Oracle CEO Larry Ellison joined call about contesting Trump’s election loss

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison was involved in a call where a number of influential GOP figures—including Senator Lindsay Graham (R-SC), Fox News anchor Sean Hannity and Trump attorney Jay Sekulow — brainstormed ways to contest the 2020 presidential election, reported the Washington Post. Details of the call which occurred on November 14, 2020 were revealed in new court filings from a lawsuit brought by voting rights organization Fair Fight against True The Vote, a conservative Texas vote monitoring organization that disputes the results of the 2020 presidential election.

“Jim was on a call this evening with Jay Sekulow, Lindsey O. Graham, Sean Hannity, and Larry Ellison,” True the Vote’s founder, Catherine Engelbrecht, wrote to a donor, according to court filings reviewed by the Post. “He explained the work we were doing and they asked for a preliminary report asap, to be used to rally their troops internally, so that’s what I’m working on now.”

Ellison is a high-profile GOP donor and has hosted fundraisers for former president Donald Trump. He has seemingly never expressed doubts about the 2020 election results publicly. While the CEO has donated to both parties over the years as the Palm Desert Sunpoints out, he’s poured a substantial amount of money into the GOP and conservative causes since the 2020 election. His $15 million donation in February to a super PAC associated with Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) is one of the largest of the 2022 election cycle so far.

Ellison's proximity to Trump has led to concerns that Oracle may have had an unfair advantage in competing for federal contracts during the former administration. Oracle nabbed a lucrative contract in 2020 to aid the Department of Health and Human Services to collect data on doctors who treat COVID-19 patients with hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malaria drug embraced by Trump. It is also nearing a deal with TikTok to store their US data, which Trump approved in 2020.

Hyundai’s first all-EV factory in the US will be in Georgia

Hyundai is betting big on American electric vehicle sales. The automaker has struck a deal with Georgia to build its first dedicated EV factory in the US. The 2,923-acre plant near Savannah will make cars and batteries when production is projected to start in the first half of 2025. Construction starts in early 2023. The company expects to manufacture 300,000 EVs per year at the facility, covering a "wide range" of models.

Multiple factors led to the location choice. Hyundai pointed to "favorable business conditions" that included speedy market access, a large talent pool and an existing network that includes Kia's main manufacturing hub as well as suppliers. Unnamed incentives play a part, according to Savannah Morning News. However, it's also a prime spot for transportation. The factory is less than 31 miles from Savannah's port, which is the largest container stopover in the US and has two railway facilities at its disposal. Add the proximity of two major highways (the I-95 and I-16) and it will be easy for Hyundai to receive supplies and ship finished EVs.

Not surprisingly, both Georgia and Hyundai are touting economic benefits. They estimate the investment to be worth $5.54 billion, with Governor Brian Kemp claiming it will be the "largest project" in state history. Hyundai further claimed the plant would create 8,100 jobs, although it's not clear how many of those are full-time, permanent roles.

The annual production level won't be quite as strong as Hyundai's conventional manufacturing output. The company's Montgomery, Alabama plant can make up to 399,500 vehicles per year. This represents a major commitment to EVs, however, and suggests Hyundai is racing to compete with Tesla, Rivian, Volkswagen and other brands expanding their electric car production in the country.

The FCC has a plan to boost rural broadband download speeds to 100 Mbps

The Federal Communications Commission is aiming to boost rural broadband internet speeds through proposed changes to the Alternative Connect America Cost Model (A-CAM) program. The target is to improve minimum download and upload speeds to 100/20 Mbps in areas served by carriers that receive A-CAM support. The current baseline is 25/3 Mbps.

The A-CAM Broadband Coalition proposed the creation of an Enhanced A-CAM program. The goal is to improve broadband speeds to the levels specified in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (also known as the $1.2 trillion Bipartisan Infrastructure Law) while avoiding the duplication of efforts across various federal programs.

