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New Treatment Strategy Could Cut Parkinson's Disease Off at the Pass

Soylent New - 1 hour 30 min ago

Researchers at Johns Hopkins report they have identified a protein that enables a toxic natural aggregate to spread from cell to cell in a mammal's brain -- and a way to block that protein's action. Their study in mice and cultured cells suggests that an immunotherapy already in clinical trials as a cancer therapy should also be tested as a way to slow the progress of Parkinson's disease, the researchers say.

A report on the study appears Sept. 30 in the journal Science.

Ted Dawson, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Institute for Cell Engineering at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and one of the study's leaders, says the new findings hinge on how aggregates of α-synuclein protein enter brain cells. Abnormal clumps of α-synuclein protein are often found in autopsies of people with Parkinson's disease and are thought to cause the death of dopamine-producing brain cells.

The scientists genetically engineered mice to lack a key transmembrane receptor, LAG3, that attracts the protein aggregates responsible for Parkinson's. The mice proved immune. Antibodies that targeted LAG3 also shielded subjects from the aggregates.

Pathological α-synuclein transmission initiated by binding lymphocyte-activation gene 3 (DOI: 10.1126/science.aah3374) (DX)

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Rosetta's 12-Year Mission Ends With Landing On Comet

/. - 1 hour 44 min ago
sciencehabit writes: It was an unusual grand finale. The crowded European Space Agency (ESA) operations center in Darmstadt, Germany, waited in silence and then the signal from the descending Rosetta mission simply stopped at 1.19 pm local time showing that the spacecraft had, presumably, landed on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko some 40 minutes earlier, due to the time the signal takes to reach Earth. Mission controllers hugged each other; there was gentle applause from onlookers; and that was it. There were no last minute crises. Seven of Rosetta's instruments kept gathering data until the end. Holger Sierks, principal investigator of the 12-year mission's main camera, showed the gathered staff, officials, and journalists Rosetta's final picture: a rough gravelly surface with a few larger rocks covering an area 10 meters across. Earlier, it had snapped the interior of deep pits on the comet (shown above, from an altitude of 5.8 kilometers) that may show the building blocks it is made of. "It's very crude raw data but this will keep us busy," Sierks said. It is hoped that this last close-up data grab will help to clarify the many scientific questions raised by Rosetta.

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United Nations to Launch a Space Mission

Soylent New - 3 hours 15 min ago

http://spacenews.com/united-nations-to-fly-first-space-mission-on-dream-chaser/

The United Nations plans to purchase a dedicated mission on a Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) Dream Chaser spacecraft in 2021 to give developing nations an opportunity to fly experiments in space. At a press conference during the International Astronautical Congress here Sept. 27, the United Nations Office of Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) said the agreement to fly the dedicated Dream Chaser mission is part of a broader effort by the office to increase access to space to emerging nations.

"Our project is the first-ever United Nations space mission," said Simonetta Di Pippo, director of UNOOSA. "The mission has one very important goal: to allow United Nations member states to conduct research that cannot be done on Earth." The mission, she said, will be open to all nations, but with a particular emphasis on those nations that don't have the capabilities to fly their own experiments in space. UNOOSA will soon start the process of soliciting payload proposals, with a goal of selecting payloads by early 2018 so that the winning countries have time to build them for a 2021 launch.

Neither SNC nor UNOOSA disclosed the cost of the mission. Mark Sirangelo, corporate vice president of SNC's Space Systems division, said that the mission will be financed in several ways, with the countries selected to fly experiments paying at least some of the cost of the flight.

