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posted by martyb on Wednesday September 29, @12:20AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the what's-is-a-name? dept.

We’re about to run out of Atlantic hurricane names:

It has been another record-setting hurricane season in the Atlantic basin, with a total of 19 named storms so far. It has been so busy that, with still more than two months to go until the season's end, the National Hurricane Season is probably going to run out of names for the second year in a row.

Currently in the Atlantic, Hurricane Sam is rampaging across open waters. Fortunately this major hurricane is unlikely to threaten any landmasses. Behind Sam, it's possible that Victor and Wanda will form during the next few days. Neither of these storms, either, poses any immediate threat to land.

If they do form, these two storms would exhaust the allotment of "official" names the National Hurricane Season uses for tropical storms and hurricanes. (Because the letters Q, U, X, Y, and Z are not commonly used for names, they don't appear on the list of Atlantic names). In years past, the Miami-based hurricane center would then start assigning Greek letters for excess named storms.

[...] And so after last season, the World Meteorological Organization—which is designated by the United Nations to handle weather issues—decided to create a supplemental list of names in lieu of the Greek alphabet. These storm names, beginning with Adria, Braylen, and Caridad, will come into play this year if more than two named storms form during the remainder of 2021. This seems likely given that about 25 percent of activity during any given Atlantic season occurs after October 1. One particular area of concern next month is the Western Caribbean Sea, which has sea surface temperatures several degrees above normal.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Tuesday September 28, @08:47PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the They-wouldn't-do-THAT...-would-they? dept.

CIA developed plans to kidnap Julian Assange, per report

The Trump administration's CIA actively developed plans to kidnap or assassinate Wikileaks founder Julian Assange during his seclusion in London's Ecuadorian embassy, according to a detailed new report from Yahoo News. Scenarios included abducting Assange from the embassy, intercepting a Russian effort to extract him, or an outright assassination attempt. While none of the operations were ever approved, they paint an alarming portrait of intelligence agencies' ongoing obsession with Wikileaks and its controversial founder.

As sources, Yahoo cites conversations with more than 30 former US officials. Among those, eight provided details on plans to kidnap Assange.

The report mostly details operations developed during the Trump administration, which placed fewer restraints on the CIA and was less troubled by the implications of launching direct operations against a figure many saw as a journalist. The issue became particularly heated in March of 2017, when Wikileaks published a catalog of hacking tools developed by the CIA. After that, "WikiLeaks was a complete obsession of Pompeo's," a source told Yahoo.

Also at The Guardian and The Hill.

Previously: Wikileaks and CIA Hacking Tools -- Security Firms Assess Impact as Tech Companies Offered Access

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Tuesday September 28, @06:01PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the clearly-there's-a-problem dept.

'Chilling': Facial recognition firm Clearview AI hits watchdog groups with subpoenas:

Clearview AI, the controversial facial recognition company that scrapes public images from social media to aid law enforcement probes, has subpoenaed internal documents from some of the groups that first exposed its activities.

The firm served subpoenas in August to civil society coalition Open The Government, its policy analyst Freddy Martinez and the police accountability nonprofit that he’d previously founded, Lucy Parsons Labs — demanding any correspondence they’d had with journalists about Clearview and its leaders, as well as information they’d uncovered about the company and its founders in public records requests, over the last four years.

The subpoenas, obtained by POLITICO, could draw the groups into lengthy court battles and, they argue, dissuade others from taking on Clearview or other companies working on potentially problematic technologies.

David Brody, counsel and senior fellow for privacy and technology at the nonprofit Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said the move could be seen as an attempt to deter the advocacy groups, and journalists, from future investigations.

[...] Authorities have been using Clearview’s software for several years to try to match images in government databases and surveillance footage with billions of personal photos posted to the internet. Privacy, human rights and civil liberties advocates have long raised alarm about facial recognition technology as both intrusive and biased. It has been shown to disproportionately misidentify women and people of color.

Clearview's attorney Andrew J. Lichtman said in a statement that “Clearview AI is vigorously defending itself against claims in multi-district litigation and therefore has served subpoenas to appropriate parties relating to its defense.”

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Tuesday September 28, @03:15PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the it's-not-dead-it's-just-resting dept.

