Categories 19

  • Jul, 2021
  • 22-07-2021
  • Tanzania government rounds up members of opposition party, talk they might charge them with terrorism

    Previous VP now president after death of previous president extending authoritarian tendencies used by previous president?

  • Jul, 2021
  • 19-07-2021
  • Design trolls lose another lawsuit over their copyrights

    Design Basics is a website that uploads lots of house plans, copyrights them, then sues home builders (they've sued over 100 in recent years).

    Introduction from KANNE, SCUDDER, Circuit Judge:

    Copyright law protects individual expression while encouraging creativity and maintaining the public interest in spreading ideas. In recent years, however, a cottage industry of opportunistic copyright holders—earning the derisive moniker “intellectual property trolls”—has emerged, in which a troll enforces copyrights not to protect expression, but to extract payments through litigation. Design Basics, LLC fits that bill.

    The firm, which holds copyright in 2 Nos. 18-3202, 19-3118 & 20-1515 several thousand single-family home floor plans, has brought over 100 infringement suits against home builders in recent years. But many defendants—the targets of the settlement-extraction scheme—are starting to push back. This case is a good example.

    We have affirmed dismissal of Design Basics’s lawsuits twice in recent years. See Design Basics LLC v. Signature Con-struction, Inc., 994 F.3d 879 (7th Cir. 2021); Design Basics, LLC v.Lexington Homes, Inc.,858 F.3d 1093 (7th Cir. 2017). We do so again today. In dismissing Design Basics’s copyright in-fringement suit against the Kerstiens family’s home building business, the district court recognized that the firm has a thin copyright in its plans because they consist largely of standard features found in homes across America. We agree and affirm.

    #Copyright #Design #Trolling

    Design Basics, LLC v. Kerstiens Homes & Designs, Inc, No. 18-3202 (7th Cir. 2021)
     
  • Climate litigation on rise

    ... like the German case on human rights climate grounds.

    Norway is facing a climate suit (from Friends of the Earth) for its plans to drill in the Arctic.

     
  • Jun, 2021
  • 30-06-2021
  • Bill Cosby released, conviction overturned (vacated) on rights issue

    ... after serving 2 years of his 5 - 10, sentenced for giving quaaludes to a woman who said he later sexually assaulted her.

    The judge said Cosby's due process rights had been seriously violated in the trial because a prosecutor had made a deal with Cosby under the table, after which Cosby in his statement included that he had given quaaludes to a woman he was pursuing years earlier.

    Some have said the judge with this move has set a precedent that, although police are notoriously allowed to lie to pursue convictions, when a prosecutor makes a deal saying he won't prosecute that's basically equivalent to an immunity deal. If later judges follow his lead. However, I don't know that DAs were ever allowed to lie to get testimony the way police currently are.

    Another option the court could have taken is to send the case down for another trial, without using the evidence the judge said he didn't like.

    From the ruling: "In accordance with the advice his attorneys, Cosby relied upon D.A. Castor’s publicannouncement that he would not be prosecuted. His reliance was reasonable, and itresulted in the deprivation of a fundamental constitutional right when he was compelledto furnished self-incriminating testimony. Cosby reasonably relied upon theCommonwealth’s decision for approximately ten years. When he announced hisdeclination decision on behalf of the Commonwealth, District Attorney Castor knew thatCosby would be forced to testify based upon the Commonwealth’s assurances. Knowingthat he induced Cosby’s reliance, and that his decision not to prosecute was designed todo just that, D.A. Castor made no attempt in 2005 or in any of the ten years that followedto remedy any misperception or to stop Cosby from openly and detrimentally relying uponthat decision. In light of these circumstances, the subsequent decision by successorD.A.s to prosecute Cosby violated Cosby’s due process rights. No other conclusioncomports with the principles of due process and fundamental fairness to which all aspectsof our criminal justice system must adhere."

    However, legal professionals have asked whether Cosby should be saved from bad legal advice to wave his fifth, which he may have done in the interest of not looking guilty in front of the jury.


     
  • Jun, 2021
  • 29-06-2021
  • Mexico decriminalized recreational marijuana

    ... by video conference, the Supreme Court 'recognized the right to the recreational use of marijuana.'

    It's still not legal. The Supreme Court can just cross out unconstitutional laws. Legalization (rules for consuming, growing and selling) is for the Senate and Congress.

  • Jun, 2021
  • 16-06-2021
  • Word is both sides of US Congress is taking aim at Big Tech

    Usually, they seem quite antagonistic but people say they're aligning on this issue.

    Antitrust bills.

  • DOJ used powers to legally spy on Journalists and elected members of Congress

    We don't know everything about the story, or what led to the Trump admin investigating journalists, because of the US's secrecy (even in its court trials).

    Rather than investigating the journalists, they went to the tech companies that had the emails and other information and served them not only a warrant for the information, but a gag order (non-disclosure order). Once the gag orders expired, companies were able to notify the journalists.

     
  • Jun, 2021
  • 13-06-2021
  • right to speak from his expertise and experience.  