- See more at: http://spacenews.com/united-nations-to-fly-first-space-mission-on-dream-chaser/#sthash.Pz4SgTNO.dpuf

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Feds Go After Mylan For Scamming Medicaid Out of Millions On EpiPen Pricing

/. - 30 September 2016 - 11:30pm
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Over the nine or so years that Mylan, Inc. has been selling -- and hiking the price -- of EpiPens, the drug company has been misclassifying the life-saving device and stiffing Medicaid out of full rebate payments, federal regulators told Ars. Under the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program, drug manufacturers, such as Mylan, can get their products covered by Medicaid if they agree to offer rebates to the government to offset costs. With a brand-name drug such as the EpiPen, which currently has no generic versions and has patent protection, Mylan was supposed to classify the drug as a "single source," or brand name drug. That would mean Mylan is required to offer Medicaid a rebate of 23.1 percent of the costs, plus an "inflation rebate" any time Mylan raises the price of the brand-name drug at a rate higher than inflation. Mylan has opted for such price increases -- a lot. Since Mylan bought the rights to EpiPen in 2007, it has raised the price on 15 separate occasions, bringing the current list price to $608 for a two-pack up from about $50 a pen in 2007. That's an increase of more than 500 percent, which easily beats inflation. But instead of classifying EpiPen as a "single source" drug, Mylan told regulators that it's a "non-innovator multiple source," or generic drug. Under that classification, Mylan is only required to offer a rebate of 13 percent and no inflation rebates. It's unclear how much money Mylan has skipped out on paying in total to state and federal governments. But according to the state health department of Minnesota, as reported by CNBC, the misclassification cost that state $4.3 million this year alone.

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Bounty for Hacking Apple's iOS 10: $1.5 Million

Soylent New - 30 September 2016 - 11:12pm

Zerodium is offering up to $1.5 million for an exploit against iPhones and iPads running the latest version of iOS 10, or up to $200,000 for an exploit against Android 7:

Last year, Zerodium offered $1 million for iOS exploits, up to a total of $3 million. It dropped the price to $500,000 after receiving and paying for three qualifying submissions. On Thursday, Zerodium founder Chaouki Bekrar said the higher prices are a response to improvements the software makers—Apple and Google in particular—have devised that make their wares considerably harder to compromise.

"Prices are directly linked to the difficulty of making a full chain of exploits, and we know that iOS 10 and Android 7 are both much harder to exploit than their previous versions," he told Ars. Asked why a string of iOS exploits commanded 7.5 times the price of a comparable one for Android he said: "That means that iOS 10 chain exploits are either 7.5 x harder than Android or the demand for iOS exploits is 7.5 x higher. The reality is a mix of both."

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Curiosity Finds Evidence of Mars Crust Contributing to Atmosphere

Soylent New - 30 September 2016 - 9:51pm

NASA's Curiosity rover has found evidence that chemistry in the surface material on Mars contributed dynamically to the makeup of its atmosphere over time. It's another clue that the history of the Red Planet's atmosphere is more complex and interesting than a simple legacy of loss.

The findings come from the rover's Sample Analysis at Mars, or SAM, instrument suite, which studied the gases xenon and krypton in Mars' atmosphere. The two gases can be used as tracers to help scientists investigate the evolution and erosion of the Martian atmosphere. A lot of information about xenon and krypton in Mars' atmosphere came from analyses of Martian meteorites and measurements made by the Viking mission.

"What we found is that earlier studies of xenon and krypton only told part of the story," said Pamela Conrad, lead author of the report and SAM's deputy principal investigator at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. "SAM is now giving us the first complete in situ benchmark against which to compare meteorite measurements."

Of particular interest to scientists are the ratios of certain isotopes - or chemical variants - of xenon and krypton. The SAM team ran a series of first-of-a-kind experiments to measure all the isotopes of xenon and krypton in the Martian atmosphere. The experiments are described in a paper published in Earth and Planetary Science Letters.

The data is expected to add to our understanding of how a planet's atmosphere evolves.