Hubble telescope helps find six 'dead' galaxies from the early universe:

You'd think large galaxies in the early universe would have had plenty of 'fuel' left for new stars, but a recent discovery suggests that wasn't always the case. Astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope and the Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array (ALMA) have found six early galaxies (about 3 billion years after the Big Bang) that were unusually "dead" — that is, they'd run out of the cold hydrogen necessary for star formation. This was the peak period for star births, according to lead researcher Kate Whitaker, so the disappearance of that hydrogen is a mystery.

The team found the galaxies thanks to strong gravitational lensing, using galaxy clusters to bend and magnify light from the early universe. Hubble identified where stars had formed in the past, while ALMA detected cold dust (a stand-in for the hydrogen) to show where stars would have formed if the necessary ingredients had been present.

The galaxies are believed to have expanded since, but not through star creation. Rather, they grew through mergers with other small galaxies and gas. Any formation after that would have been limited at most.

From CNET we read:

"The most massive galaxies in our universe formed incredibly early, just after the Big Bang happened," Kate Whitaker, a professor of astronomy at University of Massachusetts-Amherst and lead author of a new study, said in a statement. "But for some reason, they have shut down. They're no longer forming new stars."

It turns out, some old galaxies merely ran low on star fuel, or cold gas, early on in their lifetimes. The results of the group's study were published Wednesday in the journal Nature and could rewrite our knowledge of how the universe evolved.

Journal Reference:
Katherine E. Whitaker, Christina C. Williams, Lamiya Mowla, et al. Quenching of star formation from a lack of inflowing gas to galaxies, Nature (DOI: 10.1038/s41586-021-03806-7)

Original Submission

posted by FatPhil on Tuesday September 28, @12:31PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the when-a-crash-is-more-than-a-crash dept.

Tesla owners can now request ‘Full Self-Driving’, prompting criticism from regulators and safety advocates:

SAN FRANCISCO — Tesla began letting owners request its “Full Self-Driving” software early Saturday, opening up for wide release its most advanced driver-assistance suite and signaling thousands of drivers will soon be on the road with the unregulated and largely untested features.

It’s the first time the company has let typical owners upgrade to the software it terms self-driving, although the name itself is an exaggeration by industry and regulatory standards. Tesla chief executive Elon Musk had said owners would be able to request this weekend the upgraded suite of advanced driver-assistance features, which Tesla says is a beta, although they wouldn’t receive the capabilities right away.

Owners will have to agree to let Tesla monitor their driving behavior through the company insurance calculator. Tesla issued a detailed guide specifying the criteria under which they would be graded. If their driving is deemed to be “good” over a seven day period, Musk said on Twitter, “beta access will be granted.”

It’s the latest twist in a saga that has regulators, safety advocates and family of Tesla crash victims up in arms because of the potential for chaos as the technology is unleashed on real-world roads. Until now, roughly 2,000 beta testers have had access to the technology.

Original Submission

This weekend’s release would make it available to those who have purchased the now-$10,000 software upgrade, and those who have purchased a subscription from Tesla for about $100 to $200 per month — if they can first pass Tesla’s safety monitoring.

[...] already, investigators are looking at its predecessor, dubbed Autopilot. That navigates vehicles from highway on-ramp to off-ramp, can park and summon cars, with a driver monitoring the software. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration opened an investigation last month into around a dozen crashes involving parked emergency vehicles while Autopilot was engaged.

“Full Self-Driving” expands Autopilot’s capabilities to city streets and offers the ability to navigate the vehicle turn-by-turn, from point A to point B.

Tesla and NHTSA did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Tesla has repeatedly argued that Autopilot is safer than cars in manual driving when the modes are compared using Tesla data and information from NHTSA.

Musk has said “Autopilot is unequivocally safer” than typical cars. The data is not directly comparable, however, because Autopilot is supposed to be activated on certain types of roads in conditions where it can function properly. [...]

posted by martyb on Tuesday September 28, @09:46AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the you-can-lead-a-horse-to-water dept.

A pill to treat Covid-19: 'We're talking about a return to, maybe, normal life'

Within a day of testing positive for covid-19 in June, Miranda Kelly was sick enough to be scared. At 44, with diabetes and high blood pressure, Kelly, a certified nursing assistant, was having trouble breathing, symptoms serious enough to send her to the emergency room.

[....] But the Kellys, who live in Seattle, had agreed just after their diagnoses to join a clinical trial at the nearby Fred Hutch cancer research center that's part of an international effort to test an antiviral treatment that could halt covid early in its course.

