Self-employed scheme warning: Extension called for as ‘efficient action is needed’

The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) was created by the government to provide financial assistance to those who work for themselves. The scheme provides similar levels of support provided by the furlough scheme for PAYE workers.

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While there has been no announcement yet, it is fairly probable that Rishi will extend SEISS if the context calls for it.

Recently, he extended the furlough scheme to October and when he originally launched the self-employment scheme it was highlighted that it will be extended if need be, as quoted from the chancellor of the exchequer: “The government will pay self-employed people, who have been adversely affected by the Coronavirus, a taxable grant worth 80 percent of their average monthly profits over the last three years, up to £2,500 a month.

“This scheme will be open for at least three months – and I will extend it for longer if necessary.”

Despite the likelihood of an extension, there may still be fear among the self-employed that the funding scheme will close as May comes to an end.

There have been plenty of reports and “murmurs” of a coming announcement and Ed Molyneux, the CEO of FreeAgent, has commented on how impactful this could be: “The clock is ticking but the government has yet to give any indication that it will extend the emergency scheme set up to help self-employed people by paying up to 80 percent of their earnings.

“As funding is due to expire at the end of the month, there could be a massive income drop ahead for small businesses and independent workers who rely on this scheme to keep them afloat.”

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While there are more employed workers in the UK, the impact of the self-employed cannot be understated.

In April, the ONS released figures which showed just how vital the self-employed are to the country’s economy:

  • At the end of 2019 there were more than five million self-employed workers in the UK
  • Self-employed people represent 15.3 percent of all employment in the UK, up from 12 percent in 2000
  • The self-employed support some of the UKs most vital industries, including construction, transportation, agricultural and related trades and media

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Worryingly, the same figures showed that 10 percent of the self-employed are aged 65 or over, compared with just three percent of employees.

This means that if the support scheme were to end, it could put some of the country’s most vulnerable people at risk (at least in terms of coronavirus risk).

Ed went on to comment on how important it is for people within this category to know where they stand: “Over 1.5 million people currently use this funding, so it is vitally important that they know what will happen in the weeks and months ahead.

“Small business owners are a catalyst for innovation in the UK, but in order to survive this period, they desperately need protection and support.

“While things are slowly heading towards a ‘new normality’, many small businesses are in no position to support themselves as they are either not operating fully, or cannot legally operate at all.

Because of the delicate situation, he concluded by calling on the government to not underestimate the consequences of inaction: “Efficient action is needed from the government at this time, and this must go hand in hand with clear communication.

“I urge the government to remember the delicate situation that many business owners are facing and not forsake a funding extension for any reason; the result could be catastrophic for our small business and freelance sector.”

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State Pension warning: Is your State Pension being underpaid?

An analysis by Lane Clark and Peacock (LCP) has revealed that “tens of thousands” of married older women could be missing out on £100m in state pension uplifts. Express.co.uk explains how to check if you are being underpaid on your State Pension.

According to Which? the scandal affects women who were married and reached State Pension age before April 2016, and who can claim the basic state pension.

These women are entitled to 60 percent of the basic state pension that their husband gets at State Pension age.

The DWP’s computer system should have boosted their State Pension payments to the 60 percent sum automatically, but many women said that this was not the case and have complained to the DWP.

Under this old system each individual in a couple could save up for a pension in their own right.

READ MORE- Former minister warns thousands of women could be owed £100m

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This means in theory that each member of a married couple could earn a full state pension.

You should be receiving the married woman’s rate of at least £80.45 a week.

Former pensions minister Steve Webb revealed last Saturday that about 130,000 women may be currently underpaid on their State Pensions.

The LCP investigation identified two groups of women who may have been underpaid on their pensions.

The first group of women affected may have had gaps in the National Insurance record, or had paid a reduced ‘married woman’s stamp’ and so had a very limited pension of their own.

Which? says the women affected will have been born before 6 April 1953 and are most likely to be widows, married or divorced women and those aged over 80.

Widows could even substitute their late husband’s National Insurance for their own, meaning they get 100 percent of the basic State Pension if their late husband had a full record.

If you were divorced when you reached State Pension age, you can still substitute your ex-husbands National Insurance record for your own, up until the point of your legal split.

If you were divorced later in life, you may be able to qualify for a full basic state pension.

