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North Korea Now Making Missile-Ready Nuclear Weapons, US Analysts Say
Posted by News Fetcher on August 08 '17 at 01:53 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's nuclear-powers department:
schwit1 shares a report from The Washington Post: North Korea has successfully produced a miniaturized nuclear warhead that can fit inside its missiles, crossing a key threshold on the path to becoming a full-fledged nuclear power, U.S. intelligence officials have concluded in a confidential assessment. The new analysis completed last month by the Defense Intelligence Agency comes on the heels of another intelligence assessment that sharply raises the official estimate for the total number of bombs in the communist country's atomic arsenal. The U.S. calculated last month that up to 60 nuclear weapons are now controlled by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Some independent experts believe the number of bombs is much smaller. "The IC [intelligence community] assesses North Korea has produced nuclear weapons for ballistic missile delivery, to include delivery by ICBM-class missiles," the assessment states, in an excerpt read to The Washington Post. "It is not yet known whether the reclusive regime has successfully tested the smaller design, although North Korea officially last year claimed to have done so," reports The Washington Post.

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Mazda Announces Breakthrough In Long-Coveted Engine Technology
Posted by News Fetcher on August 08 '17 at 01:53 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's efficiency-gains department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: Mazda Motor Corp said it would become the world's first automaker to commercialize a much more efficient petrol engine using technology that deep-pocketed rivals have been trying to engineer for decades, a twist in an industry increasingly going electric. The new compression ignition engine is 20 percent to 30 percent more fuel efficient than the Japanese automaker's current engines and uses a technology that has eluded the likes of Daimler AG and General Motors Co. Mazda, with a research and development (R&D) budget a fraction of those of major peers, said it plans to sell cars with the new engine from 2019. A homogeneous charge compression ignition (HCCI) engine ignites petrol through compression, eliminating spark plugs. Its fuel economy potentially matches that of a diesel engine without high emissions of nitrogen oxides or sooty particulates. Mazda's engine employs spark plugs under certain conditions, such as at low temperatures, to overcome technical hurdles that have hampered commercialization of the technology.

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US To Review Qualcomm's Complaints About Apple iPhone Patents
Posted by News Fetcher on August 08 '17 at 12:33 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's justice department:
U.S. trade officials have agreed to investigate Qualcomm's allegations that Apple Inc infringed on patents with its iPhone7 and other devices, the U.S. International Trade Commission said on Tuesday. From a report: The ITC will make its decision "at the earliest practicable time" and will set a target date for completing its investigation within the next 45 days, the commission said in a statement. Qualcomm filed the complaint in early July, asking U.S. trade regulators to ban certain models of the iPhone that contain so-called broadband modem chips, which help phones connect to wireless data networks, that were not made by Qualcomm. Apple began using broadband modem chips made by Intel Corp in the iPhone 7. Qualcomm has not alleged that Intel chips violate its patents but says the way Apple uses them in the iPhone does.

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Intel's 8th-Gen 'Coffee Lake' Core CPUs Will Be Revealed During the Great American Eclipse
Posted by News Fetcher on August 08 '17 at 12:33 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's competition-heating-up department:
Brad Chacos, writing for PCWorld: Intel's response to AMD's disruptive Ryzen processors is soon to get its time in the sun. Well, sort of. On Tuesday, Intel announced plans to livestream the launch of its 8th-generation "Coffee Lake" processors on August 21 -- the same day that the great American solar eclipse casts its shadow across the United States. Intel's throwing shade. Eighth-gen Coffee Lake chips will be built using a revised version of Intel's 14nm process technology for an unprecedented fourth time, following in the footsteps of Broadwell, Skylake, and Kaby Lake architectures. You'll probably also need a new motherboard to use them. But most notably, Intel claims 8th-gen Core chips will be up to 30 percent faster than today's Kaby Lake processors in some applications. Intel chips haven't seen a performance leap like that in years. Beyond that, little is officially known about Coffee Lake, though the churning internet rumor mill thinks that Intel will up the core counts this time around to combat the threat of Ryzen.