By the next day, the couple were taking four pills, twice a day. Though they weren't told whether they had received an active medication or placebo, within a week, they said, their symptoms were better. Within two weeks, they had recovered.

"I don't know if we got the treatment, but I kind of feel like we did," Miranda Kelly said. "To have all these underlying conditions, I felt like the recovery was very quick."

[....] At least three promising antivirals for covid are being tested in clinical trials, with results expected as soon as late fall or winter, said Carl Dieffenbach, director of the Division of AIDS at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who is overseeing antiviral development.

"I think that we will have answers as to what these pills are capable of within the next several months," Dieffenbach said.

An effective treatment would be great for those who get covid despite the availability of, or even having received, vaccinations.

Original Submission

posted by chromas on Tuesday September 28, @07:07AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the OpenSSH dept.

OpenSSH 8.8 has been released and with it comes a heads up that there will be major changes to how the scp utility operates, starting in one of the next releases. Specifically, scp has been retooled to use the SFTP protocol under the hood. This will leave most behavior unchanged and most times there will be no perceived difference. However, some scripts which make use of globbing might need minor adjustment to work properly in the future:

A near-future release of OpenSSH will switch scp(1) from using the legacy scp/rcp protocol to using SFTP by default.

Legacy scp/rcp performs wildcard expansion of remote filenames (e.g. "scp host:* .") through the remote shell. This has the side effect of requiring double quoting of shell meta-characters in file names included on scp(1) command-lines, otherwise they could be interpreted as shell commands on the remote side.

This creates one area of potential incompatibility: scp(1) when using the SFTP protocol no longer requires this finicky and brittle quoting, and attempts to use it may cause transfers to fail. We consider the removal of the need for double-quoting shell characters in file names to be a benefit and do not intend to introduce bug- compatibility for legacy scp/rcp in scp(1) when using the SFTP protocol.

Another area of potential incompatibility relates to the use of remote paths relative to other user's home directories, for example - "scp host:~user/file /tmp". The SFTP protocol has no native way to expand a ~user path. However, sftp-server(8) in OpenSSH 8.7 and later support a protocol extension "" to support this.

The new behavior is now present in scp but currently off by default. It can be tested using the temporary -s option. Later, the -O option will force use of the original scp/rcp protocol for the cases where SFTP may be unavailable or incompatible.

Compared to scp/rcp, SFTP is a new protocol but only relatively speaking. Importantly, it has been engineered from the ground up to operate as securely as possible. In contrast, scp has been written without a formal specification other than to operate like the late rcp did, but over SSH. Currently, scp requires expansion of glob patterns using the remote system's shell. That can be eliminated by dropping scp and switching to SFTP beneath it all.

(2019) Oh, SSH, IT Please see this: Malicious Servers can fsck with your PC's Files During scp Slurps
(2018) OpenSSH SFTP Chroot Code Execution
(2014) OpenSSH No Longer has to Depend on OpenSSL

Original Submission

posted by chromas on Tuesday September 28, @04:20AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the my-shoes-are-too-tight dept.

‘Babylon 5’ Reboot in the Works at The CW

Original series creator J. Michael Straczynski will pen the script for the update.

The CW is heading to space.

The younger-skewing broadcaster is teaming with original series creator J. Michael Straczynski for a reboot of Babylon 5.

Described as a “from-the-ground-up reboot” of the original, Straczynski will pen the script for a new potential version of the former syndicated drama from Warner Bros. TV. The new take revolves around John Sheridan (originally played by Bruce Boxleitner), an Earthforce officer with a mysterious background, who is assigned to Babylon 5, a five-mile-long space station in neutral space, a port of call for travelers, smugglers, corporate explorers and alien diplomats at a time of uneasy peace and the constant threat of war. His arrival triggers a destiny beyond anything he could have imagined, as an exploratory Earth company accidentally triggers a conflict with a civilization a million years ahead of us, putting Sheridan and the rest of the B5 crew in the line of fire as the last, best hope for the survival of the human race.

From Gizmodo:
Babylon 5 Is Getting Rebooted, With J. Michael Straczynski at the Helm

Variety reports that Warner Bros. has ordered a reboot of Babylon 5, produced and written by Straczynski as part of a deal between Warner Bros. TV and Straczynski’s Studio JMS. The series is not a continuation of the show, but a “from the ground up” reboot of the cult classic 1993 series, which ran across five seasons and seven made-for-TV movies until 1998.