The notice of proposed rulemaking, which commissioners approved, seeks comment on how the FCC could bolster A-CAM support under an enhanced program and whether the current A-CAM framework even still makes sense. It's also seeking comment on how to align the Enhanced A-CAM program with Congressional goals and programs at other agencies.

"With additional funding and an expansion of the length of time under which electing carriers would receive support, these carriers would increase deployment speeds up to 100 Mbps download and 20 Mbps upload in some of the most challenging and expensive areas to serve in the country," Commissioner Geoffrey Starks said in a statement. "[Some] consumers served by A-CAM carriers could see a four-fold, 10-fold or even 20-fold increase in their speeds."

Last week, using funding allocated by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Biden administration launched a $45 billion project to bring all Americans online by 2030 and eliminate the digital divide. Officials have also teamed up with internet providers to subsidize the cost of broadband for low-income households.

Amazon’s upcoming tablets will include a more modern Fire OS 8

Amazon’s new Fire 7 tablets — due to arrive this summer — will be equipped with improved software. According to a report on AFTV News. tablets will come with Fire OS 8, an entirely new version of the Fire operating system that is based on Android 11. Given that Google no longer releases security patches or updates for Android 9, this will be welcome news for Fire tablet owners.

As Liliputing points out, most of what Fire OS 8 changes bring to the table seem to be under-the-hood security updates. But users can expect a new system-wide dark mode, which might make browsing your tablet late at night a bit easier on the eyes. The new OS will also support HEIF or (High Efficiency Image File) format images, an update to JPEGs that most Apple and Android smartphones have supported since 2018. 

Fire apps will also now be able access your device’s location while running in the background, but you'll need to give permission first. The update also includes a new set of privacy controls, including one-time permissions on location tracking. For a more nuanced breakdown of what to expect in Fire OS 8, check out Amazon’s updated developer guide.

Watch the first eight minutes of ‘Stranger Things’ season 4

Netflix is trying to build up hype for Stranger Things season 4 in a not-so-subtle way: by letting you watch a significant chunk of it. The service has shared the first eight minutes of the introductory episode in hopes you'll tune in for the rest. We won't spoil the finer points, but we will say that it's mostly a flashback that sets the stage for what's to come.

It's also clear just why the fourth season is split in two — some episodes are exceptionally long. Volume 1, premiering May 27th, includes seven episodes that are conventionally-sized apart from the last, which runs for an hour and 38 minutes. Volume 2, arriving July 1st, is another matter. It consists of just two lengthy episodes, with the last running for nearly two and a half hours. You're effectively watching a feature film.

There are reasons for the long runtime. The Duffer Brothers previously said they'd planned to finish the story in four or five seasons, and this fourth run is the start of that climax. The story is also far-reaching, with scenes in Hawkins, California, Russia and "elsewhere." It's a busy plot, and the creators are apparently determined to tie up every loose end.

Amazon’s latest stunt is beaming a new Prime Video sci-fi show into outer space

Amazon tried a novel marketing strategy to get more eyeballs (or eyestalks) on a new Prime Video show: it beamed the first episode of sci-fi series Night Sky out of Earth's atmosphere. The company pulled off the stunt earlier today for what it's calling "the first-ever intergalactic premiere for a TV series."

Satellite services companies SES and Intelsat used their ground stations and geostationary satellites to send the episode beyond the reach of our planet. Prime Video noted in a press release that the transmission won't be caught by broadcast satellites and sent back to terra firma, as is usually the case. "Theoretically, this makes the broadcast available to anyone open to receiving satellite signals 384,000 kilometers away from Earth and beyond — the equivalent distance from Earth to the Moon," it said.

Prime Video claims it's not only the first streaming service to send its content to space, but it marks the "farthest distance that a TV series has been intentionally distributed." The episode was transmitted using Ku- and C-band frequencies, which are often employed for satellite TV, media distribution and communications. So if there's anyone or anything out there with the right gear, they'll be able to catch the first episode of what sounds like an intriguing series.

