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What should be the Book Club pick for December 2018?

  • Snow Crash - by Neal Stephenson
  • We Are Legion (We Are Bob) (Bobiverse #1) - by Dennis Taylor
  • Dawn (Xenogenesis #1) - by Octavia Butler
  • The Metropolitan Man (Fan Fiction) - by Alexander Wales
  • Thinking, Fast and Slow (Non-Fiction) - by Daniel Kahneman
  • Superforecasting (Non-Fiction) - by Philip E. Tetlock and Dan Gardner
  • Makers (Fiction) - by Cory Doctorow
  • Rip Foster in Ride the Gray Planet - by Harold L. Goodwin

[ Results | Polls ]
Comments:34 | Votes:97

posted by janrinok on Wednesday June 13, @11:54PM   Printer-friendly
from the we've-all-done-it dept.

Milorad Trkulja was shot by an unknown gunman in Melbourne in 2004, then discovered that Google searches of his name brought up images of mob figures, including prolific drug trafficker Tony Mokbel. Gangland activity in the city was prevalent at the time.

Trkulja successfully sued Google in The Victorian Supreme Court in 2012, receiving AU$200,000 in damages (roughly $150,000). He then launched a second defamation action in 2013, alleging Google's autocomplete predictions, as well as searching phrases such as "Melbourne underworld criminals", wrongly brought up his name and image. Google took the case to the Victorian Court of Appeal and won that round.

Now the High Court has granted Trkulja special leave to appeal against that decision.

"In each of the pages on which images of such persons appear," the judgement said according to the ABC, "there are also images of persons who are notorious criminals or members of the Melbourne criminal underworld... coupled with images of persons, such as Mr Trkulja whose identity is relatively unknown."

Google tried to stop the case, but the High Court ruled there was clear potential for defamation.


Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Wednesday June 13, @10:24PM   Printer-friendly
from the can-you-see-the-benefits-yet? dept.

US Officially Repeals Net Neutrality Rules

The net neutrality rules said companies had to treat all data equally.

Enacted in 2015, the rules sought to stop providers giving preferential treatment to sites and services that paid them to accelerate their data.

And critics fear repealing them may see consumers charged extra for anything more than the most basic service.

Public protests greeted the Federal Communications Commission's plan to end use of the rules, with many saying it could have an impact on free speech.

But, in December, the FCC voted to repeal the rules. And the regulations expired on Monday.

https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-44438812

Oddly The Trump FCC Doesn't Much Want To Talk About Why It Made Up A DDOS Attack

Last week, e-mails obtained via FOIA request revealed that yes, FCC staffers routinely misled journalists in order to prop up this flimsy narrative, apparently in the belief they could conflate consumer outrage with criminal activity. The motive? It was likely for the same reason the FCC refused to do anything about the identity theft and bogus comments we witnessed during the repeal's open comment period: they wanted to try and downplay the massive, bipartisan public opposition to what the lion's share of Americans thought was an idiotic, corruption-fueled repeal of popular consumer protections.

[...] One of the FCC staffers accused of making false statements about the DDOS attack was recently departed FCC IT chief David Bray. Original reports stated that Bray and other staffers had been feeding this flimsy DDOS narrative to gullible reporters for years, then pointing to these inaccurate stories as "proof" the nonexistent attack occurred. Under fire in the wake of last week's report, Bray first doubled down on his claims, adding that the 2014 "attack" hadn't been publicized because former FCC boss Tom Wheeler covered it up. But Wheeler himself subsequently stated in a report late last week that this was unequivocally false:

"When I was in the greenroom waiting to come in here, I got an email from David Bray, who said 'I never said that you told us not to talk about this and to cover up,' which was the term that got used. Which of course is logical, because as the Gizmodo article that you referenced pointed out, A) FCC officials who were there at the time said it didn't happen, [and] B) the independent IT contractors that were hired said it didn't happen. So if it didn't happen it's hard to have a cover up for something that didn't happen."

https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20180607/13443039988/oddly-trump-fcc-doesnt-much-want-to-talk-about-why-it-made-up-ddos-attack.shtml


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posted by janrinok on Wednesday June 13, @08:53PM   Printer-friendly
from the should-have-seen-it-coming dept.

Earlier this year DePaul University was given the first-ever "Lifetime Censorship Award" by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education for its long, inglorious history of punishing and suppressing mostly conservative speech.

The nation's largest Catholic university – which doesn't want students to hear about radical Islam's threat to gay people, vandalism against pro-lifers or criticism of race preferences – has appeared with regularity on FIRE's annual list of the worst colleges for free speech.