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Which? explains that the second group of women who have been affected are those whose husbands reached 65 before March 2008.

Until March 2008, a married, divorced or widowed woman would have to make a claim to receive this enhanced pension.

If your husband reached State Pension age after March 2008, the DWP’s computer system should have automatically boosted your pension payment to the 60 percent rate.

The DWP claims it sent letters to these women to alert them of this option but many women say they did not receive them.

On the subject, the DWP says: “We are aware of a number of cases where individuals have been underpaid state pension.

“We corrected our records and reimbursed those affected as soon as errors were identified.

“We are checking for further cases and if any are found awards will also be reviewed and any arrears paid.”

Is your State Pension being underpaid?

LCP has created a calculator to identify if you are eligible to claim more on your pension.

All you need is a few details about your husband, or ex-husband, and yourself.

You need to enter details about when you were born, whether your husband is over State Pension age, and how much basic state pension you and your husband or ex husband currently receive.

The result will give you an indication of whether you are receiving less than you should be.
Contact the government’s Pension Service if you have any questions or concerns.

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Pro streamer Ninja is hosting a virtual Fortnite tournament with huge $400,000 prize

 PRO gamer Ninja is hosting a massive virtual Fortnite tournament with a $400,000 (£325,000) prize pool.

The event will take place live on Mixer – Microsoft's video game live-streaming website that rivals Twitch and YouTube Gaming.

It will formatted as a weekly series, taking place each Thursday from this week.

And Ninja will host it on his own Mixer channel – where the star has streamed since abandoning Twitch last summer.

The tournament will draw in 60 Fortnite pro gamers and streamers, including World Cup champ Kyle Giersdorg, a.k.a 'Bugha'.

Due to the global health crisis, all players will remain at home and take part remotely.

There will be $400,000 up for grabs in the tournament, which will come to a close in July this year.

 "I joined Mixer to push boundaries, create different types of streaming content and interact with fans in new ways," said Ninja.

"Ninja Battles brings a new kind of gameplay to the community.

"I am excited to share this competitive experience with my fans as well as have my fellow gamers and friends participate."

Fans will be able to use Mixer to watch and interact with the tournament participants.

And Fortnite casters BallaTW and MonsterDface will provide live commentary, according to a Deadline report.

What is Mixer?

Here's a quick guide…

  • Mixer is a video game live-streaming platform
  • It officially launched back in January 2016 under the name 'Beam'
  • It was eventually bought out by Microsoft in August 2016
  • The site was then renamed Mixer in 2017, and became part of Microsoft's Xbox division
  • Mixer is known for using low-latency streaming tech that delivers broadcasts to users very quickly
  • It's currently available in 21 languages
  • Mixer's biggest rivals include Amazon's Twitch, Google's YouTube Gaming, and Facebook Gaming

New episodes of Ninja Battles will air every Thursday at 3pm New York time / 8pm London time.

And the series kicks off this week, on May 28.

Ninja is Mixer's most popular streamer, with his channel racking up more than 64.8million views to date.

 In other news, Xbox owners can claim four free games this month.

 You check check your Xbox addiction over the past 10 years with the new 'My Decade on Xbox' tool.

And here's some early Xbox Series X footage.

We pay for your stories! Do you have a story for The Sun Online Tech & Science team? Email us at [email protected]

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Fox’s Lou Dobbs Lavishes Praise On Donald Trump As U.S. Coronavirus Deaths Pass 100,000

Fox Business host Lou Dobbs, one of Donald Trump’s loudest cheerleaders, drew scorn on Wednesday for lavishing praise on the president as the nationwide death toll from the coronavirus passed 100,000.

“He is arguably the greatest president in our history,” claimed Dobbs, whose sycophantic statement earned a thank you tweet from Trump himself:

Dobbs has previously claimed Trump is setting a standard for presidents “that most mortals won’t be able to meet,” is “unbeatable at the polls” and has energized the White House in ways that have never been seen before.

The “Lou Dobbs Tonight” host’s boasts about Trump have in the past been widely mocked and ridiculed, with many critics likening them to state television propaganda in North Korea.

This time, however, Dobb’s praise of Trump as the bleak pandemic milestone was reached was greeted with fierce criticism, given the Trump White House’s fumbled, slow and sloppy response to the public health crisis:

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Arizona sues Google over 'deceptive' location tracking

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Google kept tabs on the whereabouts of its users even if they had turned off location tracking, an Arizona official alleged in a lawsuit filed Wednesday.