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Top VPN Provider Accused of Sharing Customer Traffic With Online Advertisers
Posted by News Fetcher on August 08 '17 at 11:13 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's smells-fishy department:
Catalin Cimpanu, reporting for BleepingComputer: On Monday, the Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT) -- a US-based privacy group -- filed a complaint with the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) accusing one of today's largest VPN providers of deceptive trade practices. In a 14-page complaint, the CDT accuses AnchorFree -- the company behind the Hotspot Shield VPN -- of breaking promises it made to its users by sharing their private web traffic with online advertisers for the purpose of improving the ads shown to its users. In its complaint to the FTC, the CDT is not accusing Anchor Free of secretly injecting ads, as users are well aware of this practice, but of not respecting promises made to its customers. More specifically, the CDT says that AnchorFree does not respect a pledge made in marketing materials that it won't track or sell customer information.

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Nissan Won't Build Its Own Electric Car Batteries Anymore
Posted by News Fetcher on August 08 '17 at 11:13 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's giving-up department:
An anonymous reader shares a report: Balancing every single task by oneself, instead of getting some help, can break a person down in record time. That's likely why Nissan has decided to step away from manufacturing batteries for its electric vehicles. Nissan announced on Tuesday that it would sell its battery-manufacturing subsidiary, Automotive Energy Supply Corporation (AESC), to the Chinese investment firm GSR Capital. "This is a win-win for AESC and Nissan. It enables AESC to utilize GSR's wide networks and proactive investment to expand its customer base and further increase its competitiveness," said Hiroto Saikawa, president and CEO of Nissan, in a statement. "In turn, this will further enhance Nissan's EV competitiveness. AESC will remain a very important partner for Nissan as we deepen our focus on designing and producing market-leading electric vehicles."

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Is this the End of Typing? The Internet's Next Billion Users Want Video and Voice
Posted by News Fetcher on August 08 '17 at 11:13 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's next-billion-users department:
An anonymous reader shares a WSJ article: The internet's global expansion is entering a new phase, and it looks decidedly unlike the last one. Instead of typing searches and emails, a wave of newcomers -- "the next billion," the tech industry calls them -- is avoiding text, using voice activation and communicating with images. They are a swath of the world's less-educated, online for the first time thanks to low-end smartphones, cheap data plans and intuitive apps that let them navigate despite poor literacy. Incumbent tech companies are finding they must rethink their products for these newcomers and face local competitors that have been quicker to figure them out. "We are seeing a new kind of internet user," said Ceasar Sengupta, who heads a group at Alphabet's Google trying to adapt to the new wave. "The new users are very different from the first billion." A look at Megh Singh's smartphone suggests how the next billion might determine a new set of winners and losers in tech. Mr. Singh, 36, balances suitcases on his head in New Delhi, earning less than $8 a day as a porter in one of India's biggest railway stations. He isn't comfortable reading or using a keyboard. That doesn't stop him from checking train schedules, messaging family and downloading movies. "We don't know anything about emails or even how to send one," said Mr. Singh, who went online only in the past year. "But we are enjoying the internet to the fullest." Mr. Singh squatted under the station stairwell, whispering into his phone using speech recognition on the station's free Wi-Fi. It is a simple affair, a Sony Corp. model with 4GB of storage, versus the 32GB that is typically considered minimal in the developed world. On his screen are some of the world's most popular apps -- Google's search, Facebook's WhatsApp -- but also many that are unfamiliar in the developed world, including UC Browser, MX Player and SHAREit, that have been tailored for slow connections and skimpy data storage.

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David Letterman Returning to TV With Netflix Talk Show
Posted by News Fetcher on August 08 '17 at 11:13 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's thanks-dave department:
Lesley Goldberg, writing for The Hollywood Reporter: Two years after signing off CBS' The Late Show, David Letterman is returning to the small screen. The longest-serving host in U.S. late-night TV history is set to topline a new talk show for Netflix. The untitled six-episode series will premiere in 2018. Unlike The Late Show, each hourlong episode of the Netflix series will be prerecorded and feature Letterman conducting longform conversations with a singular guest as well as exploring topics on his own -- outside of the studio. A guest list has not yet been revealed. "I feel excited and lucky to be working on this project for Netflix. Here's what I have learned, if you retire to spend more time with your family, check with your family first. Thanks for watching, drive safely," Letterman said.