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  • Jul, 2021
  • 21-07-2021
  • Some funny or interesting headlines this month

    'Biden’s Against Hate-Crimes, Unless They Are In Israel' | By Robert Inlakesh : RT

    Blinken vows to support journalists - critics raise Assange case (regarding the Secretary of State's 'defense' of Iran-critical VOA journalist Masih Alinejad) : RT

    Haiti president assassination suspects trained by Pentagon : RT (This is completely false and not journalism - the report was just about that the assassins had some American training or something in their lives, not that the Pentagon had anything to do with the assassination.)

     
  • Jul, 2021
  • 08-07-2021
  • Saudi Arabia is going to have a news platform with a studio in DC.

    It will have journalists who were formerly part of AJ, Fox, NBC, and Sirius XM. It is expected before the end of the year.

    It's part of a new lobbying effort aimed at the White House and Congress.

    This is according to the DOJ: SA's foreign lobbying disclosures.

    The news org will be owned by Taqnia ETS, a SA-based subsidiary of SA's $400b PIF (Public Investment Fund). Taqnia is supervised by the Saudi Ministry of Info.

     
  • Jun, 2021
  • 26-06-2021
  • Americans trust in news down to 29%

    According to Digital News Report's study of many countries. US trusted their news the least of all countries included. Canadians trusted their news 45%. Finlanders trusted theirs the most at 65%.

    The US level has declined steadily from 40% in 2017, and it is thought to be due in part to the pandemic, the media relationship with Trump, and increasingly prioritizing their audience's preferences or reactions to presenting quality news.

    The business model of creating hate and outrage to sell news to a particular demographic is considered to probably continue to increase, according to some analysts.


     

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  • Jul, 2021
  • 02-07-2021

  • People know, or at least reveal info about, their friends and family more accurately than about themselves, researchers say.

     
  • Jul, 2021
  • 01-07-2021
  • New material lattice

    ... which looks similar to a 3d honeycomb, and whose cells have 14 sides each, 3d printed from flexible polymer, then heated until only pure carbon remained.

    They shot sand-like particles at the lattice (similar to what space debris does). At low speeds it bounced off. At high speeds it gouged out craters, crushing the lattice, and remained lodged in the material (didn't pierce the material).



     
  • 'Time neurons' that help brain know when something happened (episodic memory)

    "The activity of the population of hippocampal cells allowed for decoding one temporal epoch from another."


    Human hippocampal neurons track moments in a sequence of events - Leila Reddy et al. at the French national research agency CNRS in Toulouse
     
  • 3d printing tiny lattices water climbs up

    The lattice cells are only 1mm wide.

    New printers are allowing for tiny cells to be printed which, similar to the way trees use capillary action and surface tension to draw water upwards from roots to leaves (which was the model copied here), overcome a problem we have when we try to use liquids (and gasses), which is that we have only been able to use a small part of their mass as their exposed surfaces (like the surface of a container of water). If we can arrange the liquid to have more surface, we can increase its ability to perform things like cooling and exchanging gasses.

    The lattices not only increase the amount of water we can have facing outward. They also bypass the downward pull of gravity (and in the future we'll be able to control the path the liquid takes along a lattice design).


     
  • May, 2021
  • 01-05-2021
  • Convicts in private prisons serve 90 days longer than public prisons

    This is about 5% longer.

    In private prisons, the company's contract has it that they are payed a per diem for each occupied bed.

    "The delayed release erodes half of the cost savings offered by private contracting and is linked to the greater likelihood of conduct violations in private prisons. The additional days served do not lead to apparent changes in inmate recidivism," according to the author.*

    Mukherjee, Anita. "Impacts of Private Prison Contracting on Inmate Time Served and Recidivism."

     
  • How much is a dollar difference?

    A lot more than a dollar, according to research that concluded that Americans pay an average $33 more on auto loans, after analyzing a data set of 35m such loans.

    People perceive the difference between prices that end in 9 and one number higher that ends in 0 as being more different that just one dollar. This is especially true with numbers ending in 99 and 00.

    *An Empirical Bargaining Model with Left-Digit Bias: A Study on Auto Loan Monthly Payments. Zhenling Jiang

  • Conversations don't end when we want them to

    In fact, on average they last twice as long as desired, according to some new research at Harvard, which concluded that the reason for this is a 'coordination problem': conversants have no idea when their partner wants to end and think their partner wants to keep going.

    The reason for this 'unsolvable' problem is that conversants require information they usually keep from each other to know when to end a discussion.

    We usually end conversations through highly routine practices, they noted, such as re-stating the reason they started the conversation ("Well, I just wanted to see you you were doing") or making arrangements ("So let's sort out what time on Monday").

    *Do conversations end when people want them to? Adam M. Mastroianni et al.

  • Wasp benefits

    UC London and U East Anglia researchers studying wasps ave found that while people generally hate them, that hate is in large part due to ignorance about the benefits they bring.

    Their recent study points out that wasps are effective pest controllers. There are 33,000 wasp species. Some are specialized in which aphids, caterpillars or other insects they hunt as food, and can be used as pest control for crops that have to deal with those specific insects. Other wasps hunt insects more generally and can be used for multi-crop farms.

    They're also important pollinators, and some plant species are completely dependent on wasps for reproduction.

    There is also some evidence, although not much as yet, about various values of wasps for making medicine and as a food source.

    *Ryan E. Brock, Alessandro Cini, Seirian Sumner. Ecosystem services provided by aculeate wasps.

