Tuesday, November 18, 2014

#1 skateboarder Tony Hawk test-rides first real hoverboard (VIDEO)

Millions of Back to the Future fans are hovering in excitement as number one skateboarder Tony Hawk has ditched his traditional set of wheels for a magnetic field to get a chance to test ride the world’s first real hoverboard.

A hoverboard imagined in the classic Back to the Future trilogy in the late 1980s and created a herd of fans who chased after the idea of being suspended by a physical force against gravity.

READ MORE: McFlying out the door? ‘Back to the Future’-style hoverboard comes to life

Now, without the use of any special effects, The RIDE Channel's Dave Carnie and Tony Hawk tested out the new technological marvel at Hendo company lab in in Los Gatos, California.

Testing out the 18th prototype of the Hendo Hoverboard, the world champion, Hawk glided about 1 inch above Earth's surface.

“The thing is really hard to ride. Even Tony had a lot of difficulty trying to figure it out,” Carnie wrote in an article in Ride Chanel about the experience. “The expression on his face was priceless. The great Tony Hawk was confused. I could tell what he was thinking: ‘I'm a skateboarder. I ride skateboards. I ride surfboards, snowboards, skimboards. Why can't I ride this board?’”

The magic behind the hoverboard relies on specially designed four disc-shaped hover engines with opposing magnetic field that provides the lift.

“While our hoverboard is primarily intended to be self-propelled, the actions which stabilize it can also be used to drive it forward by altering the projected force on the surface underneath it,” Hendo said.

The first 10 hoverboards with a price tag of $10,000 have been sold out before the release. But Hendo offers a developer kit so that anyone can make their own hoverboard for a fraction of the cost.

Arx Pax, the 20-person start-up beneath the board launched a Kickstarter campaign so that board call roll (or levitate) out into full scale production. It has already raised almost two times its original $250,000 goal with over three weeks remaining till the end of the campaign.

Here's what it's like to ride the world's first working hoverboard @BI_Video

India quarantines Ebola survivor over virus traces in semen samples

A man who had been cured of Ebola but continued to show traces of virus in his semen upon his arrival in India has been isolated, as authorities are not willing to take a risk of possible sexual transmission within 90 days from clinical cure.

A 26-year-old Indian man who was declared free from Ebola in Liberia is now in isolation at the New Delhi airport even after being declared Ebola free under World Health Organization's standards, India's Health Ministry has announced.

“It is a known fact that during convalescence from Ebola Virus Disease, persons continue to shed virus in body fluids for variable periods. However, presence of virus in his semen samples may have the possibility of transmitting the disease through sexual route up to 90 days from time of clinical cure,” a ministry statement reads.

AFP Photo/Sajjad HussainAFP Photo/Sajjad Hussain

Authorities announced that an unnamed Indian male was quarantined after arriving in Indian from Liberia on 10th November. At the airport screening he produced a medical clearance certificate from the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, Government of Liberia stating that “he has successfully undergone care and treatment related to Ebola Virus Disease and after post treatment assessment he has been declared free of any clinical signs and symptoms and confirmed negative by laboratory analysis.”

As a matter of precaution, medical staff at the airport conducted three blood samples that were sent out to the National Centre for Disease Control, Delhi. All three came back negative for Ebola, conforming to World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines. But fearing that “the virus may continue to be positive in secretions like urine and semen for a longer time,” medical staff decided to test his bodily fluids.

AFP Photo/Sajjad HussainAFP Photo/Sajjad Hussain

“His semen sample tested at National Centre for Disease Control on 17th November, 2014 was found positive for Ebola Virus by RT-PCR. The tests for semen samples repeated at National Institute of Virology, Pune, on 17th November, 2014 also tested positive,” the ministry said.

Authorities note that currently the man is not experiencing any symptoms of the disease but will be kept under isolation until “his body fluids test negative and he is found medically fit to be discharged.”

“This would rule out even the remote possibility of spread of this disease by the sexual route,” authorities concluded.

Some experts however said the Indian authorities overreacted as the risk of sexual transmission was only theoretical. “It does seem a rather strong reaction to an individual situation,” Andrew Easton, a professor of virology at the University of Warwick in the UK, told Bloomberg, adding that using a condom would be an acceptable way to reduce transmission risk as per WHO standards.

The Ebola outbreak has killed at least 5,177 people, mostly in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, according to the latest figures from the WHO. There have been no Ebola cases reported in India but there are fears that an outbreak could eventually spread as an estimate 45,000 Indian nationals are currently living in West Africa.

Pakistan Taliban splinter group pledges support to Islamic State

Seeing the Western world as a common enemy, extremist groups around the world continue uniting under the umbrella of the Islamic State, whose military and business successes are inspiring affiliates to pledge their allegiance to the “caliphate.”

As part of the latest additions of the support for the Islamic State, Jundallah, a Pakistani Islamist militant group associated with the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), vowed allegiance to ISIS after a meeting with a three-man delegation from the group.