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The suit filed by Attorney General Mark Brnovich stemmed from an investigation that began after The Associated Press reported on Google's location tracking in 2018.

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The suit alleges Google violated the Arizona Consumer Fraud Act and it seeks to claw back profits from the tracking.

“Every company has a responsibility to be truthful to consumers," Brnovich said. “You cant deceive them, you can't make misrepresentations.”

A Google spokesman said Brnovich and the “contingency fee lawyers” who brought the case have mischaracterized the company's services.

“We have always built privacy features into our products and provided robust controls for location data,” the spokesman, Jose Castaneda, said in an email. “We look forward to setting the record straight.”

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The AP reported two years ago that users could pause a setting called location history, and Google's support page said: “You can turn off Location History at any time. With Location History off, the places you go are no longer stored.”

But even with the function paused, some Google apps automatically store time-stamped location data.

For example, Google stores a snapshot of where you are when you open its Maps app. Automatic daily weather updates on Android phones pinpoint roughly where you are.

And some searches that have nothing to do with location, like “chocolate chip cookies,” or “kids science kits,” pinpoint your precise latitude and longitude — accurate to the square foot — and save it to your Google account.

TWITTER ALSO FACT-CHECKS CHINA OFFICIAL ON CORONAVIRUS

All of that data is prized by the companies that advertise with Google and lucrative to the tech firm.

“Though Google claims to have obtained consent to collect and store its users’ data, that consent is based on a misleading user interface, as well as other unfair and deceptive acts and practices,” the lawsuit alleges.

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GOOGL ALPHABET INC. 1,420.28 -1.09 -0.08%

The lawsuit also alleges that Google changes its privacy permissions without notifying users and that its WiFi settings are misleading because they must be turned off in two separate places to disable location tracking.

Google's Android operating system dominates the smart phone market, and its search engine comprises the overwhelming majority of online searches.

“You can’t escape Google,” Brnovich said.

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE ON FOX BUSINESS

The lawsuit was filed in Maricopa County Superior Court. Large sections are blacked out; Brnovich said state law prohibits him from disclosing some of the information uncovered during a civil investigation until Google has a chance to contest its release.

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Mark Zuckerberg Says Social Media Giants Shouldn’t Be In Position To Fact-Check Users

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said his company’s policies differ from those of Twitter when it comes to fact-checking users.

For the first time, Twitter tagged two of President Donald Trump’s tweets on Tuesday with a fact-checking note indicating that his statements were misleading. Angered over the notes, Trump later accused Twitter of attempting to influence the upcoming 2020 presidential election.

During an interview with Fox News’ Dana Perino, Zuckerberg said he disagreed with Twitter’s policy and said he didn’t believe his own company, Facebook, should be “the arbiter of truth.”

“We have a different policy than Twitter on this,” Zuckerberg told Perino when asked about Twitter’s decision to fact-check Trump.

“I just believe strongly that Facebook shouldn’t be the arbiter of truth of everything that people say online,” he said. “I think in general, private companies probably shouldn’t be — especially these platform companies — shouldn’t be in the position of doing that.”

A preview of Zuckerberg’s interview was published Wednesday and is scheduled to air in full on Thursday.

Trump’s tweets warned, without evidence, of “substantially fraudulent” voting in states that plan to use mail-in ballots this November.

Twitter added this note to Trump’s tweets:

“Trump falsely claimed that mail-in ballots would lead to ‘a Rigged Election.’ However, fact-checkers say there is no evidence that mail-in ballots are linked to voter fraud.”

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey responded to Zuckerberg’s comments later Wednesday, saying Twitter will “continue to point out incorrect or disputed information about elections globally. And we will admit to and own any mistakes we make.”

“This does not make us an ‘arbiter of truth,’” Dorsey wrote. “Our intention is to connect the dots of conflicting statements and show the information in dispute so people can judge for themselves. More transparency from us is critical so folks can clearly see the why behind our actions.”

A Twitter spokesperson told HuffPost that Twitter flagged Trump’s tweets because they contained “potentially misleading information about voting processes and have been labeled to provide additional context around mail-in ballots.”