     

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  • Jun, 2021
  • 28-06-2021
  • Turkish underworld figure, hiding out in Dubai, is blogging regularly about the dirt on Turkish politicians

    His name is Sedak Peker. Turks tune in every week for his updates, and the majority think there is at least some truth in them. Although many of the things he says are already known, that he is saying them and the evidence (although it seems there's not much in the way of evidence) makes people listen.

    His most recent video said he was now on a 'red list,' meaning there was a high chance he'd be killed, but said he would still do what he had said, which is talk about Erdogan. Erdogan has called it a 'conspiracy.'

    'People listen to him because the media here in Turkey has been silenced. They can't report many facts, so people prefer to believe what a Mafia leader says,' according to a DW Turkish Service worker.

  • Jun, 2021
  • 26-06-2021
  • US seized and blocked 33 Iranian media websites

    The US justice dept said the publishers, including a channel used by Yemen's Houthi rebels and 3 websites using by a Hezbollah group in Iraq, were using the sites to spread misinformation.The domains for the sites are registered in the US.

    Iran recently elected a new president who reportedly has already ruled out meeting with Biden, while negotiators from Iran, the US, Russia, China and other countries are working on revising the 2015 nuclear deal. Negotiators reportedly are close to a deal that would bring Iran again into compliance.

    Some wonder if the action has the possibility to derail the negotiations.

    Some critics point out that there is a concern in turning the domain name system (DNS) into a tool of geopolitical info warfare because that threatens the integrity of the internet and the global network.

    "What the US did to Iranian websites was a breach of all principles of freedom of speech, which the United States is proud of." - Some guy not identified by RT

    Who gets to decide what is info and what is misinformation? The censor of the internet?

     

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  • Jul, 2021
  • 01-07-2021
  • New way to lower blood pressure: Strength training breathing muscles

    You suck at a straw that has resistance to sucking. The current regimen being used by researchers is 30 inhalations per day at high resistance.

    "IMST can be done in five minutes in your own home while you watch TV."

    The benefits were significant. Systolic bp dropped 9 points on average (exceeding benefits of 30 minutes walking 5 days a week), and equivalent also to some bp-lowing drug regimens. 6 weeks after the 36 older adults tested quit the training, most of the health benefits remained. (They' got funding to do another test with 100 people.)

    It's not yet known how it works: How strengthening breathing muscles ends up lowering blood pressure. A guess they have is that it causes cell lining blood vessels to provide more nitric oxide, causing them to relax.

    It also strengthens diaphragm muscles.

    IMST stands for High-Resistance Inspiratory Muscle Strength Training.
     

  • Jun, 2021
  • 27-06-2021
  • Biohackers aim at producing $7 insulin, compared with $300 insulin from Big Pharma

    Reportedly, insulin costs $1.50 to $5 per vial to make, but is sold for around $300. Biohackers are working on reverse engineering insulin to produce a recipe they will make public, and say they will sell vials for $7.

    Three large companies own 90% of the insulin in the world. Novo Nordisk, Lilly, and Sanofi. Millions of people need insulin, and some can't afford what they need.

    The FDA wants to open the market for insulin, according to some, and therefore they will approve the molecules created by the 'biohackers' [Open Insulin project]. Once they complete their work, they will make the recipe public so community labs around the world can produce it locally.

    'There was a time for being angry,' said one of the Open Insulin workers, 'It's not anger anymore. It's just determination.'


  • Jun, 2021
  • 14-06-2021
  • Pakistani town HIV outbreak among children

    As it it a poor, rural town where the parents work every day from the early morning, it is proving difficult to administer medicine to the young children in Rato Daro (in Sindh) who may require it for life.

    The outbreak is believed to stem from one doctor who was using unclean needles a couple of years ago. Although he was punished in the legal system, many say he was scapegoated and the responsibility lies with the government for providing good medical equipment.

     
  • Jun, 2021
  • 12-06-2021
  • FDA advisors are resigning because of Biogen's Alzheimer's drug approval

    The drug was approved, but when supporters were interviewed they couldn't say anything more compelling than that they were receiving the news positively because people suffered from Alzheimer's, without being able to say anything in favor of the drug itself.

    The drug came out a while back, and was not approved upon review last year (because no benefits were substantially proven, the FDA advisory board voted 10 against, 1 uncertain, 0 in favor), and since then nothing has changed, but the FDA decided to approve it now.

    It is rare for this type of decision to be overturned, and usually when it does happen, it's after a vote that is closer than the Biogen drug was.

    There are millions of potential consumers for the drug, and Biogen has priced it at $56,000 per year.

    Commenters said that after the third resignation, there might be some real attention on what's going on here.


    3 prestigious FDA advisors who quit:


     

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  • Jul, 2021
  • 22-07-2021
  • Economic concerns raised by former Wells Fargo CEO

    ... Kevin Kovacevich: Inflation (2-3% increase in salary for average worker, and 4-5% inflation on just the basics like food, gas, consumer goods); trillion dollar deficits already and trillion more if Biden admin gets budget passed.

    Markets at all time high. Kovacevich's idea is that the market is priced alright based on where rates are now, but once that changes in the coming year or years the market will look differently.

     
  • Jul, 2021
  • 19-07-2021
  • Tigray war may cost $2.5b according to estimates

    TPLF has conquered most of the north and south of Tigray.