Night Sky premiered on Prime Video today. It centers around a couple (played by Sissy Spacek and JK Simmons) who've been hiding a secret for years: there's a chamber buried in their backyard that links to a deserted planet. However, everything changes when a young man (who they believe may be an alien) enters their lives.

A second Apple Store union election will take place next month

Employees at an Apple Store in Towson, Maryland have set a date for their union election. Workers at the Towson Town Center location will vote in person over four days, starting on June 15th.

The organizers call themselves Coalition of Organized Retail Employees (AppleCore). They're aiming to unionize with the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. 

In a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook, the group said "a solid majority" of staff supports the union drive. They said they are organizing "because of a deep love of our role as workers within the company and out of care for the company itself." They want "access to rights that we do not currently have" and for Apple to apply the same neutrality agreements it has with suppliers to workers, "so that as employees we can obtain our rights to information and collective bargaining that the law affords us through unionization."

They will be the second group of Apple Store workers to stage a union election. Those at the Cumberland Mall location in Atlanta will vote in early June on whether to join the Communications Workers of America (CWA).

Employees at Apple Stores other than the Towson and Atlanta locations are conducting union drives as well. Workers at the Grand Central Terminal store in New York City have been collecting signatures for a union vote.

While Apple has agreed to the elections in Maryland and Georgia, the company is reportedly fighting unionization efforts. It's said to have hired the same anti-union law firm as Starbucks. The company has also reportedly used anti-union talking points in pre-shift meetings at some locations. This week, workers at two stores accused Apple of union busting in Unfair Labor Practice filings.

The best grilling gear

It’s not quite summer yet, but Memorial Day is often seen as the unofficial start of the grilling season. To help you prepare for the next few months, we’ve compiled a list of the best gear for your outdoor cooking adventures. Based on reviews and testing, we’ve selected three grills that will all help you stay on top of your BBQ game. There are other devices too, with items that should help you serve up delicious food all year long and expand your skills in the process.

Traeger Timberline and Timerline XL

Traeger Timberline grill on a patio surrounded by a wood fence.
Traeger

For its first smart grills for 2022, Traeger went all out. The company completely redesigned its high-end Timberline series, turning its premium pellet grills into outdoor kitchens. While the cooking chamber may look like any other Traeger grill, the company decided to put these new models on a rolling cart instead of four legs. Of course, this gives you more storage, but it also makes it easier to empty the pellet hopper. There’s a rail system on the front and sides of the grill to hold a range of accessories from paper rolls to sauce and rub compartments.

In terms of tech, Traeger swapped out the basic controls from its previous WiFi-equipped D2 grills in favor of a color touchscreen. There are more sensors inside to keep tabs on the cooking process in an effort to prevent flare-ups and the addition of lighting will help you see the cooking surface better after dark. The new Timberlines will also work with a specially-designed version of the wireless Meater probes (Traeger bought Meater in 2021), so you’re not reliant on the corded version that comes standard. Perhaps most importantly, the company added what it says is the first outdoor-rated induction burner for sauces, sides and searing.

Shop Timberline series at Traeger

Weber Genesis II EPX-335

Weber Genesis EPX-55 grill
Engadget

Last year, Weber introduced its first smart gas grills. After developing its Weber Connect platform for the SmokeFire pellet grills and the Smart Grilling Hub, the company brought its Wi-Fi-connected cooking to a more widely used fuel source. For 2022, the company has refined things a bit with PureBlu high-heat burners, sear zone, side table, expandable top cooking grate and "Nightvision" LED lighting. If the EPX-335 doesn’t suit your needs, these new grills come in three- and four-burner configurations with porcelain enamel or stainless steel finishes. Plus, there are both propane and natural gas options.

