Join our Folding@Home team:
Main F@H site
Our team page
2022-07-02 10:17:28 ..
2022-10-05 12:33:58 UTC
2022-10-05 14:04:11 UTC --fnord666
Support us: Subscribe Here
and buy SoylentNews Swag
We always have a place for talented people, visit the Get Involved section on the wiki to see how you can make SoylentNews better.
A bruising, failed 16-month FCC nomination has left President Joe Biden with little time to staff up the agency before 2024:
Shortly after coming into office, President Joe Biden moved to restore net neutrality. He signed a sweeping executive order to promote competition, calling on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to bring back the Obama-era internet rules rolled back by the Trump administration.
But close to two years later, the FCC remains deadlocked with only four of its five commissioner slots filled — and Biden may be running out of time.
Biden's pick for a new FCC commissioner was Gigi Sohn, a former FCC official and public interest advocate. Sohn would have secured a long-awaited Democratic majority at the agency. After she was nominated in October 2021, however, a well-funded opposition organized a brutal opposition campaign against her. The culture-war campaign called Sohn an "extremist" and a "censor" because of past tweets criticizing Fox News and former President Donald Trump, largely ignoring her decades-long professional record. After more than 16 months and three separate confirmation hearings, Sohn withdrew her nomination earlier this month, citing the "unrelenting, dishonest and cruel attacks" by broadband and cable lobbyists and their friends.
It's unlikely Biden will pick someone as critical of cable companies again — but Republicans could try to thwart even a centrist candidate
Now, the White House has been forced to start over, prolonging a vacancy that continues to obstruct the administration's broadband agenda. The White House hasn't announced a new nominee or when they're hoping to confirm someone, but it's unlikely that Biden would pick someone as critical of cable companies as Sohn. Republicans and "dark money" groups have already proved that they're willing to spend millions to block progressive nominees. With so little time left in Biden's first term, stakeholders may even try to thwart a more moderate nominee, especially if there's an opportunity to continue the stalemate past the 2024 election.
Even if the White House selects a new nominee in the next few weeks, it could take months for them to be vetted and confirmed by the Senate. If the White House drags its feet in finding a replacement, Biden could be without a fifth commissioner when the 2024 election season begins. "The FCC deadlock, now over two years long, will remain so for a long time," Sohn said in a statement announcing her withdrawal last week. "It is a sad day for our country and our democracy when dominant industries, with assistance from unlimited dark money, get to choose their regulators."
Net neutrality, which bans internet service providers from favoring or degrading the quality of specific services, was one of Biden's big-ticket promises. But as it's an issue that mostly splits down party lines, the FCC's stalemate has left his hands tied — putting states in charge of issuing their own patchwork rules.
Other parts of Biden's agenda have suffered the same problem, including ones that are facing looming deadlines.
His 2021 infrastructure package required the agency to craft rules that would ensure all Americans, despite income status, have equal access to the internet. The agency has until November to draft these new digital discrimination rules, but civil rights groups fear it may be impossible to roll out meaningful protections without a third commissioner.
"If advanced, the rule could hold broadband providers liable if their practices result in less internet access for people of color and low income communities, even if companies don't intentionally discriminate," the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights said in a February statement on the rulemaking. "Without a fully functioning FCC, that rule is likely to be much weaker."
"Lack of FCC oversight has enabled collection and sale of cell phone location data that puts vulnerable communities at risk"
It's unclear if the two lawmakers know what messenger RNA is exactly:
Two Republican lawmakers in Idaho have introduced a bill that would make it a misdemeanor for anyone in the state to administer mRNA-based vaccines—namely the lifesaving and remarkably safe COVID-19 vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. If passed as written, it would also preemptively ban the use of countless other mRNA vaccines that are now in development, such as shots for RSV, a variety of cancers, HIV, flu, Nipah virus, and cystic fibrosis, among others.