    Ethiopia is one of Africa's largest aid recipients. The US alone contributed a billion in 2020, and therefore has some leverage. Investing in Ethiopia right now comes with significant reputational risks, making companies more reluctant to submit massive investment bids.

    Ethiopia is finishing their dam and stressing tensions with Egypt and Sudan. The dam fits in with Abiy's plan to lift Ethiopians into a higher economic class. Sudan might benefit from a huge energy production facility on it's border for it's own energy needs.

    Getting ahead of things, but if Egypt was to take up a campaign against Ethiopia, due to the huge distance, it would have to use Sudan.

     
  • OPEC reached a deal to increase 400k barrels per day to production

    Oil was down about 2.5% (although the Dow was down 2% on inflation, stagflation, and Delta variant concerns) and oil company stocks more than that. Natural gas was up less than a percent.

    However, projections have it that demand will want 1m or more barrels more per day next year, assuming no more lockdowns.

    US producers could surge new production and crash the market. But no one wants to invest in new exploration. Most companies are hedged at a $50 range.

     
  • Jul, 2021
  • 09-07-2021
  • Alibaba wants to compete with Amazon in shipping

    Arguably, this is the one real strength Amazon currently has, as it's catalog seems less and less impressive.

    Alibaba already has good warehousing and distribution, as shown in how it handles China's 'Singles' Day.'

    Ali also has a payment company and other businesses that help speed up shipping.

    For delivery, Ali depends on partnerships with airlines and ground-based delivery co's (DHL).

    Ali wants to expand the products it offers to its 190 countries and charge $3 per year for fast (like 2-day) shipping. Amazon currently charges between $13 and $130 per year, depending on location (India, UK).

    Ali's product prices are comparatively cheaper than Amazon, because Ali has direct access to the Chinese producers.

    Ali sells a lot of alleged counterfeits, though, which hurts the real companies. Amazon also has faced these criticisms, but less so.

     
  • Jun, 2021
  • 29-06-2021
  • Americans overwhelmingly don't want to go back to their jobs this year

    A recent poll found almost 100% of people don't want to return to the office after being in their homes over the past year. They prefer the life of spending more time with friends and family. They're considering finding a new job.

    There are also more jobs available then ever. 9.3m jobs in April.

    People are asking whether the stimulus so far or the stimulus expected in the future have contributed to people not wanting to get jobs, but data doesn't seem convincing one way or another.

     
  • Jun, 2021
  • 27-06-2021
  • China industrial profits slowing, reportedly

    Their numbers are still growing, but according to analysts the growth is slowing, comparing the same month in different years. China's economy is still projected to grow 8% in 2021: strong growth.

    Also, small company profits are growing less than those of bigger companies.

    Rising commodity prices are squeezing profits for downstream companies, accounting for some of the slowdown in profits.

     
  • Jun, 2021
  • 16-06-2021
  • Tech subsidies ending, but damage might already be done

    For years, maybe since around 2012 people were not paying the 'true price' for tech commodities, but now that the tech subsidies are ending, they might have already killed all their competition, leaving consumers with higher prices and less selection.

    The most commonly cited example is Uber. Years ago, you could get an Uber for less than a yellow cab. Real businesses can't compete with artificially low prices, so many of the taxis have gone out of business, and now there's just Uber and only a few cabs in some areas, but at Uber prices double or triple what they were when Uber was 'competing' with its competitors.

     
  • Nord Stream 2 almost finished, despite US sanctions along the way

    The U.S. will have a hard time competing with Russian gas anyway, in serving Europe. Russian gas is cheaper and is said to be greener.

  • Jun, 2021
  • 14-06-2021
  • Lordstown Motors CEO and CFO have resigned

    ... amid shortselling investigation, but having more to do perhaps with the company saying they had 'substantial doubt' they could continue next year. Shares were down 10%.

     
  • Jun, 2021
  • 13-06-2021
  • Turkey has approved development of a new canal beside the Bosporus

    The Bosporus is Turkey's, but due to the 1936 Montreux Convention it can't allow non-Black Sea State navy ships to pass through, and it can't charge for the passage of civilian vessels during peacetime. The new Istanbul Canal would not have such restrictions.

    It is expected to be around 45km long, 21m deep, and 360-275m wide (top and bottom) and cost $15b. It will sit around 30km west of the Bosporus Straight, and will be spanned by 6 bridges, all high enough to clear the largest ships (which will cost another $1.4b).

    Currently, ships have to wait around 14 hours to enter the Black Sea due to congestion of the Bosporus. Estimates have it that revenue from the canal could amount to $8b per year eventually, if vessels decide to pay, which it is uncertain they will. Turkey will also be able to send dangerous cargo on a route further away from the city center.

    Istanbul citizens polled in 2020 opposed the project (80% opposed) due to environmental and other effects they will be faced with. It's also opposed by Russia which sees the potential ability of US and NATO warships to enter the Black Sea as a national security threat. 104 former Turkish naval officers also publicly opposed the project (the next day 10 were arrested).

      
  • Between 2019 and 2020, toy sales were up 16%, and figures appear to be up even more for the current year.

    Hasbro, as the biggest maker of board games, stood out because they saw a lift to their entire business, as did the makers of Lego.
  • Lots of talk about billionaires not paying taxes

    No one knows how the journalists at ProPublica got hold of tax records for several years for some of the richest Americans.

