Covers the period:
2017-01-01 .. 2017-02-22
(SPIDs: [586..612]) --martyb
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ISPs with 250,000 or fewer subscribers won't have to follow rules that require greater disclosures about fees and data caps after a vote today [pdf] by the Federal Communications Commission.
The FCC's Republican majority approved the change to help small providers avoid "onerous reporting obligations" included in the 2015 net neutrality order, they said. But by setting the threshold at 250,000 subscribers and exempting small ISPs owned by larger companies, the FCC is effectively "exempt[ing] billion-dollar public companies" from rules that can be complied with in mere hours each year, said Mignon Clyburn, the FCC's only Democrat.
The commission's 2015 order temporarily exempted ISPs with 100,000 or fewer subscribers from the so-called enhanced transparency requirements, but that exemption expired in December 2016. Clyburn said she would support reinstating the exemption for ISPs with 100,000 or fewer subscribers, but she [pdf] dissented from today's order.
The 250,000-subscriber exemption won't apply to the top broadband providers such as Comcast, Charter, AT&T, Verizon, and others. But it will exempt many ISPs owned by conglomerates, Clyburn said.
"Many of the nation's largest broadband providers are actually holding companies, comprised of many smaller operating companies," Clyburn said. "So what today's Order does is exempt these companies' affiliates that have under 250,000 connections by declining to aggregate the connection count at the holding company level."
The original exemption [pdf] for ISPs with 100,000 or fewer subscribers was applied to the aggregated total of subscribers "across all affiliates," so that small ISPs owned by big holding companies wouldn't be exempt. That changed today, according to Clyburn.
Also at TechCrunch
Private prisons are making a comeback:
The Trump administration is rolling back an Obama-era plan to phase out the federal government's use of private prisons. Attorney General Jeff Sessions sent a memo Thursday to the Bureau of Prisons rescinding the Obama administration's Aug. 16 order advising the bureau not to renew any contracts with private prisons, according to a copy of the letter. Then-Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates had instructed officials to either not renew private prison contracts or substantially reduce the scope of such contracts to ultimately end the department's use of privately operated prisons altogether.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions's four-sentence memo rescinding Justice Department guidance to reduce the use of private prisons sent stock soaring for the two companies that dominate the industry, Geo Group and CoreCivic (formerly Corrections Corporation of America). That's not necessarily because the memo will lead to a ramp-up in Geo- or CoreCivic-run federal prisons. As of December 2015, about 12 percent of all inmates in federal prisons were housed in private facilities, representing only 22,660 inmates. That certainly won't decline under Sessions, but he didn't promise to increase it substantially. "I direct the [Bureau of Prisons] to return to its previous approach," Sessions wrote. Anyway, DoJ renewed a pair of contracts with CoreCivic despite the now-scuttled order, so it's unclear if the status quo ever stopped.
Also at CNN Money.
Teenagers who self-report feeling drowsy mid-afternoon also tend to exhibit more anti-social behavior such as lying, cheating, stealing and fighting. Now, research from the University of Pennsylvania and the University of York, in the United Kingdom, shows that those same teens are 4.5 times more likely to commit violent crimes a decade and a half later.
"It's the first study to our knowledge to show that daytime sleepiness during teenage years are associated with criminal offending 14 years later," said Adrian Raine, the Richard Perry University Professor with appointments in the departments of Criminology and Psychology in the School of Arts & Sciences and the Department of Psychiatry in Penn's Perelman School of Medicine.
He and Peter Venables, an emeritus psychology professor at the University of York, published their findings in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry .
Raine had collected the data for this work 39 years earlier, as part of his Ph.D. research (studying under Venables) but had never analyzed it. Recently, he began noticing cross-sectional studies, those that analyze multiple behaviors at a single point in time, connecting sleep and behavioral problems in children. He dug out his old dissertation work to look for a link between these and illegal behavior in adulthood.
Adrian Raine, Peter H. Venables Adolescent daytime sleepiness as a risk factor for adult crime Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry DOI: 10.1111/jcpp.12693
The State of Washington's Attorney General says he will resist federal efforts to undermine his state's legalized cannabis laws:
With White House press secretary Sean Spicer suggesting Thursday that the Trump administration would crack down on states that have legal recreational marijuana, Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson vowed to defend Washington state's legal pot law. "I will resist any efforts by the Trump administration to undermine the will of the voters in Washington state," Ferguson said in an interview. Spicer said during a press briefing Thursday that the issue rests with the Justice Department. But he said, "I do believe that you'll see greater enforcement of it."