[....] The series was beloved for its dark sci-fi plots and its approach to a massive, intertwined narrative over the course of its seasons and movies [...]

If only we could see the original vision of B5 as it would have been if no actors would have had to leave the show.

The past tempts us, the present confuses us, and the future frightens us. -- Emperor Turhan

Original Submission

posted by FatPhil on Tuesday September 28, @01:24AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the chip-crisis?-what-chip-crisis? dept.

Blazing fast PCIe 5.0 SSD prototype hits sequential read speeds of 14,000 MB/s:

Advancements in the storage segment are the unsung heroes in today's world of computing. While many users tend to focus on the speed of their CPU, GPU or even the higher refresh rate of their displays, the increasingly quick solid state drives are in part responsible for the performance improvements of Sony's and Microsoft's next-gen consoles. But while the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S rely on PCIe 4.0 SSDs, a Japanese memory manufacturer is already finalizing the development of its blazing fast PCIe 5.0 storage solutions.

In a recent presentation, Kioxia has now revealed how quick PCIe 5.0 SSDs can truly be. While the throughput of the PCIe 5.0 interface at 32GB/s per lane is exactly twice as high compared to PCIe 4.0, the company's first prototype has apparently reached sequential read speeds as high as 14,000MB/s. That is also twice as fast as Kioxia's currently top of the line PCIe 4.0 drive.

Even though these read speeds certainly seem impressive, the write speeds of Kioxia's PCIe 5.0 SSD are similarly spectacular. The official benchmark says the drive can reach sequential write speeds of 7,000MB/s, which is a 67% improvement to the predecessor. Overall, these speeds seem to be absolute overkill for most use cases, which is why these drives are intended for use in a professional server setting. Nevertheless, the rapid advancements in storage speeds certainly deserve more attention than the often incremental upgrades in the CPU and GPU sector.

Of course, there's more to storage than speed, there's reliability, for example. Would any gamers want to prove the "professional server setting" assumption wrong?

Original Submission

posted by FatPhil on Monday September 27, @10:38PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the is-bacon-noise-pink-noise dept.

AIMS plays frying bacon sounds to fish in bid to save Australia's coral reefs - ABC News:

To the untrained ear, it might sound like bacon frying in a pan but, to fish, it is the alluring sound of a healthy home.

[...] The Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) is in a race against climate change, with bleaching, cyclones and crown-of-thorns outbreaks threatening reefs.

In response, it has hatched a national project to find out how to make reefs more resilient by studying the World Heritage-listed Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia and the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland.

AIMS biologist Mark Meekan says efforts are focussed[sic] on Ningaloo where healthy reef sounds are being played underwater to attract baby fish to reefs, which could improve coral growth.

"If our ears could hear underwater, we'd realise that reefs are actually quite noisy places — lots of pops and crackles from shrimp and all sorts of things," he said.

[...] [Lead researcher] Dr Bay said the corals in the region were fast-growing but very sensitive to damage from storms and bleaching.

"Corals start life as tiny little larva and they grow, they settle onto the reef and then they grow larger, but they're very fragile in that first year of life," she said.

"What we're working with is a fragile, but very important species … we're really trying to understand how to help them live through these disturbances."

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Monday September 27, @07:45PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]

How I bricked then recovered my reMarkable 2

Let me start by saying that the reMarkable 2 is a great device. I’ve wanted something like this for a long time: a relatively device that runs Linux with an eInk screen and the ability to write on that screen with a pen. The reMarkable 2 delivers: I can ssh into it, and there’s a whole bunch of people writing code for it. I find I’m using it a lot.

Unfortunately, the fact that I can ssh into it leads to the first part of this post.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Monday September 27, @05:00PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the will-he-"go-boldly"-or-"boldly-go"? dept.

Captain Kir... ahem, William Shatner is riding the next Blue Origin trip to space. The Guardian says.

William Shatner will boldly go into space with Bezos’s Blue Origin – report:

"He was once Starfleet’s youngest captain, a fearless explorer leading the USS Enterprise on an intergalactic odyssey. Now the actor who famously portrayed Captain James Tiberius Kirk on Star Trek for four decades is reportedly set to boldly go on a real-life space adventure – at the age of 90.

"According to TMZ, William Shatner will blast off from Earth next month aboard a Blue Origin capsule owned by the Amazon founder Jezz Bezos, with the 15-minute joyride being filmed for a documentary."

