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posted by janrinok on Monday January 27, @05:46PM   Printer-friendly

Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story:

Political polarization among Americans has grown rapidly in the last 40 years—more than in Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia or Germany—a phenomenon possibly due to increased racial division, the rise of partisan cable news and changes in the composition of the Democratic and Republican parties.

That's according to new research co-authored by Jesse Shapiro, a professor of political economy at Brown University. The study, conducted alongside Stanford University economists Levi Boxell and Matthew Gentzkow, was released on Monday, Jan. 20, as a National Bureau of Economic Research working paper.

In the study, Shapiro and colleagues present the first ever multi-nation evidence on long-term trends in "affective polarization"—a phenomenon in which citizens feel more negatively toward other political parties than toward their own. They found that in the U.S., affective polarization has increased more dramatically since the late 1970s than in the eight other countries they examined—the U.K., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Switzerland, Norway and Sweden.

"A lot of analysis on polarization is focused on the U.S., so we thought it could be interesting to put the U.S. in context and see whether it is part of a global trend or whether it looks more exceptional," Shapiro said. "We found that the trend in the U.S. is indeed exceptional."

Using data from four decades of public opinion surveys conducted in the nine countries, the researchers used a so-called "feeling thermometer" to rate attitudes on a scale from 0 to 100, where 0 reflected no negative feelings toward other parties. They found that in 1978, the average American rated the members of their own political party 27 points higher than members of the other major party. By 2016, Americans were rating their own party 45.9 points higher than the other party, on average. In other words, negative feelings toward members of the other party compared to one's own party increased by an average of 4.8 points per decade.

The researchers found that polarization had also risen in Canada, New Zealand and Switzerland in the last 40 years, but to a lesser extent. In the U.K., Australia, Germany, Norway and Sweden, polarization decreased.

More information: Levi Boxell et al, Cross-Country Trends in Affective Polarization, (2020). DOI: 10.3386/w26669

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Thursday January 16, @01:35PM   Printer-friendly
from the do-you-want-to-play-a-game? dept.


300,000 jobs lost A report from Moody's Analytics [PDF] says that the trade war with China, which started in early 2018, cost 300,000 jobs through September, based on an economic simulation. While it's hard to know exactly how many jobs losses can be attributed to trade tensions, the Moody's report isn't the only one that suggests the duties are having an effect on US workers. A survey of businesses by staffing firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas found that trade difficulties were cited as the reason for more than 10,000 job cuts in August alone. And an analysis by the Tax Foundation also suggests the trade war will result to job losses in the long-run.

American importers paid an extra $46 billion in tariffs Trump is wrong when he claims that China is paying the tariffs. The cost of the tariff comes directly out of the bank account of an American importer when the good arrives at the port. US companies have paid $46 billion more in tariffs than they would have without Trump's tariffs, according to an analysis of government data by the free-trade coalition called Tariffs Hurt the Heartland...

Tariffs cost US consumers Several studies show that tariffs end up costing US families. JPMorgan Chase said that the tariffs imposed in 2018 cost the average household $600 a year.
A separate report, from researchers at the NY Fed, Princeton, and Columbia University, estimated that those tariffs would cost households even more: $831 annually. Their research also considered the cost of shifting supply chains to avoid paying the tariffs


Manufacturing takes a beating Trump has often argued that his tariffs are boosting the American manufacturing sector, but the industry is in a slump. In December, a measure of manufacturing activity weakened to its lowest point in more than a decade. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that just 46,000 net manufacturing jobs were added in 2019, an increase of less than 0.5%. While there are likely a lot of factors at play, a recent paper from economists at the Federal Reserve showed that the tariffs are certainly dragging down the sector.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Wednesday January 15, @12:44PM   Printer-friendly
from the deep-pockets dept.

Amazon is seeking a court order that would prevent Microsoft from doing work for the US Department of Defense under a contract that Amazon says was awarded improperly.

[...] Amazon alleges that the president "launched repeated public and behind-the-scenes attacks to steer the JEDI Contract away from AWS [Amazon Web Services] to harm his perceived political enemy—Jeffrey P. Bezos," the founder and CEO of Amazon and owner of The Washington Post.

Amazon and the US have agreed to an expedited briefing schedule, in part to consider a motion for a restraining order or preliminary injunction that Amazon intends to file. A joint status report filed in court yesterday by Amazon, the US government, and Microsoft described what's happening next in the case:

AWS intends to file a motion for temporary restraining order and/or preliminary injunction to prevent the issuance of substantive task orders under the contract, which the United States has previously advised AWS and the Court will begin on February 11, 2020, given the United States' consistent position that the services to be procured under the Contract are urgently needed in support of national security. The parties have agreed to an expedited briefing schedule on the issue of preliminary injunctive relief, and respectfully request that the Court expedite consideration of the issue, as described below.

[...] both the US and Microsoft "intend to file partial motions to dismiss" the case, the status report said.