Of course, the main attraction here is the Weber Connect integration. Just like it does on the SmokeFire pellet grills and the Smart Grilling Hub, the technology can guide you through every step of the grilling process. A mix of instructions and videos inside the Weber Connect app offer assistance to grillers of all skill levels, right down to when to flip your steak. What’s more, the system offers real-time food temperatures and estimated readiness countdowns right on your phone so you can better time side dishes (and keep the hangry crowd at bay). On its gas smart grills, Weber Connect can also keep tabs on fuel level so you’ll know when it’s time to swap tanks. 

Buy Genesis EPX-335 at Weber - $1,700

Ooni Karu 16

Ooni Karu 16 pizza oven
Ooni

Ooni has built a stellar reputation for its pizza ovens, and rightfully so. The company’s gear is easy to use and it helps you create restaurant-quality wood-fired pies at home. Ooni’s latest oven is the Karu 16, which can accommodate multiple fuel sources and has room for larger pizzas. Out of the box this model can burn wood or charcoal, but Ooni sells gas burners for $100 and $150 (propane and natural gas versions).

In addition to overall size, the Karu 16 also has some conveniences that differentiate it from Ooni’s other ovens. First, a hinged door allows you to see what you’re cooking through a glass window. Second, there’s a front-mounted digital thermometer that shows the ambient temperature inside of the oven. Like other Ooni pizza cookers, the Karu 16 heats quickly, reaching 950 degrees Fahrenheit in about 15 minutes. And of course, the larger cooking area will allow you to make things besides pizza.

Buy Karu 16 at Ooni - $799

Thermoworks Thermapen One

The ThermoWorks Thermapen One thermometer taking the temperature of a piece of meat on a grill.
ThermoWorks

Over the years, a Thermapen has become my most-used grilling tool. I rely on it like a sous chef to make sure I’m cooking things to the correct temperature, especially chicken. It’s a versatile tool at the grill and in the kitchen. ThermoWorks Thermapen One is the follow up to its massively popular Thermapen Mk4. This new model shows temps lightning quick, giving you a reading in one second. ThermoWorks also improved accuracy and used a brighter display than the previous model. An automatically rotating screen makes the numbers easy to see no matter how you hold it, plus an auto-wake and sleep feature preserves battery life and IP67 rating protects it from accidental spills.

Buy Thermapen One at ThermoWorks - $105

Meater+

Meater+ thermometer
Meater

A wireless meat thermometer may seem like overkill when there are so many great (and affordable) wired options available. I too was skeptical at first, but I can assure you that not having to avoid those metal cables when you’re flipping or wrapping a large cut of meat is definitely worth the investment. For the Meater+, the Traeger-owned company extended the Bluetooth range from the original model. Each probe has two sensors, so you can keep tabs on both internal food temp and the ambient temperature of your grill. Stats are sent to the company’s app, and you can set target temps, view an estimated completion time or get some help with a cook if you need it.

Buy Meater+ at Amazon - $100

Anova Precision Cooker Nano

The Anova Precision Cooker Nano sitting in a pot of water cooking a piece of meat.
Anova

A sous vide device might seem out of place in a grilling guide, but hear me out. Since I started using an Anova as part of my steak process, I’ve massively upped my game. Steaks are tender and juicy, with edge-to-edge doneness that’s difficult to achieve on a hot-and-fast grill. Basically, I sous vide for a couple hours (or more) and then sear the steaks on a grill to finish them off. Perhaps the best part is you don’t have to invest a ton to get one of these app-connected machines as the Precision Cooker Nano covers all the essentials for $129.

In order to make the most of your sous vide setup, you’ll want to also invest in a vacuum sealer. I have the FoodSaver FM2000. It doesn’t have some of the flashy features of more expensive units, but it covers the basics just fine. If you prefer something more robust with options like automatic moisture detection and bag storage, I’d recommend the FoodSaver V4400. Plus, you can use this to seal leftovers for the freezer or store other goods you don’t want air to get to. I’ve also found vacuum-sealed packs handy for reheating things like pulled pork. With sous vide, the meat doesn’t dry out like it would in the microwave. Sure, you could just use Ziploc bags, but I’ve done that, and a FoodSaver is worth the investment. 

