Connect with us
[adrotate group="1"]


American pair jail over failed Venezuela coup



Image copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

The Venezuelan military said it captured mercenaries after the attempted coup

A Venezuelan court has sentenced two former American soldiers to 20 years in jail for trying to overthrow President Nicolás Maduro.Luke Denman and Airan Berry were found guilty of conspiracy, illicit trafficking of weapons and terrorism.The pair were among 13 people arrested in May as they attempted to enter Venezuela by sea from Colombia. Attorney General Tarek William Saab said proceedings will continue against others accused of assisting the raid.In a tweet, Mr Saab shared images of vehicles, weapons and identity documents, and said the American “mercenaries” had “admitted their responsibility for the facts”.US President Donald Trump, long an opponent of socialist President Maduro, has denied accusations by Venezuela that he was behind the incident. The US backs opposition leader Juan Guaidó and recognises him as the country’s legitimate leader.What is the background to this?Denman, 34, and Berry, 41, are former special forces soldiers who appeared in video shown on Venezuelan state TV earlier this year.In the video, Denman appears to confess to his involvement in “Operation Gideon” – a plot to either kill President Maduro or kidnap him and take him to the United States.

Image copyright

Image caption

President Nicolás Maduro (left) said the plot by Luke Denman and Airan Berry (right) was orchestrated by US President Donald Trump

He explained that he was hired to train Venezuelans in Colombia before returning to Caracas and taking control of an airport to allow Mr Maduro to be taken out of the country.Denman said he and Berry were contracted by a Florida-based security company, Silvercorp USA, to carry out the operation. The firm is headed by Jordan Goudreau, an American military veteran who has openly admitted involvement in the operation.The Washington Post has published a document which it says is a contract between Silvercorp and the Venezuelan opposition worth $213m (£170m) to invade Venezuela and overthrow President Maduro.Opposition leader Juan Guaidó denied having anything to do with Mr Goudreau. Relations between the US and Venezuela are tense. Mr Maduro has accused America of manipulating political opposition to steal the country’s vast oil wealth. America and Mr Guaidó, meanwhile, have blamed the president for Venezuela’s economic collapse.

Read More

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *




Vaccine Tracker

An effective vaccine against the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is everyone’s hope for a real return to normal life. More than 100 teams of scientists around the world are working to develop and test a vaccine against the virus SARS-CoV-2 as quickly as possible. They’re employing a huge variety of strategies and technologies, including some…




An effective vaccine against the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is everyone’s hope for a real return to normal life. More than 100 teams of scientists around the world are working to develop and test a vaccine against the virus SARS-CoV-2 as quickly as possible. They’re employing a huge variety of strategies and technologies, including some that have never been used in an approved vaccine before.

“It’s a very fascinating and kind of impressive effort,” said Dr. Lynora Saxinger, an infectious disease specialist at the at the University of Alberta in Edmonton.
“It’s absolutely crucial.”
Even in countries that have had a devastating number of deaths from COVID-19, there is nowhere close to a level of “herd immunity” within the population preventing the disease from spreading exponentially if we go back to normal levels of social interaction, she said.

How far are we from the first SARS-CoV-2 vaccine?

Typically, it takes an average of more than 10 years for a vaccine to get from pre-clinical development (including animal testing) through three phases of clinical (human) trials to market registration.

The process has been fast-tracked for COVID-19. The first human vaccine trials began in March, just two months after the virus and disease were identified. And different phases of human trials are being run in an overlapping fashion instead of one at time — for example, Phase 2 might begin just a few weeks after the start of a six-month Phase 1 trial.

Still, officials, including the World Health Organization, have reassured the public that no steps will be skipped. That’s why Russia drew fierce criticism when it announced in mid-August that it was granting regulatory approval to a vaccine developed by Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology after less than two months of human testing, with only two incomplete Phase 1 trials registered with the WHO.

Canada has a notably large number of vaccine candidates registered with the World Health Organization — at least eight.

Candidate vaccines in clinical trials

Multiple vaccines on the horizon?

Most vaccine candidates that make it to preclinical testing never make it to market (about 94 per cent fail, a 2013 study found). But in this case, with so many different vaccines under development, there may still end up being multiple vaccines for the coronavirus, possibly using different strategies, Saxinger predicts.

There are a number of potential advantages if that happens:
They’d be using different ingredients and manufacturing facilities and wouldn’t be competing for resources — allowing for more vaccine production.
Different vaccines have different pros and cons. Some vaccines require more doses to be effective than others, while ease of manufacturing, testing and distribution varies.
Some vaccines may be more suitable for some populations than others, due to factors such as age or genetics.
Stephen Barr is associate professor of microbiology and immunology who is part of a COVID-19 vaccine development team at at Western University in London, Ont. He noted that the “best” vaccine in the end may not be best for everybody. “But the second one might be, for those that don’t respond, right? So it’s always good to have these backup vaccines as well or vaccines that can be used in parallel around the world.”