[...] DePaul is slashing dozens of staff positions to "place the university in a better long-term position to invest in strategic growth," according to a statement to staff Thursday obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times.

The 62 full- and part-time staff members are mostly in administrative support roles, and they represent 3.5 percent of non-faculty workers. The statement didn't specify exact positions. The school avoided the ire of its faculty by sparing them any layoffs.

Source: https://www.thecollegefix.com/post/45753/


Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Wednesday June 13, @07:22PM   Printer-friendly
from the unexpected-consequences dept.

"Lava from the Kilauea eruption has boiled away Hawaii's largest freshwater lake in just a matter of hours.

In a statement released on June 2, the U.S. Geological Survey explained that lava from the eruption's fissure 8 entered Green Lake and boiled its water away, sending a white plume high into the sky.

USGS tweeted that lava entered Green Lake at 10 AM local time. By 3PM, Hawaii County Fire Department confirmed that the lake had filled and that its water had evaporated." foxnews.com/science/2018/06/12/hawaii-volcano-kilauea-lava-boiled-away-big-islands-largest-freshwater-lake.html


Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Wednesday June 13, @05:52PM   Printer-friendly
from the so-long,-farewell dept.

Holdouts to Windows 7, 8.1, and 8.1 RT won't be able to ping Microsoft's own forums for tech support from the company anymore.

The Redmond software behemoth announced on Friday that, come next month, its staff will no longer be combing the official forums for 13 outdated products to offer support advice and assistance. Users will still be able to access the forums and get advice from each one, albeit without feedback from a Microsoft employee.

"There will be no proactive reviews, monitoring, answering or answer marking of questions," Microsoft said in announcing the move.

[...] Customers are still able to get paid support from Microsoft through to the end of the extended support periods.

In addition to the three outdated versions of Windows, Microsoft is pulling the plug on official forum support for the Office 2010 and 2013, IE 10, Surface Pro, Surface Pro 2, Surface RT and Surface 2, and Security Essentials. As with Windows 7 and 8.1, those products are all past their official support lifecycle as well.


Original Submission

posted by chromas on Wednesday June 13, @04:31PM   Printer-friendly
from the [6]-a⠀[⠀]-b⠀[3]-c⠀[1]-d⠀[⠀]-e⠀[9]-f⠀[2]-g⠀[4]-h⠀[7]-i⠀[5]-j⠀[⠀]-k⠀[8]-l dept.

Maine Is Trying Out A New Way To Run Elections. But Will It Survive The Night?

The man who lives in the Blaine House in Augusta, Maine, was, for many, a sneak preview of the 45th president of the United States. Like Donald Trump, Republican Gov. Paul LePage has transformed the face of government with his politically incorrect brand of conservatism — and he did it despite winning less than a majority of votes. LePage won a seven-way Republican primary for governor in 2010 with 37 percent of the vote, and he beat a Democrat and three independents in the general with just 38 percent.

Eight years later, it's far from clear that LePage would have a path to victory if he were running now in the Republican primary for governor. That's because, partly in response to LePage's plurality wins, Maine on Tuesday will become the first state to use ranked-choice voting to decide a statewide election. So not only are there races in Maine we'll be watching, but the process matters too. And if Maine voters don't pass an initiative reauthorizing the voting method at the same time, this real-life political-science experiment will be cut short.

The question of keeping ranked-choice in place for future primaries and Congressional races in the general election led 54-46 percent with 57% of precincts reporting at 12:05 AM EDT.

Maine's Governor Paul LePage has threatened to not certify the results, but that doesn't matter according to Maine's Secretary of State:

Gov. LePage on Tuesday says he "probably" won't certify results from the voter-approved ranked-choice voting system.

Maine law requires the secretary of state to tabulate results and get them to the governor within 20 days of an election. The governor "shall" certify them within a reasonable time period, but Secretary of State Matt Dunlap, a Democrat, said this only applies to state general elections and not primaries. "He can bluster all he wants, but he can't change the results," Dunlap said.

Also at WGME, Vox, NYT (live results), and Portland Press Herald.

Previously: Maine Supreme Court Approves Ranked-Choice Voting for 2018 Elections


Original Submission

posted by chromas on Wednesday June 13, @03:00PM   Printer-friendly
from the art dept.

ASIFA-Hollywood is encouraging its members to try popular open source software programs for themselves and to participate in the online communities. In particular, ASIFA is recommending Audacity, Blender, Gimp, Inkscape, Krita, Notepad ++, Open Broadcaster, and Synfig. The goal is to foster better tools and art for everyone.