    Bezos, Musk, Soros, Buffet, etc., paid what appear to be small dollar figures in income tax for certain years (some years $0, some years around $70k were the most quoted figures, dating back to the year 2011). This is because they don't generally make income (particularly when you're talking about each year). Instead, they hold assets. Their largest asset is generally company stock, which is only taxed if it is sold (capital gains). Some years, they need to raise cash and so they take loans against their assets. This is not taxable.

     
  • Jun, 2021
  • 12-06-2021
  • El Salvador adopts Bitcoin

    The country doesn't have their own currency and uses USD. This means they can't print money, and that can be an issue when you're a net importer like El Salvador is (they could run out of dollars without the ability to print).

    They also have high unemployment, and 70% of the population doesn't have a bank account, and many Salvadoreans receive money from relatives working in more prosperous countries (about 25% of Salvadoreans live outside the country, and the money they send accounts for 20% of El Salvador's GDP). Money transfers are always a challenge with conventional institutions, and can involve high fees for each transfer (sometimes as high as 10%, which is of course good for banks).

    The bill passed Congress (62 out of 84 votes) to make El Salvador first country to accept crypto as an official method of payment ('unrestricted legal tender') beside the USD.

     
  • May, 2021
  • 20-05-2021
  • Bitcoin drops 30%

    Basically all crypto dropped significantly, after months of increased speculative buying.

    Other factors in the drop: further talk of regulation, ESG (energy use) concerns regarding mining, and China cracking down on crypto.

    In somewhat related crypto news, Bitmix reportedly ceased operations, not long after the tentative conclusion of the DarkSide pipeline hack. Bitmix was a crypto money laundering service used by ransomware hackers.

    Musk tweeted a "diamond hands" image, signifying he wasn't selling.

    About a month later, Musk tweeted a more positive comment on energy concerns with crypto mining, causing Bitcoin to rise from around $35k to around 40k.



     
  • May, 2021
  • 08-05-2021
  • Corn, soy, wheat prices up

    The reasons include China buying more because the country is rebuilding its hog herd after major losses in 2019 and last winter (African Swine Fever); draught in Brazil and ongoing dry conditions in the U.S (two major suppliers); and traders trying to hedge inflationary risks.

    The robust Chinese demand is expected to continue for 2-4 years. Additionally, rising incomes in developing countries could keep food prices moving upward.

    There isn't much alternative (such as rice and wheat) to feeding livestock good grains (corn and soy beans) when a livestock economy is focused on maximizing gains and quality, as China's is.

    Offsetting factors to inflation in food prices have started to be seen in more elastic demand factors, such as Chinese animal protein demand, where indications are consumers are starting to pull back due to prices. Also, the supply side, if robust enough, could put downward pressure on prices. We'll see how robust U.S. production turns out to be this year in the June Acerage Report, as the U.S. is still planting this years crops.

    Rice prices aren't up in the same way because stocks have been built up over the past few years.


    USDA Acreage Reports
     

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  • Jul, 2021
  • 19-07-2021
  • Pegasus spyware, capable of switching on cameras and mics, linked to list of 50,000 phone numbers

    ... and targeting journalists in 50 countries, targeted by 10 states.

    One Mexican journalist was on the list and 2 months later was killed, although journalists are frequently killed in Mexico.

    The spyware is reportedly from Israeli company NSO Group (although there are many other similar companies). The software is sold to governments (only those who have been 'approved by Israel') to deal with 'terrorism' and 'criminals,' but is used by governments against their own civil society (journalists, activists, dissidents, lawyers) and heads of state.

    The software is almost undetectable on your phone. It is not the kind of malware that you have to stupidly click something to have it install (spearfishing). It uses a zero-click exploit, using some app on your phone. It's not known which apps, but one is WhatsApp: it infected phones using a WhatsApp call and you don't even have to pick up the call. It has root access to the device (can do anything, including see all keystrokes, use camera, mic, contacts, archives, location). It might be stored in a temp file in RAM instead of on the hard drive.

    The only way to get rid of it currently is get a new phone and new SIM.

     
  • Jul, 2021
  • 11-07-2021
  • Audacity turns bad

    ... according to everyone in the privacy forums and bloggers, because it updated it's policies to tell users it would be collecting unknown data from them and using it in unknown ways.

    Audacity was bought by Muse Group (which owns Musescore and Ultimate Guitar). The new owners pledged to keep it 'free and opensource' but it seems they might have found another way to monetize their investment here).

    One of the things people were most excited to point out about the new policy for Audacity was they added a 'only use if over age 13' type line, because under GDPR 'The age threshold for obtaining parental consent is established by each EU Member State and can be between 13 and 16 years.'

    Many people just said they wouldn't use it anymore and deleted it from their machines. Other options offered by the community were to fork or use a previous version, or to limit port access.


     
  • Jul, 2021
  • 06-07-2021
  • Virtual influencers

    On social media, the use of these characters is a bit of a thing. They're CG attractive women (usually) used to promote and sell products.

    Some have lots of followers. Some are modelling agencies offering a roster of character options. They've been used by some big fashion brands.

    About 40% of people reportedly follow a virtual influencer without knowing it.