The bill is sponsored by Sen. Tammy Nichols of Middleton and Rep. Judy Boyle of Midvale, both staunch conservatives who say they stand for freedom and the right to life. But their bill, HB 154, proposes that "a person may not provide or administer a vaccine developed using messenger ribonucleic acid [mRNA] technology for use in an individual or any other mammal in this state." If passed into law, anyone administering lifesaving mRNA-based vaccines would be guilty of a misdemeanor, which could result in jail time and/or a fine.
While presenting the bill to the House Health & Welfare Committee last week, Nichols said their anti-mRNA stance stems from the fact that the COVID-19 vaccines were initially allowed under emergency use authorizations (EUAs) from the Food and Drug Administration, not the agency's full regulatory approval. "We have issues that this was fast-tracked," she told fellow lawmakers, according to reporting from local news outlet KXLY.com.
The EUAs for the two mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccines were issued in December 2020, and the FDA has subsequently granted full approval to both (Pfizer-BioNTech's in August 2021 and Moderna's in January 2022). This was pointed out to Nichols in the hearing last week.
[...] There have been rare reports of adverse events, including blood clots and inflammation of the heart muscle and lining (myocarditis and pericarditis). However, these problems are very rare, and, in the case of myocarditis and pericarditis, they tend to be mild. Independent health experts who advise the FDA and CDC have consistently determined that the risk of developing these conditions does not outweigh the benefits of vaccination.
[...] With the massive success of mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccines, expectations are high that the platform can be used to target a wide variety of other infectious and non-infectious diseases. Moderna, for instance, has a wide pipeline of mRNA-based vaccines in the works. Already this year, the company reported findings from a late-stage clinical trial indicating their mRNA-based vaccine against RSV (respiratory syncytial (sin-SISH-uhl) virus) was highly effective. RSV is a common respiratory virus that can be deadly to older adults and young children.
In Idaho, it's unclear if Nichols and Boyle's bill will make it through the committee and, further, into law. However, its introduction fits into a worrying trend by conservative lawmakers for attacking lifesaving vaccination and evidence-based medicine, generally.
Opponents say laws preventing underage porn access are vague, pose privacy risks:
After decades of America fretting over minors potentially being overexposed to pornography online, several states are suddenly moving fast in 2023 to attempt to keep kids off porn sites by passing laws requiring age verification.
Last month, Louisiana became the first state to require an ID from residents to access pornography online. Since then, seven states have rushed to follow in Louisiana's footsteps. According to a tracker from Free Speech Coalition, Florida, Kansas, South Dakota, and West Virginia introduced similar laws, and laws in Arkansas, Mississippi, and Virginia are seemingly closest to passing. If passed, some of these laws could be enforced promptly, while some bills in states like Florida and Mississippi specify that they wouldn't take effect until July.
But not every state agrees that rushing to require age verification is the best solution. Today, a South Dakota committee voted to defer voting on its age verification bill until the last day of the legislative session. The bill's sponsor, Republican Jessica Castleberry, seemingly failed to persuade the committee of the urgency of passing the law, saying at the hearing that "this is not your daddy's Playboy. Extreme, degrading, and violent pornography is only one click away from our children." She told Ars that the bill was not passed because some state lawmakers were too "easily swayed by powerful lobbyists."
"It's a travesty that unfettered access to pornography by minors online will continue in South Dakota because of lobbyists protecting the interests of their clients, versus legislators who should be protecting our children," Castleberry told Ars. "The time to pass this bill was in the mid-1990s."
Lobbyists opposing the bill at the hearing represented telecommunications and newspaper associations. Although the South Dakota bill, like the Louisiana law, exempted news organizations, one lobbyist, Justin Smith, an attorney for the South Dakota Newspaper Association, argued that the law was too vague in how it defined harmful content and how it defined which commercial entities could be subjected to liabilities.
"We just have to be careful before we put things like this into law with all of these open-ended questions that put our South Dakota businesses at risk," Smith said at the hearing. "We would ask you to defeat the bill in its current form."