The fact-checking is part of the company’s new policy of labeling false or misleading information about COVID-19. The company also explained that it may expand the fact-checking to topics beyond the pandemic.

In response to Twitter’s action, Trump threatened on Wednesday to use the power of the federal government to regulate social media companies. The office of the president cannot regulate tech companies without congressional approval or help with the Federal Communications Commission.

“We will strongly regulate, or close them down, before we can ever allow this to happen,” Trump said, accusing social media companies of intentionally suppressing conservative opinions.

“Big action to follow,” he added.

Zuckerberg appeared wary of Trump’s warning and said he didn’t believe further censorship was the appropriate action. 

“I have to understand what they actually would intend to do,” Zuckerberg told Fox News. “But in general, I think a government choosing to censor a platform because they’re worried about censorship doesn’t exactly strike me as the right reflex there.”

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U.S.-China Confrontation Risk Is Highest in the South China Sea

As China and the U.S. trade barbs over everything from trade to Covid-19 to Hong Kong, the two powers are at greater risk of careering into physical confrontation. And nowhere are their warships and fighter jets coming as close to each other, with as much frequency, as the South China Sea.

A military conflict would probably be devastating for both. There are no signs that either side actually wants one. Still, in times of high tension, miscalculations can have unintended consequences.

In the first four months of the year the U.S. Navy conducted four freedom of navigation operations, known as FONOPS, in the South China Sea, which is criss-crossed by competing claims by nations including China, the Philippines, Vietnam and Malaysia. That puts it on track to surpass last year’s total of eight. At the same time, as China emerged from the worst of the coronavirus outbreak, its Navy steamed back out of port in Hainan and resumed drills in the area.

It’s a high-stakes game of cat and mouse between the militaries of two countries with a history of near-misses. With President Donald Trump months from an election, and President Xi Jinping rattling nationalistic cages at home to distract from a wounded economy, the mood is less conducive to the careful diplomacy needed to defuse a standoff at sea. Xi used an address Tuesday to delegates at the National People’s Congress in Beijing to again warn the military to strengthen war preparations.

18,611 in U.S.Most new cases today

-11% Change in MSCI World Index of global stocks since Wuhan lockdown, Jan. 23

-1.​044 Change in U.S. treasury bond yield since Wuhan lockdown, Jan. 23

-4.​8% Global GDP Tracker (annualized), April


“While a premeditated armed conflict between China and the U.S. is a remote possibility, we see their military assets operating in greater regularity and at higher intensity in the same maritime domain,” said Collin Koh Swee Lean, a research fellow at Singapore’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies. “The interactions of these rival assets in the area would create chances of miscalculation and misjudgment leading to inadvertent or accidental use of force, which is thus potentially incendiary and could result in escalation. This is a risk we can’t discount.”

The U.S. and China have been dancing around each other in the South China Sea for years. While the U.S. is not a territorial claimant, the waters are a key thoroughfare for global shipping and trade, rich in fish and with large but mostly unproven energy deposits. The U.S. has supported some smaller states against China’s increased military presence in the area, including its move to build airstrips and land strategic hardware on rocky outcrops and low-lying reefs. Beijing has also in recent times deployed coast-guard vessels decked out with the same level of armory as a standard navy ship to escort its fishing fleets.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper spoke in December of his intention to prioritize the deployment of U.S. forces to the Asia-Pacific region from other areas in the face of growing competition with China. Covid-19 saw exercises scaled down or canceled and the sidelining of aircraft carrier U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt in Guam after hundreds of crew members tested positive for the disease (it has now returned to sea). Still, there remain flashpoints.

Deputy assistant secretary of defense for Southeast Asia, Reed Werner, last week warned of a “very worrisome” trendline during an interview with Fox News, accusing China of the “harassment” of the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer U.S.S. Mustin while it patrolled the South China Sea. He also cited at least nine instances of Chinese fighter jets doing the same to U.S. reconnaissance aircraft.

In an effort to bolster its defense capacity in airspace over the disputed waters, China’s Defense Ministry has said it would formally declare an air defense identification zone after years of attempting -- mostly unsuccessfully -- to force planes from other nations flying in the area to change their course. I’s unclear, though, when this might actually happen.