“They (Islamic State) are our brothers, whatever plan they have we will support them,” Jundullah spokesman Fahad Marwat told Reuters.

Last month five Pakistani Taliban commanders pledged their support for ISIS cause. Reuters reports citing security officials on the ground that IS is also seeking the support of Pakistani group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ).

“The top leadership of LeJ visited Saudi Arabia and met Islamic State leaders at an undisclosed location at the Saudi-Iraq border,” one militant told Reuters, clarifying that the meeting took place more than a year ago.

Reuters / Yaser Al-KhodorReuters / Yaser Al-Khodor

At the same time, Pakistan’s extremist supporters are split on whether or not to back Afghan Taliban and al-Qaeda-linked leader Mullah Omar or ISIS that has broken away from al-Qaeda in February.

“All anti-Shi'ite groups in Pakistan will welcome and support IS in Pakistan, though most of them will not announce it openly due to their allegiance to Mullah Omar,” one official told the agency.

Hundreds of Pakistani militants are believed to have joined the ranks of IS in Iraq and Syria, after in June the Islamic State proclaimed a caliphate under the leadership of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

In July 2014, Nigeria's Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau declared support for the new caliphate and al-Baghdadi. From there, the support for IS's cause began to grow, even Muslim militant guerrillas, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and the Abu Sayyaf rebels in the Philippines have pledged their support to the Islamic State organization.

And as their support grows, so is IS’ territorial ambitions. Last week, al-Baghdadi released an audio-recording in which he announced “the expansion of the Islamic State to new countries, to the countries of the Haramayn [Saudi Arabia], Yemen, Egypt, Libya [and] Algeria.”

READ MORE: ISIS has 200,000-strong force, says Kurdish leader

Earlier this week a senior Iraqi Kurdish leader told the UK Independent that ISIS/ISIL militants have an army of about 200,000 fighters, over six times larger than previous CIA estimates. In September, the CIA said ISIS numbers which the agency calculated at the movement numbered between 20,000 and 31,500 fighters.

“I am talking about hundreds of thousands of fighters because they are able to mobilize young Arab men in the territory they have taken,” Fuad Hussein, the chief of staff of Iraqi Kurdish President Massoud Barzani said claiming that the territory under IS control is roughly the size of the UK.

READ MORE: ISIS sells stolen Kirkuk oil at $20 per barrel - Iraq Finance Ministry

Legal marijuana is ‘inevitable,’ says California attorney general

California Attorney General Kamala Harris may have won re-election in the state last month by beating the pro-weed Republican candidate Ron Gold, but recently she said she has no “moral opposition” to marijuana and is “not opposed” to legalizing the drug.

In fact, Harris said she thinks the idea of legalizing the drug has a “certain inevitability” about it. She didn’t go as far as endorsing legalization, though, adding that she does have concerns over the law enforcement implications of legalization.

"I am not opposed to the legalization of marijuana. I'm the top cop, and so I have to look at it from a law enforcement perspective and a public safety perspective,” Harris told Buzzfeed News in an interview. “I think we are fortunate to have Colorado and Washington be in front of us on this and figuring out the details of what it looks like when it’s legalized.”

READ MORE: Colorado edible marijuana task group stalls over ‘clearly identifiable’ labels

Of course, Colorado and Washington were the first two states to legalize the recreational use of marijuana, but the idea has been gaining traction in other states as well. During the recent midterm elections, voters in Oregon approved a measure to allow adults over 21 to possess, manufacture and sell pot, while Alaskan voters chose to allow it to be regulated like alcohol with a state board. Nearly 70 percent of voters in Washington, DC, meanwhile, chose to legalize the possession of two ounces of marijuana for adults over 21, as well as the cultivation of plants at home.

In California, advocates are hoping to place a legalization initiative on the ballot in 2016. Medical marijuana has been legal in the state since 1996, but recreational use is still prohibited.

“We're watching it happen right before our eyes in Colorado and Washington. I don't think it’s gonna take too long to figure this out,” Harris said to Buzzfeed. “I think there's certain inevitability about it."

She added that the details of legalization matter and points to the debate underway in Colorado about a system for edibles.

READ MORE: Aim High: Marijuana legalization puts US military in a pickle

“There are real issues for law enforcement, [such as] how you will measure someone being under the influence in terms of impairment to drive,” Harris said. “We have seen in the history of this issue for California and other states; if we don’t figure out the details for how it’s going to be legalized the feds are gonna come in, and I don’t think that’s in anyone’s best interest.”

In Colorado, government officials have considered a ban on edible marijuana products currently sold on the market, though the proposal was quickly disavowed recently by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment after much backlash. Last month, the Denver Police Department released a public service announcement around Halloween warning parents to keep an eye out for pot-infused treats.

This week, the task group debating the labeling of marijuana-infused products failed to reach a consensus during its final meeting. Instead, regulators have decided to send lawmakers several proposals, meaning the final decision will be made by the state legislature.