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Virgin Galactic: Rocket reaches space again in test flight

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John Antczak, The Associated Press


Published Friday, February 22, 2019 4:11PM EST

LOS ANGELES — Virgin Galactic’s rocket plane reached space for a second time in a test flight over California on Friday, climbing higher and faster than before while also carrying a crewmember to evaluate the long-awaited passenger experience.

The winged spaceship soared at three times the speed of sound to an altitude of 55.8 miles (89.8 kilometres) before gliding to a safe landing at Mojave Air and Space Port in the desert north of Los Angeles, Virgin Galactic said.

In addition to chief pilot David Mackay and co-pilot Mike “Sooch” Masucci, the crew included Virgin Galactic’s chief astronaut instructor, Beth Moses.

Moses, described as an expert micro-gravity researcher who is in charge of evaluating the passenger cabin, floated free to test elements of the interior.

Virgin Galactic is working toward commercial operations that will take passengers on supersonic thrill rides to the lower reaches of space to experience a few minutes of weightlessness and a view of the Earth below.

The company intends to operate a fleet of spaceships out of Spaceport America in the high desert of southern New Mexico.

The flight was delayed two days due to winds, and company founder Richard Branson tweeted that he had to miss it so he could attend a concert in Colombia to raise money for humanitarian aid to crisis-stricken Venezuela.

“Sad to miss spaceflight but looking forward to the concert,” he wrote.

The spaceship, named VSS Unity, is carried aloft by a special carrier aircraft and released at high altitude where it ignites its rocket. It first reached space on Dec. 13 in a flight to an altitude of 51.4 miles (82.7 kilometres) at slightly less than Mach 3.

Earlier this month, the rocket motor from that flight was donated to the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., and pilots Mark “Forger” Stucky and Rick “CJ” Sturckow were awarded commercial astronaut wings by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The only previous commercial astronaut wings went to pilots Mike Melvill and Brian Binnie, for their 2004 flights in SpaceShipOne, the predecessor to Virgin Galactic’s rocket plane, which is a design called SpaceShipTwo.

A major goal of Friday’s flight was evaluating its handling during descent with its twin tails rotated upward relative to the fuselage.

The “feathered” configuration is used to slow and stabilize the craft as it falls back into the thickening atmosphere. The name came from designer Burt Rutan comparing the mechanism to the feathers of a badminton shuttlecock. The tails rotate back to normal position for the glide to Earth.

Altitude and speed were not specific targets for the flight, Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides said in an interview earlier this week.

“If we have sort of a nominal-duration burn we will get up pretty high, but that is not one of the formal test goals for this one,” he said.

Whitesides indicated that cabin esthetics, including coloration and the play of sunlight across surfaces, are considered important and that the focus on it also shows the program is advancing.

“That’s not to say that we are fully done with vehicle testing, but we really are starting to move into the interiors testing phase, and that’s a really important milestone for the company,” he said.

Whitesides said he could not say how many more test flights remain.

“We’re getting there, I mean we’re making good progress, and I don’t think it’s a huge remaining number now. There’s light at the end of the tunnel now,” he said.

Branson has said he would like to make his first flight to space this summer on the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.

“I think he’d love to fly as soon as possible, and we’d love to figure out ways to enable that to happen,” he said.

But Whitesides could not commit to a date.

Like the December flight, VSS Unity again carried a payload of various experiments organized under a NASA program.

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Wedding attack and tech: How OpenText’s investigations service beats the traditional approach

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At its heart, an investigation is a hunt for relevant facts in order to tell a story — a story that drives strategies for organizations, including law firms.

Tracy Drynan, head of OpenText Recon Investigations — a seamless end-to-end service that helps companies and law firms find evidence for all types of investigations including internal investigations, litigation assessments, compliance and regulatory investigations, c-suite vetting and more — says these stories are a more powerful tool than most people think.

The team led by Drynan arms both in-house and external counsel with the information needed to guide their corporate and outside lawyers with the information needed to guide their clients: an investigation empowers them. What differentiates OpenText Recon is the speed with which the team utilizes specialized tools and workflows to efficiently locate evidence. This approach gains insights into patterns, gaps and relationships in a fraction of the cost of a traditional eDiscovery review, and more quickly gathers the relevant facts to create that critical story.

“Whether it be litigation or a regulatory investigation or an internal audit, often time is of the essence,” Drynan says. “Being able to make decisions that affect your bottom line, your liability, your risks which ultimately challenge your resources, even public opinion, is critical.”

Too often, an archaic model is applied to investigations — one derived when we still existed in a paper society — that analyzes all available information but doesn’t actively hunt for relevant facts, and that produces a disconnect. An efficient model does not need to analyze every piece of information.

“It’s flawed for this reason,” Drynan says. “When you review a set of information, even when you apply advanced analytics and information retrieval science, it is still at the end bucketed for a team to analyze it contiguously. In a way, we are still following the pre-electronic paradigm — we are reviewing almost paper documents one by one, and that unfortunately is handicapping both the talent and the technology in the hunt for the facts.”