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Indian ISPs Appear To Be Blocking Access To Internet Archive
Posted by News Fetcher on August 08 '17 at 11:13 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's censorship department:
An anonymous reader writes: Several Internet service providers in India have blocked access to Internet Archive -- a non-profit organisation that runs Wayback Machine, a massive archive of webpages dating back to over a decade -- Indian outlet NDTV reported Tuesday. Some subscribers of Airtel, Aircel, and Act Internet, among other carriers, are seeing a DoT notification when they attempt to access Internet Archive. The notification reads, 'Your requested URL has been blocked as per the directions received from Department of Telecommunications, Government of India.' Popularly known as time-warping tool, Internet Archive's Way Back Machine has made copies of over three billion pages over the years. In the age of ephemeral media, Way Back Machine has become a cultural phenomenon, serving as a permanent registrar of popular websites and other webpages.

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IBM Claims Big Breakthrough in Deep Learning
Posted by News Fetcher on August 08 '17 at 08:31 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's 'breakthrough' department:
The race to make computers smarter and more human-like continued this week with IBM claiming it has developed technology that dramatically cuts the time it takes to crunch massive amounts of data and then come up with useful insights. From a report: Deep learning, the technique used by IBM, is a subset of artificial intelligence (AI) that mimics how the human brain works. IBM's stated goal is to reduce the time it takes for deep learning systems to digest data from days to hours. The improvements could help radiologists get faster, more accurate reads of anomalies and masses on medical images, according to Hillery Hunter, an IBM Fellow and director of systems acceleration and memory at IBM Research. Until now, deep learning has largely run on single server because of the complexity of moving huge amounts of data between different computers. The problem is in keeping data synchronized between lots of different servers and processors In it announcement early Tuesday, IBM says it has come up with software that can divvy those tasks among 64 servers running up to 256 processors total, and still reap huge benefits in speed. The company is making that technology available to customers using IBM Power System servers and to other techies who want to test it.

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Game of Thrones Hackers Demand Ransom
Posted by News Fetcher on August 08 '17 at 08:31 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's privacy-woes department:
An anonymous reader shares a report: Hackers who have leaked Game of Thrones scripts and other data from entertainment company HBO have released a note demanding a ransom payment. In a new dump, they also published a script for the as yet unbroadcast fifth episode of the current series. Company documents and video episodes of other HBO shows were also shared. The hackers claim to have 1.5TB of data in total, but HBO has said it does not believe its email system has been compromised. Documents in the latest leak were marked "HBO is falling," according to the Wired news site, and included legal information, employment agreements and other company files. The Associated Press reports that some documents appeared to contain personal contact information for Game of Thrones actors.

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Firefox 55 Arrives With WebVR on Windows, Performance Panel, and Click-to-Play Flash
Posted by News Fetcher on August 08 '17 at 07:11 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's browser-updates department:
Mozilla today made available a new update to Firefox for Windows to introduce support for WebVR, that the company says, will enable desktop VR users to dive into web-based experiences with ease. Firefox 55 also includes performance panel, faster startup when restoring multiple tabs, a quicker way to search across various search engines, and click-to-play Flash by default. From a report: WebVR is an experimental JavaScript API that provides support for virtual reality devices, such as the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and Google Cardboard. As its name implies, the technology is meant for browsers. If you find a web game or app that supports VR, just click the VR goggles icon visible on the web page to experience it using your VR headset. WebVR supports navigating and controlling VR experiences with handset controllers or your movements in physical space. [...] Firefox 55 also allows users to adjust the number of processes and how much resources they want to allocate to any of them. This setting is at the bottom of the General section in Options. In fact, if your computer has more than 8GB of RAM, Mozilla recommends "bumping up the number of content processes that Firefox uses" because it will make Firefox faster, though at the expense of using more memory. In its own tests on Windows 10, the company found that Firefox uses less memory than Chrome, even with eight content processes running.