[...] Ferguson and Gov. Jay Inslee sent a letter to U.S. attorney general Jeff Sessions, dated Feb. 15 that laid out arguments for Washington's state-regulated pot industry. They said illegal dealing is being displaced by a tightly regulated industry that is projected to pay $272 million in taxes this fiscal year. That frees up law-enforcement officers to protect communities facing more pressing threats. They also noted that legal pot entrepreneurs must undergo criminal and financial background checks.
California's Attorney General is also on board:
Intel this week formally launched its Atom C3000-series processors (formerly codenamed Denverton). The new chips are designed for inexpensive storage servers, NAS applications, as well as autonomous vehicles. The C3000 series features up to 16 low power x86 cores, integrated 10 GbE, rather rich I/O capabilities, as well as Intel's Quick Assist technology.
Intel's Atom C3000 processors are based on Intel's current-generation Goldmont Atom microarchitecture, with SKUs offering between 2 and 16 cores and clockspeeds up to 2.2 GHz. Being designed for primarily for NAS and servers, the Atom C3000 SoCs fully support Intel's VT-d hardware virtualization, Quick Assist compression/encryption technology (up to 20 Gbps throughput) as well as up to 64 GB of single-channel DDR4-1866 or DDR3L-1600 ECC memory. When it comes to I/O, the Atom C3000 features a PCIe 3.0 x16 controller (with x2, x4 and x8 bifurcation), 16 SATA 3.0 ports, four 10 GbE controllers, and four USB 3.0 ports.
Due to its rich I/O capabilities, the Atom C3000 is aimed at a wide range of devices, including servers/NAS (which they were originally designed for) as well as emerging applications like IoT and autonomous vehicles. For example, PCIe 3.0 bus may be used to connect various controllers, sensors and co-processors (e.g., a GPU) to the SoC. Last year we examined one of the server-oriented C3000-based designs that is going to be one of the many devices featuring the new chips.
Samsung will be the first company to sell a 10nm chip:
Samsung announced its next-generation mobile application processor, the Exynos 9 Series 8895, and said it's the first 10nm processor built so far. This means Samsung beat Intel and TSMC to the next-gen process node, but Qualcomm's Snapdragon 835 could soon follow on the same 10nm process.
The 10nm FinFET process brings an improved 3D transistor structure that allows for up to 27% higher performance or up to 40% power consumption when compared to Samsung's previous 14nm FinFET process.
Samsung said the Exynos 8895 is also the first chip to embed a gigabit LTE modem that supports five carrier aggregation (5CA). This allows wireless operators to combine multiple fragments of a spectrum to deliver higher data throughput. The modem can achieve up to 1Gbps (Cat. 16) downlink with 5CA, and 150 Mbps uplink with 2CA.
According to tiretechnologyinternational.com , Goodyear has been flying blimps for about 90 years now and this source says the current design goes back nearly 50 years...and the last one recently took its last flight.
The replacement is larger and semi-rigid, leading to higher airspeed. It also holds more people and is quieter. In Carson, CA, a new inflatable hangar is being built for the new airship according to ocregister.com. Look for it off the 405 freeway.
This AC was fortunate to have a blimp ride over LA and Orange County about 15 years ago -- arranged by a friend with the right Goodyear press office connections. Our ride was the last of the day (before changeover to night/billboard operations) and we were the only passengers. This gave us plenty of time to talk with the pilots who are part of a pretty interesting (and rare) group. Some fun facts:
+ The top air speed of 35 mph applies in level flight.
+ ...and also while climbing and descending. Buoyancy makes the blimp react very differently than normal heavier-than-air airplanes. On our flight, they pointed the nose down at what felt like a very steep angle, but the airspeed didn't change.
+ Pilots from the elite Air Force test pilot school get checked out on blimps
+ Flight controls are very different from normal aircraft, I don't remember seeing any automated systems. While the blimp reacts fairly slowly, it's far from stable and the pilots are chasing things all the time.
+ After our flight, we watched them attach the lighting system. It was heavy enough that no passengers could be carried and possibly some of the cabin was removed to save weight (seats?...memory is fading). It used a small turbine generator (aircraft aux power unit, APU) to power the display.
Researchers at Imperial College London have performed a meta-analysis of 95 studies concerning the consumption of fruits and vegetables. They found that the greater the amount of such foods that was eaten, the greater the beneficial effects on health and longevity were—up to the largest amounts that had been studied. Effects included lessened risks of premature death, of cardiovascular disease, of stroke and of cancer.
Fruit and vegetable intake and the risk of cardiovascular disease, total cancer and all-cause mortality–a systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of prospective studies has been published in the 22 February International Journal of Epidemiology.
