2019-07-01 00:00:00 ..
2019-11-12 18:13:17 UTC
2019-11-14 09:42:28 UTC
We always have a place for talented people, visit the Get Involved section on the wiki to see how you can make SoylentNews better.
Several sites are reporting that several of Twitter's staff were allegedly spying for Saudi Arabia against its critics.
In charges released Wednesday, the Justice Department accused two former Twitter employees, Ahmad Abouammo and Ali Alzabarah, of abusing their internal system privileges to spy on target users and pass the information they collected to Saudi Arabia. The criminal complaint also alleges that it was trivial for them to do so—a chilling reminder of how much damage an insider can cause.
The court documents, first reported by The Washington Post, also reference a third suspect, Ahmed Almutairi, who allegedly worked as an intermediary between the Twitter insiders and the Saudi government. Alzabarah and Almutairi are both Saudi citizens, while Abouammo is a United States citizen. He was arrested in Seattle on Tuesday.
Ahmad Abouammo and Ali Alzabarah each worked for the company from 2013 to 2015. The complaint alleges that Alzabarah, a site reliability engineer, improperly accessed the data of more than 6,000 Twitter users.
Abouammo, who handled media partnerships for the Middle East region, is alleged to have received $300,000 from a Saudi official as well as a Hublot watch, valued at least at $20,000. Abouammo is accused of repeatedly accessing the private information of a prominent critic of the Saudi government, including an email address and phone number.
Even after leaving the company, Abouammo allegedly contacted friends at Twitter to facilitate Saudi government requests, such as for account verification and to shutter accounts that had violated the terms of service. Abouammo, an American citizen, was recently arrested in Washington state.
Twitter has a long history of ties to Saudi Arabia, not just in what it chooses to filter and/or shadow ban.
University of Rochester researchers, inspired by diving bell spiders and rafts of fire ants, have created a metallic structure that is so water repellent, it refuses to sink—no matter how often it is forced into water or how much it is damaged or punctured.
Could this lead to an unsinkable ship? A wearable flotation device that will still float after being punctured? Electronic monitoring devices that can survive in long term in the ocean?
All of the above, says Chunlei Guo, professor of optics and physics, whose lab describes the structure in ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces[$].
The structure uses a groundbreaking technique the lab developed for using femtosecond bursts of lasers to "etch" the surfaces of metals with intricate micro- and nanoscale patterns that trap air and make the surfaces superhydrophobic, or water repellent.
The researchers found, however, that after being immersed in water for long periods of time, the surfaces may start to lose their hydrophobic properties.
Enter the spiders and fire ants, which can survive long periods under or on the surface of water. How? By trapping air in an enclosed area. Argyroneta aquatic spiders, for example, create an underwater dome-shaped web—a so-called diving bell— that they fill with air carried from the surface between their super-hydrophobic legs and abdomens. Similarly, fire ants can form a raft by trapping air among their superhydrophobic bodies.
[YOUTUBE VIDEO]: Unsinkable Metal
Forty years ago, scientists from 50 nations converged on Geneva to discuss what was then called the "CO2-climate problem." At the time, with reliance on fossil fuels having helped trigger the 1979 oil crisis, they predicted global warming would eventually become a major environmental challenge.
Now, four decades later, a larger group of scientists is sounding another, much more urgent alarm. More than 11,000 experts from around the world are calling for a critical addition to the main strategy of dumping fossil fuels for renewable energy: there needs to be far fewer humans on the planet.
[...] The scientists make specific calls for policymakers to quickly implement systemic change to energy, food, and economic policies. But they go one step further, into the politically fraught territory of population control. It "must be stabilized—and, ideally, gradually reduced—within a framework that ensures social integrity," they write.
Others disagree, stating
Fewer people producing less in greenhouse-gas emissions could make some difference in the danger that climate change poses over time. But whether we end up with 9, 10, or 11 billion people in the coming decades, the world will still be pumping out increasingly risky amounts of climate pollution if we don't fundamentally fix the underlying energy, transportation, and food systems.
William J Ripple, Christopher Wolf, Thomas M Newsome, Phoebe Barnard, William R Moomaw. World Scientists' Warning of a Climate Emergency[$]. BioScience. doi.org/10.1093/biosci/biz088
Submitted via IRC for Bytram
A new study published Nov. 4, 2019, in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine details the first comprehensive look across the scientific literature at the role of mind-body therapies in addressing opioid-treated pain. The researchers found that certain mind-body therapies can reduce pain, as well as reduce opioid use, among patients treated with prescription opioids.
"These findings are critical for medical and behavioral health professionals as they work with patients to determine the best and most effective treatments for pain," said Eric Garland, lead author on the study, associate dean for research at the University of Utah College of Social Work and the director of the University of Utah's Center on Mindfulness and Integrative Health Intervention Development.