While lawyers may make a living hunting facts and building narratives, Drynan would argue their approach could be improved and points out that many of the companies hired by firms to help out during an investigation still apply that outdated model. OpenText Recon breaks that pattern and approaches the hunt differently — they don’t compartmentalize anything, which means the team can identify patterns more easily. Those patterns become the clues, which become the facts, that become the story that allow lawyers to make those critical decisions. The result is not a stack of documents, but a more nuanced report outlining the important facts to analyze.

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Canada takes aim at Netflix, Airbnb in $6.5B big-tech tax plan

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Canada’s federal government is planning to force foreign-based technology firms such as Netflix Inc. and Airbnb Inc. to charge their users a sales tax in a move aimed at boosting the government’s coffers by as much as $6.5 billion over the next five years. 

The new taxation plans, outlined in the government’s Fall Economic Statement, attempt to level the playing field between Canadian companies and foreign-based digital corporations that were largely exempt from paying federal sales taxes. Some provinces — such as Saskatchewan, British Columbia, and Quebec — introduced taxes on streaming services like Netflix earlier this year. 

The government announced Monday that any foreign-based company selling digital products or services to consumers in Canada will be required to collect and remit the Goods and Services Tax or Harmonized Sales Tax. The new tax changes are proposed to begin on July 1, 2021. 

“Canadians want a tax system that is fair, where everyone pays their fair share, so the government has the resources it needs to invest in people and keep our economy strong. That is why we are moving ahead with implementing GST/HST on multinational digital giants and limiting stock option deductions in the largest companies,” said Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland, in prepared remarks. 

“And Canada will act unilaterally, if necessary … to apply a tax on large multinational digital corporations, so they pay their fair share just like any other company operating in Canada.”

Those taxes will include any sales on products or services made through digital marketplace platforms, sales to Canadians of goods that are located in Canadian fulfillment warehouses, as well as any companies whose platforms help to facilitate short-term rental accommodations in Canada. 

However, the new taxation moves wouldn’t see streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon.com Inc.’s Prime Video, Walt Disney Co.’s Disney+, and Spotify Technology SA meet certain Canadian-content requirements, something the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission​ recommended be adopted rather than introduce new tax measures in a wide-ranging report released earlier this year. 

The CRTC estimates that those streaming services record annual revenue of roughly $5 billion, according to its most recent financial data. The federal broadcast regulator said in January that Ottawa should require foreign streaming services to invest in local programming rather than “digital taxes” that would likely get passed down to consumers. 

“It is more appropriate to establish a regime that requires such online streaming services that benefit from operating in Canada to invest in Canadian programming that they believe will attract and appeal to Canadians,” the report said. 

Ottawa will also consider new corporate-level taxes for foreign-owned digital corporations and is working with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development to develop a framework it expects to provide further details on in the next budget. It expects the new measure will result in $3.4 billion in new tax revenue over the next five years once it is introduced sometime in 2022. 

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RevoluGROUP Canada Inc. RevoluPAY To Pursue Dubai Financial Services Authority PSP License

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia(GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — RevoluGROUP Canada Inc. (TSX-V: REVO), (Frankfurt: IJA2) (the “Company”) is pleased to announce that it has dispatched Company advisor Erik A. Lara Riveros to pursue the petition of a Payment Service Provider (“PSP”) Money Service Business License in the Dubai International Financial Centre (“DIFC”) from the Dubai Financial Services Authority.

Corporate Rational For a PSP License in Dubai

In May 2020, RevoluPAY was granted the European PSD2 license. In September, RevoluPAY received Pan-European passporting approval to operate in 27 E.U. countries. The Company has further expanded its international open banking reach through definitive agreements (“DA”) with BBVA, Flutterwave, and Thunes. Additionally, via direct PSD2 SEPA passporting, the Company added sixty-eight countries and territories to its financial operations roster. In November, the Company submitted petitions for both the analogous United States MSB licenses and the Canadian FINTRAC license. The MEASA region of the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia is a significant financial hub that necessitates exposure for both financial operations and a strategic base for the region’s operations. The Company considers the DIFC an excellent regional hub, having introduced robust legislation for payment services providers (“PSP”) like RevoluPAY.

Furthermore, DIFC conveniently fills the timezone gap for a global financial center between London and New York’s leading financial centers in the West and Hong Kong and Tokyo in the East. Company advisor Erik A. Lara Riveros is duly accredited with the Dubai Financial Services Authority, which should aid the Company’s plans to obtain the Dubai PSP license and establish a corporate financial hub in the region. The Company has diligently prepared all required documentation, and Mr. Lara Riveros arrives in Dubai on the 4th of December 2020 to initiate the license petition process. The global operations of RevoluPAY expect to benefit from the multi timezone capability garnered from a supplementary and PSP licensed subsidiary domiciled in the MEASA region.

License Sought in Dubai

The Company intends to pursue the Category 3D license, which covers the following activities, “Providing or Operating a Payment Account, executing Payment Transactions or Issuing Payment Instruments, including creating and maintaining accounts for executing payment transactions, issuance of personalized sets of procedures agreed upon by the users and the provider, for initiation or execution of payment instructions.”

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