The Penn State Cyber-Laboratory for Astronomy, Materials, and Physics (CyberLAMP) is acquiring a high-performance computer cluster that will facilitate interdisciplinary research and training in cyberscience and is funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation. The hybrid computer cluster will combine general purpose central processing unit (CPU) cores with specialized hardware accelerators, including the latest generation of NVIDIA graphics processing units (GPUs) and Intel Xeon Phi processors.
"This state-of-the-art computer cluster will provide Penn State researchers with over 3200 CPU and Phi cores, as well as 101 GPUs, a significant increase in the computing power available at Penn State," said Yuexing Li, assistant professor of astronomy and astrophysics and the principal investigator of the project.
Astronomers and physicists at Penn State will use this computer cluster to improve the analysis of the massive observational datasets generated by cutting-edge surveys and instruments. They will be able to broaden the search for Earth-like planets by the Habitable Zone Planet Finder, sharpen the sensitivity of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) to the cataclysmic merger of ultra-massive astrophysical objects like black holes and neutron stars, and dramatically enhance the ability of the IceCube experiment to detect and reconstruct elusive cosmological and atmospheric neutrinos.
"The order-of-magnitude improvement in processing power provided by CyberLAMP GPUs will revolutionize the way the IceCube experiment analyzes its data, enabling it to extract many more neutrinos, with much finer detail, than ever before," said co-principal investigator Doug Cowen, professor of physics and astronomy and astrophysics.
The heart of the Pacific Ocean is a vast, barely explored region outside national boundaries, teeming with undiscovered species and dramatic undersea terrain. A few organizations monitor activity here, mostly international fisheries management groups, but it's easy for a vessel to get lost in the enormous distances. That's exactly what many pirate fishing fleets depend on.
Though normally we associate the term piracy with rogues who commandeer other people's ships, it's also used as shorthand to describe illegal, unregulated, and unreported (IUU) fishing. The Pacific is crawling with fishing pirates. Often their ships are crewed by malnourished slaves who don't see land for months at a time, a practice that has been documented by rights groups and exposed in a 2015 Associated Press investigation. They make their money by fishing illegally or in poorly regulated areas and then offloading their goods to the crews of large refrigerated cargo vessels called reefers in a process called transshipping. The reefer crews mix their legal catch with the pirate catch and then sell it all in port.
[...] Catching the anonymous pirate fishing vessels in uncharted international waters took less than a minute. More precisely, it took a minute of satellite time and three years of complicated signals analysis.
The majority of large vessels on the ocean broadcast their identity and location using the automatic identification system (AIS), which is mostly used to prevent ships from colliding. These days it can also be used to track ship locations, as most AIS data is relayed through satellites. If you want to hide on the sea, the first thing you do is make your vessel "dark" by turning off your AIS broadcasts. What's interesting about pirate fishing vessels, however, is that they need to rendezvous with legitimate reefers if they want to get paid for their catch.
To find the pirates, Amos told Ars, he and Bergman needed to look for odd patterns in the behavior of reefers. The group partnered with Google and Oceana to found Global Fishing Watch, which maps satellite AIS data. After over two years of research, patterns began to emerge. "Often with reefers they come to a halt in the middle of the ocean,"
[...] Certain reefers stood out. They spotted the Panama vessel Hai Feng 648, known to have previously taken illegal transshipments from a Russian pirate fishing ship, lingering oddly off the coasts of Argentina. Meanwhile, the Thai vessel Leelawadee took the same path again and again, traveling between Thailand (already a known source of pirate fleets) and the Dogleg.
[...] Enter DigitalGlobe, a company with five private satellites. DigitalGlobe Senior Director Taner Kodanaz told Ars that his company likes to devote a small part of its satellites' time to causes like SkyTruth's search for pirates. It also happened to have the perfect satellite for the job: WorldView-3, which orbits every 90 minutes, and whose high-resolution cameras can "capture objects that are 1 foot in size."
VICE News reports on Feb 16:
Members of Congress are set to return to their districts this weekend for their first weeklong recess since Donald Trump's inauguration. Heading home during legislative breaks is nothing new, but this year most Republicans are foregoing a hallowed recess tradition: holding in-person town halls where lawmakers take questions from constituents in a high school gym, local restaurant, or college classroom.
After outpourings of rage at some early town halls--including crowds at an event near Salt Lake City yelling "Do your job!" at Rep. Jason Chaffetz, chairman of the House Oversight Committee--many Republicans are ducking in-person events altogether. Instead they're opting for more controlled Facebook Live or "tele-town halls," where questions can be screened by press secretaries and followups are limited--as are the chances of becoming the next viral meme of the Left.