The U.S. Navy also recently engaged in a standoff with Chinese vessels after twice sending warships on presence operations off the coast of Malaysia, where Chinese ships were shadowing a Malaysian state-contracted drill ship exploring two potentially lucrative energy blocks claimed by both countries. 7th Fleet Commander Vice Admiral Bill Merz said in a statement in mid-May that the U.S. had done so in support of “allies and partners in the lawful pursuit of their economic interests.”

China’s foreign ministry said at the time its survey ship was “conducting normal activities in waters under Chinese jurisdiction” and called the situation “basically stable.” On Sunday, Foreign Minister Wang Yi accused “non-regional countries” of “flexing their muscles” in an effort to sow discord between China and Southeast Asian nations.

Security experts familiar with the Malaysian government’s thinking said officials in Kuala Lumpur expressed concern to the U.S. that its presence would only serve to escalate the matter. A spokeswoman for Malaysia’s Foreign Ministry declined to comment. The U.S. was “clearly sending a signal,” said Bonnie Glaser, director of the China Power Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.


The U.S. Air Force sent two B-1B Lancers on a more than 30-hour round-trip sortie from South Dakota to conduct operations over the South China Sea on April 29, even as it reportedly ended its longtime practice of maintaining a continuous bomber presence in Guam. In an emailed statement, the Air Force said it had “transitioned” to an approach that lets bombers take off from a broader array of overseas locations, making them “operationally unpredictable.”

“I think part of the uptick in U.S. military operations is to make sure that the Chinese don’t miscalculate and think that the United States is unprepared because of the fact that the Theodore Roosevelt has been out of commission sitting in Guam,” said Glaser. “But I also think that it is in response to the increased op-temp by the Chinese.”

There are mechanisms in place to avoid a mishap between the Chinese and U.S. Navy. China, the U.S. and 19 other countries have joined a Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea with a standardized protocol of safety procedures. U.S. Navy officials have said they’ve been communicating more closely with the People’s Liberation Army, and that CUES is working.

Still, it does not cover the coast guard or fishing militias, which are increasingly used by China to assert its claims to more than 80% of the South China Sea.

The “problem is that the incidents we observe in the region aren’t ‘unplanned’ -- in the lead up to these close encounters the rival naval forces at sea already knew each other to be present and they shadow and monitor each other underway, at visual range,” said Koh from the RSIS in Singapore.

There have been tense moments before. In 2001, a Chinese fighter jet collided with a U.S. surveillance plane in international airspace, forcing the U.S. aircraft to make an emergency landing in China and the Chinese jet to crash. In 2016, a Chinese naval ship seized a U.S. Navy underwater research drone in international waters, prompting Trump to accuse China of theft. It was later returned.

Most recently, China’s Defense Ministry said its navy followed and expelled a U.S. guided missile destroyer on April 28, saying it had violated Chinese territory. Under Xi’s watch China has refocused its military from land-based troops to air and sea capability. It commissioned more than two dozen new ships in 2016 and 2017, and said last October the development of a second home-made aircraft carrier was making “steady progress” after floating its first in 2017. In just 15 years, China has doubled its supply of launchers and built weapons that have extended the reach of its conventional warheads to cover most of America’s Western Pacific bases.

“I do worry about this situation,” said Zheng Yongnian, director of the East Asian Institute at the National University of Singapore. “The U.S.-China relationship is in free fall now, pushed by the hardliners from both sides. No doubt, the new Cold War between the two is escalating, and now people begin to worry about the possibility of a hot war, a regional one.”

“Even worse, there is no force to cool them down,” he said. “Nations in Southeast Asia are too small compared to the two great powers.”

The renewed tensions put those smaller Southeast Asian states in a tight spot. Singapore, while not a South China Sea claimant, has long warned against forcing countries to choose a side.

Read more: High-Seas Energy Fight Off Malaysia Draws U.S., Chinese Warships

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc told Vietnam’s National Assembly on May 20 the situation in the South China Sea was becoming “more complicated.” Chinese state news agency Xinhua reported this month that Beijing would “strictly enforce” an annual fishing ban that started on May 1, prompting Vietnam to reject what it called a “unilateral decision.” The Philippines meanwhile has filed diplomatic protests against China’s creation of two new districts in an attempt to administer islands in the waters, its top envoy said.

