2019-01-01 00:00:00 ..
2019-10-14 13:46:04 UTC
2019-10-15 09:01:52 UTC
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All told, the Moon has about a hundred sites where people have left their mark, according to For All Moonkind, a non-profit that seeks to preserve human heritage in space.
[...] Legally, "the sites themselves aren't protected at all," said Michelle Hanlon, a law professor at the University of Mississippi who co-founded For All Moonkind in 2017 after the head of the European Space Agency Jan Worner joked that he wanted to bring back the American flag.
"So the boot prints, the rover tracks, where items are on the site, which is so important, from an archaeological standpoint, they have no protection," she added.
[...] NASA has adopted recommendations, for example, that future expeditions should not land within two kilometers (1.2 miles) of Apollo sites.
In the US Congress, senators have introduced a "One Small Step to Protect Human Heritage in Space" bill.
But the Outer Space Treaty of 1967 is very explicit: "Outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, is not subject to national appropriation by claim of sovereignty, by means of use or occupation, or by any other means."
"Once you start making exclusionary zones, and stopping other countries from their free use and exploration of space, you're running up against the basic premise of the Outer Space Treaty," Jack Beard, a space law professor from the University of Nebraska, told AFP.
To be sure, the treaty says each space object must be registered by its country, a safeguard against irresponsible behavior by private entities.
These artifacts also remain the property of the entity which placed them, effectively barring theft.
But its loopholes concern lawyers, space agencies and the UN, and not only over the issue of protecting heritage.
Moon traffic is likely to grow in the coming decades and the vague principles of cooperation enshrined in the treaty are not seen as sufficient to regulate it.
[...Tanja Masson, a professor of space law at Leiden University in The Netherlands] suggests the creation of an international body to distribute priority rights, without granting sovereignty, as is done to manage satellites in geostationary orbit.
It took thousands of years for the global population to hit 5 billion, which happened in 1987. Some 32 years later, we're closing in on 8 billion. This explosive growth concerns leaders at the United Nations, who created World Population Day in 1989 to raise awareness about the problems caused by overpopulation. The holiday is observed annually on July 11. Some areas are actually losing population According to the UN, 27 countries or areas have seen their populations shrink by 1 percent or more since 2010. This drop is caused by sustained lower levels of fertility, most notably in countries like China amd[sic] Japan. In fact the global fertility rate fell from 3.2 births per woman in 1990 to 2.5 in 2019 and is projected to decline further. But these shrinkages are dwarfed by population booms in other regions. The population of sub-Saharan Africa, for example, is projected to double by 2050.
Crucially, the vast majority of the extra 3 billion human beings that could be added to Earth's population will be born in Africa. Today there are about 1.2 billion Africans. By 2100, there will be more than 4 billion. Our growing population crisis therefore needs to be tackled there as a priority: by boosting women's rights, by making contraception easily available and by improving education for all. The remarks of President Magufuli suggest that this is going to be a very hard task. Nor have the actions of Donald Trump's White House helped. By slashing funds to international birth control programmes, the US is now undermining hopes of limiting Africa's population growth.
It has been 20 years since Congress tightened the rules on civil forfeiture, but following unanimous approval by Congress, President Trump signed the Taxpayer First Act (H.R.3151) into law last week. This law curbs the IRS's power to seize cash for "structuring" offenses.
Under the Bank Secrecy Act of 1970, banks must report any cash transactions greater than $10,000. But if someone frequently deposits or withdraws their cash in amounts under $10,000, the IRS could seize it for “structuring.” Even though their money was earned legitimately and despite the fact that they were never charged with a crime, in 2012, the IRS seized nearly $63,000 from Randy and more than $446,000 from Jeff. It took years of litigation and high-profile coverage before they won their money back.
Structuring can be a Kafkaesque nightmare for small-business owners, especially for entrepreneurs like Jeff and Randy who work in cash-heavy industries: Jeff runs a convenience store distribution business with his brothers on Long Island, while Randy is a dairy farmer in Maryland.
Nor were the above isolated incidents.
Between 2005 and 2012, the IRS used civil forfeiture to seize nearly $200 million in over 2,100 cases. Roughly half of all seizures involved amounts under $34,000—hardly the proceeds of the sprawling criminal enterprises structuring laws were supposed to target.
The law (called the "RESPECT Act") puts in place a common sense requirement that should have been there from the beginning:
the IRS can now only seize property for structuring if it’s “derived from an illegal source” or if the money were structured to conceal criminal activity.