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Google's Other Ugly Secret: Some Managers Keep Blacklists
Posted by News Fetcher on August 08 '17 at 07:11 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's other-problems department:
Last week a controversial internal memo written by a concerned Google employee was going viral within the company. The memo, titled "PC Considered Harmful" and since dubbed "the Google manifesto" on social media, argued two points: First, that Google has become an ideological echo chamber where anyone with centrist or right-of-center views fears to speak their mind. Second, that part of the tech industry's gender gap can be attributed to biological differences between men and women. The person who wrote the memo has since been fired, but the internal tussle has revealed one more thing. The Inc reports: The contentious internal discussion revived a concern dating back to 2015: An unknown number of Google managers maintain blacklists of fellow employees, evidently refusing to work with those people. The blacklists are based on personal experiences of others' behavior, including views expressed on politics, social justice issues, and Google's diversity efforts. Inc. reviewed screenshots documenting several managers attesting to this practice, both in the past and currently, explicitly using the term "blacklist." The screenshots were shared by a Google employee who requested anonymity due to having signed an NDA. In additional screenshots, one Google employee declared his intent to quit if Damore were not fired, and another said that he would refuse to work with Damore in any capacity. A Google spokesperson told Inc. that the practice of keeping blacklists is not condoned by upper management, and that Google employees who discriminate against members of protected classes will be terminated. It's not clear whether that principle applies in Damore's case. Although political affiliation is a protected class according to California labor law, the views expressed in the manifesto and echoed by others who oppose political correctness do not seem to merit legal protection.

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Forget the Russians: Corrupt, Local Officials Are the Biggest Threat To Elections
Posted by News Fetcher on August 08 '17 at 05:50 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's local-level department:
chicksdaddy writes: Do you think that shadowy Russian hackers are the biggest threat to the integrity of U.S. elections? Think again. It turns out the bad actors in U.S. elections may be a lot more "Senator Bedfellow" than "Fancy Bear," according to Bev Harris, the founder of Black Box Voting. "It's money," Harris told The Security Ledger. "There's one federal election every four years, but there are about 100,000 local elections which control hundreds of billions of dollars in contract signings." Those range from waste disposal and sanitation to transportation."There are 1,000 convictions every year for public corruption," Harris says, citing Department of Justice statistics. "Its really not something that's even rare in the United States." We just don't think that corruption is a problem, because we rarely see it manifested in the ways that most people associate with public corruption, like violence or having to pay bribes to receive promised services, Harris said. But it's still there. How does the prevalence of public corruption touch election security? Exactly in the way you might think. "You don't know at any given time if the people handling your votes are honest or not," Harris said. "But you shouldn't have to guess. There should be a way to check." And in the decentralized, poorly monitored U.S. elections system, there often isn't. At the root of our current problem isn't (just) vulnerable equipment, it's also a shoddy "chain of custody" around votes, says Eric Hodge, the director of consulting at Cyber Scout, which is working with the Board of Elections in Kentucky and in other states to help secure elections systems. That includes where and how votes are collected, how they are moved and tabulated and then how they are handled after the fact, should citizens or officials want to review the results of an election. That lack of transparency leaves the election system vulnerable to manipulation and fraud, Harris and Hodge argue.

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Massive Solar Plant In the Sahara Could Help Keep the EU Powered
Posted by News Fetcher on August 08 '17 at 03:10 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's juiced-up department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Digital Trends: In the global race to ditch fossil fuel reliance for more renewable energy sources, Europe is already making some impressive strides. That is likely to ramp up considerably thanks to a new European Union plan to build a large solar plant in the Sahara desert -- with the ability to generate enough power to keep much of Europe juiced up. In all, the enormous solar farm aims to produce 4.5 gigawatts of power, which can then be transmitted across the Mediterranean from Tunisia to mainland Europe. TuNur's proposed solar farm utilizes an enormous quantity of mirrors to reflect sunlight onto a central collector, which uses molten salt to store the energy as heat. Three HVDC submarine cables will then transport the power to Europe. The first cable will link Tunisia and Malta, the second will link Tunisia to central Italy, and a third will link Tunisia to the south of France. "We are opening a new energy corridor to allow Europe to import cheap solar power from the Sahara on a massive scale," Daniel Rich, Chief Operating Officer of TuNur, the company behind the project, told Digital Trends. "This will help Europe meet its Paris Climate Agreement emissions reduction commitments quickly and cost effectively. It also will give a much-needed boost to the Tunisia economy through significant investment into the country, creation of thousands of jobs, new tax revenues, and the establishment of a new solar industry that can help support their future domestic demand."