Many teams are working on a COVID-19 vaccine using technologies that have been in development for decades, but have never yet been approved for wide-scale human use, such as DNA, RNA, and viral-vector vaccines. Many of those candidates are considered very promising, garnering huge amounts of funding and billions of preorders from some countries. In August, Canada announced deals to reserve millions of doses of RNA vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer, and also from Johnson & Johnson and Novavax.

Whole virus vaccines

These are the most traditional types of vaccine. They’ve been used for a long time, and most of us have had these kinds of vaccines.

Inactivated virus

In this case, the virus is grown in large quantities in cells, and then killed, often with a chemical, which is usually formaldehyde, but heat or radiation can also be used. Two kinds of flu vaccines are made this way, grown in either chicken eggs or mammalian cells.

Unlike live virus vaccines, it can even be given to people with weakened immune systems.
It doesn’t lead to as strong an immune response as a live virus. Several doses, including boosters at regular intervals, are usually necessary.
It requires the virus to be grown in large quantities and that can take time and may not be as easy to scale up as other kinds of vaccines.

Live, attenuated virus

In this case, viruses are also grown in cells, but instead of being killed they’re genetically “weakened” so they can’t infect cells and reproduce as effectively. Traditionally, this was done by getting the virus to grow in and adapt to an environment different than the one they normally infect. That’s the approach used for vaccines such as varicella (chicken pox) or yellow fever. The SARS-CoV-2 vaccine candidates of this type use a high-tech genetic engineering approach called “codon deoptimization,” where the virus is rebuilt from scratch, incorporating targeted mutations that weaken it. None of these vaccine prototypes for COVID-19 have made it to human trials.

Similar to real infection and usually provides long-lasting protection — sometimes lifelong — after one dose.
May not be suitable for people with weakened immune systems, long-term health problems, or people who’ve had organ transplants.
Live viruses need to be refrigerated, making them more difficult to transport and unusable in countries without access to refrigeration.
The virus must be grown in large quantities. That can take time and it may not be easy to scale up.

Vaccines that target part of a virus

These types of vaccines don’t contain entire viruses. They present parts of viruses, such as proteins or sugars, to your immune system to help it learn to recognize the virus and build an immune response.

In the case of SARS-CoV-2, the part of the virus that’s typically targeted is the spike or “S” protein — the projections on its outer coat that make it look like a crown under a microscope (“corona” means “crown.”) That’s the protein the virus uses to bind to human cells, allowing it to enter.

What varies among different vaccine candidates is the way they make the spike protein and get it into the body — it may be injected directly, transported by a “carrier” virus that doesn’t cause disease, or it may be manufactured by the human body itself using instructions encoded in DNA or RNA.

Virus-like particles

These are a special class of subunit vaccines, where the proteins are self-assembled into artificial particles that are intended to look like viruses to the human immune system. They bind to and enter cells like a virus, which is different from the way individual protein subunits do.

Some vaccines on the market that use VLPs include vaccines for HPV (human papilloma virus) and Hepatitis B.

Produce a stronger immune response than regular subunit vaccines.
Production is much faster than for traditional vaccines.
Ensuring stability and purification can add to production time.
Can be hard to produce in large quantities.

Non-replicating viral vector

Viral vectors are “carrier” viruses that don’t cause the disease you’re vaccinating against, such as COVID-19, but can be engineered to carry a piece of viruses such as SARS-CoV-2. Non-replicating viral vectors are viruses that have been genetically engineered so they can’t replicate and cause disease. Then they’re further modified to produce the protein for the disease you want, such as the coronavirus spike protein, and injected into the body to provoke an immune response.

The viruses used by COVID-19 vaccine candidates include adenoviruses, MVA (modified vaccinia ankara, a weakened pox virus), parainfluenza and rabies.

Generates more powerful immune response than subunit proteins.
Some don’t have to be stored at very low temperatures (according to China-based company CanSino), so they’re viable for use in resource-limited tropical areas.
People who have already been exposed to the viral vector, such as adenovirus, may be resistant.
Harder to scale up than protein or DNA because a virus still needs to be grown.
Because each virus can only infect one cell, large quantities of the virus need to be grown and injected, adding to production time.

Replicating viral vector

These are “carrier” viruses that can replicate in the body, but are either weakened or don’t cause any symptoms in humans. Like non-replicating viral vectors, they’re modified to produce a protein from the virus you want to protect against, such as the spike protein from SARS-CoV-2.