The law codifies a policy change made by the IRS in 2014 due to multiple lawsuits and associated publicity. That change resulted in a dramatic drop in associated forfeitures ($31.8 Million in 2014 to $6.2 Million in 2015).
The law also requires that judges promptly review structuring seizures, a process which previously took months or even years while a citizen's funds remained in the hands of the government before a challenge would be heard.
The open source Pale Moon Browser's archive server suffered a data breach and infection.
From the Data breach post-mortem:
There has been a data breach on the archive server (archive.palemoon.org) where an attempt was made to sabotage our project by infecting all archived executables on the server with a trojan/virus dropper. This post-mortem report is posted to provide full transparency to our community as to what happened (as far can be gathered -- see below), which files were affected, what you can do to verify your downloads and what will be done to prevent such breaches in the future.
[...] A malicious party gained access to the at the time Windows-based archive server (archive.palemoon.org) which we've been renting from Frantech/BuyVM, and ran a script to selectively infect all archived Pale Moon .exe files stored on it (installers and portable self-extracting archives) with a variant of Win32/ClipBanker.DY (ESET designation). Running these infected executables will drop a trojan/backdoor on your system that would potentially allow further compromise to it.
The moment this was reported to me on 2019-07-09, I shut down access to the archive server to prevent any potential further spread of infected binaries and to start an investigation.
[...] Our data on this is limited, because in a later incident (likely by the same party or one other with similar access) on 2019-05-26 the archive server was rendered completely inoperable to the point of having widespread data corruption and being unable to boot or retrieve data from it. Unfortunately that also means that system logs providing exact details of the breach were lost at that time.
After becoming inoperable, I set up the archive server again on a different O.S. (moved from Windows to CentOS, and changed access from FTP to HTTP as a result considering Linux FTP can't be easily set up the same way and this server is purely a convenience service for users).
[...] This affected all archived executables (installers and portable exes) of Pale Moon 27.6.2 and below. Archived versions of Basilisk on the same storage server, although some would have already been present at that time, were not affected or targeted. Only files on the archive server were infected. This never affected any of the main distribution channels of Pale Moon, and considering archived versions would only be updated when the next release cycle would happen, at no time any current versions, no matter where they were retrieved from, would be infected.
Of note: only the .exe files on the server at the top level were affected. Files inside the archives (extract-able with 7-zip from the installers/portable versions or files inside the zip archives) were not modified.
If you never downloaded from archive.palemoon.org, you are almost certainly in the clear.
The post goes on to suggest that you verify your download by checking the code signing on the executables, where available, against .sig files provided, and/or against the SHA256 hashes provided.
It also notes:
Additionally, the infection is known to all major antivirus vendors and you can scan your downloads/system with your preferred mainstream antivirus scanner to verify the installers are clean.
Your humble editor has been using Pale Moon almost exclusively for four years, but has always practiced good download hygiene and always verified a download against the provided SHA256 hash. Also, since downloads were never from the archive server, it appears there was not even a potential to be affected in this case.
Out of an abundance of caution, Windows Defender was run and no infection of any kind was reported.
[...]E3 kicked off with us sneaking into the Microsoft press briefing to adorn Phil Spencer in a Psychonauts shirt. We then snuck past Keanu to announce that we would be joining Xbox Game Studios, and that Psychonauts 2 would be published by Microsoft (instead of Starbreeze) as a first party title. Now, before anyone panics! We have confirmed that we will be able to honor Psychonauts 2 for every platform that we have already promised here, and that includes bringing the game to PlayStation 4!
While the first comments on the blog post expressed concern by the backers on the impact of Microsoft's acquisition, the later comments all read very similar, claiming that this acquisition will have a good impact, and trying to minimise also the impact of the additional delay (Psychonauts 2 should have been released by the end of 2018, is now delayed at least until the end of 2019).
Though there is a promise to still launch on other platforms, such as PS4, — that were promised from the beginning — there is a real risk of these platforms becoming "second class citizens" very quickly, now that Microsoft calls the shots. And becoming part of a behemoth probably won't do any good to Double Fine's originality.
Researchers have found the earliest example of our species (modern humans) outside Africa. A skull unearthed in Greece has been dated to 210,000 years ago, at a time when Europe was occupied by the Neanderthals. The sensational discovery adds to evidence of an earlier migration of people from Africa that left no trace in the DNA of people alive today.
[...] Homo sapiens fossils from Skhul and Qafzeh in Israel were dated in the 1990s to between 90,000 and 125,000 years ago.
These were viewed as anomalies - a brief foray outside our African homeland that came to very little.
