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posted by martyb on Sunday January 20 2019, @10:00AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the just-eat-it dept.

Over the years, scientists have identified dams, pollution and vessel noise as causes of the troubling decline of the Pacific Northwest's resident killer whales. Now, they may have found a new and more surprising culprit: pink salmon.

Four salmon researchers were perusing data on the website of the Center for Whale Research, which studies the orcas, several months ago when they noticed a startling trend: that for the past two decades, significantly more of the whales have died in even-numbered years than in odd years.

In a newly published paper, they speculate that the pattern is related to pink salmon, which return to the Salish Sea between Washington state and Canada in enormous numbers every other year — though they're not sure how. They suspect that the huge runs of pink salmon, which have boomed under conservation efforts and changes in ocean conditions in the past two decades, might interfere with the whales' ability to hunt their preferred prey, Chinook salmon.

Given the dire plight of the orcas, which officials say are on the brink of extinction, the researchers decided to publicize their discovery without waiting to investigate its causes.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Saturday January 19 2019, @01:04PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the wondering-what-Russia-and-China-are-thinking dept.

Trump to Hold Second Summit With Kim Jong Un in February, U.S. Says

U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will meet near the end of February for a second summit, despite evidence North Korea is advancing its nuclear weapons program.

The White House announced the summit and timing after Trump met Friday with Kim Yong Chol, a top aide to the North Korean leader and a former spy chief.

Trump's decision to go ahead with another in-person meeting -- further elevating Kim's global profile -- underscores the president's confidence that his personal involvement and negotiating skills can change the behavior of recalcitrant regimes in ways that traditional leverage and diplomacy, past U.S. leaders and his own emissaries could not.

Previously: President Trump Tweets about Nuclear Talks with North Korea
President Trump Set to Meet Kim Jong-un at 9 PM EDT (01:00 UTC, 9 AM Singapore)

Original Submission

posted by takyon on Wednesday January 16 2019, @05:46PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the Why-Not-Re-Referendum? dept.

Brexit vote: What just happened and what comes next?

With only approximately two more months before a default no-deal "hard Brexit," the British Parliament has decisively rejected Prime Minister May's proposed plan for leaving the European Union.

There is a no confidence vote in works which, if successful, will dissolve the government and force another general election.

See also: Live: Latest as MPs debate no confidence vote

Original Submission

posted by chromas on Sunday January 13 2019, @10:00PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the race-to-disgrace dept.

James Watson: Scientist loses titles after claims over race

Nobel Prize-winning American scientist James Watson has been stripped of his honorary titles after repeating comments about race and intelligence.

In a TV programme, the pioneer in DNA studies made a reference to a view that genes cause a difference on average between blacks and whites on IQ tests. Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory said the 90-year-old scientist's remarks were "unsubstantiated and reckless". Dr Watson had made similar claims in 2007 and subsequently apologised.

He shared the Nobel in 1962 with Maurice Wilkins and Francis Crick for their 1953 discovery of the DNA's double helix structure.

Dr Watson sold his gold medal in 2014, saying he had been ostracised by the scientific community after his remarks about race. He is currently in a nursing home recovering from a car accident and is said to have "very minimal" awareness of his surroundings.

Previously: Disgraced Scientist is Selling his Nobel Prize

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Friday January 11 2019, @10:36PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the what-would-YOU-do? dept.

Got a contingency plan for men with guns showing up at your cubicle and ordering you to re-route traffic to please the government?

Section 606 of the 1934 Communications Act provides for government takeover of wired and radio communication in the event of war or "other national emergency".

I'm not saying anything will happen in the next few days. Trump's state of emergency might be just talk. It might be limited to its stated purpose. It's rare for actual disasters to happen.

You've got a disaster recovery plan (DRP), though. If it's not in the next few days, a "national emergency" problem might show up sometime down the road. Does your DRP cover it?

It's hard to imagine a technical solution. This may require the company lawyer to prepare a [Layer 8] contingency plan in advance.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Monday January 07 2019, @02:34PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the keep-your-friends-close-and-your-enemies-closer dept.

The New York Times has an article about China's online censorship factories and how they operate. Censors are specially educated accurately in history and politics so that they have mastery over how to spot and eliminate references, even indirect ones, to forbidden topics. Potential employees for censorship factories have to cram for two weeks for a comprehensive exam which they must pass in order to begin work. This education is followed by ongoing training which includes regularly visiting and reviewing web sites normally blocked by the Great Firewall of China.

Li Chengzhi had a lot to learn when he first got a job as a professional censor.

Like many young people in China, the 24-year-old recent college graduate knew little about the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown. He had never heard of China’s most famous dissident, Liu Xiaobo, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate who died in custody two years ago.

Now, after training, he knows what to look for — and what to block. He spends his hours scanning online content on behalf of Chinese media companies looking for anything that will provoke the government’s wrath. He knows how to spot code words that obliquely refer to Chinese leaders and scandals, or the memes that touch on subjects the Chinese government doesn’t want people to read about.