The replicating viral vectors used in COVID-19 vaccine candidates include weakened versions of influenza and measles, as well viruses that cause animal diseases such as horsepox and VSV (Vesicular stomatitis virus).

Closely mimics a real infection and induces a stronger, more widespread immune response.
Because it can replicate, much less virus needs to be injected as a vaccine to induce a good response.
That also means less needs to be grown to produce the vaccine, cutting the cost, time and labour needed compared to whole virus and non-replicating viral vector vaccines.
Requires more testing before approval than protein or nucleic acid-based vaccines, adding to development time.
Needs to be stored and transported at cool temperatures to keep the virus alive, which may make it harder to distribute in warmer parts of the developing world.


With RNA vaccines, what’s injected into the body is simply the genetic instructions to make a viral protein such as the spike protein. Cells in your body then use the instructions to make the protein inside the body for your immune cells to see and respond to.

No virus is needed to make the vaccine, cutting production time compared to conventional vaccines.
Don’t always produce a strong immune response compared to whole viruses, and may require adjuvants.


This is very similar to the RNA vaccines, except that DNA is used instead of RNA. It’s often delivered as a ring of DNA called a plasmid. That enters the cell, and the cell produces the virus protein.

Quick and relatively inexpensive to manufacture in large quantities.
Shelf stable and doesn’t require freezing in storage and transport.
Easy to switch to different gene/virus, and you can combine multiple in single vial.
Requires adjuvants for a good response.

Protein subunit

With this type of vaccine, the protein is made outside the body. Traditionally, this was done by breaking whole viruses into pieces using detergent or a solvent such as ether. However, this can now be done with “recombinant” genetic technology, where the gene for a protein is inserted into another organism to grow the protein in large quantities.

Can be produced more quickly than live vaccines.
Doesn’t generate as strong an immune response as whole virus vaccines.A compound called an adjuvant needs to be included to boost a patient’s immune response.
Can’t be scaled up as quickly as production of RNA or DNA vaccines.

Lots of Canadian candidates

As mentioned earlier, Canada currently has at least seven vaccine candidates under development, with Canadian involvement in the development of some others. Saxinger said that maximizes the impact of the expertise we have, from work on diseases such as Ebola, SARS and MERS.

Developing and producing vaccines here at home could also give Canada more control over when Canadians can get the vaccine, and who can be prioritized, given that there will likely be huge demand for the vaccine from countries around the world.

“I don’t think we want to rely on others, hoping they will remember us,” said Volker Gerdts, director and CEO of VIDO-Intervac at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, one of the Canadian teams developing a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine. The current race for a vaccine underscores why it’s important for countries like Canada to be self-sufficient, he added.

Canadian vaccine candidates

Read More

Continue Reading


Here’s where you can preorder the better-but-cheaper Oculus Quest 2 VR headset – CNET

Facebook If you’ve worn the original Oculus Quest, you probably know that it’s among the best VR experiences money can buy; completely wireless, great visuals and even a controller-free hand-tracking mode, and you’ve been waiting with bated breath for the new Quest 2. If you’re brand-new to VR and the Quest 2 will be your…




If you’ve worn the original Oculus Quest, you probably know that it’s among the best VR experiences money can buy; completely wireless, great visuals and even a controller-free hand-tracking mode, and you’ve been waiting with bated breath for the new Quest 2. If you’re brand-new to VR and the Quest 2 will be your first VR experience, you’re in for a treat. Shaping up to be better (on paper, at least) than the Quest in almost every way — and cheaper to boot — the Quest 2 is likely going to be the new gold standard in VR. And you can preorder it right now.The new Quest’s list of enhancements and upgrades reads like a VR addict’s wish list. First and foremost, perhaps, is the improved resolution. Now with about 2K per eye, the headset has about twice the original headset’s resolution and should go a long way toward mitigating the dreaded “screen door” effect. It has a faster processor, is about 10% lighter, and even is reported to wear more comfortably thanks to a redesigned strap. Want to learn more? Read CNET’s Scott Stein’s deep dive into the new Quest 2. You won’t have to wait long to get a Quest 2. While the original Oculus spent most of 2020 sold out everywhere, the Quest 2 is landing at retail on Oct. 13 for just $299 — an impulse buy if I’ve ever seen one. That’s the 64GB version; you can also get the Quest 2 with 256GB for $399. Here is where you can preorder the Oculus Quest 2 right now so you have it in your hot little hands as quickly as possible. Right now we were able to track down exactly one deal: Get the 256GB Quest 2 bundled with the Elite Strap and Fit Pack for $430 at Costco. That’s a savings of about $60 compared to buying all three items separately. The Elite Strap is an enhanced strap with a wheel that tightens and loosens the fit; the Fit Pack includes a pair of light blockers and two interchangeable facial interfaces for wider or narrower faces.Otherwise, there are no deals to be had here yet, so pick whichever retailer you like best:This article was first published last week. 