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Print-On-Demand Bone Could Quickly Mend Major Injuries

/. - 30 September 2016 - 9:25pm
sciencehabit quotes a report from Science Magazine: If you shatter a bone in the future, a 3D printer and some special ink could be your best medicine. Researchers have created what they call "hyperelastic bone" that can be manufactured on demand and works almost as well as the real thing, at least in monkeys and rats. Though not ready to be implanted in humans, bioengineers are optimistic that the material could be a much-needed leap forward in quickly mending injuries ranging from bones wracked by cancer to broken skulls. Researchers at Northwestern University, Evanston, in Illinois are working on a hyperelastic bone, which is a type of scaffold made up of hydroxyapatite, a naturally occurring mineral that exists in our bones and teeth, and a biocompatible polymer called polycaprolactone, and a solvent. Hydroxyapatite provides strength and offers chemical cues to stem cells to create bone. The polycaprolactone polymer adds flexibility, and the solvent sticks the 3D-printed layers together as it evaporates during printing. The mixture is blended into an ink that is dispensed by the printer, layer by layer, into exact shapes matching the bone that needs to be replaced. The idea is, a patient would come in with a nasty broken bone -- say, a shattered jaw -- and instead of going through painful autograft surgeries or waiting for a custom scaffold to be manufactured, he or she could be x-rayed and a 3D-printed hyperelastic bone scaffold could be printed that same day.

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Rare Black Moon on Friday, September 30th

Soylent New - 30 September 2016 - 9:12pm

Submitted via IRC for TheMightyBuzzard

Are you ready for a cosmic shift of epic proportions? You’d better be, because such a shift is approaching, courtesy of our moon! This Friday, September 30th, the moon will be new but ‘black.’ During a black moon, the side of Earth’s natural satellite lit by the sun faces away from our planet. As a result, …

Source: https://www.davidwolfe.com/rare-black-moon-september-30th/

Also at Space.com.

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New California Law Allows Test of Autonomous Shuttle With No Driver

/. - 30 September 2016 - 8:45pm
If you live in California, you may soon start to see self-driving cars on the road with no operators to be seen. California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law on Thursday a bill that allows a self-driving vehicle with no operator inside to test on a public road. Currently, companies are legally able to test self-driving cars in California as long as the operators are located inside the vehicles when they are being tested. Fortune reports: The bill introduced by Democratic Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla allows testing in Contra Costa County northeast of San Francisco of the first full-autonomous vehicle without a steering wheel, brakes, accelerator or operator. New legislation was necessary because although driverless vehicles can be tested on private land like the office park, the shuttle will cross a public road on its loop through the campus. The new law means that two cube-like Easymile shuttles that travel no faster than 25 mph (40 kph) will be tested for a period of up to six months before being deployed and used by people. In an interview with Reuters in March, Bonilla said the "natural tension" between regulators concerned about safety and lawmakers trying to encourage innovation in their state necessitated a new bill. "They're risk averse and we're saying we need to open the door here and take steps (to innovate)," Bonilla said, calling the driverless shuttle project "a very wise first out-of-the-gate opportunity" to show how the technology could work safely.

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Nissan Reveals Self-driving Chair

Soylent New - 30 September 2016 - 8:09pm

Nissan has revealed a thing called the "ProPILOT Chair" that it says exemplifies "the benefits of its intelligent mobility technology" because it " automatically queues on behalf of its occupant, sparing them the hassle of standing in line."

As the video below shows, the chairs are packed with motion-sensing kit and can follow each other around like baby chickens imprinted on their mother.

Nissan swears this is an important innovation as it shows the technologies it built for self-driving cars have wider applicability than just keeping vehicles on the straight and narrow.

Quirky art projects, mobile cafes, the possibilities are endless.