  • Jun, 2021
  • 27-06-2021
  • China sent a crew to its new space station

    China isn't a participant in the ISS, largely because of the US's objections to China's secrecy and military focus in space. They built their own space module, called Tianhe III (their first two space stations were more short term), or Heavenly Harmony, which launched last April.

    China used a Shenzhou-12 spaceship launched by a Long March-2F Y12 rocket from the Gobi Desert to transport a three-man crew of science-minded military pilots (2 vets, one new pilot) to Tianhe.

     
  • A fungus, Mycelium, is being talked about as an alternative to plastic to make things

    Basically, they make a mold and then fill it with hemp or woodchips (or some other agricultural waste). This is called the 'foam.' Mycelium is also placed in the molds. The molds are then placed on racks with temperature, humidity, co2 and airflow controlled.

    The Mycelium fibers grow so they fill the mold. Then the molds are heat treated to kill the Mycelium.

    Some people are also making other products such as bacon and other artificial meats, a leather alternative, insulation, and fabrics out of Mycelium.

     
  • Jun, 2021
  • 14-06-2021
  • Hackers don't want Bitcoin, some now like Monero

    ... which hides virtually all transaction details, and is considered a privacy token. With Monero, it's more difficult to see who the sender and recipient are, and transaction amount. 90-95% of ransoms are still paid in Bitcoin, but Monero is increasingly popular.

    Bitcoin is public ledger and stores all transaction history. It was headline news this month how the FBI recovered payments made with Bitcoin to the Colonial Pipeline hackers.

    Difficulties with using Monero include that many regulated exchanges have chosen not to list it to to regulatory concerns, meaning it's less liquid and can't be cashed out as easily as Bitcoin.

     
  • Jun, 2021
  • 13-06-2021
  • Chile starts thermosolar power plant in its superhot desert

    Atacama desert is very hot due to the sunlight it gets.

    The thermosolar plant has thousands of reflectors which move with the sun, reflecting its rays toward a column in the center, in which is water and salt that when heated creates steam.

    It makes 210mW, enough to power 380k homes.

    Chile is looking to close down some of its coal plants.




     
  • Jun, 2021
  • 01-06-2021
  • EU border wall, sound weapons, AI lie detection

    In order to keep out migrants several EU countries are building border walls (nevermind their negative response to the 2017 Trump proposal), employing sound cannons, and working on an AI lie detection tool.

    Analysts have commented that often these types of tools, implemented for such causes as migrants, are tested out before being turned on the citizens of the countries that built them.

    They also note that the steps will possibly result in more deaths, as the migrants will turn to smugglers and other more dangerous methods of entering Europe.

     
  • First AI drone attacks (without human oversight)

    Reports have it that last year a Turkish quad-copter which was a true set-and-forget weapon, identified targets and opened fire in Libya. The targets were renegades loyal to Khalifa Haftar, reportedly.

    Analysts note that Turkey and other countries perceive themselves to have a competitive advantage by using these tools.

     
  • Danish journalists come forward with US spying report

    Allegedly (so far these are only allegations), in 2013 during the days of Edward Snowden's revelations the Obama government was spying on German and other leaders of US-allied countries, Danish foreign intelligence agency FE signed a deal with the NSA so that the Americans could intercept communications (tap phones and messaging of German and other allied leaders) using their own software following the 911 attacks in 2001.

    Following Snowden's publishing the documents about this activity, a report was created but it was never made public, but now six of the very few people who ever saw it decided to come forward.

    It is expected there will now be pressure to publish it, especially considering Danish and other European individuals were targeted. It is being reported that current US pres Biden was significantly involved in the operation. He was VP from 09-17.

    German, France and other EU states are waiting for better, more certain information before responding publicly.

    Newscasters on several channels reported the story with smiles of bemusement or low-key glee.

    #InternationalRelations #Snowden #journalism
        
  • May, 2021
  • 17-05-2021
  • Marines boarding ships with personal jetpacks

    UK's Royal Marines, using the Gravity Jet Suit (1000bhp)


     
  • May, 2021
  • 01-05-2021
  • More mysterious 'Havana Syndrome' attacks

    More of these strange attacks have been reported, this time not in Cuba but near the White House.

    When they were first reported in 2017, the U.S. government referred to them as 'targeted attacks' but later started calling them 'health incidents.'

    But recently, two U.S. senators said they were definitely attacks. Canadian diplomats accused the Canadian government of withholding information about three new cases of brain injury among Canadian diplomats who served in Cuba, too.

    The U.S. puts Russia as the most likely perpetrator.

    Last year the National Academy of Science found the weapon to be one that uses 'pulsed microwave energy' to cause brain damage.

    The reported symptoms are vague, including memory loss, nausea, headaches, and loss of balance. The U.S. diplomats reported hearing a strange noise, which was recorded and is publicly available to listen to, in the embassy before the symptoms started.

     

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  • Jul, 2021
  • 22-07-2021
  • Floods: Germany had massive floods causing over 100 deaths, and China's Henan had 8 months worth of rain in a day

    China reported 33 deaths. Roughly $200m in damage, expected that estimate will be increased.

    Media censorship in China again highlighted. Government-controlled media, no critical media to investigate and ask critical questions. Social media accounts that ask about role of authorities get deleted and censored.

    One question is whether local authorities warned citizens soon enough. A counterargument is that they had no reason to expect that much rain (once in a lifetime situation).