For the first two months of the new Congress, the 292 Republicans have scheduled just 88 in-person town hall events--and 35 of those sessions are for Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin, according to a tabulation conducted by Legistorm. In the first two months of the previous Congress in 2015, by contrast, Republicans held 222 in-person town hall events.
[...] "What happens in politics is that over time, you can get increasingly insulated from people that have a strongly held point of view that's different [from yours]", [said Rep. Mark Sanford of South Carolina]. Sessions like tele-town halls aren't a good substitute, he said, because "oftentimes they will screen their calls and those forums can be manipulated".
Republicans who get [verbally] roughed up at their town halls have taken to dismissing the attendees as professional organizers. [...] While there is no evidence of paid protesters attending town halls, it is true that Democratic activists have been organizing to manufacture viral moments of confrontation like the tea party movement did in the summer of 2009.
[...] One strategy for activists has been to host their own town halls and invite their representatives to attend. [...] Another method has been to confront senators and representative in public places and demand they hold a town hall.
Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story:
With a nudge of a robotic arm, astronauts aboard the International Space Station captured a space capsule carrying 5,500 pounds of cargo early Thursday.
"Capture confirmed," NASA TV's announcer stated at 5:44 a.m. ET. The capture took place as the space station and the SpaceX capsule flew in orbit 250 miles over Australia's northwest coast.
The safe rendezvous should help soothe the nerves of NASA and SpaceX teams that have seen this mission encounter delays at crucial moments. In NASA's timetable that was released last week, the agency had planned for the Dragon craft to reach the space station three days ago.
On Saturday, the craft's launch was aborted just seconds ahead of rocket ignition, due to an anomaly in its steering system.
[...] The actual launch one day later went perfectly, but when the Dragon craft was less than a mile from its space station dock early Wednesday, its computer automatically aborted the maneuver due to an error in its GPS software. That set up today's meeting, which comes just a day before a Russian resupply rocket is slated to arrive early Friday.
-- submitted from IRC
Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story:
Taking popular heartburn drugs for prolonged periods has been linked to serious kidney problems, including kidney failure. The sudden onset of kidney problems often serves as a red flag for doctors to discontinue their patients' use of so-called proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), which are sold under the brand names Prevacid, Prilosec, Nexium and Protonix, among others.
But a new study evaluating the use of PPIs in 125,000 patients indicates that more than half of patients who develop chronic kidney damage while taking the drugs don't experience acute kidney problems beforehand, meaning patients may not be aware of a decline in kidney function, according to researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and the Veterans Affairs St. Louis Health Care System. Therefore, people who take PPIs, and their doctors, should be more vigilant in monitoring use of these medications.
[...] More than 15 million Americans suffering from heartburn, ulcers and acid reflux have prescriptions for PPIs, which bring relief by reducing gastric acid. Many millions more purchase the drugs over-the-counter and take them without being under a doctor's care.
[...] "Doctors must pay careful attention to kidney function in their patients who use PPIs, even when there are no signs of problems," cautioned Al-Aly, who also is the VA's associate chief of staff for research and education and co-director of the VA's Clinical Epidemiology Center. "In general, we always advise clinicians to evaluate whether PPI use is medically necessary in the first place because the drugs carry significant risks, including a deterioration of kidney function."
Xie Y, Bowe B, Li T, Xian H, Yan Y, Al-Aly Z. Long Term Kidney Outcomes among Proton Pump Inhibitors Users without Intervening Acute Kidney Injury. Kidney International. Feb. 22, 2017. DOI: 10.1016/j.kint.2016.12.021
-- submitted from IRC
The VASIMR plasma rocket faces its biggest test yet: operating at a 100 kW power level for a continuous 100 hours:
As part of a program to develop the next generation of in-space propulsion systems, NASA awarded Franklin Chang-Díaz's company, Ad Astra, a three-year, $9 million contract in 2015. This unlocked an opportunity long awaited—a chance to prove the doubters wrong. Naturally, it won't be easy. Ad Astra must fire its plasma rocket for 100 hours, at a power level of 100 kilowatts, next year. [...] During a visit this month, the VASIMR engine fired at 100kW for 10 seconds and 50kW for one minute.
