Google's Alphabet Stocks Rose and Beat Expectations


Alphabet Inc, Google's parent, on Thursday revealed that efforts to push its vast advertising business toward mobile is paying off as second quarter earnings handily beat Wall Street's expectations.

The results put to rest lingering concerns about how the rise of mobile might impact Google, which has a strong mobile presence with its Android smartphone operating system but has long relied on desktop search traffic to power its profits.

Advertisers typically pay less for user clicks on mobile ads than on desktop ads, Google's traditional strength, but the strong earnings performance suggests that is beginning to change, said Colin Gillis, an analyst with BGC Partners.

"They’re doing an excellent job of pulling the mobile landscape through to being more efficient," Gillis said.

Alphabet said revenue grew by 21.3 percent to $21.5 billion, while earnings jumped to $4.88 billion from $3.93 billion for the comparable period a year ago.

The company's shares rose 6.5 percent to $816 in after-hours trading on Thursday.

Robust gains in the red-hot video market also drove the company's growth, Google Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai said during a call with investors. Over the past year, Google, Facebook and Twitter have all doubled down on video, a format where advertisers are willing to pay a premium for a few seconds of users' undivided attention.

Google has used artificial intelligence to improve video recommendations to users, driving more engagement on the site, Pichai said.

"Video is a huge component of digital content, and YouTube continues to shine," he said. "It’s a thriving home for creators."

Google and other tech players are hoping to siphon advertising dollars from traditional television, where advertisers will spend a projected $70.6 billion in the U.S. this year, according to market research firm eMarketer. YouTube is in a prime position to strike, with an audience of more than 1 billion users, including more 18-34 and 18-49 year-olds than any U.S. cable network.

Google  faced heightened pressure to deliver after Facebook, its chief competitor in mobile advertising, reported a 63 percent increase in total advertising revenue on Wednesday, sending its shares to an all-time high.

The rivalry between the companies has intensified as advertisers shift more of their budgets toward mobile. But Google's healthy performance shows there is room for both to thrive in the burgeoning market, said analyst Bob O'Donnell of TECHnalysis Research.

"The back-to-back, stellar earnings by both Google and Facebook highlight the continued growth of online advertising and its impact on more traditional media," he said.

Revenue at Alphabet's Other Bets business rose 150 percent to $185 million, while operating losses widened to $859 million.

The division includes broadband business Google Fiber, home automation products Nest, self-driving cars and X—the research facility that works on "moon shot" ventures.

Alphabet Chief Financial Officer Ruth Porat, widely credited with bringing a culture of greater financial discipline to the company, suggested that she will continue to scrutinize the Other Bets business.

"I’ve commented many times that our focus on long-term revenue growth does not give us a pass on managing expenses," she told investors.

Google's ad revenue rose 19.5 percent to $19.14 billion, while it notched a 29 percent rise in paid clicks, where advertisers pay the company only if a user clicks on the ad.

Google's other revenue surged 33 percent, driven by gains in the cloud computing business, in which Google competes with Microsoft and Amazon to rent computer servers to other companies. Former VMware CEO Diane Greene, who began leading  Google 's cloud business last year, has streamlined engineering efforts and appointed new leadership, helping the company get more traction with clients, Pichai said.

"It's a big set of changes, and it's obviously having an impact," he said.

Although Google continues to expand its advertising business, the falling cost-per-click on advertisements is cause for concern, said analyst Patrick Moorhead of Moor Insights & Strategy.

"Advertisers aren’t willing to pay as much for Google advertising," he said.

Excluding items, Alphabet earned $8.42 per share, beating analysts average estimate of $8.04, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.


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Apple, Facebook and Google Back Away From Travel Ban Legal Challenge


Apple, Alphabet's Google and Facebook are among more than 60 technology companies that appear to have backed away from the legal fight against U.S. President Donald Trump's controversial travel ban, deciding not to put their weight behind a lawsuit seeking to block the second version of his executive order.

A legal brief filed in federal court in Hawaii on Tuesday on behalf of Silicon Valley companies listed the support of 58 companies, less than half the 127 signatories to a similar brief filed in an appeals court last month after Trump's first executive order banning travel from a number of countries the administration said posed a security risk.

Airbnb, Dropbox and Kickstarter are among the companies that did sign the brief.

Major tech companies that signed on to the earlier effort but not this week included Microsoft, eBay, Intel, Netflix and Twitter.

The lawsuit may succeed despite losing the overt support of such big names. U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson in Honolulu on Wednesday ordered an emergency halt to Trump's executive order that aimed to temporarily bar entry to the United States of most refugees as well as travelers from six Muslim-majority countries. The halt is temporary.