Garland explained that mind-body therapies focus on changing behavior and the function of the brain with the goal of improving quality of life and health. Mind-body therapies include clinical use of meditation/mindfulness, hypnosis, relaxation, guided imagery, therapeutic suggestion and cognitive-behavioral therapy.
[...] They found that meditation/mindfulness, hypnosis, therapeutic suggestion and cognitive-behavioral therapy all demonstrated significant improvements in pain severity. They also found that the majority of the meditation/mindfulness, therapeutic suggestion and cognitive-behavioral therapy studies showed improvements in opioid use or misuse. In contrast, two studies utilizing relaxation found significantly worsened results in opioid dosing.
[...] "A study published earlier this year projected that by 2025, some 82,000 Americans will die each year from opioid overdose," said Garland. "Our research suggests that mind-body therapies might help alleviate this crisis by reducing the amount of opioids patients need to take to cope with pain. If all of us -- doctors, nurses, social workers, policymakers, insurance companies and patients -- use this evidence as we make decisions, we can help stem the tide of the opioid epidemic."
Eric L. Garland, Carrie E. Brintz, Adam W. Hanley, Eric J. Roseen, Rachel M. Atchley, Susan A. Gaylord, Keturah R. Faurot, Joanne Yaffe, Michelle Fiander, Francis J. Keefe. Mind-Body Therapies for Opioid-Treated Pain[$]. JAMA Internal Medicine, 2019; DOI: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2019.4917
Submitted via IRC for soylent_red
Facebook isn't the only company struggling over the prospect of end-to-end encryption in messaging apps, as a report from Yahoo Sports cites examples from "every level of sport" turning to encrypted messaging. While Whatsapp and iMessage provide encrypted communications, increasingly the app of choice is turning out to be Signal, which not only protects their message from MITM spying, but can also auto-delete them based on rules.
If you're a college coach or athletic director and someone makes a FOIA request, that could reduce the amount of information they get about contacts with recruits and boosters. In the NFL, investigators pursuing the "deflategate" incident famously requested access to Tom Brady's texts, but the quarterback destroyed his phone prior to meeting them -- an act cited in the league's decision to hand down a four game suspension.
Submitted via IRC for chromas
GTL, one of the two big US telecommunications providers to inmates in prisons, is looking to test voice and video applications on a private LTE network running in 3.5GHz CBRS spectrum.
Company officials declined to answer questions on the project from Light Reading. An FCC application indicates GTL will test equipment from Nokia in a rural residential area outside of Tucson, Ariz.
GTL's filing provides further evidence of a growing interest in private wireless networks, specifically those using cellular technologies and not WiFi. Such networks operate outside of commercial wireless offerings from the likes of AT&T and Verizon, and can support a wide variety of applications, from employee communications to IoT monitoring to autonomous robots. Customers for such networks could potentially span the gamut, from massive corporations like Ford and Charter Communications to government agencies such as the Department of Energy.
Indeed, according to a survey of more than 300 enterprises conducted by Nemertes Research and highlighted by cellular equipment vendor ip.access, more than 86% of organizations currently use WiFi technology for their private networks but 25% are "actively looking at switching to other technologies" over concerns about cost, reliability, security and performance.
Moreover, research firm SNS Telecom predicted spending on LTE and 5G private networks would reach $4.7 billion annually by the end of 2020, growing to $8 billion by the end of 2023.
Already, Nokia's CTO has mused that the private wireless network opportunity could eventually be twice as large as the market for commercial cellular networks.
Submitted via IRC for chromas
As software developers, we tend to get pretty attached to the IDE we use. And it's not hard to see why -- it's the tool we rely on the most, which enables us to create fantastic products and be productive while doing so.
And this can create a problem when we're faced with a change in our flow. We do not like change. Don't get me wrong. Change is great -- as long as it's not happening on our machines. Microsoft, however, doesn't mind a challenge, as it just unveiled Visual Studio Online. Like its name suggests, it's an IDE in the browser. Unlike its name suggests, that's only a small part of it.
Visual Studio Online is basically a service for software developers, which enables users to spin up dedicated environments "for long-term projects, to quickly prototype a new feature, or for short-term tasks like reviewing pull requests."
I am sure that at some point later down the road Microsoft will find a better name for it. Probably one that includes Azure in it -- because that's where those environments live in. But, for now, as it's in the public preview phase, it'll have to do.
[...] One thing to note here is that there will also be a browser-based version of Visual Studio for this -- the Visual Studio part of Visual Studio Online I mentioned in the beginning. It's not ready for prime time yet, but it should come in handy when you're just looking to do some quick work -- at least at first I don't expect it to work as a replacement for its on-premises brothers.