[...] Proven, powerful electric propulsion would lower the cost of human landings on Mars. NASA already has plenty of experience with chemical rocket engines and in-space propulsion, but such missions would require multiple launches of the Space Launch System rocket to provide all of the fuel needed for a Mars journey. A gas-sipping, electric engine for in-space propulsion would require far less fuel—and fewer launches from Earth to pre-position rocket fuel. To determine whether any of the electric approaches is feasible, the agency has set a rigid requirement of firing a 100kW engine for 100 continuous hours by mid-2018. "At that point in time you either do it or you don't," Crusan said. "This gets rid of a lot of ambiguity, because you can't really game a 100-hour test."
[...] For now, the skepticism toward Ad Astra is understandable. Virtually every news headline about the company's efforts to develop a plasma engine have focused on a single, fantastical number—39 days to Mars. While such a low transit time between Earth and Mars is theoretically possible with a much larger and more powerful VASIMR engine, there is one big catch: it would require a nuclear reactor in space to provide enough power to reach Mars that quickly.
NASA has had some abortive attempts, such as the Prometheus project, to develop nuclear energy for in-space propulsion. But due to the politics and sensitivity surrounding nuclear energy, the agency has never gotten very far down the path toward deploying some kind of in-space propulsion system driven by nuclear power. Based upon current technology, Chang-Díaz figures that large but manageable solar arrays could eventually provide up to 1 megawatt of energy for electric propulsion. But that is the value at Earth's distance from the Sun, and solar energy really falls off beyond Mars. So solar power seems to be good for transport in the inner Solar System. For areas beyond Mars, solar really won't work.
For the first time ever, a single flexible fiber no bigger than a human hair has successfully delivered a combination of optical, electrical, and chemical signals back and forth into the brain, putting into practice an idea first proposed two years ago. With some tweaking to further improve its biocompatibility, the new approach could provide a dramatically improved way to learn about the functions and interconnections of different brain regions.
[...] The fibers are designed to mimic the softness and flexibility of brain tissue. This could make it possible to leave implants in place and have them retain their functions over much longer periods than is currently possible with typical stiff, metallic fibers, thus enabling much more extensive data collection. For example, in tests with lab mice, the researchers were able to inject viral vectors that carried genes called opsins, which sensitize neurons to light, through one of two fluid channels in the fiber. They waited for the opsins to take effect, then sent a pulse of light through the optical waveguide in the center, and recorded the resulting neuronal activity, using six electrodes to pinpoint specific reactions. All [of] this was done through a single flexible fiber just 200 micrometers across -- comparable to the width of a human hair.
[...] The key ingredient that made this multifunctional fiber possible was the development of conductive "wires" that maintained the needed flexibility while also carrying electrical signals well. After much work, the team was able to engineer a composite of conductive polyethylene doped with graphite flakes. The polyethylene was initially formed into layers, sprinkled with graphite flakes, then compressed; then another pair of layers was added and compressed, and then another, and so on. A member of the team, Benjamin Grena, a recent graduate in materials science and engineering, referred to it as making "mille feuille," (literally, "a thousand leaves," the French name for a Napoleon pastry). That method increased the conductivity of the polymer by a factor of four or five, Park says. "That allowed us to reduce the size of the electrodes by the same amount."
Seongjun Park, Yuanyuan Guo, et al. One-step optogenetics with multifunctional flexible polymer fibers. Nature Neuroscience, 2017; DOI: 10.1038/nn.4510
Hot tip: If you're going to cheat while running a marathon, don't wear a fitness tracking band.
A New York food writer found this out the hard way on Tuesday after she was busted for an elaborate run-faking scheme, in which she attempted to use doctored data to back up an illegitimate finish time. In an apologetic Instagram post that was eventually deleted, 24-year-old runner Jane Seo admitted to cutting the course at the Fort Lauderdale A1A Half Marathon.
An independent marathon-running investigator (yes, that's a thing) named Derek Murphy posted his elaborate analysis of Seo's scheme, and the findings revolved almost entirely around data derived from Seo's Garmin 235 fitness tracker. Suspicions over her second-place finish in the half marathon began after very limited data about her podium-placing run was posted to the Strava fitness-tracking service. The data only listed a distance and completion time, as opposed to more granular statistics. (This followed the release of Seo's official completion times, which showed her running remarkably faster in the half marathon's later stages.)
Things got weirder when Seo eventually posted a "complete," GPS-tracked run of the half-marathon course. Its time-stamp looked suspiciously off, Murphy noted in his own report, so he dug up older run-data posts from her same account and noticed starkly different heart rate and cadence stats in her newer report. "The cadence data [of the half marathon] is more consistent with what you would expect on a bike ride, not a run," Murphy wrote.
[...] Seo's completion time has since been deleted from the Fort Lauderdale A1A Half Marathon's results page.