Get all the latest deals delivered to your inbox. It’s FREE!

CNET’s deal team scours the web for great deals on tech products and much more. Find more great buys on the CNET Deals page and check out our CNET Coupons page for the latest promo codes from Best Buy, Walmart, Amazon and more. Questions about the Cheapskate blog? Find the answers on our FAQ page.

Continue Reading


All the iOS 14 features your iPhone just got that Android users had first – CNET

Is the new Apple iOS 14 just Android in disguise? Screenshot by Sarah Tew/CNET This story is part of Apple Event, our full coverage of the latest news from Apple headquarters. Apple on Wednesday released iOS 14, the latest version of the operating system that offers the latest features and improvements for your iPhone. The release…




Is the new Apple iOS 14 just Android in disguise?
Screenshot by Sarah Tew/CNET
This story is part of Apple Event, our full coverage of the latest news from Apple headquarters.

Apple on Wednesday released iOS 14, the latest version of the operating system that offers the latest features and improvements for your iPhone. The release follows the company’s September event, where it also announced two new Apple Watches and a revamped iPad Air. The new iOS 14 was among the slew of announcements Apple made in June at WWDC 2020, its annual Worldwide Developers Conference. While many of the iOS 14 features might seem new to iPhone users, those familiar with Android devices could be feeling deja vu. Here’s a list of all the new Apple iOS 14 features that Android already had. 

Now playing:
Watch this:

Top 5 features iOS 14 stole from Android


TranslateiOS 14 has a new Translate app that’s designed for use in real-time conversation. It can translate between 11 languages, including English, Mandarin Chinese, French, German and Korean. As of March 2020, Google’s 14-year-old dedicated translate app could transcribe conversations in eight languages in real time. Apple’s Translate app in iOS 14.
Sarah Tew/ CNET
WidgetsWith the new operating system, the revamped iPhone ($699 at Amazon) and iPad ($270 at Back Market) home screens now include widgets, which let you see information like the weather at a glance. Prior to the announcement at WWDC, iPhone users could only have apps on the iPhone home screen. But widgets, which contain more information and are more functional than app icons, have been a mainstay feature on Google’s Android since its inception in 2008. App Clips in iOS 14.
Sarah Tew/ CNET
App Clips Apple’s App Clips let users preview “small parts” of apps quickly without downloading them. This can come in handy when trying to pay for takeout or parking, since App Clips is compatible with Apple Pay and Sign In with Apple. Google introduced a similar feature, Instant Apps, in 2016. Instant Apps gives apps their own URL so users don’t have to download an entire app for a single transaction, like buying concert tickets for example. 
App LibraryAnother part of Apple’s redesigned home screen is an App Library that organizes your apps into groups and lists. With the new home screen in iOS 14, users can also “hide” apps from their main home screen. This is similar to Android’s app drawer, sans the grouping features.  

Apple Maps cycling directionsThe updated Apple Maps app provides ways to travel in a more eco-friendly fashion in iOS 14 and WatchOS 7. The dedicated Cycling option helps users find bike paths while taking into account elevation, whether the route you take is busy or quiet, and if you’ll encounter any stairs. While Google Maps doesn’t factor in stairs, there has been the option to select “cycling” since 2010. When I tried it on my Pixel 3 ($333 at Amazon), the step-by-step directions offer a look at elevation on a trip, too. Apple’s cycling directions in Apple Maps. 
Screenshot by Sarah Tew/CNET
Picture-in-pictureApple’s new picture-in-picture feature lets users watch a video while using other apps. The video shrinks and be able to float anywhere on the screen. It can also be swiped away and the video’s audio can still play. Android phones already have the ability to float videos over other apps, although the audio doesn’t continue to play if the video is swiped away.Apple’s Wind Down mode in iOS 14. 
Sarah Tew/CNET
Wind Down modeAnother new feature is a Wind Down mode that helps users get ready for bed. The feature, which works for iPhone and Apple Watch ($399 at Apple), lets you set a desired bedtime and wake-up time, and puts your phone into Do Not Disturb mode. There are also options to add shortcuts for meditation or playing relaxing music. Google doesn’t have a dedicated app for this, but there is a way to set up a bedtime routine through the Google Home app.

Now playing:
Watch this:

iOS 14 hands-on preview: Trying out the developers’…


Discover the latest news and best reviews in smartphones and carriers from CNET’s mobile experts.

Continue Reading
error: Content is protected !!