“Southeast Asia finds itself increasingly in a hardened new Cold War,” said Paul Chambers, special adviser on international affairs at Naresuan University’s Center of Asean Community Studies in Thailand. “The tip of that iceberg is the South China Sea.”

— With assistance by Dandan Li, Samson Ellis, and Anisah Shukry

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Why was Elon Musk's SpaceX Nasa launch cancelled today?

NASA and Elon Musk's SpaceX historic crewed rocket launch from Florida was cancelled minutes before lift-off today.

It was set to be the first manned mission to launch with a US craft from American soil in nearly a decade – ending Nasa's reliance on Russia.

Nasa SpaceX launch today – what is it and why is it important?

Nasa currently sends astronauts into space by piggybacking on launches of Russian Soyuz rockets from an air base in Kazakhstan.

The US space agency last fired one of its own astronauts into space in 2011.

Nasa retired its astronaut-carrying space shuttles that year to make way for a new space exploration program aimed at sending man to asteroids and other deep-space targets.

However, multiple delays to its development schedule have left the space agency without a way to carry out manned space flights for years.

Nasa had hoped to fill the gap with spacecraft launched by private companies such as SpaceX, owned by Musk, and Blue Origin, run by Amazon boss Jeff Bezos.

Nasa astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley made their way to a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at the Kennedy Space Centre on May 27.

The ultimate aim of the mission was to dock a SpaceX craft containing the astronauts on the International Space Station.

They were ferried to the spacecraft on its launchpad in Florida inside a Tesla Model X electric car sporting the Nasa logo.

That's because billionaire SpaceX boss Elon Musk is also CEO of Tesla.

Hurley and Behnken then tooka special elevator up 230ft to a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule atop the awaiting rocket.

The rocket was set to blast into space when the clock hit zero – carrying astronauts into orbit from US soil for the first time since 2011.

Once in orbit, the Crew Dragon capsule carrying Hurley and Behnken would have separated from the rocket booster.

As is customary for SpaceX flights, the booster would then have turned around and returned to Earth so it could be refurbished and used on a future mission.

"Crew Dragon will accelerate its two passengers to approximately 17,000 mph and put it on an intercept course with the International Space Station," Nasa said prior to launch.

"Once in orbit, the crew and SpaceX mission control will verify the spacecraft is performing as intended by testing the environmental control system, the displays and control system and the maneuvering thrusters, among other things."

About 24 hours after launch, Crew Dragon would have been in position to dock with the space station.

It can do this automatically but astronauts have the option to take control themselves if something goes wrong.

"After successfully docking, Behnken and Hurley will be welcomed aboard station and will become members of the Expedition 63 crew," Nasa continued.

"They will perform tests on Crew Dragon in addition to conducting research and other tasks with the space station crew."

The Crew Dragon capsule would have remained docked on the ISS until it was needed to take astronauts back to Earth.

Nasa had not yet selected a date for the return flight.

When was the Nasa/SpaceX flight meant to be?

Demo-2, was set for liftoff from the Kennedy Space Centre in Cape Canaveral, Florida, at 9:33pm BST (4:33 pm ET) on May 27.

A Falcon 9 rocket was set to blast into space from Launch Complex 39a – the same launchpad used during the historic Apollo 11 Moon landings.

The Air Force's 45th Weather Squadron analysed the forecast and gave either a red or green light roughly four hours and 30 minutes before liftoff.

Unfortunately, the event was cancelled due to bad weather, and the mission has been pushed back to May 29.

Demo-2 was live-streamed for free on NasaTV.

Space fans could also watch the launch via the SpaceX website and the firm's official YouTube channel.

We'll are also hosting a stream right here at The Sun.

Why did Nasa cancel the launch?

SpaceX crew mission chief Benji Reed warned the mission could be cancelled at the last minute.

And sadly this turned out to be the case, with the launch cancelled due to bad weather and a high chance of lightning.

Just two hours ahead of launch a tornado warning was issued a stone's throw away from where the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket was scheduled to leave.

"I would expect there to be a very high chance of scrub due to the weather," Reed told Click Orlando last week.

"And given the time of year, it wouldn't surprise me as well."

Human spaceflights are far riskier than cargo-only trips, so weather conditions need to be perfect.

Clear skies and low winds are optimal for a successful launch – and even an emergency "mission abort" requires good weather for a safe splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean.