    Chinese people's political double-standards in a strictly-controlled information environment also at issue: state media covered German floods, Siberian forest fires, Canada heat wave, and drew climate change conclusions. But when something similar happens in China they focus on it as being just an exceptional event.
    #Censorship
     
  • Jul, 2021
  • 06-07-2021
  • Saiga antelopes almost wiped out 6 years ago, then there was a baby boom

    Pastruela killed 90% of the species in 2015. Scientists have 2 theories. One, the bacteria, already in the animal (it exists in healthy Saigas at least sometimes, scientists have found), is triggered to grow by something and it kills them. Two, there is an amoeba in the environment that is infected by the bacteria, and then in the wet season the bacteria becomes active, and meanwhile it is somehow consumed when the antelopes grazes.

    Saiga populations recover quickly, though. Females at age 1 have one calf. Older females have twins, and the most mature, larger females can have 3.

    The current population is estimated at 250,000, just like before the endemic on the Kazakh steppe. People in 2015 worried they might become extinct.

    They are now returning to the same grazing ground, though. Experts have little doubt the same plight will affect them again.

    They also face a possible new highway through their migration ground, which would connect the Caspian Sea (at Aktau) and the Nur-Sultan (the capital city).



     

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  • Jul, 2021
  • 11-07-2021
  • Branson flew to the edge of space on Virgin Galactic, then Bezos

    He said it was the 'experience of a lifetime.'

    282k feet (53 miles).

    About 800k people watched the largest of the YT livestreams, it looked like.

    About a week later Bezos flew in his Blue Origin craft to 350k feet (66 miles).

    NASA's designated Earth-Space boundary is 50 miles, but the Karman line is 100km.

     
  • Jun, 2021
  • 16-06-2021
  • Christiano Ronaldo removed some Coke bottles

    ... that were placed in front of him before a press conference, and just kept the water bottle, held it up and said, "Aqua."

    Latin American newspapers ran headlines saying the move cost Coke $4b dollars because after the move the stock moved down over a percent (which is not uncommon in a days trading).

    Ronaldo has before commented he tries to get his children to not drink soda or eat chips.

    A day later, Paul Pogba moved a (non-alcoholic but appearance-wise identical) Heiniken beer that had been placed in front of him at a press conference, but left the coke bottles and water.

     
  • Jun, 2021
  • 15-06-2021
  • DRC using dance for sexual violence victims

    Victims of rape are being treated holistically with dance classes in the DRC. The treatment is considered to include psychological, social, and physical elements.
     
  • May, 2021
  • 01-05-2021
  • Pakistani Camel Library

    A former wood-hauler camel is now employed traveling around some villages of Balochistan province with books strapped to its sides sides. Children run to the camel and clamor for books when the camel arrives.

    Balochistan has only 40% literacy, the lowest in Pakistan.

    Raheema Jalal is the woman behind the project, working with NGOs. The Camel Library Project is looking for further support in order to expand to other villages.



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  • Jun, 2021
  • 27-06-2021
  • Pink Floyd's Roger Waters denies Facebook

    ... at a recent Free Julian Assange meeting. He brought up that FB had asked for use of 'The Wall' for an Instagram ad and his response was 'Fuck you.'


     
  • Jun, 2021
  • 12-06-2021
  • Nigeria bans Twitter

    After Twitter deleted a tweet from Nigerian president, Muhammadu Buhari that threatened to punish regional secessionists because it violated Twitter's TOS, that government swiftly banned Twitter and within hours the country's internet providers had shut out access.

    The country's TV and radio stations were ordered to delete or deactivate their Twitter accounts by Nigeria's broadcast authority.

    Trump made comments in favor of the move.

    Many Nigerians continue to use Twitter using VPNs to bypass the censorship.

    Nigeria has 201m people, (40m Twitter users) the largest population in Africa, which has 1.2b total.

    Twitter is seen as unique among other social media platforms (which are not currently banned) because by Twitter's nature of being text-focused and short in word limit, it is used more for political speech. It is also quoted more in news articles.

    The issue enrages some Nigerians because they want to be able to freely express themselves (and their discontent with the government). The government there is viewed by many as one of the biggest creators of propaganda or fake news.

    Many Nigerians run businesses at least partially on Twitter, and they are upset because of the loss of investment. Nigerians also believe the government is using the pretext of Twitter's censorship of the president's tweet in order to tighten its control over all internet social media. The government has since announced that all social media platforms have to register within the country.

    I tried to watch a debate by minor authorities in Nigeria but they seem to yell a lot.

     
  • Apr, 2021
  • 30-04-2021
  • Facebook temporarily blocked anti-Modi posts

    When people tried to post such posts, they received a message: "Keeping our community safe ... Posts with #ResignModi are temporarily hidden here. Some content in those posts goes against our Community Standards."

    Over 12,000 posts calling for the Indian PM's resignation were later reinstated, and Facebook said it was an error.

    Twitter also recently deleted some posts critical of the Indian government after that government issued them a legal request.

    #India #Facebook
     

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  • Jul, 2021
  • 13-07-2021
  • Biggest riots in S Africa in years (since Apartheid maybe)

    High unemployment. Dissatisfaction with political leaders. But the riots erupted when former president (until 2018) Zuma started a 15-month prison sentence for contempt of court after refusing to appear at a corruption inquiry. The outrage by his supporters was compounded by anger over poverty and inequality.