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Facebook 'Messenger Day' Is the Chat App's New Snapchat Stories Clone

/. - 30 September 2016 - 8:05pm
An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: Facebook is stealing the Stories format and invading countries where Snapchat isn't popular yet. Today in Poland it launched "Messenger Day," which lets people share illustrated filter-enhanced photos and videos that disappear in 24 hours, just like on Snapchat. Much of the feature works exactly like Snapchat Stories, with the ability to draw or add text to images. Facebook's one big innovation with Messenger Day is the use of graphic filters as suggestions for what to share, instead of just to celebrate holidays and events or to show off your location like with Snapchat's geofilters. At the top of the Messenger thread list, users see a row of tiles representing "My Day" and friends' Days they can watch, but there are also prompts like "I'm Feeling," "Who's Up For?" and "I'm Doing." Tapping on these tiles provides a range of filters "I'm feeling [...] so blue" with raindrops and a bubbly blue font, "I'm feeling [...] blessed" with a glorious gold sparkly font, "Who's up for [...] road trip" with a cute car zooming past, or "Who's up for [...] Let's grab drinks" with illustrated beer mugs and bottles that cover the screen. This feature allows people to share visually appealing images even if they aren't great artists or especially creative. These prompts could also spur usage when people are bored, sparking their imagination. Messenger is already an app people use all day with close friends, so it could end up a better home for the Stories format than cramming it into Facebook's core app, which the company tested as "Quick Updates" and scrapped.

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New US 'Secret' Clearance Unit Hires Firm Linked To 2014 Hacks

/. - 30 September 2016 - 7:20pm
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: A U.S. government bureau set up to do "secret" and "top secret" security clearance investigations has turned for help to a private company whose login credentials were used in hack attacks that looted the personal data of 22 million current and former federal employees, U.S. officials said on Friday. Their confirmation of the hiring of KeyPoint Government Solutions by the new National Background Investigations Bureau (NBIB) comes just days ahead of the bureau's official opening, scheduled for next week. Its creation was spurred, in part, by the same hacks of the Office of Personnel Management that have been linked to the credentials of KeyPoint, one of four companies hired by the bureau. The officials asked not to be named when discussing sensitive information. A spokesman for OPM said the agency in the past has said in public statements and in congressional testimony that a KeyPoint contractor's stolen credentials were used by hackers to gain access to government personnel and security investigations records in two major OPM computer breaches. Both breaches occurred in 2014, but were not discovered until April 2015, according to investigators. One U.S. official familiar with the hiring of KeyPoint said personnel records were hacked in 2014 from KeyPoint and, at some point, its login credentials were stolen. But no evidence proves, the official said, that the KeyPoint credentials used by the OPM hackers were stolen in the 2014 KeyPoint hack. OPM officials said on Thursday one aim for NBIB is to reduce processing time for "top secret" clearances to 80 days from 170 days and for "secret" clearances to 40 days from 120 days.

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USB-IF Publishes Audio Over USB Type-C Specifications

/. - 30 September 2016 - 6:40pm
An anonymous reader quotes a report from AnandTech: The USB Implementers Forum this week published the USB Audio Device Class 3.0 (direct download) specification, which standardizes audio over USB Type-C interface. The new spec enables hardware makers to eliminate traditional 3.5mm mini-jacks from their devices and use USB-C ports to connect headsets and other audio equipment. Makers of peripherals can also build their audio solutions, which use USB-C instead of traditional analog connectors. Developers of the standard hope that elimination of mini-jacks will help to make devices slimmer, smarter and less power hungry. As reported, the USB Audio Device Class 3.0 specification supports both analog and digital audio. Analog audio is easy to implement and it does not impact data transfers and other functionality of USB-C cables since it uses the two secondary bus (SBU) pins. The USB ADC 3.0 defines minimum interoperability across analog and digital devices in order to avoid confusion of end-users because of incompatibility. In fact, all ADC 3.0-compliant hosts should support the so-called headset adapter devices, which allow to connect analog headsets to USB-C. However, digital audio is one of the primary reasons why companies like Intel wanted to develop the USB-C audio tech on the first place, hence, expect them to promote it. According to the USB ADC 3.0 standard, digital USB-C headphones will feature special multi-function processing units (MPUs), which will, to a large degree, define the feature set and quality of headsets. The MPUs will handle host and sink synchronization (this is a key challenge for digital USB audio), digital-to-analog conversion, low-latency active noise cancellation, acoustic echo canceling, equalization, microphone automatic gain control, volume control and others. Such chips will also contain programmable amplifiers and pre-amplifiers, which are currently located inside devices. Besides, USB ADC 3.0-compatible MPUs will also support USB Audio Type-III and Type-IV formats (the latest compressed formats), but will retain compatibility with formats supported by ADC 1.0 and 2.0. Finally, among the mandated things set to be supported by USB-C Audio devices are new Power Domains (allows devices to put certain domains in sleep mode when not in use) as well as BADD (basic audio device definition) 3.0 features for saving power and simplified discovery and management of various audio equipment (each type of devices has its own BADD profile).