Nasa keeps track of more than 50 locations across the ocean to ensure a splashdown can be safely performed.

SpaceX said on Tuesday that the weather forecast for launch "is 60 per cent favourable."

In other news, a tropical storm grounded a key SpaceX launch twice last week.

Nasa recently unveiled the Tesla car that will be ferrying astronauts to tonight's historic launch.

And, incredible photos of eerie Martian landscapes have been released online by scientists.

We pay for your stories! Do you have a story for The Sun Online Tech & Science team? Email us at [email protected]

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Bitcoiners Go Wild After Goldman Revives Tulip Mania Comparison

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. just forged a lot of new enemies — in the crypto world.

Buzz that Goldman would release a report discussing the state of the economy as well as gold and cryptocurrencies set enthusiasts ablaze, with many hoping the bank would finally put its weight behind digital tokens. But Goldman disappointed and upset many once details of its report were brought to light, with the bank blasting Bitcoin and other coins as unsuitable investments for its clients.

“We do not recommend Bitcoin on a strategic or tactical basis for clients’ investment portfolios even though its volatility might lend itself to momentum oriented traders,” said the Goldman report, the contents of which were discussed on a call Wednesday featuring the firm’s Jan Hatzius as well as Harvard’s Jason Furman. The report compared Bitcoin’s run to the Tulip mania of the 1600s in the Netherlands, one of the most infamous instances of speculative bubbles.

One by one, Goldman laid out rebuttals against many of the merits frequently cited by crypto evangelists that aim to hold up the superiority of the digital tokens. Cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, are not an asset class — they do not generate cash flow or earnings and do not provide consistent diversification benefits. Nor is there evidence they are an inflation hedge, the report said. While hedge funds might find digital tokens appealing due to their high volatility, that allure alone doesn’t form a viable investment rationale, according to Goldman.

Bitcoin investors often cite its limited supply, capped at 21 million, as a catalyst for an ultimate price surge. But, Goldman said, cryptocurrencies as a whole are not a scarce resource. For instance, some of the largest cryptocurrencies, including the Bitcoin-offshoot Bitcoin Cash, were formed following a programming fork. The bank also cited recent illicit activities tied to cryptocurrencies, including Ponzi schemes, ransomware attacks and money laundering.

Cryptocurrencies are notoriously volatile. Bitcoin has swung around wildly during the coronavirus crash and has since recovered, advancing near 30% this year. However, it’s still down 50% from its record peak reached in late 2017. Goldman in its report highlighted Bitcoin’s extreme volatility, singling out the March 12 session as an example, when the token dropped more than 25% amid a coronavirus-induced selloff.

Bitcoin gained as much as 4.1% to $9,225 in New York trading on Wednesday.

@APompliano

Long Bitcoin, Short the Bankers!3:27 PM · May 27, 2020

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The result of Goldman’s foray into the crypto conversation? A lot of angry advocates.

Crypto evangelists were quick to react to Goldman’s report on Twitter, with many calling it nonsense. Some pointed to other calls Goldman strategists blundered in the past, while others said Wall Street banks were too slow to catch onto the trend. Still others said they were waiting for the Federal Reserve to add Bitcoin to its reserves as a way to hedge against inflation, an argument that’s gained steam in the crypto community amid recent central bank balance sheet expansion.

ICYMI: Crypto Die-Hards Turn Back to Origins With Anti-Inflation Push

Hey @GoldmanSachs, I fixed this for you.
I accept payment in Bitcoin, DM me for my wallet.
3:36 PM · May 27, 2020

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“Goldman Sachs served a cold dish to the crypto community, which was largely expecting them to come out with a bullish call on the world’s number one digital asset,” Mati Greenspan, founder of Quantum Economics, wrote in a note. “Perhaps Goldman is just trying to jawbone Bitcoin to buy more for themselves at a cheaper price. Who knows?”

— With assistance by Lu Wang, and Aoyon Ashraf

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Huawei CFO Loses Bid to End U.S. Extradition Fight in Canada

Huawei Technologies Co. Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou failed to persuade a Canadian judge to end extradition proceedings, keeping her under house arrest in Vancouver as the fight against U.S. efforts to prosecute her moves forward.