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'Podcasting Patent' Is Totally Dead, Appeals Court Rules
Posted by News Fetcher on August 07 '17 at 11:10 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's dead-as-a-doornail department:
A federal appeals court affirmed the April 2015 inter partes review (IPR) ruling -- a process that allows anyone to challenge a patent's validity at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office -- that invalidated the so-called "podcasting patent." "That process was held by a company called Personal Audio, which had threatened numerous podcasts with lawsuits in recent years," reports Ars Technica. From the report: Back in 2013, Personal Audio began sending legal demand letters to numerous podcasters and companies, like Samsung, in an apparent attempt to cajole them into a licensing deal, lest they be slapped with a lawsuit. Some of those efforts were successful: in August 2014, Adam Carolla paid about $500,000. As Personal Audio began to gain more public attention, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, however, stepped in and said that it would challenge Personal Audio's US Patent No. 8,112,504, which describes a "system for disseminating media content representing episodes in a serialized sequence." In the end, EFF raised over $76,000, more than double its initial target. [T]he history of Personal Audio dates to the late 1990s, when founder Jim Logan created a company seeking to create a kind of proto-iPod digital music player. But his company flopped. Years later, Logan turned to lawsuits to collect money from those investments. He sued companies over both the "episodic content" patent, as well as a separate patent, which Logan and his lawyers said covered playlists. He and his lawyers wrung verdicts or settlements from Samsung and Apple.

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Google Fires Author of Divisive Memo On Gender Differences
Posted by News Fetcher on August 07 '17 at 09:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's cause-and-effect department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: Alphabet Inc.'s Google has fired an employee who wrote an internal memo blasting the web company's diversity policies, creating a firestorm across Silicon Valley. James Damore, the Google engineer who wrote the note, confirmed his dismissal in an email, saying that he had been fired for "perpetuating gender stereotypes." Earlier on Monday, Google CEO Sundar Pichai sent a note to employees that said portions of the memo "violate our Code of Conduct and cross the line by advancing harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace." But he didn't say if the company was taking action against the employee. A Google representative, asked about the dismissal, referred to Pichai's memo. Damore's 10-page memorandum accused Google of silencing conservative political opinions and argued that biological differences play a role in the shortage of women in tech and leadership positions. It circulated widely inside the company and became public over the weekend, causing a furor that amplified the pressure on Google executives to take a more definitive stand. After the controversy swelled, Danielle Brown, Google's new vice president for diversity, integrity and governance, sent a statement to staff condemning Damore's views and reaffirmed the company's stance on diversity. In internal discussion boards, multiple employees said they supported firing the author, and some said they would not choose to work with him, according to postings viewed by Bloomberg News.

