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Sweden opens Mainland Europe’s first satellite launch spaceport

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Sweden opens Mainland Europe's first satellite launch spaceport
GLOBALTIMESPAKISTAN

Sweden on Friday inaugurated and officially opened Mainland Europe s first space facility for satellite launches.

Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson and Sweden s King Carl XVI Gustaf cut the ribbon in the city of Kiruna, around 25 miles from the new Spaceport Esrange.

The event was timed to coincide with Sweden taking over as the head of the Council of the European Union.

The facility in Northern Sweden gives the EU the ability to launch satellites, something only around 10 countries previously had the ability to do.

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“This spaceport offers an independent European gateway to space. It is exactly the infrastructure we need, not only to continue to innovate but also to further explore the final frontier,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said during the inauguration.

Spaceport Esrange is operated by the government-owned Swedish Space Corporation, which already operates 10 ground stations strategically located around the world for optimum coverage, plus eight supplementary partner stations.

The corporation expects around 10,000 new satellites will be launched globally over the next few years, with the total number eclipsing 100,000 by 2040. There are around 5,000 operational satellites in orbit today.

The new facility gives Sweden and the rest of the EU better access to that growing world. It will also host testing of Europe s initiative for reusable rocketry, the European Space Agency s Themis program led by ArianeGroup, as well as suborbital test launches of several next generation rockets.

“This new launch complex will help create a foundation for a resilient Europe in Space. New satellite constellations in orbit, responsive launch capabilities and development of reusable rocketry will enable a secure, competitive and sustainable Europe. This will make Europe stronger,” SSC CEO Stefan Gardefjord said in a statement.

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“This is a giant leap for SSC, for Sweden, for Europe and the rest of the world. Satellites are decisive for many functions of the daily lives of today s modern world, and the need for them will only increase in the years to come with Space playing an even more important role.”

The first satellite launch is expected to launch by the end of the year.

“This leading-edge spaceport gives Europe the capabilities to address this growing demand. The benefits of small satellites, that can be launched from here, are immense. We have just heard that it is important to launch these satellites over and over, to have the reusability, to test them,” von der Leyen said. 

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Australian lethal mushroom mystery survivor leaves hospital

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Australian lethal mushroom mystery survivor leaves hospital

A survivor of a lethal mushroom poisoning that has gripped Australia has been released from hospital, his family say.

Ian Wilkinson had been left in a critical condition after eating a beef Wellington cooked by Erin Patterson.

Three people, including Mr Wilkinson’s wife, died after the meal, which police believe contained death cap mushrooms, which are lethal if ingested.

Ms Patterson, who is not facing charges, has said it was an accident.

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Mr Wilkinson left hospital on Friday after almost two months of treatment, according to his family.

“This milestone marks a moment of immense relief and gratitude for Ian and the entire Wilkinson family,” they said in a statement.

It is not yet clear if Mr Wilkinson, a Baptist church pastor, has already spoken to police in hospital or whether he can now shed new light on the case.

The fatal lunch was held in Ms Patterson’s home in the small town of Leongatha, Victoria on 29 July.

Ms Patterson had invited her former in-laws Gail and Don Patterson, along with Gail’s sister Heather Wilkinson and Heather’s husband Ian. Ms Patterson’s estranged husband could not attend at the last minute.

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Hours after the meal, all four guests fell ill with what they initially thought was severe food poisoning.

Within days, Heather, 66, Gail, 70, and Don, 70, had died, while Ian, 68, was hospitalised in a critical condition.

Suspicion fell on Ms Patterson because she appeared to remain in good health despite her four guests falling gravely ill.

“I am now devastated to think that these mushrooms may have contributed to the illness suffered by my loved ones,” the 48-year-old said last month.
“I really want to repeat that I had absolutely no reason to hurt these people, whom I loved.”

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OpenAI’s ChatGPT will ‘see, hear and speak’ in major update

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OpenAI's ChatGPT will 'see, hear and speak' in major update

OpenAI’s ChatGPT is getting a major update that will enable the viral chatbot to have voice conversations with users and interact using images, moving it closer to popular artificial intelligence (AI) assistants like Apple’s Siri.

The voice feature “opens doors to many creative and accessibility-focused applications”, OpenAI said in a blog post on Monday.

Similar AI services like Siri, Google (GOOGL.O) voice assistant and Amazon.com’s (AMZN.O) Alexa are integrated with the devices they run on and are often used to set alarms and reminders, and deliver information off the internet.

Since its debut last year, ChatGPT has been adopted by companies for a wide range of tasks from summarizing documents to writing computer code, setting off a race amongst Big Tech companies to launch their own offerings based on generative AI.

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ChatGPT’s new voice feature can also narrate bedtime stories, settle debates at the dinner table, and speak out loud text input from users.

The technology behind it is being used by Spotify (SPOT.N) for the platform’s podcasters to translate their content in different languages, OpenAI said.