Censorship a Trojan Horse (2018)
Unpublished Chinese Censorship Document Reveals Effort to Eradicate Online Political Content (2018)
The "Great Cannon" of China (2015)

Original Submission

posted by chromas on Friday January 04 2019, @11:00PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the nah dept.

Should the US hand over Minnesota's Northwest Angle to Canada?

It's a geographic curiosity - a bit of US land at the top edge of Minnesota, disconnected from the rest of the state. The Northwest Angle is known to local residents, people who love to fish - the region is famous for its walleye - and geography buffs. It is accessible by land only through the Canadian province.

Now, someone has anonymously launched a petition urging the US to hand the land over to its northern neighbours. "Make America great by correcting this critical survey error," states the petition posted on 30 December on the White House "We the People" site, which allows citizens to petition Congress on issues that matter to them. The petition is titled "Give Canada back the Northwest Angle located in Manitoba".

The nub of Minnesota state is roughly 123 square miles (318 square km) and is farther north than any other part of the contiguous United States. Living above the 49th parallel, Angleites - as local residents are known - are the northernmost American citizens, barring Alaskans. It can be reached by driving through Canada or by boat across the Lake of the Woods.

Northwest Angle.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Thursday January 03 2019, @04:10PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the now-you-see-it-now-you-don't dept.

Wired Magazine has an article that some might find interesting.

I was at what should have been a farmers’ market in Berkeley, California, last year when a throng of black-clad antifascists tried to scrap it out with far-right ralliers in the middle of a park named after Martin Luther King Jr. I watched scrawny college students get pummeled by hulking, be-swastika-ed ex-soldiers and ex-law enforcement officers in motorcycle gear. The antifascists’ one reprisal was setting off a homemade smoke bomb, which promptly blew back into their own faces, drawing raucous jeering from the white supremacists. It was as close to a war zone as I ever hope to be, and it was unequivocally a win for the racists.

But then,

It was easy to imagine the Bay Area becoming an extremist battleground—each weekend an opportunity for the next rally turned riot.

That vision has not come to pass. In the long arc of American racism, 2017 saw a sudden spike in visibility, but it was not the beginning of a new era in which people routinely walk the streets advertising their white supremacy. This year has brought the opposite trend: 2018 has been a year of pushing the alt-right and other white nationalist groups back underground, and punishing them for misdeeds committed during their brief moment in the sun. That’s a testament to the strength of the backlash against 2017’s naked racism, and evidence of how costly being openly racist has become—especially on the internet, where it has doomed entire social media platforms to obscurity. This must be counted as a good thing.

Goebbels said, allegedly, "Even if we lose we will win, because our enemies have adopted our methods." Looks like the alt-right is losing.

Regardless of what scaremonger reporters might espouse, the alt-right, as we have come to know it over the last two years, has failed—as extremism researchers always knew it would. But in its place has come something shadowier and far older: an underground white supremacist movement operating on society’s fringes, and a culture that disavows the racists while quietly mainstreaming their ideas.

So here's the point:

The issue, though, is that while there’s satisfaction and schadenfreude in watching these public flounderings, the alt-right doesn’t have to be visible to succeed. In fact, going underground is a return to the status quo for American white supremacy.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Monday December 31 2018, @05:27PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the what-a-wicked-web-we-weave dept.

"Defense Secretary Jim Mattis’ resignation, which shocked Washington’s national security establishment and rattled America’s allies, was sealed in a fateful 18-hour period that saw President Trump resolve to withdraw troops from Syria – alarming Pentagon officials who see America’s role in the region as crucial."

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Thursday December 27 2018, @05:25PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the didn't-see-that-one-coming dept.

China's 'Belt and Road' Plan in Pakistan Takes a Military Turn

When President Trump started the new year by suspending billions of dollars of security aid to Pakistan, one theory was that it would scare the Pakistani military into cooperating better with its American allies.

The reality was that Pakistan already had a replacement sponsor lined up.

Just two weeks later, the Pakistani Air Force and Chinese officials were putting the final touches on a secret proposal to expand Pakistan's building of Chinese military jets, weaponry and other hardware. The confidential plan, reviewed by The New York Times, would also deepen the cooperation between China and Pakistan in space, a frontier the Pentagon recently said Beijing was trying to militarize after decades of playing catch-up.

All those military projects were designated as part of China's Belt and Road Initiative, a $1 trillion chain of infrastructure development programs stretching across some 70 countries, built and financed by Beijing.

Chinese officials have repeatedly said the Belt and Road is purely an economic project with peaceful intent. But with its plan for Pakistan, China is for the first time explicitly tying a Belt and Road proposal to its military ambitions — and confirming the concerns of a host of nations who suspect the infrastructure initiative is really about helping China project armed might.

Related: China's Xi Jinping Negotiates $46bn Superhighway to Pakistan
China Plans $503 Billion Investment in High-Speed Rail by 2020
Chinese President Xi Jinping Pledges $124 Billion for One Belt, One Road Initiative
Gunmen Attack Chinese Consulate in Pakistan

Original Submission