However, in recent years, we've come to understand that our species ranged outside Africa even earlier and further than we'd previously believed.
In the last few years, palaeontologists have discovered modern human fossils from Daoxian and Zhirendong in China dating to between 80,000 and 120,000 years ago.
Also at Phys.org (AFP).
Apidima Cave fossils provide earliest evidence of Homo sapiens in Eurasia (DOI: 10.1038/s41586-019-1376-z) (DX)
"Peptides, which are chains of amino acids, are an absolutely essential element of all life on Earth. They form the fabric of proteins, which serve as catalysts for biological processes, but they themselves require enzymes to control their formation from amino acids," explained the study's lead author, Dr Matthew Powner (UCL Chemistry).
[...] He and his team have demonstrated that the precursors to amino acids, called aminonitriles, can be easily and selectively turned into peptides in water, taking advantage of their own built-in reactivity with the help of other molecules that were present in primordial environments.
[...] The precursors, aminonitriles, require harsh conditions, typically strongly acidic or alkaline, to form amino acids. And then amino acids must be recharged with energy to make peptides. The researchers found a way to bypass both of these steps, making peptides directly from energy-rich aminonitriles.
They found that aminonitriles have the innate reactivity to achieve peptide bond formation in water with greater ease than amino acids. The team identified a sequence of simple reactions, combining hydrogen sulfide with aminonitriles and another chemical substrate ferricyanide, to yield peptides.
"Controlled synthesis, in response to environmental or internal stimuli, is an essential element of metabolic regulation, so we think that peptide synthesis could have been part of a natural cycle that took place in the very early evolution of life," said Pierre Canavelli, the first author of the study who completed it while at UCL.
The molecules that served as substrates to help the formation of the amide bonds in the experiments are outgassed during volcanism and are all likely to have been present on the early Earth.
"This is the first time that peptides have been convincingly shown to form without using amino acids in water, using relatively gentle conditions likely to be available on the primitive Earth," said co-author Dr Saidul Islam (UCL Chemistry).
Peptide ligation by chemoselective aminonitrile coupling in water[$] (DOI: 10.1038/s41586-019-1371-4)
Fifty years after Armstrong and Aldrin first landed on the moon, a historic new moon landing mission is readying for launch. After several delays, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) is set to launch the Chandrayaan-2 mission this Sunday with plans to become the first nation to land at the lunar south pole. It won't feature humans, but Chandrayaan-2 is carrying three lunar exploration robots able to survey the moon from both the surface and the sky.
The launch is currently scheduled for Sunday, July 14 at 2:21 p.m. PT [2121 UTC] and will take place at India's Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, north of Chennai. The payload of Chandrayaan-2 consists of a lunar orbiter, a lunar lander and a lunar rover, and will be launched atop the ISRO-developed GSLV Mk-III rocket. That rocket is about half as powerful as the SpaceX Falcon 9 and will put Chandrayaan-2 into what is known as an "Earth parking orbit" before the module uses its own power to extend its orbit and eventually position itself for a lunar rendezvous.
[...] Provided Chandrayaan-2 launches on time, it is expected to reach the moon on Sept. 6, 2019. If it can achieve the difficult feat of landing on the surface, India will become just the fourth nation to complete a soft landing in history, following the US, Russia and China, which currently has the Chang'e 4 rover operating on the far side of the moon.
The lander and rover are headed for the lunar south pole, exploring a scientifically important region that has been shown to contain water ice. The lunar lander, known as "Vikram," and a rover, known as "Pragyan," will set up shop in the south, far further than any previous mission to the moon. The proposed landing spot is between two craters, Manzinus C and Simpelius N.
There is a YouTube video of the prior and proposed moon landing sites.
Submitted via IRC for AndyTheAbsurd
BMW has unveiled the first widely available all-electric Mini Cooper. Coming in early 2020, the car will start at around $35,000 and travel 235 kilometers (146 miles) per charge. Compared to similarly priced EVs on the road now with more than 200 miles of range, like the Kona Electric or the Tesla Model 3, the Mini’s mileage figure looks paltry. It will only look worse next year as more capable electric cars hit the road, and the Mini gets a more realistic EPA mileage rating. It’s a curious thing to see from a company that was early to electric cars, and it helps explain why BMW’s CEO Harald Krueger resigned last week.
Krueger was BMW’s CEO for four years, coming in not long after the company’s i3 electric crossover SUV hit the market. But in a message to employees on his way out the door last week, he reportedly cited the “enormous changes” happening in the auto industry as a reason for leaving. BMW, it seems, fell behind the curve on Krueger’s watch.