With images support, users can take pictures of things around them and ask the chatbot to “troubleshoot why your grill won’t start, explore the contents of your fridge to plan a meal, or analyze a complex graph for work-related data”.

Alphabet’s Google Lens is currently the popular choice to gain information on images.

The new ChatGPT features will be released for subscribers of its Plus and Enterprise plans over the next two weeks.

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SEC collects Wall Street’s private messages as WhatsApp probe escalates

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SEC collects Wall Street's private messages as WhatsApp probe escalates

The U.S. securities regulator has collected thousands of staff messages from more than a dozen major investment companies, escalating its probe into Wall Street’s use of private messaging apps, said four people with direct knowledge of the matter.

Previously, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) had asked the companies to internally review the messages in its investigation of Wall Street’s use of WhatsApp, Signal and other unapproved messaging apps to discuss work.

The two-year crackdown into potential breaches of record-keeping rules initially targeted broker dealers, netting regulators over $2 billion in fines.

While Reuters and other media have reported that the SEC’s “off-channel” communication probe has expanded to investment advisers, its move to review thousands of their staff messages has not previously been reported. It marks an escalation of the investigation and raises the stakes for the companies and the executives concerned by exposing their conduct to SEC scrutiny.

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“It increases risk,” one source said. “The more information you give the SEC, the more you fuel the beast.”

In the latest phase of the probe of more than a dozen investment advisers, the SEC has in recent months asked for messages on personal devices or applications during the first half of 2021 that discuss business, the sources said. It has targeted a selection of employees, in some cases as many as a dozen, including senior executives.

The firms include Carlyle Group (CG.O), Apollo Global Management (APO.N), KKR & Co (KKR.N), TPG (TPG.O), and Blackstone (BX.N), according to three people with direct knowledge of the matter, as well as some hedge funds, including Citadel, said a different person with direct knowledge.

The executives gave their personal phones and other devices to their employers or lawyers to be copied, and messages discussing business have been handed to the SEC, three people said.

That is in contrast to the broker-dealer probes. In those cases, the SEC asked companies to review staff messages and report to the agency how many discussed work. SEC staff reviewed only a sample of messages themselves, according to three sources with knowledge of the previous investigations.

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The sources spoke on the condition of anonymity because SEC investigations are confidential.

At least 16 firms including Carlyle, Apollo, KKR, TPG, and Blackstone, have disclosed that the SEC is probing their communications. The firms did not provide further details and did not comment for this story. A spokesperson for Citadel declined to comment.

Government investigations are not evidence of wrongdoing and do not necessarily lead to charges.

An SEC spokesperson declined to comment. Chair Gary Gensler has defended the communications scrutiny, saying record-keeping rules are critical in helping the SEC guard against wrongdoing.

“Now that they have all that data – it is very possible that the SEC will find compliance failures in there somewhere that have nothing to do with the off-channel communications record-keeping issues,” said Jaclyn Grodin, a lawyer at Goulston & Storrs who is not involved in the investigation.

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Private fund fees and expenses, conflicts of interest and preferential treatment of investors are issues the SEC is increasingly focusing on, she noted.

‘SHOOTING FISH’
The problem of keeping tabs on staff communications has dogged Wall Street compliance departments for years. Because companies do not surveil personal messaging channels, using them to discuss business puts SEC-regulated employers in breach of requirements to record all business communications.

The SEC began to home in on Wall Street’s record-keeping problem when JPMorgan Chase (JPM.N) failed to provide documents from at least 2018 pertaining to an unrelated probe, according to a 2021 settlement in which the bank agreed to pay the SEC $125 million to resolve charges over record-keeping lapses.

Suspecting that off-channel chat about deals, trades and other business was rife on Wall Street, the SEC in 2021 opened an inquiry into other broker-dealers’ communications, said two sources. The misconduct proved so pervasive that the agency has been “shooting fish in a barrel,” one said.

The probe is shaping up to be Gensler’s signature Wall Street enforcement initiative, netting multiple big names including Wells Fargo (WFC.N), Bank of America (BAC.N), Goldman Sachs (GS.N) and Morgan Stanley .

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It has generated millions in fees for attorneys, with firms hiring dozens of lawyers to represent both the company and executives worried about their exposure, according to several sources.

‘INVASIVE’
The SEC began approaching investment advisers in October 2022, Reuters previously reported. As with broker-dealers, the SEC initially sought details on investment advisers’ record-keeping policies. It then identified a group of executives and asked the firms to search their devices and report back on what they found.

But the firms resisted, arguing their record-keeping requirements are narrower than broker-dealers’.

In a January letter led by the Managed Funds Association, the industry said the SEC’s request was “invasive” and raised privacy issues. Bloomberg previously reported the letter.

The SEC later demanded that the investment advisers hand over the messages, the sources said.

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The agency is ignoring important differences in investment advisers’ recordkeeping requirements, said Jennifer Han, the MFA’s executive vice president and chief counsel.

“Unilaterally expanding the rules by enforcement actions sidesteps due process and creates a dangerous precedent,” she said in a statement.
 

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