The International Animated Film Society, ASIFA-Hollywood continues its commitment to open source animation technology this month with a special development sponsorship to Synfig, a 2D vector graphics animation program. The amount awarded was $2000. This grant will help keep their new developer employed full-time, working on bug-fixes and improving stability of the free and open source software. ASIFA members are encouraged to download and experiment with the software today at https://www.synfig.org/#download.


Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Wednesday June 13, @01:49PM   Printer-friendly
from the he-ain't-heavy-he's-my-nucleus dept.

Nobelium — element number 102 on the periodic table — has an atomic nucleus that is deformed into the shape of an American football, scientists report in the June 8 Physical Review Letters. The element is the heaviest yet to have its nucleus sized up.

By probing individual nobelium atoms with a laser, the team gauged the oblong shape of three nobelium isotopes: nobelium-252, -253 and -254. These different forms of the element each contain 102 protons, but varying numbers of neutrons. The shape is not uncommon for nuclei, but the researchers also determined that nobelium-252 and -254 contain fewer protons in the center of the nucleus than the outer regions — a weird configuration known as a “bubble nucleus” (SN: 11/26/16, p. 11).

The measurements are in agreement with previous theoretical predictions. “It nicely confirms what we believe,” says study coauthor Witold Nazarewicz, a theoretical nuclear physicist at Michigan State University in East Lansing.

Elements heavier than uranium, number 92, aren’t found in significant quantities in nature, and must be created artificially. Currently, the heaviest element on the periodic table is number 118, oganesson (SN Online: 2/12/18). But scientists hope to go even bigger, in search of a potential “island of stability,” a proposed realm in which elements are more stable than other heavy elements.

While many superheavy elements decay in just fractions of a second, some theoretical calculations suggest that elements inhabiting this proposed hinterland might persist longer, making them easier to study. Better understanding the heaviest known elements, including the shape of their atomic nuclei, could help scientists gauge what lies just out of reach.


Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Wednesday June 13, @12:17PM   Printer-friendly
from the first-do-no-harm dept.

Childhood deaths from two leading bacterial causes of pneumonia and meningitis, pneumococcus and Hib, declined sharply during the period 2000 to 2015, especially as vaccines against these pathogens were introduced in high-burden countries, according to new estimates from a team led by scientists at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

The findings, published in The Lancet Global Health on June 11, highlight the success of the global fight against these illnesses, and also provide a clear picture of the remaining disease burden, now largely concentrated in South Asia and Africa.

[...] Wahl and colleagues developed updated estimates -- on a country-by-country basis, for each year from 2000 to 2015 -- of the numbers of Hib and pneumococcal disease cases and deaths in children. They used country-specific figures of children who died of pneumonia and meningitis, along with field-based evidence on the fraction of those deaths caused by pneumococcus and Hib, and WHO/UNICEF estimates of vaccine coverage to estimate the burden of pneumococcal and Hib deaths and cases.

Their primary findings were that both Hib and pneumococcus caused far fewer cases of severe disease and death in children ages one to 59 months in 2015 compared to 2000. For Hib in 2015, there were approximately 29,500 child deaths, and for pneumococcus an estimated 294,000 child deaths. These figures suggest declines of 90 percent and 51 percent, respectively, from the estimated deaths in the year 2000.

[...] The researchers estimated that during 2000-2015 PCV prevented a total of about 250,000 child deaths -- mostly after 2010 -- while Hib vaccines prevented 1.2 million child deaths. These figures do not include the prevented cases of pneumococcal and Hib deaths among children who were HIV-infected.

The new estimates will guide ongoing efforts to reduce the burdens of Hib and pneumococcal diseases, which together still kill approximately 900 children per day around the world. The estimates suggest, for example, that about half of the pneumococcal child deaths in 2015 occurred in just four countries: India, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Pakistan. "The pneumoccocal disease burden is now limited to a small number of countries that have not introduced the vaccine or have not yet fully scaled the vaccines," Wahl says.


Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Wednesday June 13, @10:43AM   Printer-friendly
from the oops,my-bad dept.

If you're a developer relying on GnuPG, check upstream for an update that plugs an input sanitisation bug.

The short version, given in CVE-2018-12020, is that mainproc.c mishandles the filename, and as a result, an attacker can spoof the output it sends to other programs.

“For example, the OpenPGP data might represent an original filename that contains line feed characters in conjunction with GOODSIG or VALIDSIG status codes”, the Mitre advisory states.

GnuPG maintainer Werner Koch explained in more detail in this advisory.

The ability to include the input file name in a signed/encrypted message is part of the OpenPGP protocol, so he[sic] recipient can see what file is being decrypted. The bug is that the file name included for display doesn't get sanitised.