[...] The status report also says that the US government "does not intend to file an answer to AWS's complaint." Instead, "the parties will file cross-motions for judgment on the administrative record."

[...] Trump "escalated his intervention, jettisoning any appearance of impartiality by making clear to DoD (and to the world) that he did not want AWS to get the JEDI Contract," the lawsuit said.

Is it wrong to root for Microsoft to win?

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Monday January 13, @01:49PM   Printer-friendly
from the lights-out dept.

Iranian Hackers Have Been 'Password-Spraying' the US Grid:

In the wake of the US assassination of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani and the retaliatory missile strike that followed, Iran-watchers have warned that the country could deploy cyberattacks as well, perhaps even targeting US critical infrastructure like the electric grid. A new report lends some fresh details to the nature of that threat: By all appearances, Iranian hackers don't currently have the capability to start causing blackouts in the US. But they've been working to gain access to American electric utilities, long before tensions between the two countries came to a head.

On Thursday morning, industrial control system security firm Dragos detailed newly revealed hacking activity that it has tracked and attributed to a group of state-sponsored hackers it calls Magnallium. The same group is also known as APT33, Refined Kitten, or Elfin, and has previously been linked to Iran. Dragos says it has observed Magnallium carrying out a broad campaign of so-called password-spraying attacks, which guess a set of common passwords for hundreds or even thousands of different accounts, targeting US electric utilities as well as oil and gas firms.

A related group that Dragos calls Parisite has worked in apparent cooperation with Magnallium, the security firm says, attempting to gain access to US electric utilities and oil and gas firms by exploiting vulnerabilities in virtual private networking software. The two groups' combined intrusion campaign ran through all of 2019 and continues today.

Dragos declined to comment on whether any of those activities resulted in actual breaches. The report makes clear, though, that despite the IT system probes they saw no sign that the Iranian hackers could access the far more specialized software that controls physical equipment in electric grid operators or oil and gas facilities. In electric utilities in particular, digitally inducing a blackout would require far more sophistication than the techniques Dragos describes in its report.

But given the the threat of Iranian counterattacks, infrastructure owners should nonetheless be aware of the campaign, argues Dragos founder and former NSA critical infrastructure threat intelligence analyst Rob Lee. And they should consider not just new attempts to breach their networks but also the possibility that those systems have already been compromised. "My concern with the Iran situation is not that we're going to see some new big operation spin up," Lee says. "My concern is with access that groups might already have."

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Saturday January 11, @02:12PM   Printer-friendly
from the making-a-point dept.

Vermont bill would ban cell phone use by anyone younger than 21:

A bill has been introduced in Vermont's legislature that would prohibit anyone under 21 years old from using or possessing a cell phone. However, the bill appears to be more about gun rights than cell phones.

The bill, introduced Tuesday by Democratic Sen. John Rodgers, says those under the age of 21 "are not developmentally mature enough" to posses and use cell phones safely. The bill cites fatal car crash and bullying among teens as reasons for the proposed legislation.

"The use of cell phones while driving is one of the leading killers of teenagers in the United States," according to the bill (PDF). "Young people frequently use cell phones to bully and threaten other young people, activities that have been linked to many suicides."

The bill would make possession or use of a cell phone by anyone under 21 punishable by up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

The bill says that if those under 21 "aren't mature enough" to possess guns, smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol, then the same rule should apply to cell phone use. In recent years, the state has passed laws raising the minimum smoking age to 21 and prohibiting the sale of firearms to anyone under 21.

[...] "I have no delusions that it's going to pass. I wouldn't probably vote for it myself," he told the newspaper.

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Sunday December 22, @05:59AM   Printer-friendly
from the applying-the-rules-fairly dept.

Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story:

Foreign Minister Saifuddin says Malaysia's decision to take South China Sea claim to UN is its 'sovereign right'. Malaysian Minister of Foreign Affairs Saifuddin Abdullah said late on Friday that Kuala Lumpur has the "sovereign right to claim whatever that is there that is within our waters".

"For China to claim that the whole of South China Sea belongs to China, I think that is ridiculous," Saifuddin said in response to an Al Jazeera question about Malaysia's decision last week to take its case to the United Nations.

"It is a claim that we have made, and we will defend our claim. But of course, having said that, anyone can challenge and dispute, which is not something unusual."

The move has angered China, which claims "historic rights" over all of South China Sea. It has also blamed the United States for raising tensions in the area.

In response, the US Navy's Pacific Fleet commander, Admiral John Aquilino accused China of "bullying" its Southeast Asian neighbours.

Malaysia and China are both signatories of the UN Convention for the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which codifies the rights and responsibilities of independent states' use of the oceans.

Under the UNCLOS, coastal states like Malaysia are entitled to an EEZ. Beyond that is considered the high seas, common to all nations. UNCLOS also defines rules in case of overlapping EEZs.

