ve got to do. We’ve got to eliminate the mistakes, and we’ve got to play better. That’s not the way we play. We know that.”

Johnson and the Rams’ secondary realize they’ve got the most work to do. Including Miami’s final two drives, the Rams have yielded nearly 20 percent of all the yards passing they’ve allowed in the entire season over the past 41/2 quarters.

Hackers Steal $31 Million at Russia’s Central Bank

The Bank of Russia has confirmed Friday that hackers have stolen 2 billion rubles ($31 million) from correspondent accounts at the Russian central bank. Central bank security executive Artiom Sychev said it could’ve been much worse as hackers tried to …

The Bank of Russia has confirmed Friday that hackers have stolen 2 billion rubles ($31 million) from correspondent accounts at the Russian central bank. Central bank security executive Artiom Sychev said it could’ve been much worse as hackers tried to steal 5 billion rubles, but the central banking authority managed to stop them. CNNMoney reports: Hackers also targeted the private banks and stole cash from their clients, the central bank reported. The central bank did not say when the heist occurred or how hackers moved the funds. But so far, the attack bears some similarity to a recent string of heists that has targeted the worldwide financial system. Researchers at the cybersecurity firm Symantec have concluded that the global banking system has been under sustained attack from a sophisticated group — dubbed “Lazarus” — that has been linked to North Korea. But it’s unclear who has attacked Russian banks this time around. Earlier Friday, the Russian government claimed it had foiled an attempt to erode public confidence in its financial system. Russian’s top law enforcement agency, the FSB, said hackers were planning to use a collection of computer servers in the Netherlands to attack Russian banks. Typically, hackers use this kind of infrastructure to launch a “denial of service” attack, which disrupts websites and business operations by flooding a target with data. The FSB said hackers also planned to spread fake news about Russian banks, sending mass text messages and publishing stories on social media questioning their financial stability and licenses to operate.

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