These laws work by requiring age verification of all users, imposing damages on commercial entities found to be neglecting required age verification and distributing content to minors online that has been deemed to be inappropriate. The laws target online destinations where more than a third of the content is considered harmful to minors. Opponents in South Dakota anticipated that states that pass these laws, as Louisiana has, will struggle to "regulate the entire Internet." In Arkansas, violating content includes "actual, simulated, or animated displays" of body parts like nipples or genitals, touching or fondling of such body parts, as well as sexual acts like "intercourse, masturbation, sodomy, bestiality, oral copulation, flagellation, excretory functions," or other sex acts deemed to have no "literary, artistic, political, or scientific value to minors."
When Louisiana's law took effect last month, Ars verified how major porn sites like Pornhub quickly complied. It seems likely that if new laws are passed in additional states, popular sites will be prepared to implement additional controls to block regional access to minors.
TikTok's CEO agrees to testify before Congress for the first time in March:
As Congress prepares to vote on a nationwide TikTok ban next month, it looks like that ban may already be doomed to fail. The biggest hurdle likely won't be mustering enough votes, but drafting a ban that doesn't conflict with measures passed in the 1980s to protect the flow of ideas from hostile foreign nations during the Cold War.
These decades-old measures, known as the Berman amendments, were previously invoked by TikTok creators suing to block Donald Trump's attempted TikTok ban in 2020. Now, a spokesperson for Representative Michael McCaul (R-Tex.), the incoming chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told Ars that these measures are believed to be the biggest obstacle for lawmakers keen on blocking the app from operating in the United States.
Yesterday, The Wall Street Journal reported that lawmakers' dilemma in enacting a ban would be finding a way to block TikTok without "shutting down global exchanges of content—or inviting retaliation against US platforms and media." Some lawmakers think that's achievable by creating a narrow carve-out for TikTok in new legislation, but others, like McCaul, think a more permanent solution to protect national security interests long-term would require crafting more durable and thoughtful legislation that would allow for bans of TikTok and all apps beholden to hostile foreign countries.
[...] Back in 1977, Congress passed the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) to empower the president to impose sanctions on and oversee trade with hostile nations. The plan was to prevent average American citizens from assisting US enemies, but the law troubled publishers doing business with book authors and movie makers based in hostile nations. Those concerns led Congressman Howard Berman (D-Calif.) to propose an amendment in 1988, which passed, exempting "information and informational materials" from IEEPA and blocking presidents from regulating these materials.
As technology evolved, in 1994, another IEEPA amendment specifically exempted electronic media, leading to today, when everything from a tweet to a TikTok would be free from presidential regulation under the so-called Berman amendments. How this prevents Congress from passing a new law remains unclear, but the WSJ reports that lawmakers are hesitant to draft legislation limiting TikTok if that could threaten those protections.
Biden faces a renewed push, domestically and internationally, to drop charges against Assange, who is languishing in a UK jail:
The Biden administration has been saying all the right things lately about respecting a free and vigorous press, after four years of relentless media-bashing and legal assaults under Donald Trump.
The attorney general, Merrick Garland, has even put in place expanded protections for journalists this fall, saying that "a free and independent press is vital to the functioning of our democracy".
But the biggest test of Biden's commitment remains imprisoned in a jail cell in London, where WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been held since 2019 while facing prosecution in the United States under the Espionage Act, a century-old statute that has never been used before for publishing classified information.
[...] Now Biden is facing a re-energized push, both inside the United States and overseas, to drop Assange's protracted prosecution.
Five major media organizations that relied on his trove of government secrets, including the Guardian and the New York Times, put out an open letter earlier this month saying that his indictment "sets a dangerous precedent" and threatens to undermine the first amendment.
Ukraine war: Russia denies responsibility for Poland blast
US President Joe Biden has said it is "unlikely" that a missile that killed two people in Poland on Tuesday was fired from Russia.
Russia has denied it was to blame for the missile that landed in Przewodow, on the Ukrainian border.
Poland said it was Russian-made, but US officials said initial findings indicated it was fired by Ukrainian air defences.
More than 90 Russian missiles were fired at Ukraine on Tuesday, Kyiv said.
Although the military said 77 were shot down, some of the missiles hit Lviv, not far from Ukraine's western border with Poland.