All this makes me wonder if we are not looking at a shift in how we develop software. After all, if the software we create can live in the cloud, why can't the programs we write be designed there as well?
Submitted via IRC for soylent_red
Update: The Google Pixel is scheduled to have its support ended this month, but Google told The Verge the OG Pixel will actually get one last update in December, which will(sic) "encapsulates a variety of updates" from November and December. After that, it's time for retirement.
Original Story: Pour one out this morning for the OG Google Pixel 1. This month's Android security patches are out, and while you'll find bulletins covering the Pixel 2, 3, and 4, the original Google Pixel didn't make the cut. Google is ending support this month.
The Pixel 1 launched in 2016 with a promised two years of major update support and three years of security updates. It was Google's first self-branded smartphone, ending the cheap, value-oriented Nexus line and ushering in an era of expensive—probably too-expensive—Google phones. Major OS support was eventually extended to three years, which is now standard across the Pixel line, and the original device was updated to Android 10 in September.
Well the fastest path is accelerating straight down but still...
Boeing wants to make one of the Artemis program lunar landers that will take humans to the surface of the moon. The aerospace company has submitted a proposal to NASA for an integrated Human Lander System (HLS), which it says will be designed to reach the moon in the "fewest steps" possible. NASA has been accepting proposals from private space corporations and is expected to choose at least two of them by January next year for development. Blue Origin announced its own take on a lander called "Blue Moon" -- which it will develop in partnership with Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Draper -- earlier this year.
NASA intends to send humans to the moon in an Orion capsule atop an SLS rocket. After the capsule docks with the Lunar Gateway, a space station the agency will place in the lunar orbit, the astronauts would transfer to a lander that would take them to the moon itself. Boeing says the HLS can either dock with the Gateway or dock directly with Orion to take astronauts straight to the lunar surface.
A settlement has been reached and stipulation of dismissal has been filed with the court, a Walmart spokesperson said in an email. It is unclear what the settlement entails. TechCrunch has requested more information and will update the article if new details emerge.
The two companies issued a joint release Tuesday announcing that the issues raised by Walmart have been resolved.
“Safety is a top priority for each company and with the concerns being addressed, we both look forward to a safe re-energization of our sustainable energy systems,” the emailed statement reads.
The resolution comes just three months after Walmart filed the lawsuit in New York state court. The lawsuit was aimed at Tesla Energy Operations, a division within the clean energy and electric vehicle automaker that was formerly known as SolarCity.
Days after the lawsuit was filed, the two companies announced efforts were underway to try to reach an agreement that would keep the solar installations in place and put them back in service, according to a joint statement issued at the time.
Punishing blasts of potentially record cold will bring an early winter preview to millions of people in the central, eastern and southern U.S. over the next few days.
The core of the first round of cold will gradually shift from the north-central U.S. into the Great Lakes and Northeast Wednesday through Saturday, making it feel more like the middle of winter rather than early November in some places, according to AccuWeather meteorologist Jake Sojda.
As the cold sweeps east, some snow is also likely in portions of the interior Northeast Thursday into Friday. The heaviest snow should fall in northern New England, where some spots could pick up half a foot.
Possibly related: The sun has been blank for over a month now: http://www.sidc.be/silso/dayssnplot
Scammers are actively exploiting a bug in Firefox that causes the browser to lock up after displaying a message warning the computer is running a pirated version of Windows that has been hacked.
The message, which appears without any user interaction upon visiting a site, reads:
Please stop and do not close the PC... The registry key of your computer is locked. Why did we block your computer? The Windows registry key is illegal. The Windows desktop is using pirated software. The Window desktop sends viruses over the Internet. This Windows desktop is hacked. We block this computer for your safety.
The message then advises the person to call a toll-free number in the next five minutes or face having the computer disabled.
[...] The attack works on both Windows and Mac versions of the open source browser. The only way to close the window is to force-close the entire browser using either the Windows task manager or the Force Close function in macOS. Even then, Firefox will reopen previously open tabs, resulting in an endless loop. (Update: as a commenter pointed out, restore tabs is turned off by default.) To resolve the problem, users must force-close Firefox and then, immediately upon restarting it, quickly close the tab of the scammer site before it has time to load.
Jérôme Segura, head of threat intelligence at security provider Malwarebytes, said the Firefox bug is being exploited by several sites, including d2o1sv4d11x6bc[.]cloudfront[.]net/firefox/index.html. He said the offending code on the site was written specifically to target the browser flaw.
On Monday, Segura reported the bug to the Bugzilla forum. He said he has since received word Mozilla is actively working on a fix. In a statement sent seven hours after this post went live, a Mozilla representative wrote: ""We are working on a fix to the authentication prompt bug (https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=1593795) that we expect to land in the next couple of releases (either in Firefox 71 or 72)."