It was on this basis that the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague rejected in 2016 China's claims to the large swaths of water, which sees an estimated $3 trillion of trade pass each year.

China, however, rejects the ruling in The Hague, and since then has expanded its presence in the region, building artificial islands with runways and installing advanced missile system.

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Monday December 09, @03:29PM   Printer-friendly
from the year-of-the-linux-desktop-in-China-by-2023 dept.

The Guardian is reporting that the tech war just got hot.

China will be replacing all hardware and software with Chinese equivalents. This is the latest escalation in the US-China tech trade war in response to the US ban on Huawei equipment.

China has ordered that all foreign computer equipment and software be removed from government offices and public institutions within three years, the Financial Times reports.

The government directive is likely to be a blow to US multinational companies like HP, Dell and Microsoft and mirrors attempts by Washington to limit the use of Chinese technology, as the trade war between the countries turns into a tech cold war.

The Trump administration banned US companies from doing business with Chinese Chinese[sic] telecommunications company Huawei earlier this year and in May, Google, Intel and Qualcomm announced they would freeze cooperation with Huawei.

By excluding China from western know-how, the Trump administration has made it clear that the real battle is about which of the two economic superpowers has the technological edge for the next two decades.

China already leads in patents

China's 2016 patent application total is greater than the combined total of patent applications filed in 2016 in the United States (605,571), Japan (318,381), South Korea (208,830) and Europe (159,358). These five jurisdictions accounted for 84 percent of all patent applications filed during 2016.

China has been preparing for an all-out IT war.

In May, Hu Xijin, editor of the Global Times newspaper in China, said the withdrawal of sharing by US tech companies with Huawei would not be fatal for the company because the Chinese firm has been planning for this conflict "for years" and would prompt the company to develop its own microchip industry to rival America's.

"Cutting off technical services to Huawei will be a real turning point in China's overall research and development and use of domestic chips," he said in a social media post. "Chinese people will no longer have any illusions about the steady use of US technology."

US trade policy may have been meant to pressure China, but that move looks to have just forced an acceleration of the loss of software and hardware orders from American suppliers to China.

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Monday December 02, @04:42PM   Printer-friendly
from the get-real dept.

Starting December 1st, China now requires telecom operators to collect face scans for new phone users.

In September, China's industry and information technology ministry issued a notice on "safeguarding the legitimate rights and interests of citizens online", which laid out rules for enforcing real-name registration.

The notice said telecom operators should use "artificial intelligence and other technical means" to verify people's identities when they take a new phone number.

A China Unicom customer service representative told AFP that the December 1 "portrait matching" requirement means customers registering for a new phone number may have to record themselves turning their head and blinking.

Online social media reactions on Weibo (a Chinese Twitter-like service) showed both support and opposition to the move.

Oversight of social media has ramped up in recent years as part of the Chinese government's push to "promote the healthy, orderly development of the Internet, protect state security and public interest".

It seems likely that reaction to future measures will be uniformly positive.

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Friday November 29, @01:43PM   Printer-friendly
from the for-some-values-of-terrorist dept.

Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story:

Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard says Mexico would not tolerate any move that violates the country's sovereignty.

US President Donald Trump has announced that the United States wants to designate Mexican drug cartels as terrorist groups for their role in trafficking narcotics and people, prompting a speedy request for talks by Mexico.

"They will be designated ... I have been working on that for the last 90 days. You know, designation is not that easy, you have to go through a process, and we are well into that process," Trump said in an interview  with former Fox News host Bill O'Reilly that aired on Tuesday.

Soon afterwards, Mexico's Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying it would quickly seek a high-level meeting with US State Department officials to address the legal designation, as well as the flow of arms and money from the US to organised crime in Mexico.

"The foreign minister will establish contact with his counterpart, Michael R. Pompeo, in order to discuss this very important issue for the bilateral agenda," the ministry said.

Once a particular group is designated as a terrorist organisation, it is illegal under US law for people in the United States to knowingly offer support.

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Wednesday November 27, @01:15PM   Printer-friendly
from the only-have-to-win-once dept.

Submitted via IRC for Bytram

Senate takes another stab at privacy law with proposed COPRA bill

Perhaps the third time's the charm: a group of Senate Democrats, following in the recent footsteps of their colleagues in both chambers, has introduced a bill that would impose sweeping reforms to the current disaster patchwork of US privacy law.

The bill (PDF), dubbed the Consumer Online Privacy Rights Act (COPRA), seeks to provide US consumers with a blanket set of privacy rights. The scope and goal of COPRA are in the same vein as Europe's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which went into effect in May 2018.

Privacy rights "should be like your Miranda rights—clear as a bell as to what they are and what constitutes a violation," Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), who introduced the bill, said in a statement. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) also co-sponsored the bill.

The press release announcing the bill also includes statements of support from several consumer and privacy advocacy groups, such as Consumer Reports, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), the Georgetown Law Center on Privacy & Technology, and the NAACP.

Original Submission