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Monday September 27, @02:12PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]

Monday launch from California begins countdown to Atlas 5 retirement – Spaceflight Now:

An Atlas 5 rocket standing on a launch pad at Vandenberg Space Force Base, set for liftoff Monday with the Landsat 9 Earth observation satellite, is one of 29 Atlas 5s remaining in ULA’s inventory. Jessica Rye, a ULA spokesperson, confirmed last month that all 29 Atlas 5s have been sold to customers for future launches.

ULA received its final shipment of RD-180 engines from Russia earlier this year. A dual-nozzle RD-180 engine, made in Russia by NPO Energomash, powers the first stage of each Atlas 5 rocket, generating around 860,000 pounds of thrust at full throttle while guzzling kerosene and liquid oxygen propellants.

The new Vulcan Centaur will be driven by twin U.S.-made BE-4 main engines from Blue Origin, the space company founded by billionaire Jeff Bezos. ULA says the Vulcan Centaur will have more lift capability, additional mission flexibility, and will be cheaper to operate than the existing Atlas 5 and Delta 4 rocket families.

There are three Delta 4 rockets left to fly on ULA’s schedule.

The Landsat 9 mission is the latest in a series of environmental satellites developed by NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey. The new mission is designed for a lifetime of at least five years, extending an unbroken data record of global land images that  dates back to the launch of the first Landsat satellite in 1972.

[...] Liftoff is timed for 11:12 a.m. PDT (2:12 p.m. EDT; 1812 GMT)[*] from Space Launch Complex 3-East at Vandenberg, a military base around 140 miles (225 kilometers) northwest of downtown Los Angeles.

Launch is scheduled to occur 4 hours after this story goes live.

NASA live-stream of the launch on YouTube

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Monday September 27, @11:23AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the forget-toillet-paper dept.

British petrol stations run out of fuel as motorists panic buy amid truck-driver shortage - ABC News:

Thousands of British petrol stations ran dry on Sunday (local time), as motorists scrambled to fill up amid a supply disruption due to a nationwide shortage of truck drivers.

[...] BP said nearly a third of its British petrol stations had run out of the two main grades of fuel.

"With the intense demand seen over the past two days, we estimate that around 30 per cent of sites in this network do not currently have either of the main grades of fuel," BP, which operates 1,200 sites in Britain, said in statement.

Lines of vehicles formed at petrol stations for a third day running as motorists waited, some for hours, to fill up with fuel after oil firms reported a lack of drivers was causing transport problems.

Some operators had to ration supplies and others closed petrol stations altogether.

The Petrol Retailers Association, which represents almost 5,500 independent outlets, said about two-thirds of its members were reporting that they had sold out their fuel, with the rest "partly dry and running out soon".

[...] The haulage industry says the UK is short tens of thousands of truckers, due to a perfect storm of factors including the coronavirus pandemic, an aging workforce and an exodus of foreign workers following Britain's Brexit departure from the European Union last year.

Several countries, including the United States and Germany, also are experiencing a shortage of truck drivers.

But the problem has been especially visible in Britain, where it has contributed to empty supermarket shelves and shuttered gas pumps.

[...] The government said it would issue 5,000 three-month visas for truck drivers starting in October, and another 5,500 for poultry workers.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Monday September 27, @08:37AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the wild-"boar"ing-story dept.

Calls for cull as scavenging wild boars trot across Italy and into Rome - ABC News:

Rome has been invaded by Gauls, Visigoths and Vandals over the centuries, but the Eternal City is now grappling with a rampaging force of an entirely different sort: rubbish-seeking wild boars.

[...] Families of wild boars have become a daily sight in Rome, as groups of up to 30 beasts emerge from the city's parks to trot down traffic-clogged streets in search of food.

[...] There are over 2 million wild boars in Italy, according to agriculture body Coldiretti.

In the Lazio region, surrounding Rome, there are an estimated 5,000 to 6,000 in city parks.

A few hundred of them regularly leave the trees and greenery for urban asphalt and rubbish bins.

[...] Lazio parks manager Maurizio Giubbiotti said the region needed to increase the boar cull from 700 over two years to at least 1,000 annually to control the situation.

[...] Wild boars can weigh up to 100 kilograms, posing a not-insignificant threat to the elderly and young children.

Original Submission