As a result, an attacker can include commands in a fake filename, because the filename “may include line feeds or other control characters. This can be used inject terminal control sequences into the out and, worse, to fake the so-called status messages”, Koch's note said.

[...] Koch attributed the discovery to Marcus Brinkmann, and Brinkmann had one complaint about how things were handled, as he wrote to the OSS-sec mailing list: "I tried to disclose this responsibly with Werner Koch (and in coordination with other affected projects), but within two hours he did a unilateral full disclosure without getting back to me."


Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Wednesday June 13, @09:06AM   Printer-friendly
from the RIP-net-neutrality dept.

Binge-watchers were at the receiving end of a cruel joke yesterday as they arrived home after a hectic day’s work – Netflix (NFLX) was down – and it sent the whole world into a tizzy. Only an error message displayed on both the app and the website that read: Netflix error: this title is not available to watch instantly.

In spite of witnessing an exponential increase in the number of ardent followers, Netflix had so far managed to prevent its servers from any major disruptions. That is, until yesterday, when it saw its largest global outage. The video-streaming platform has previously suffered minor outages on April 19, May 9 and May 24 this year.

We are aware of members having trouble streaming on all devices. We are investigating the issue and appreciate your patience.

— Netflix CS (@Netflixhelps) June 11, 2018

[...] As per Down Detector website, complaints peaked at around 5PM ET and half an hour later, Netflix acknowledged the outage on its Twitter channel that they are aware of the issue. The issue was sorted out by 7PM ET, when the company tweeted, “The streaming issues we reported earlier have now been resolved. Thank you for your patience, and as always, happy streaming!”


Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Wednesday June 13, @07:32AM   Printer-friendly
from the getting-back-lost-gravity dept.

Less than three weeks after launch, the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On (GRACE-FO) mission has successfully completed its first mission phase and demonstrated the performance of the precise microwave ranging system that enables its unique measurements of how mass migrates around our planet.

The twin spacecraft launched May 22 from California's Vandenberg Air Force Base. NASA and German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ) engineers and mission controllers at the German Space Operations Center in Oberpfaffenhofen then spent the first few days completing the mission's launch and early operations phase and moving into an 85-day in-orbit checkout period. Science operations will begin when that period has been successfully completed.

During the initial phase, the twin GRACE-FO satellites were maneuvered into their operational orbit formation approximately 137 miles (220 kilometers) apart. Spacecraft systems were powered on, checked out and found to be performing as expected. Engineers also activated both primary instruments: the accelerometers, which measure forces on the satellites other than gravity, such as atmospheric drag or solar radiation pressure; and the microwave ranging instruments, which precisely measure the distance changes between the two satellites as they orbit Earth. Variations in Earth's gravity field caused by changes in the distribution of Earth's mass on and beneath the planet's surface—such as groundwater withdrawal and ice melt—cause the distance between the two satellites to vary ever so slightly.

[...] GRACE-FO data will provide unique insights into Earth's changing climate, including large-scale changes in our planet's ice sheets and glaciers; Earth system processes that define our environment, such as droughts and earthquakes; and even the impacts of some human activities, such as changes in the levels of aquifers resulting from pumping underground water for use in agriculture. GRACE-FO observations promise to provide far-reaching benefits to society.


Original Submission

posted by mrpg on Wednesday June 13, @06:00AM   Printer-friendly
from the 600GB-of-txt-files-is-massive dept.

Nation-state attackers affiliated with the Chinese government have made off with a trove of undersea military secrets, according to a report.

Hackers were able to mount a lateral attack after compromising the networks of a Navy contractor working for the Naval Undersea Warfare Center in Rhode Island, according to a Washington Post report, citing American officials.

The result? “Massive amounts of highly sensitive data” flowed into the hands of China, unnamed officials told the paper, including “secret plans to develop a supersonic anti-ship missile for use on U.S. submarines by 2020.”

The incident happened January and February, the sources said, and resulted in 614 gigabytes of data, most of it highly sensitive info related to American offensive and defensive systems, including cryptography systems for secure communication, signals and sensor data, and the Navy’s electronic submarine warfare library, which contains information about adversary radar platforms.


Original Submission

posted by mrpg on Wednesday June 13, @04:31AM   Printer-friendly
from the hot-on-the-heels-of-fresh-water-from-air dept.

Sucking carbon dioxide from air is cheaper than scientists thought

Siphoning carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere could be more than an expensive last-ditch strategy for averting climate catastrophe. A detailed economic analysis published on 7 June suggests that the geoengineering technology is inching closer to commercial viability.