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Landlord Installs Faraday Cage to Block Phone Signals Because Social Media is Ruining British Pubs

Soylent New - 30 September 2016 - 6:23pm

A cocktail bar owner has installed a Faraday cage in his walls to prevent mobile phone signals entering the building.

Steve Tyler of the Gin Tub, in Hove, East Sussex, is hoping customers will be encouraged to talk to each other rather than looking at their screens.

He has installed metal mesh in the walls and ceiling of the bar which absorbs and redistributes the electromagnetic signals from phones and wireless devices to prevents them entering the interior of the building.

Why you hating on millenials, Bro?

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Newsweek Website Attacked After Report On Trump, Cuban Embargo

/. - 30 September 2016 - 6:00pm
After Newsweek published a report titled "How Donald Trump's Company Violated The United States Embargo Against Cuba," the site found itself on the receiving end of a "massive" denial-of-service attack that managed to shut down the site for several hours. TPM reports: Editor-In-Chief Jim Impoco noted that the attack came as the story earned national attention. "Last night we were on the receiving end of what our IT chief called a 'massive' DoS (denial of service) attack," Impoco wrote in an email to TPM. "The site was down most of last evening, at a time when Kurt Eichenwald's story detailing how Donald Trump's company broke the law by violating the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba was being covered extensively by prominent cable news programs. Our IT team is still investigating the hack." Later Friday afternoon, Impoco emailed TPM that in an initial investigation, the "main" IP addresses linked to the attack were found to be Russian. It should be noted that it is possible to fake an IP address. "As with any DDoS attack, there are lots of IP addresses, but the main ones are Russian, though that in itself does not prove anything," he wrote. "We are still investigating." Eichenwald tweeted Friday morning: "News: The reason ppl couldnt read #TrumpInCuba piece late yesterday is that hackers launched a major attack on Newsweek after it was posted."

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Researchers Ask Federal Court To Unseal Years of Surveillance Records

/. - 30 September 2016 - 5:20pm
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Two lawyers and legal researchers based at Stanford University have formally asked a federal court in San Francisco to unseal numerous records of surveillance-related cases, as a way to better understand how authorities seek such powers from judges. This courthouse is responsible for the entire Northern District of California, which includes the region where tech companies such as Twitter, Apple, and Google, are based. According to the petition, Jennifer Granick and Riana Pfefferkorn were partly inspired by a number of high-profile privacy cases that have unfolded in recent years, ranging from Lavabit to Apple's battle with the Department of Justice. In their 45-page petition, they specifically say that they don't need all sealed surveillance records, simply those that should have been unsealed -- which, unfortunately, doesn't always happen automatically. The researchers wrote in their Wednesday filing: "Most surveillance orders are sealed, however. Therefore, the public does not have a strong understanding of what technical assistance courts may order private entities to provide to law enforcement. There are at least 70 cases, many under seal, in which courts have mandated that Apple and Google unlock mobile phones and potentially many more. The Lavabit district court may not be the only court to have ordered companies to turn over private encryption keys to law enforcement based on novel interpretations of law. Courts today may be granting orders forcing private companies to turn on microphones or cameras in cars, laptops, mobile phones, smart TVs, or other audio- and video-enabled Internet-connected devices in order to conduct wiretapping or visual surveillance. This pervasive sealing cripples public discussion of whether these judicial orders are lawful and appropriate."

