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October 18, 2019

First all-female spacewalk / Extinction Rebellion protesters charged / Data and privacy focus of US House select committee

By Robert Scammell


Good morning, here’s your Friday morning briefing to set you up for the day ahead. Look out for these three things happening around the world today.

First all-female spacewalk

NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir are expected to take part in the first all-female spacewalk. The pair will replace faulty solar array batteries on the International Space Station’s (ISS) exterior.

The landmark spacewalk was originally due to take place six months ago, but was postponed due to a shortage of appropriately sized spacesuits on the station. A second medium-sized suit has since been sent to the ISS.

More than 200 spacewalks have been completed since the ISS was assembled in the 1990s. However, only 15 women have ventured outside the station to take part on a spacewalk – each time accompanied by men.

The mission, scheduled for 07:50AM BST, is a precursor to humankind’s return to the Moon, during which the first woman is expected to set foot on the lunar surface.

Hundreds charged over Extinction Rebellion protests

Hundreds of Extinction Rebellion climate protesters face charges for public disorder offences, following the environmental movement’s London protests. In total, more than 1,000 protesters are believed to be facing charges, with the majority of hearings taking place at the City of London Magistrates Court.

Due to the large number of cases, hearings will continue until late December.

Extinction Rebellion, formed in 2018, stepped up this protests this summer, at times bringing much of the capital to a standstill.

The nonviolent group wants the UK government to declare a climate and ecological emergency, reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2025 and create a citizens’ assembly on climate and ecological justice.

Data and privacy focus of US House select committee

The US House Judiciary Committee will hear about the role of data and privacy in competition.

Representatives and academics from the Federal Trade Commission, Imperial College of Business School, Harvard Kennedy School and American Enterprise Institute will explore how large tech companies controlling the lion’s share of the data might adversely affect competitiveness.

The hearing, postponed from September, is the third in a series looking into the market power of online platforms, such as Facebook and Google.

Previously, representatives from Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google provided testimonies.

The hearing will take place at 2PM BST (9AM EDT) and can be viewed here.

Thursday’s Highlights


Stuart Semple on art, technology and the quest for the blackest black paint

Brits more likely to ditch Facebook than Huawei, survey finds

Understanding cybersecurity in the world of risk society