Tech Check
March 28, 2014
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Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg's ambitious plan to make the internet inescapable involves drones, infrared lasers, and tons of satellites. The company is working with scientists and aerospace engineers to create a lab that will develop ways to make the internet available to remote and underserved populations.

The "Facebook Connectivity Lab" will bring together NASA employees, the National Optical Astronomy Observatory, and engineers from the British firm Ascenta, which builds solar-powered drones, to figure out ways to bring the internet to "every person in the world." The plan is to test drones over suburban areas, shoot up satellites over more rural locations, and use the laser beams to make long distance connections even faster, writes CNN.

If this plan sounds similar to Zuckerberg's previously announced coalition, that's because it sort of is. But that project was meant to bring together more "traditional" firms, like Samsung and Nokia, to help deliver the 'net to far flung spots. So far, more than three million people in Paraguay and the Philippines have access to it. Jordan Valinsky

food safety
8:27 p.m. ET
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After the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention determined that tainted celery was likely behind an E. coli outbreak that has made at least 19 people in seven states sick, Starbucks recalled its turkey and stuffing paninis from 1,347 west coast locations last week.

A seasonal offering, the sandwiches were pulled from stores in California, Oregon, and Nevada, Starbucks spokeswoman Erin Jane Schaeffer said; no other markets were affected, and so far, there are no reports of the sandwiches making anyone ill. After the E. coli outbreak was traced to chicken salad sold at Costco, the CDC tested the celery and onion used in the salad, and found the bacteria, Bloomberg reports. Taylor Farms Pacific Inc. then announced it was recalling multiple celery products, including the sandwiches sold at Starbucks.

Costco and Starbucks aren't the only companies dealing with E. coli — an outbreak linked to Chipotle has made at least 45 people sick, and health officials are still trying to determine the contaminated ingredient. Catherine Garcia

7:33 p.m. ET

Something sinister is happening in the Sea of Japan.

Since October, a dozen wooden boats have been discovered in the sea or on the coast filled with 22 decaying bodies, police and the Japanese coast guard said. One boat contained six skulls, and another had two headless "partially skeletonized" bodies. So far, the clues point to the boats being from North Korea – the coast guard says the hull of one boat with 10 bodies on it had "Korean People's Army," the name of the military, written in Korean, and Japan's NHK reports a tattered piece of cloth found on one boat looks like it could be from a North Korean national flag.

The coast guard is likely correct, maritime expert Yoshihiko Yamada told NHK. The boats have a "striking resemblance" to vessels used by North Korean defectors, and because the boats are "old and heavy," they didn't have enough engine power to "turn the ships against the currents." If the people on the boats were attempting to defect from North Korea, they could have taken the Sea of Japan route because, although more dangerous, it's not policed like the border with China. Catherine Garcia

fight against ISIS
6:35 p.m. ET
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On Tuesday, Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced a specialized expeditionary targeting force will be deployed to Iraq to fight the Islamic State.

Carter told the House Armed Services Committee the U.S. will launch raids "at the invitation of the Iraqi government" and "conduct unilateral operations in Syria" against ISIS targets, with the goal of defeating ISIS "at its core." He did not say when the troops will arrive.

Department of Defense officials told NBC News about 100 to 150 special operations forces will be permanently based in Iraq, and will gather intelligence, free hostages or prisoners, and kill or capture ISIS leaders. They will also accompany and assist Iraqi and Kurdish forces in operations against ISIS. A senior defense official told NBC News the missions will be similar to the raid that was conducted in northern Iraq in October, where commandos helped Kurdish fighters free 70 ISIS prisoners. Catherine Garcia

they believe the children are our future
4:43 p.m. ET
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Most parents dream of a better world for their children. Unfortunately, most parents are not Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan, who just announced the birth of their first child — a baby girl named Max.

Fortunately, Zuckerburg and Chan do have the resources to do their part to ensure that Max will grow up in a better world — and the rest of us will also get to reap the benefits! In an extended letter addressed to Max (and posted on Facebook), Zuckerberg and Chan have announced that over the course of their lifetimes, they will give away 99 percent of their Facebook shares — currently valued at $45 billion — in an effort to "advance human potential and promote equality."

"Max, we love you and feel a great responsibility to leave the world a better place for you and all children," the letter concludes. "We wish you a life filled with the same love, hope, and joy you give us. We can't wait to see what you bring to this world."

You can read the full letter here. Scott Meslow

Best of
4:00 p.m. ET
Mad Max/Facebook

The National Board of Review (NBR) named Mad Max: Fury Road the best film of 2015 Tuesday, surprising many who thought the group of 120 New York film fans from would pick a "less action-oriented film," The Wrap reports. The film, directed and produced by George Miller, stars Charlize Theron and Tom Hardy in the Mad Max series' fourth installment depicting a rebellion against a tyrannical ruler in post-apocalyptic Australia.

While the win is certainly a victory for Mad Max, "don't take this as a sign that Mad Max is all of a sudden guaranteed to be a gate-crasher at the Oscars," writes Kevin Lincoln at Vulture:

Last year the NBR made the genuinely idiosyncratic decision to recognize A Most Violent Year as the best film of 2014, a decision that didn't quite set the dominos falling for J.C. Chandor's mostly under-the-radar '80s crime epic. The year prior they went with Her, which at least snagged an Academy nomination. [Vulture]

This year, NBR selected Ridley Scott as Best Director and Matt Damon as Best Actor for The Martian. Best Actress went to Brie Larson for Room. See the full list of winners at Variety. Becca Stanek

2:59 p.m. ET

Has Jeb Bush already got a certain someone in mind for a running mate? Answering an audience question about vice presidents at a town hall meeting in Waterloo, Iowa, Bush let it slip that, "Should I be elected president, I would have my vice president — I think she will be a great partner."

It appeared to be almost an intentional "mistake" as he immediately joked, "I mean, did I say that out loud?" The audience laughed, and Bush went on: "We always talk about this with one gender in mind. I think we've reached the point I think in our country where maybe we should be a little less gender specific about this."

But as to who exactly he might be considering, Bush remained tight-lipped. Watch below. Jeva Lange

study says
1:13 p.m. ET
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The U.S. saw its highest level of terrorism-related arrests since September 2001 this year, a study released Tuesday reveals. Through a review of social media accounts and legal documents, researchers at George Washington University found that 56 individuals were arrested in 2015 for either supporting ISIS or plotting to assist the extremist group. "The individuals range from hardened militants to teenage girls, petty criminals, and college students," GWU's director of the program on extremism Lorenzo Vidino told The New York Times. "The diversity is staggering."

That diversity, Vidino suggests, is exactly why identifying and monitoring potential terrorist threats can be such a challenge for law enforcement agencies. "For law enforcement, it's extremely difficult to determine who makes a big leap from keyboard jihadist to doing something," Vidino said.

The average age of the Americans arrested was 26, though individuals ranged from a 15-year-old boy to a 47-year-old former Air Force officer. The overwhelming majority of arrests made were American citizens or permanent residents. An estimated 40 percent of those arrested were converts to Islam and over half of those arrested had attempted to travel abroad.

The FBI has about 900 open inquiries into activity related to ISIS. Becca Stanek

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