The study, in Joule, was written by researchers at Carbon Engineering in Calgary, Canada, which has been operating a pilot CO2-extraction plant in British Columbia since 2015. That plant — based on a concept called direct air capture — provided the basis for the economic analysis, which includes cost estimates from commercial vendors of all of the major components. Depending on a variety of design options and economic assumptions, the cost of pulling a tonne of CO2 from the atmosphere ranges between US$94 and $232. The last comprehensive analysis of the technology, conducted by the American Physical Society in 2011, estimated that it would cost $600 per tonne.

Carbon Engineering says that it published the paper to advance discussions about the cost and potential of the technology. "We're really trying to commercialize direct air capture in a serious way, and to do that, you have to have everybody in the supply chain on board," says David Keith, acting chief scientist at Carbon Engineering and a climate physicist at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

A Process for Capturing CO2 from the Atmosphere (DOI: 10.1016/j.joule.2018.05.006) (DX)

Direct Air Capture of CO2 with Chemicals (2011)


Original Submission

posted by chromas on Wednesday June 13, @02:56AM   Printer-friendly
from the DIY-all-natural-organic-topical-cream dept.

While an infected man’s semen may be teeming with hundreds of millions of Zika viruses, the number of people who have been infected with this virus via sexual intercourse is relatively low. Instead, Zika is usually transmitted by a mosquito bite. An international research team headed by Ulm University's Professor Jan Münch has now discovered that semen blocks Zika virus infection. Responsible for this effect are small vesicles that are naturally present in semen and make it harder for the virus to attach to cells of the anogenital tract. The results were published recently in the journal Nature Communications.

[...] 'We were very surprised to find that semen inhibits Zika virus infection instead of enhancing its infectivity as it does with HIV-1,' says first author Dr. Janis Müller, who works as postdoctoral scientist at the Institute of Molecular Virology. The international research team demonstrated that Zika virus replicates efficiently in cells isolated from both genital and rectal tissues. When the cells were exposed to semen before infection with Zika, however, infection rates were significantly lower.

What is responsible for this antiviral effect? Using a wide array of methods – from molecular weight filtration and nanoparticle tracking analysis to fluorescence, confocal and electron microscopy – the scientists eventually uncovered the identity of the 'virus stopper'. 'Extracellular vesicles, which are present in semen in large numbers, reduce attachment of the virus to the cells and thus prevent infection,' Münch explains. These vesicles are bubble-like particles consisting of membranes and proteins and are responsible for the transport and storage of substances to cells.


Original Submission

posted by chromas on Wednesday June 13, @01:33AM   Printer-friendly
from the bells-will-be-ringing dept.

As Europe's latest copyright proposal heads to a critical vote on June 20-21, more than 70 Internet and computing luminaries have spoken out against a dangerous provision, Article 13, that would require Internet platforms to automatically filter uploaded content. The group, which includes Internet pioneer Vint Cerf, the inventor of the World Wide Web Tim Berners-Lee, Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales, co-founder of the Mozilla Project Mitchell Baker, Internet Archive founder Brewster Kahle, cryptography expert Bruce Schneier, and net neutrality expert Tim Wu, wrote in a joint letter that was released today:

By requiring Internet platforms to perform automatic filtering all of the content that their users upload, Article 13 takes an unprecedented step towards the transformation of the Internet, from an open platform for sharing and innovation, into a tool for the automated surveillance and control of its users.

https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2018/06/internet-luminaries-ring-alarm-eu-copyright-filtering-proposal


Original Submission

posted by mrpg on Wednesday June 13, @12:15AM   Printer-friendly
from the plant-based-science dept.

New research led by an Iowa State University agronomist identifies clear patterns in how plants react to different environments that could lead to new ways of predicting crop performance.

The research focuses on flowering time in sorghum, a globally cultivated cereal plant, but the results could have implications for nearly all crops, said Jianming Yu, professor of agronomy and the Pioneer Distinguished Chair in Maize Breeding. The study, published recently in the peer-reviewed academic journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, focuses on phenotypic plasticity, or the way plant traits respond to environmental factors.

[...] The three geographical regions in the study presented a wide range of environmental conditions, and, at first, the data presented no obvious patterns, he said. But when the researchers zeroed in on "photothermal time," a window of time that's crucial to a plant's development when it processes the environmental cues of sunlight and temperature, everything fell into place.

[...] "Not just the overall performance and its prediction, this represents an elegant framework in which scientists can better understand the intricate dynamics of gene effects, the ups and downs, along this environmental gradient," Yu said.


Original Submission