New York City will move to a system of ranked-choice voting, shaking up the way its elections are run after voters approved a ballot question to make the change.
The city will be by far the biggest place in the U.S. to put the new way of voting to the test, tripling the number of people around the country who use it.
A ballot question proposing the shift for New York primaries and special elections was approved Tuesday by a margin of nearly 3-1. It's now set to be in effect for New York's elections for mayor, City Council and other offices in 2021.
Under the system, voters will rank up to five candidates in order of preference, instead of casting a ballot for just one. If no candidate gets a majority of the vote, the last place candidate is eliminated and their votes are parceled out to the voter's second choice, a computerized process that continues until one candidate has a majority and is declared the winner.
Ranked-choice voting is now in use or approved in 18 other cities around the country, including San Francisco, Minneapolis and Cambridge. The state of Maine also uses it. Backers say the system discourages negative campaigning, and forces candidates to reach out to more voters rather than relying on a narrow base. It's also designed to allow voters to pick their true favorite, without worrying about throwing away a vote on someone who can't win.
Submitted via IRC for exec
The Ajit Pai-era FCC has spent much of its energy cracking down on claimed abuses of the Lifeline subsidy program, but this anti-fraud effort may be hurting low-income households more than it helps. The investigative news outlet Center for Public Integrity has used FCC data to determine that nationwide enrollment for cellphone subsidies has dropped by about 2.3 million people, or 21 percent, since 2017. The cuts have been particularly severe in places like the District of Columbia, where 49 percent of Lifeline users lost their subsidies between March 2018 and June 2019. Mississippi, Wyoming and Puerto Rico also lost a third or more of their enrollment in the same time frame.
Some of the problems may stem from a verifier system that was approved in 2016. It was meant to automatically check whether people qualified for Lifeline service and reduce fraud, but its incomplete access to benefit databases appears to have rejected people who were eligible for the program. Enrollment has plunged in those six states where the verifier launched, although a connection to the Medicaid database (and ideally state databases) might solve some of these problems.
However, the current FCC's crackdown (including ongoing support of the verifier) is raising concerns that it's simply interested in cutting off support for poor people, in sync with a presidency that has focused on cutting other benefits for low-income homes. There are particular concerns that changes due in December may prompt carriers to quit Lifeline and leave customers without access. Networks are supposed to help Lifeline recipients by providing more data and phasing out support for call minutes, but they're expected to complain when the subsidy amounts to less than $10 per month.
Based on a story from USA Today
WASHINGTON — NASA and Boeing said a pad abort test of the CST-100 Starliner commercial crew vehicle Nov. 4 was a success despite the failure of one of the capsule's three parachutes to properly deploy.
The Starliner lifted off from a test stand at Launch Complex 32 at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico at approximately 9:15 a.m. Eastern time. The spacecraft's launch abort engines fired for five seconds, and a separate set of orbital maneuvering thrusters for 10 seconds, accelerating the spacecraft to more than 1,000 kilometers per hour to simulate escaping a malfunctioning rocket on the launch pad.
The capsule soared to a planned peak altitude of about 1,350 meters before jettisoning its service module and heat shield, then deploying its parachutes. The capsule, cushioned by airbags, landed about 90 seconds after liftoff.
"We did have a deployment anomaly, not a parachute failure," Boeing said in a post-launch statement. "It's too early to determine why all three main parachutes did not deploy, however, having two of three deploy successfully is acceptable for the test parameters and crew safety." The company added that, at the present time, it doesn't expect the issue to delay the Orbital Flight Test.
SpaceX, which conducted a pad abort test of its Crew Dragon spacecraft in May 2015, is preparing for an in-flight abort test in December. On that test, a Crew Dragon spacecraft will fire its SuperDraco thrusters to escape a Falcon 9 nearly 90 seconds after liftoff from the Kennedy Space Center, around the time of maximum dynamic pressure on the spacecraft. SpaceX is scheduled to perform a static fire of those thrusters as soon as Nov. 6 in preparation for that flight.
Boeing will not perform its own in-flight abort test, concluding that data from the pad abort, along with modeling of flight conditions, will be sufficient, an approach NASA approved.
Boeing and NASA are declaring the test a success because the crew and capsule would have been perfectly safe had this happened under real conditions. The capsule is designed to be able to land even following a failure of one of the parachutes. However, the reason that redundancies exist is because there are often unforeseen issues outside of test conditions. Should a test that would result in the crew living, yet one that also fails to function nominally be considered a success? If so, is this success enough to provide sufficient confidence in Boeing's ability to move forward without even carrying out an in-flight abort, which is substantially more challenging than a pad abort?