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First Evidence That Social Bots Play a Major Role In Spreading Fake News
Posted by News Fetcher on August 07 '17 at 08:30 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's behind-the-scenes department:
An anonymous reader writes: Researchers from Indiana University in Bloomington provide an answer for how social bots play a major role in spreading fake news. MIT Technology Review reports: "At issue is the publication of news that is false or misleading. So widespread has this become that a number of independent fact-checking organizations have emerged to establish the veracity of online information. These include snopes.com, politifact.com, and factcheck.org. These sites list 122 websites that routinely publish fake news. These fake news sites include infowars.com, breitbart.com, politicususa.com, and theonion.com. 'We did not exclude satire because many fake-news sources label their content as satirical, making the distinction problematic,' say researcher Chengcheng Shao and co. Shao and co then monitored some 400,000 claims made by these websites and studied the way they spread through Twitter. They did this by collecting some 14 million Twitter posts that mentioned these claims. At the same time, the team monitored some 15,000 stories written by fact-checking organizations and over a million Twitter posts that mention them. Next, Shao and co looked at the Twitter accounts that spread this news, collecting up to 200 of each account's most recent tweets. In this way, the team could study the tweeting behavior and work out whether the accounts were most likely run by humans or by bots. Having made a judgment on the ownership of each account, the team finally looked at the way humans and bots spread fake news and fact-checked news. 'Accounts that actively spread misinformation are significantly more likely to be bots,' say Shao and co. 'Social bots play a key role in the spread of fake news.' Shad and co say bots play a particularly significant role in the spread of fake news soon after it is published. What's more, these bots are programmed to direct their tweets at influential users. 'Automated accounts are particularly active in the early spreading phases of viral claims, and tend to target influential users,' say Shao and co."

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Preview of AMD Ryzen Threadripper Shows Chip Handily Out-Pacing Intel Core i9
Posted by News Fetcher on August 07 '17 at 05:50 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's performance-review department:
MojoKid writes: AMD is still days away from the formal launch of their Ryzen Threadripper family of 12 and 16-core processors but OEM system builder Dell and its Alienware gaming PC division had an inside track on first silicon in the channel. The Alienware Area-51 Threadripper Edition sports a 16-core Ryzen Threadripper 1950X processor that boosts to 4GHz with a base clock of 3.4GHz and an all-core boost at 3.6GHz. From a price standpoint, the 16-core Threadripper chip goes head-to-head with Intel's 10-core Core i9-7900X at a $999 MSRP. In early benchmark runs of the Alienware system, AMD's Ryzen Threadripper is showing as much as a 37% percent performance advantage over the Intel Core i9 Skylake-X chip, in highly threaded general compute workload benchmarks like Cinebench and Blender. In gaming, Threadripper is showing roughly performance parity with the Core i9 chip in some tests, but trailing by as much as 20% in lower resolution 1080p gaming, as is characteristic for many Ryzen CPUs currently, in certain games. Regardless, when you consider the general performance upside with Ryzen Threadripper versus Intel's current fastest desktop chip, along with its more aggressive per-core pricing (12-core Threadripper at $799), AMD's new flagship enthusiast/performance workstation desktop chips are lining up pretty well versus Intel's.

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Tesla Seeks $1.5 Billion Junk Bonds Issue To Fund Model 3 Production
Posted by News Fetcher on August 07 '17 at 05:50 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's junk-in-the-trunk department:
As Tesla seeks fresh sources of cash to increase production of its new Model 3 sedan, the company announced on Monday that it would raise about $1.5 billion through its first-ever high-yield junk bond offering. "The debt offering marks Tesla's debut in the junk-bond market and the company will start road-shows on Monday, IFR reported, citing lead bankers on the deal," reports Reuters. From the report: Tesla has been riding high on investor expectations that its Model 3 will be a mass-market hit, with shareholders pushing its market value above that of General Motors Co and Ford Motor Co, the top two U.S. automakers that produce millions of cars each annually. But Tesla has yet to make an annual profit and its stock is a favorite among short-sellers, who continue to bet Tesla will fall short of its shareholders' high hopes. So far, Tesla has been raising money to pay its bills with a combination of equity offerings and convertible bonds, which eventually convert into shares. In March, the company raised $1.4 billion through a convertible debt offering. Following the announcement, Standard & Poor's assigned a "B-1" rating for the bond issue -- deep into junk credit territory. S&P also maintained its "B-" long-term corporate credit rating on Tesla. "We could lower our ratings on Tesla is execution issues related to the Model 3 launch later this year or the ongoing expansion of its Models S and X production lead to significant cost overruns," S&P said in a statement on the bonds. Meanwhile, Moody's assigned a junk "B3" rating to the bond issue and said the company's rating outlook was stable.

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