During the Russian attacks, two Polish workers were killed in a blast at a farm building in Przewodow, 6km (4 miles) from the border.
Earlier reported story:
KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russia pounded Ukraine's energy facilities Tuesday with its biggest barrage of missiles yet, striking targets across the country and causing widespread blackouts, and a U.S. official said missiles crossed into NATO member Poland, where two people were killed.
A defiant Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelenskyy shook his fist and declared: "We will survive everything."
Polish government spokesman Piotr Mueller did not immediately confirm the information from a senior U.S. intelligence official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the situation. But Mueller said top leaders were holding an emergency meeting due to a "crisis situation."
Polish media reported that two people died Tuesday afternoon after a projectile struck an area where grain was drying in Przewodów, a Polish village near the border with Ukraine.
Neighboring Moldova was also affected. It reported massive power outages after the strikes knocked out a key power line that supplies the small nation, an official said.
I bet the reaction will be "Mmrrr-hhhhh... not enough/too soon for Article 5".
UK Prime Minister Liz Truss resigns after failed budget and market turmoil
U.K. Prime Minister Liz Truss resigned Thursday following a failed tax-cutting budget that rocked financial markets and which led to a revolt within her own Conservative Party.
Truss said in a statement outside Downing Street: "We set out a vision for a low-tax, high-growth economy that would take advantage of the freedoms of Brexit."
"I recognize though, given the situation, I cannot deliver the mandate on which I was elected by the Conservative Party. I have therefore spoken to His Majesty the King to announce that I am resigning as leader of the Conservative Party."
The party is now due to complete a leadership election within the next week, faster than the usual two-month period. Graham Brady, the Conservative politician that is in charge of leadership votes and reshuffles, told reporters he was now looking at how the vote could include Conservative MPs and the wider party members.
Truss was in office for just 44 days, on 10 of which government business was paused following the death of Queen Elizabeth II.
Live updates: BBC, The Guardian, CNN, NYT.
Liz Truss resigns as prime minister after Tory revolt
Liz Truss: UK prime minister resignation speech in full
Pound rallies as Liz Truss announces resignation
Liz Truss (Wikipedia).
US Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and Rob Portman (R-OH) introdced S.4913 - Securing Open Source Software Act of 2022 the other day. It has been read twice and referred to the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. Here is the US Senate's press release:
U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and Rob Portman (R-OH), Chairman and Ranking Member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, introduced bipartisan legislation to help protect federal and critical infrastructure systems by strengthening the security of open source software. The legislation comes after a hearing convened by Peters and Portman on the Log4j incident earlier this year, and would direct the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) to help ensure that open source software is used safely and securely by the federal government, critical infrastructure, and others. A vulnerability discovered in Log4j – which is widely used open source code – affected millions of computers worldwide, including critical infrastructure and federal systems. This led top cybersecurity experts to call it one of the most severe and widespread cybersecurity vulnerabilities ever seen.
[...] The overwhelming majority of computers in the world rely on open source code – freely available code that anyone can contribute to, develop, and use to create websites, applications, and more. It is maintained by a community of individuals and organizations. The federal government, one of the largest users of open source software in the world, must be able to manage its own risk and also help support the security of open source software in the private sector and the rest of the public sector.
The Securing Open Source Software Act would direct CISA to develop a risk framework to evaluate how open source code is used by the federal government. CISA would also evaluate how the same framework could be voluntarily used by critical infrastructure owners and operators. This will identify ways to mitigate risks in systems that use open source software. The legislation also requires CISA to hire professionals with experience developing open source software to ensure that government and the community work hand-in-hand and are prepared to address incidents like the Log4j vulnerability. Additionally, the legislation requires the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to issue guidance to federal agencies on the secure usage of open source software and establishes a software security subcommittee on the CISA Cybersecurity Advisory Committee.
Software freedom is not named explicitly in their definition as far as their diff^wtext goes. Nor are the free-of-charge, royalty-free aspects mentioned. Yet the text of S.4913 nevertheless seems to be a nod in the direction of Free Software:
(5) OPEN SOURCE SOFTWARE.—The term 'open source software' means software for which the human-readable source code is made available to the public for use, study, re-use, modification, enhancement, and re-distribution.