Trump says the ban is necessary for U.S. national security, and called Watson's order "unprecedented judicial overreach."

Tech companies, which generally rely on skilled workers from overseas more than other industries, played a large part in the legal effort to halt the first version of Trump's executive order, which was put on hold by a Seattle judge in early February.

It was not immediately clear why fewer of them signed on to the "friend-of-the-court" brief this time around.

Companies will have an opportunity to join the effort as it moves through the court system, said Robert Atkins, a New York lawyer and co-author of the brief. "We do expect the group to expand."

Ride-hailing company Uber was in the process of adding its name, a spokesman said.

Box, a file-sharing service, said that although it did not sign the brief, there had been no change to its position.

A Twitter spokeswoman pointed to past company statements opposing Trump's initial travel ban in January but declined to comment further. A spokeswoman for Facebook declined to comment.

Representatives of Apple, Google, eBay, Intel, Microsoft and Netflix did not immediately respond to requests for comment.


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First Double-Hand Transplant Allows Child to Eat, Dress and Write




An 8-year-old boy is now able to write, eat and get dressed on his own, thanks to a double-hand transplant performed just a few years ago. The case study, published Tuesday in the Lancet Child & Adolescent Health, highlights a procedure performed by a team of doctors at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. The patient—still enjoying the full function of his hands today—is proof that limb transplantation can be safely and successfully conducted on the youngest of patients.

The patient, Zion Harvey, lost his hands after suffering from sepsis that required a double amputation. Doctors said Zion was an especially good candidate for the transplant because he was already taking immunosuppression drugs at the time of the surgery—to prevent the rejection of a donor kidney from his mother.

After the successful 10 hour and 40 minute procedure, Zion experienced some minor setbacks; his body rejected the limbs eight times. With the help of several months of rehabilitative services, including occupational therapy and psychological counseling, Zion slowly made a recovery.

“Hand transplantation is not lifesaving, but for many patients, the improvements in function and quality of life justify the commitment to lifelong immunosuppression and prolonged functional rehabilitation,” the researchers write in the paper. “In children, concerns underlying the risk–benefit balance of hand transplantation are more nuanced than in adults.”

Doctors performed the first successful hand transplant on an adult in 1998. Later, surgeons at a number of medical centers followed the blueprint for the procedure with some refinement.  But it is still viewed as risky. A teenager who received a donor limb experienced a number of complications and died shortly after the surgery.

Zion Harvey is now able to do normal daily tasks, thanks to a double hand transplant he underwent a few years ago. Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

Most children who lose limbs will adopt prostheses. Though these medical devices have become more sophisticated and offer similar functional purposes as a biological limb, many patients—both young and old—don’t always like to use them. Many people find prostheses to be unwieldy, uncomfortable or a source of embarrassment. Sometimes they’re more of a hindrance than a help for getting through the routine tasks of daily life. According to the researchers, the rate of prosthetic limb abandonment is as high as 45 percent—and that figure is likely much higher for kids.

Zion, like many patients who are missing limbs, had already adapted and figured out how to get through some daily tasks using the stubs at the end of his arms. But without fingers and full hands, he couldn’t be fully independent. Before surgery, Zion said he looked forward to doing the same activities of his peers, such as climbing the monkey bars and swinging a baseball bat.

The donor limbs were procured by the hospital through Gift of Life, an organ donation nonprofit organization.

Zion began occupational therapy only six days after his transplant, which included playing with video games and doing finger-strengthening exercises with finger puppets. His doctors noted that slowly the nerves began to grow and reconnect with the transplanted hands. Medical imaging also revealed that his brain had adopted the limbs, developing the neural pathways that are needed for fine motor skills and hand movement.

In the paper, the researchers suggest that conducting limb transplant surgery as early as possible could be most successful because a child's brain is still malleable and much more equipped than adult brains to acquire new skills.

“The loss of opportunity to lay down pathways during crucial periods of development might lead to permanent deficits even when primary inputs are restored—a process that has been best characterized in the visual cortex,” they write in the paper.

Within two months, Zion was able to feel pain sensation in both hands. Within six months he was able to eat and grasp a writing implement with his right hand. Within a year, he was swinging a bat and dressing on his own.

Today, Zion is on four immunosuppression drugs to prevent the threat of subsequent rejections, but his doctors hope to reduce the number in the coming years.


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Adult Friend Finder Hack Will Lead to ‘Domino Effect’

A major data breach to the “sex and swingers” website Adult Friend Finder could trigger a series of follow-on hacks, security researchers have warned.