    Shops, malls, warehouses completely ransacked. 72 reported dead (but I didn't hear how - I mean, were some just already enemies, etc.?).

    'It's over. It's over,' said one shop owner. 'I've got overheads. I owe banks money.'

    The government sent military (2000 soldiers, considered a small number) to some areas as police struggled. Sometimes police are just standing by as the looting goes on, and analysts say this has to do with the history of the ANC government and that they don't want to be seen shooting at black S Africans. Some owners, armed, tried to quell the looting themselves. Some are criticizing the government for not acting on the riots soon enough.

    Commenters alluded to a racial element, but none seemed willing to talk about that issue.

    They may now have food shortages due to the riots.

    The ANC government is saying people working for Zuma may be stoking the rioters.

    A random commenter said this: 'Learn from the Koreans in the LA Riots, 2 guys on the roof with sub machine gun and rifle. 3 guys on ground blocking door with Shotguns and pistols. The police are not going to help when the riots get out of control. No one died and their stores and markets were all saved.'

    But some commenters from within S Africa replied that it wasn't easy to get guns in S Africa and the authorities there 'are trying to remove the clause that allows for the purchase of firearms for self defence purposes from The Firearms Control Act.'

    None of the commenters from S Africa who large news sites tried to interview could comment anything of value, just repeat a few criticisms and restate obvious social conditions, and generally had to be cut off by the interviewing journalists.

     
  • Jul, 2021
  • 11-07-2021
  • Maybe 1b shellfish died off Canadian shores due to June heat

    Highest recorded June temps.

     
  • Jul, 2021
  • 09-07-2021
  • UAE princess capture helped by FBI, says USA Today investigation

    Reportedly, they gave the UAE gov the geolocation of Princess Sheikha Latifa's yacht as she fled the kingdom in 2018, after getting it from a US internet provider.

    Reports have it the FBI was misled by the UAE, that they had been told she was kidnapped.

    The US org might have broken protocol to do this, not first subpoenaing the provider.

     
  • Jul, 2021
  • 08-07-2021
  • Last US troops leave Bagram Airfield in the night

    ... without telling the new Afghan commander.

    The base, about an hour away from Kabul, has made headlines over the years for horrible accounts of the US forces there torturing Afghanis, sometimes to death.

    The Afghan soldiers now guarding the base have said they look to the government and the village to support them with resources. 'the Americans destroyed everything here.' Much of the supplies (boots, exercise machines - The Americans took their sophisticated modern military tools) left by the troops has made it's way to scrapyards and second-hand shops.

    Some have said they are glad the Americans left, that now Afghanistan can have peace, which the Americans didn't bring.

     
  • Jul, 2021
  • 07-07-2021
  • Suez Canal blocking ship released from Egypt's Canal Authority after agreeing to $1b fee.

    Six days the ship (Ever Given) blocked traffic. The traffic was valued at $10b per day. When the Suez Canal Authority dislodged the vessel, it held it until terms could be arranged, given the costs to the port itself (SCA eventually claimed it was around $550m, including costs to dislodge, various expenses, and financial damages).

    This will be billed to the ship's owners and insurers.

  • Jul, 2021
  • 03-07-2021
  • African Islamist groups on rise

    ... in several countries across the Sahel and some other countries.

    Some analysts say the countries facing an IS threat are those with weak central governments.

    "Local populations are dissatisfied with how governments are delivering. Democracy has not worked for populations in that part of the country." : Bulama Bukarti, Senior Africa Analyst, Tony Blair Inst., who said that if the governments continue to not fund education and other services to create a more civil society, it will continue to be easy for extremist groups to exploit socioeconomic grievances to recruit young people into violence.

    Does it help or hurt, though, to keep calling these groups 'terrorists'? Are they not just non-government military groups?

  • Afghanistan after America

    Now it's the Afghan govt versus the Taliban, which is reported to be retaking ground, on the offensive. Since Biden announced the US's complete withdrawal a couple months ago, Taliban took about 1/4 (127, 10 of those again retaken by the Afghan military) of the districts of Afghanistan, where they are implementing Sharia and blocking media.

    Last US troops leave Sept 1 (the last 650 that remain, contra to the Doha agreement, after most of the 4000-strong force left), and then we'll really see what Taliban will do.

    "This land belongs to you and us," said an Afghan soldier, "The Russians were here and they left. Then the Americans came and now they have left. This country is ours, and we will protect it even without pay or equipment."

    Reports are that the Taliban aren't willing to go sit at the negotiating table, where Afghan govt negotiators are waiting.

    There are lineups at passport offices, people wanting to leave, remembering the 90s.
     
  • Jul, 2021
  • 01-07-2021
  • Starvation in Madagascar

    Worst drought in 40 years. Not enough rain again this year for a good harvest next season.

    People dying, skinny starving children. The lives of people based around looking for cactus leaves, to clean and eat, the only source of nutrition for many.

    Not much green land left. Dust.

    World Food Programme partnered with the Madagascar govt to do at least some aid.


     
  • Jun, 2021
  • 30-06-2021
  • Rumsfeld died, age 88

    Forum boards were a list of comments that were either negative and critical of the harms he is believed to have caused, or dismissive or joking. I read through them and didn't see any on the other side of the fence.