Behind the scenes, representatives from Microsoft appear to be milking the log4j circus for gain as shown by multiple other articles, not linked to here, and their vastly increased activity and presence in DC.
Overall, the legislative process needs to find a way to use versioning software so that all the "inserting before ...", "inserting after ...", "redesignating paragraphs ...", and other modifications can be easily processed and the current draft easily visible. However, that's not as simple as opening an account on GitLab or Src.ht and letting m$ and the rest of the world hammer at it unauthenticated and uncurated.
(2022) The US Military Wants To Understand The Most Important Software On Earth
(2021) 'The Internet's on Fire': Techs Race to Fix Major Cybersecurity Software Flaw
Senate passes massive package to boost U.S. computer chip production
[....] The 64-33 vote represents a rare bipartisan victory a little more than three months before the crucial November midterms; 17 Republicans joined all Democrats in voting yes. The package, known as "CHIPS-plus," now heads to the House, which is expected to pass it by the end of the week and send it to President Joe Biden for his signature.
[....] The centerpiece of the package is more than $50 billion in subsidies for domestic semiconductor manufacturing and research.
Supporters on Capitol Hill, as well as key members of Biden's Cabinet, have argued that making microchips at home — rather than relying on chipmakers in China, Taiwan and elsewhere — is critical to U.S. national security, especially when it comes to chips used for weapons and military equipment.
[...] The final chips bill is a slimmed-down version of a much broader China competitiveness package that House and Senate lawmakers had been negotiating. Earlier, the Senate passed its bill, known as USICA, while the House passed its own version, the America COMPETES Act. But lawmakers couldn't resolve their differences, and leading Democrats decided to switch their strategy and scale back the legislation.
The package also includes tens of billions more in authorizations for science and research programs, as well as for regional technology hubs around the country.
If passed, will this be well spent? Will the US actually be globally competitive in chip manufacture?
Russia Says It Will Quit the International Space Station After 2024
The new head of Russia's space agency announced on Tuesday that Russia will leave the International Space Station after its current commitment expires at the end of 2024.
"The decision to leave the station after 2024 has been made," said Yuri Borisov, who was appointed this month to run Roscosmos, a state-controlled corporation in charge of the country's space program.
The pronouncement came during a meeting between Mr. Borisov and President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia. Mr. Borisov told Mr. Putin that Russia would fulfill its commitments through 2024. "I think that by this time we will begin to form the Russian orbital station," he said.
Mr. Putin's response: "Good."
Russian Space Station to Replace ISS Will Be Built No Earlier Than 2028:
"We propose to build it in two stages. If the decision on its construction is made before the end of the year, then the first stage will begin in 2028 with the launch of the Science Power Module by the Angara-A5M launch vehicle," Solovyov said in an interview with the Russian Space magazine.After that, the node and gateway modules will be launched on the same rocket. The first will be similar to the module that is already part of the International Space Station. The second will be used for spacewalks.
Earlier, it was reported that the launch of the first module could take place in 2027-2028.Earlier in the day, the new head of Roscosmos, Yuri Borisov, reported to President Vladimir Putin that Russia would fulfill all its international obligations and withdraw from the ISS project in 2024.
Commenting on the state of the national space industry, the Roscosmos chief said that the situation is "difficult."Ex-Roscosmos head Dmitry Rogozin said on July 15 that after four years the industry managed "to get out of the system crisis quagmire." The Russian space industry, among other things, has achieved complete accident-free operations over the past four years, carrying out 86 successful launches in a row, completing the construction of the Russian segment of the ISS, and receiving the financing of the multi-satellite orbital grouping Sphere.
Additionally, Rogozin pointed out that Roscosmos managed to successfully implement a range of tasks including creating new Soyuz-5 spacecrafts, developing the preliminary design of the Russian orbital station to replace the ISS, and launch tests of the newest Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missiles have begun, which are expected to start combat duty by the end of 2022.