Buy Anova Precision Cooker Nano at Amazon - $129Buy FoodSave FM2000 at Amazon - $115Buy FoodSave V4400 at Amazon - $199

Stanley IceFlow Tumblers

Stanley IceFlow tumblers
Engadget

I’d argue one of the most important grilling tools is a cold beverage. And as the days get hotter, you’ll need to plan your drinkware carefully so your monster cocktail or water supply remains at a frigid temperature. I’ve tried a number of insulated aluminum cups over the years, but Stanley has been the best. The company is known for its classic thermos, but its lineup of cups, bottles and more are affordable and do a great job of keeping drinks cold for hours at a time.

Stanley has a ton of options that serve as alternatives to popular brands like Yeti, but the IceFlow Tumblers have been my go-to this spring. The larger 30-ounce cup can keep drinks cold for up to 12 hours while the 20-ounce version can do so for up to seven hours. There’s a solid handle and the built-in flip-down straw means the drinking area isn’t exposed to the elements quite as much. At $25 and $30 each, these are a fraction of the cost of the most expensive options, and they have better ice retention than some of those too.

Buy IceFlow tumbler at Stanley - $30

Brumate Hopsulator Duo and Trio

Brumate Hopsultor
Brumate

Brumate’s Hopsulator products are warm weather essentials for me. I originally got one for the beach, but it has become a staple in my grilling arsenal too. The company’s Hopsulator Trio is a 3-in-1 option that holds 16-ounce cans or 12-ounce cans with a cold insert you keep in your freezer. It also comes with a lid so you can use it as a travel mug. The Hopsulator Duo also doubles as an insulated cup, but it’s designed for 12-ounce cans and doesn’t come with any cooling accessories. What’s more, Brumate has a third model for slim cans. So if hard seltzers are more your thing, there’s an option for you too.

Buy Hopsulator Trio at Amazon - $30Buy Hopsulator Duo at Amazon - $30

Norman Reedus says a ‘Death Stranding’ sequel is in the works

If you suspected a Death Stranding sequel was in the works, you were probably spot-on. Lead actor Norman Reedus told Leo in an interview that work had "just started" on a second game. He didn't share any more details. However, it's safe to presume any follow-up is a long way off. Reedus noted that it took "two or three years" to complete motion capture for the first game, and we wouldn't expect it to be much speedier this time given Hideo Kojima's fondness for lengthy cutscenes.

We've asked Kojima Productions for comment. It's easy to see why the studio would greenlight a second Death Stranding game, though. The first sold five million copies between its November 2019 launch and July 2021, and that was before the Director's Cut releases. A sequel would help the company build on that success, not to mention bolster Kojima's post-Konami reputation.

Young Obi-Wan Kenobi comes to ‘Fortnite’ to promote his Disney+ series

Yet another major Star Wars character is about to drop onto the Fortnite island. Obi-Wan Kenobi will hit the Fortnite Item Shop on May 26th, just hours before his eponymous series debuts on Disney+.

Along with being able to play as the iconic Jedi Master, you'll be able to snap up some related cosmetics including back bling, a pickax, a Jedi Interceptor glider and an emote. Those will be available to buy separately or as part of a bundle that includes an Obi-Wan loading screen.

You'll have the chance to win the outfit and back bling early if you take part in the Obi-Wan Kenobi Cup. That's a duos event that will take place on Sunday with lightsabers and E-11 blaster rifles making a temporary return to the island.

The six-episode Obi-Wan Kenobi series will premiere on Disney+ on May 27th. Ewan McGregor reprises his role from the prequel movies. Hayden Christiansen also returns to play Darth Vader once again.

Epic Games and Lucasfilm have been working together for several years to bring Star Wars characters to Fortnite. Boba Fett and The Mandalorian, the main characters of other Disney+ Star Wars shows, have joined the fray, as have Rey, Finn, a Stormtrooper, Zorii Bliss and Kylo Ren.