Up to 412 million accounts have been compromised, according to monitoring firm Leaked Source, exposing the personal details of the site’s users. If confirmed, the breach would be largest known breach of personal data this year.

It is the second time in as many years that Adult Friend Finder has been hacked, following 3.5 million user records being exposed in May 2015. Data reportedly breached in the latest hack includes email addresses, passwords, IP addresses and site membership status.

If Adult Friend Finder users have the same password for multiple sites and online services, criminals could use it to compromise other accounts. Similarly, personal details could be used in phishing campaigns that use such information as bait to trick people into giving up sensitive data.

“With this breach of 400 million accounts we should expect a domino effect of smaller data breaches with password reuse and spear-phishing,” says Ilia Kolochenko, CEO of security firm High-Tech Bridge.

“General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) enforcement will probably help to minimize this type of incident in the future, however it will take some time. Users should keep in mind that everything they post or share online may become public one day. Keep this in mind and it will prevent many bad things from happening online.”

Other experts have criticized the way the personal data was stored, particularly with regards to the importance of password security.

“Storage of clear-text passwords is inexcusable in today’s world,” says Mike Raggo, chief research scientist at social media security firm ZeroFox. “Prompt password changes for the impacted account, and any other accounts the user owns that may use the same password, should all be changed ASAP.”

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How to Watch NASA Broadcast Russia’s Progress 67 Spacecraft Launching and Docking on the ISS



The U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) will provide live video coverage of the launch and docking of a large Russian cargo spacecraft at the International Space Station next week, the agency announced on its website.

The spacecraft will carry a delivery of almost three tons of food, fuel and supplies to the station during what NASA says is "one of the busiest times of vehicle traffic in history." The broadcast will begin early in the morning on Wednesday, June 14.

Russia’s unpiloted Progress 67 cargo ship will launch from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at around 3:20 p.m. local time and is planned to dock to the aft port of the Zvezda Service Module at 7:42 a.m. on Friday.

NASA TV will broadcast footage live from the rendezvous and docking starting 7 a.m. on Wednesday, streaming on the agency’s website. Once the Progress 67 docks at the station, it will remain there for almost six months, after which it will depart in December and deorbit back into the Earth’s atmosphere.

Read more: The Kremlin is eyeing competition with Elon Musk’s SpaceX

Already this month the space station has had a busy time with two spacecrafts arriving on board, one departing and another departing last month. Russian cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy and French astronaut Thomas Pesquet returned to Earth in Kazakhstan on June 1. The most recent traffic to the station was the arrival of a Dragon spacecraft last week, Space.com reports.

After Wednesday’s launch, the station will get a breather until late next month, when on July 28, space agencies will pump fresh blood on board, sending new crewmembers via a Russian Soyuz spacecraft.

One of the lighter examples of innovation coming on board at the station in the near future is crumb-free bread, the New Scientist reports. The bread made of special dough will arrive on aboard next year for the first such time since 1965, when an incident related to smuggling a corned beef sandwich on board NASA’s 1965 Gemini 3 mission threatened to sabotage the spacecraft because crumbs spread through it.


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The 'Second Brain' in Our Bellies and How it Controls Digestion

This article originally appeared on Medical Daily.

We are all familiar with the brain, the organ that controls every function, thought, and reflex in our bodies, but an increasingly large group of researchers have begun to suggest we may have a “second brain.”

The team at ASAP Science in a recent video explain how a group of nerves, known as the enteric nervous system, is located in our gut and controls far more than you might realize.

What makes the enteric nervous system so special is that it controls the entire digestive system, from the esophagus to the anus, and is able to function completely on its own even when completely cut off from the brain. In addition to controlling our digestive system, the enteric nervous system also has a surprising effect on our mood and behavior. Around half of all our dopamine and 90 percent of our serotonin, two hormones associated with good feelings, are produced by bacteria in our gut. In addition, these gut bacteria can also send messages directly to the brain requesting certain types of foods.

"The system is way too complicated to have evolved only to make sure things move out of your colon," Emeran Mayer, professor of physiology, psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles (U.C.L.A.) told Scientific American. Instead, ASAP Science suggests, we developed the enteric nervous system as a way to have a direct line of communication between the brain and gut during our evolution, because what we eat has such a big effect on our survival.

These gut bacteria not only control appetite, they also have an effect on our mood. According to ASAP Science, in some studies, eating yogurt filled with healthy bacteria produced a measurable decrease in individuals' depression and anxiety. In addition, healthy gut bacteria also result in a higher resilience from negative emotions, a trait that makes you more forgiving and social.


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