From The New York Times: Opinion | I Used Google Ads for Social Engineering. It Worked.
Ad campaigns that manipulate searchers’ behavior are frighteningly easy for anyone to run.
[...]Kevin Hines had one thought as he plummeted toward the Pacific Ocean: I can change anything in my life except the fact that I just jumped from the Golden Gate Bridge.
“One sentence could have stopped me,” Kevin wrote. “Had any one of the hundreds of passers-by engaged with me, it would … potentially have showed me that I had the ability to choose life.”
No person stopped Kevin from trying to kill himself. Could a Google ad have?
[...]Could Kevin have been redirected? Could he have been persuaded — by a few lines of ad copy and a persuasive landing page — not to jump? I wondered if I could redirect the next Kevin Hines. The goal of my first redirect campaign was to sway the ideology of suicidal people.
The problem my campaign addressed: Suicidal people are underserved on Google. In 2010, Google started making the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline the top result of certain searches relating to suicide. It also forced autocomplete not to finish such searches.
The weakness of Google’s initiative is that not enough variations of searches trigger the hotline. A search for “I am suicidal” will result in the hotline. But a search for “I’m going to end it” won’t always. “I intend to die” won’t ever. A lot of “higher-funnel” searches don’t trigger the hotline.
I hoped my redirect campaign would fill the gap in Google’s suicide algorithm. I would measure my campaign’s success by how many suicidal searchers clicked my ad and then called the number on my website, which forwarded to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
Nine days after my campaign began, the ads were accepted by Google. My ad was the first result across the United States when someone Googled with suicidal intent. I showed unique ads to suicidal people who were physically located around the Golden Gate Bridge.
Nearly one in three searchers who clicked my ad dialed the hotline — a conversion rate of 28 percent. The average Google Ads conversion rate is 4 percent.
The campaign’s 28 percent conversion rate was met in the first week. Not counting people who thought I was associated with lifeline or who did not read the ad or language on my website, that leaves a rate suggesting there’s a need in this ad space that is not being met.
[...]Mr. Berlinquette is a Google certified partner, and the founder of the search engine marketing consulting firm Berlin SEM.
Scientists at the National University of Singapore (NUS) have discovered a method of using quantum mechanical wave theories to "lock" heat into a fixed position.
"Imagine a droplet of ink in a flowing stream. After a short amount of time you would see the ink spread and flow in the direction of the current. Now imagine if that ink droplet stayed the same size and in the same position as the water flowed around it. Effectively that is what we have accomplished with the spread of heat in our experiment," explained [Associate Professor Cheng-Wei Qiu from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the NUS Faculty of Engineering.]
Normally heat diffuses through a thermally conductive material, however in their experiment, Qiu and his team used the principle of anti-parity-time (APT) symmetry on counter-rotating rings to demonstrate that "it is possible to confine the heat to a small region of a metal ring without it spreading over time."
Assoc Prof Qiu and his team were able to control the heat [diffusion] by introducing an extra degree of freedom into their [...] experimental setup—the rotation of the rings
"For APT symmetry to become significant in a system, there must be some element of loss and gain within the setup—and they need to be balanced. In a traditional thermal diffusion system, APT symmetry is not consequential because there is no gain or loss [of] degree of freedom. Hence, the mechanical rotation is the key player here," he explained.
The abstract describes this thus:
experimental setup comprising two thermally coupled disks rotating in opposite directions. The thermal energy transported by each disk is strongly coupled to the disk rotating in the opposite direction, providing a return path for the heat wave. For a particular rotation rate, there is an exceptional point where thermal coupling and counterrotating motion balance, resulting in the thermal energy profile being stationary over time.
The approach has significant potential in cooling applications
Many modern technologies require the efficient removal of heat. Mechanical setups like engines, as well as computational and electrical components need to be effectively cooled. Currently, most technologies are cooled with a steady flow of liquid to take away the heat by convection.
"This experiment shows that we need to [be] more careful when determining the flow rate and design of these systems," Assoc Prof Qiu stated. Whilst his experimental setup contained counter-rotating metal rings, the same principle could be applied to other setups in flux.
The current experimental setup is only a few centimeters in size, the researchers next plan to work on scaling up the apparatus to match the size of real world motors and gearing systems.
Journal Reference (Note - DOI link is not functional although that may change. Direct link below.)
Ying Li et al. Anti–parity-time symmetry in diffusive systems. Science.
Google denied that it helped China's military build a new touchscreen tool for its J-20 fighter jets.