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Google Asks for Airspace Access for Internet Balloons

Soylent New - 30 September 2016 - 4:51pm

Google, which is hoping to beam the internet to remote areas of the world via balloon, went before the UN's aviation agency to ask member states to let it ply their airspace.

The company's X Lab, which was created to pursue big-vision projects, said it hopes to establish a network of helium balloons floating in the stratosphere that will emit a powerful 4G signal to rural and difficult-to-access areas.

The new initiative—launched in 2013 and dubbed "Project Loon"—saw its first balloon take off from South America in February only to crash at a tea plantation in Sri Lanka, where it was discovered by villagers.

Alphabet, the parent company of Google, had partnered with Sri Lanka to bring the internet to remote areas there. The country's Information and Communication Technology Agency, which coordinated the tests with Google, described the landing as controlled and scheduled.

Why not build a giant transmitter on the Moon?

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Yahoo Open Sources a Deep Learning Model For Classifying Pornographic Images

/. - 30 September 2016 - 4:40pm
New submitter OWCareers writes: Yahoo today announced its latest open-source release: a model that can figure out if images are specifically pornographic in nature. The system uses a type of artificial intelligence called deep learning, which involves training artificial neural networks on lots of data (like dirty images) and getting them to make inferences about new data. The model that's now available on GitHub under a BSD 2-Clause license comes pre-trained, so users only have to fine-tune it if they so choose. The model works with the widely used Caffe open source deep learning framework. The team trained the model using its now open source CaffeOnSpark system.The new model could be interesting to look at for developers maintaining applications like Instagram and Pinterest that are keen to minimize smut. Search engine operators like Google and Microsoft might also want to check out what's under the hood here.The tool gives images a score between 0 to 1 on how NSFW the pictures look. The official blog post from Yahoo outlines several examples.

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Amazon Marketplace Shoppers Slam the Spam

/. - 30 September 2016 - 4:00pm
Spammy follow-up email messages are turning off Amazon Marketplace shoppers. Shoppers who buy from Amazon's Marketplace typically like the convenience and prices. But many are also unhappy about the barrage of emails that sellers send them after the purchase, notes Fortune. It adds: Sellers deluge often inboxes with requests for product reviews, inquiries about how the process went, and sales pitches for more stuff. Considering the comments on social media, feedback from friends and family, and in posts in Amazon.com's customer service forum over the past two years, this problem is not getting any better. There appears to be no way to opt out of this email flood, which is odd, given Amazon's self-professed zeal for great customer service. One shopper in Amazon's customer forum thread posted a response from an Amazon service representative that apologized for the notifications and noted that the feedback had been forwarded to the company's "investigations team."

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Salesforce Pushes Regulators To Block Microsoft's LinkedIn Deal

/. - 30 September 2016 - 3:21pm
Salesforce is urging the European Union to take a closer look at Microsoft's takeover of LinkedIn as EU regulators ask questions on how the software giant could use AI to exploit data from LinkedIn's professionals. Chief Legal Officer Burke Norton said Salesforce plans to tell European and U.S. antitrust officials it has concerns about the acquisition. From a CNN report:"Microsoft's proposed acquisition of LinkedIn threatens the future of innovation and competition," Burke Norton, chief legal officer at Salesforce, said in a statement. "By gaining ownership of LinkedIn's unique dataset of over 450 million professionals in more than 200 countries, Microsoft will be able to deny competitors access to that data, and in doing so obtain an unfair competitive advantage. [...] We intend to work closely with regulators, lawmakers and other stakeholders to make the case that this merger is anticompetitive," he added. The European Commission is reaching out to multiple companies as part of a review of the pending acquisition. Salesforce's comments came in response to this, according to Chi Hea Cho, a spokeswoman for Salesforce.

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