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elaine chao

The Trump administration wants to make self-driving cars a reality, and quickly.

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao made a push for the driverless vehicles at Monday’s Concordia Summit in New York City. “We’re being petitioned now by equipment manufacturers and tech companies to redesign the way cars look,” she said. “The cars of the near future won’t have a wheelbase or driver side rear view window, they will look like living rooms.”

Chao explained that while the Department of Transportation is tasked with addressing “legitimate customer concerns of safety, security and privacy,” its ultimate task is to “make sure we’re not hampering this innovation.” Her department will roll out new voluntary guidelines for autonomous vehicles Tuesday in an effort to increase flexibility around limitations on new technologies and to encourage the quick rollout of driverless cars.

The vast majority of car accidents occur due to human error, she said Monday, and automated technology in the car can make driving safer while “giving back freedom to the disabled and enabling the elderly to lead a full life.”

Chao said that her department is partnering with private industry to implement other innovations like Hyperloop and high-speed rail. They’re also looking into “supersonic planes and flying cars.”

The key to these futuristic leaps in transportation and infrastructure, said Chao, is to allow the private sector to invest and innovate.

“The government doesn’t have all the solutions and we welcome responsible partners,” she said. “Unfortunately, many of our states don’t allow the private sector to invest in infrastructure.… But they can be very helpful in terms of partnerships, not just tolled roads. The reality is that we cannot fund $1.5 trillion in direct federal funding, it will increase the deficit dramatically and will squeeze out the private sector.”

A number of Democratic elected officials have fought against partnering with private companies, arguing that this isn’t free money. Companies that invest in infrastructure, they say, want something back in return.

They have also argued that private partnerships could lead to a rise in cronyism. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in February that this kind of partnership would lead to Trump creating “a plan to appease his political allies, not to rebuild the country,” and that these companies would levy “Trump tolls” throughout the U.S.

Chao dismissed these concerns Monday. “Some people in Congress have a distrustful view of the private sector,” she said. “Those in the private sector should help to educate these lawmakers on public-private partnerships.”


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9-year-old genius to graduate university




Laurent Simons

(CNN) – A child prodigy from Belgium is on course to gain a bachelor’s degree at the tender age of 9.

Laurent Simons is studying electrical engineering at the Eindhoven University of Technology (TUE) — a tough course even for students of an average graduate age.

Described by staff as “simply extraordinary,” Laurent is on course to finish his degree in December.

He then plans to embark on a PhD program in electrical engineering while also studying for a medicine degree, his father told CNN.

His parents, Lydia and Alexander Simons, said they thought Laurent’s grandparents were exaggerating when they said he had a gift, but his teachers soon concurred.

“They noticed something very special about Laurent,” said Lydia.

Laurent was given test after test as teachers tried to work out the extent of his talents. “They told us he is like a sponge,” said Alexander.

While Laurent comes from a family of doctors, his parents have so far not received any explanation as to why their child prodigy is capable of learning so quickly.

But Lydia has her own theory.

“I ate a lot of fish during the pregnancy,” she joked.

The TUE has allowed Laurent to complete his course faster than other students.

“That is not unusual,” said Sjoerd Hulshof, education director of the TUE bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, in a statement.

“Special students that have good reasons for doing so can arrange an adjusted schedule. In much the same way we help students who participate in top sport.”

Hulshof said Laurent is “simply extraordinary” and praised the youngster.

“Laurent is the fastest student we have ever had here,” he said. “Not only is he hyper intelligent but also a very sympathetic boy.”

Laurent told CNN his favorite subject is electrical engineering and he’s also “going to study a bit of medicine.”

His progress has not gone unnoticed and he is already being sought out by prestigious universities around the world, although Laurent’s family wouldn’t be drawn on naming which of them he is considering for his PhD.

“The absorption of information is no problem for Laurent,” said his father.

“I think the focus will be on research and applying the knowledge to discover new things.”

While Laurent is evidently able to learn faster than most, his parents are being careful to let him enjoy himself too.

“We don’t want him to get too serious. He does whatever he likes,” said Alexander. “We need to find a balance between being a child and his talents.”

Laurent said he enjoys playing with his dog Sammy and playing on his phone, like many young people.

However, unlike most 9-year-olds, he has already worked out what he wants to do with his life: develop artificial organs.

In the meantime, Laurent has to finish his bachelor’s degree and choose which academic institution will play host to the next stage in his remarkable journey.

Before that, he plans on taking a vacation to Japan for an undoubtedly well-deserved break.

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New award to honor arts and activism named after Lena Horne




Lena Horne

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Gang members slam BMW into rival and his 8-year-old son in Harlem




Gang members slam BMW into rival and his 8-year-old son in Harlem

Two gangbangers aimed their BMW like a missile at a father and his 8-year-old son on a Harlem sidewalk in a horrifying incident captured by video distributed by police Thursday.

The BMW — driven by a man police believe is a member of the Gorilla Stone Bloods Gang — was zeroed in on the father, a rival gang member, said cops.

Around 3:45 p.m. Nov. 6, the boy and his father were walking on W. 112th St. by Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd. when the BMW jumped the sidewalk and slammed into them both, said cops.

Father and son were both knocked through a gate.

The BMW driver then backed up — and its driver and passenger, also believed to be a gang member, jumped out of the car and ran toward the father and the son.

One of the attackers slashed the father, identified by sources as 32-year-old Brian McIntosh, who’s served prison time for robbery and bail jumping.

McIntosh and his son went to Harlem Hospital. Miraculously, the boy escaped serious harm.

McIntosh was so adamant about refusing to help police catch his attackers that the young boy’s mother had to file a police report alleging he was the victim of a crime, police sources said.

Cops released video of the attack, and ask anyone with information about the suspects to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS.


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