The tech giant said that it had no role in the military aspect of touchscreen research that could potentially give an advantage to Chinese fighter jets in both air-to-air and air-to-ground combat, according to a report by the South China Morning Post.
A research paper seen by the Morning Post suggested that a lead scientist from Google actively participated in Beijing's program on the new touchscreen tools. Shumin Zai, a member of Google's A.I. team, worked on a research paper that could be used for touchscreen applications ranging from military uses to education and medicine.
"This paper addresses a very general research question in user experience design of how people interact with moving items on a touchscreen," a Google spokesperson told the Morning Post on Thursday. "This paper is simply not about military applications."
Also at Wccftech.
Submitted via IRC for AndyTheAbsurd
Amazon and Microsoft are battling it out over a $10 billion opportunity to build the U.S. military its first "war cloud" computing system. But Amazon's early hopes of a shock-and-awe victory may be slipping away.
Formally called the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure plan, or JEDI, the military's computing project would store and process vast amounts of classified data, allowing the Pentagon to use artificial intelligence to speed up its war planning and fighting capabilities. The Defense Department hopes to award the winner-take-all contract as soon as August. Oracle and IBM were eliminated at an earlier round of the contract competition.
But that's only if the project isn't derailed first. It faces a legal challenge by Oracle and growing congressional concerns about alleged Pentagon favoritism toward Amazon. Military officials hope to get started soon on what will be a decade-long business partnership they describe as vital to national security.
"This is not your grandfather's internet," said Daniel Goure, vice president of the Lexington Institute, a defense-oriented think tank. "You're talking about a cloud where you can go from the Pentagon literally to the soldier on the battlefield carrying classified information."
Amazon was considered an early favorite when the Pentagon began detailing its cloud needs in 2017, but its candidacy has been marred by an Oracle allegation that Amazon executives and the Pentagon have been overly cozy. Oracle has a final chance to make its case against Amazon - and the integrity of the government's bidding process - in a court hearing Wednesday.
GitHub is banning code from DeepNude, the app that used AI to create fake nude pictures of women. Motherboard, which first reported on DeepNude last month, confirmed that the Microsoft-owned software development platform won't allow DeepNude projects. GitHub told Motherboard that the code violated its rules against "sexually obscene content," and it's removed multiple repositories, including one that was officially run by DeepNude's creator.
DeepNude was originally a paid app that created nonconsensual nude pictures of women using technology similar to AI "deepfakes." The development team shut it down after Motherboard's report, saying that "the probability that people will misuse it is too high." However, as we noted last week, copies of the app were still accessible online — including on GitHub.
Late that week, the DeepNude team followed suit by uploading the core algorithm (but not the actual app interface) to the platform. "The reverse engineering of the app was already on GitHub. It no longer makes sense to hide the source code," wrote the team on a now-deleted page. "DeepNude uses an interesting method to solve a typical AI problem, so it could be useful for researchers and developers working in other fields such as fashion, cinema, and visual effects."
Related: AI-Generated Fake Celebrity Porn Craze "Blowing Up" on Reddit
Discord Takes Down "Deepfakes" Channel, Citing Policy Against "Revenge Porn"
My Struggle With Deepfakes
Deep Fakes Advance to Only Needing a Single Two Dimensional Photograph
Government scientists predict 40 places in the U.S. will experience higher than normal rates of so-called sunny day flooding this year because of rising sea levels and an abnormal El Nino weather system...
"The future is already here, a floodier future," said William Sweet, a NOAA oceanographer and lead author of the study.
The report predicted that annual flood records will be broken again next year and for years and decades to come from sea-level rise.
"Flooding that decades ago usually happened only during a powerful or localized storm can now happen when a steady breeze or a change in coastal current overlaps with a high tide," it read.
The nationwide average frequency of sunny day flooding in 2018 was five days a year, tying a record set in 2015.
But the East Coast averaged twice as much flooding.
The agency says the level of sunny day flooding in the U.S. has doubled since 2000.
Nationwide, the agency predicted, average sunny day flooding could reach 7 to 15 days a year by 2030, and 25 to 75 days a year by 2050.
Back in the late 1990s, I lived and worked on streets which would get three to six inches of water on them during spring high tides. The work street was elevated 12" with fill, but the neighborhood protested at the idea of raising the street and demanded pumps instead... I haven't checked back on how that worked out for them - but on Google Maps it appears that some of the lowest lying asphalt has been blocked off and converted to a mini-park.
Any coastal dwellers here noticing wetter feet yet?