The ruling marks an early victory for U.S. authorities but is already further straining relations between Canada and China. A Chinese embassy spokesperson in Ottawa on Wednesday called the case “a grave political incident” and urged Canada to let Meng return to China. Two Canadians, detained within days of Meng’s arrest in December 2018, also remain jailed in China.

Meng, the eldest daughter of Huawei’s billionaire founder Ren Zhengfei, has emerged as the highest-profile target of a broader U.S. effort to contain China and its largest technology company, which Washington sees as a national security threat. The U.S. Justice Department charged her with conspiring to defraud banks by tricking them into conducting transactions that violated American restrictions on selling technology to Iran.

Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes of the British Columbia Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed Meng’s request to throw out the case, ruling that it meets a key test of Canada’s extradition law known as double criminality — or whether the alleged crime in the U.S. would also be a crime in Canada.

Meng, 48, appeared in court Wednesday, dressed in black and wearing a face mask. She had argued that the U.S. was disguising its sanctions-violations allegation as a fraud charge in order to get around the double-criminality rule. Had they taken place in Canada, the banking transactions at issue wouldn’t have violated any Canadian sanctions, they said.

Holmes rejected the argument, saying fraud can be prosecuted in Canada if a U.S. bank was put at economic risk for violating U.S. sanctions.

Meng’s approach “would seriously limit Canada’s ability to fulfill its international obligations in the extradition context for fraud and other economic times,” Holmes wrote. ““For the double-criminality principle to be applied in the manner Ms. Meng suggests would give fraud an artificially narrow scope in the extradition context.

The judge’s decision helps clarify an issue that’s been in the spotlight in Canada because of the Huawei litigation, said Brian Heller, a criminal defense lawyer not involved in the case.

”There was a strong argument to be made by both sides,” Heller said. “It wasn’t a slam dunk. This has been the subject of a lot of analysis and it was a very, very important argument to bring forward.”

For more on the judge in this case, click here.

The U.S. welcomed Holmes’s decision. “The United States thanks the Government of Canada for its continued assistance pursuant to the U.S./Canada Extradition Treaty in this ongoing matter,” a spokesman for the U.S. Justice Department said.

Huawei said in a statement posted on Twitter that the company continues to stand with Meng in her pursuit of justice and freedom. It said it expects Canada’s judicial system will prove Meng’s innocence.

The judge’s ruling doesn’t end Meng’s battle against handover.

She also claims there was an abuse of process when she was arrested in 2018 and has sought additional details from the Canadian government, police and border officials on the circumstances of her detention. The Canadian government claims some documents are privileged and she can’t see them. Her lawyers plan are challenging those claims.

After issuing her decision, Holmes canceled hearings that were scheduled for June and will instead determine a new timetable next week.

Meng faces tough odds. Of the 798 U.S. extradition requests received since 2008, Canada has refused or discharged only eight cases, or 1%, according to the country’s Department of Justice.

The case was triggered when Meng was arrested on a U.S. handover request during a routine stopover at Vancouver airport, a city where she owns two homes and often spent summer holidays.

The U.S. is attempting “to bring down Huawei and other Chinese high-tech companies, and Canada has been acting in the process as an accomplice of the United States,” the Chinese embassy spokesperson said Wednesday. Canada should “not to go further down the wrong path,” the spokesperson said.

In the weeks after her arrest, China put two Canadians — Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig — in jail, halted billions of dollars in Canadian imports and put two other Canadians on death row, plunging China-Canada relations into their darkest period in decades.

Securing the release of the two men remains Canada’s priority, François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Foreign Affairs, said in a statement.

“We will continue to pursue principled engagement with China to address our bilateral differences and to cooperate in areas of mutual interest,” Champagne said.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau — caught between his country’s two biggest trading partners — has resisted any such attempt to interfere, saying the rule of law will govern Meng’s case.

Heller said Holmes’s decision Wednesday appeared to bear that out. “It is another example of our judiciary acting independently and what strikes me as remarkable is China’s apparent belief that, acting as it has, it could somehow influence that outcome,” Heller said.

The pursuit of Meng by U.S. authorities predates the Trump administration: officials had been building a case against her since at least 2013, three years before Trump was elected president.

The U.S. claims Meng lied to banks including HSBC Holdings Plc and tricked them into processing more than $100 million in transactions through the U.S. in breach of sanctions.

— With assistance by Patricia Hurtado, Danielle Bochove, and Kait Bolongaro

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