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Ask Slashdot: What Would Your TED Talk Be About?
Posted by News Fetcher on April 05 '19 at 03:10 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's show-and-tell department:
Slashdot reader shanen poses the question: if you had to give a TED Talk, what would you talk about? They write: Mostly based on my experiences at TEDx events, though of course I've seen a lot of TED videos. Nick Hanauer's censored TED Talk is still my all-time favorite, though you couldn't see it on the TED website. Proximate trigger for this question was actually looking at the coming TEDx events in the neighborhood... In my own case, I think you'd need to put a gun to my head as motivation, but maybe my sig would be worth a laugh or two? What would your TED Talk be about? How does this idea resonate with you? Feel free to explain in as little as one sentence...
For example: "The inequality of opportunity and how the stereotypical success is a function of where one is born."

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Airbnb Guest Found Hidden Surveillance Camera By Scanning Wi-Fi Network
Posted by News Fetcher on April 05 '19 at 03:10 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's hide-and-seek department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: A New Zealand family that booked an Airbnb in Ireland recently discovered an undisclosed camera in the living room, and the family says that Airbnb initially cleared the host of any wrongdoing before finally banning the offender from its platform. "Once the family had unpacked, Andrew Barker, who works in IT security, scanned the house's Wi-Fi network," CNN reported today. "The scan unearthed a camera and subsequently a live feed. From the angle of the video, the family tracked down the camera, concealed in what appeared to be a smoke alarm or carbon monoxide detector." Nealie Barker posted an image on Facebook showing the location of the camera in the living room and a shot of the family from the sneaky video feed.

< article continued at Slashdot's hide-and-seek department >

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BBEdit Returns To the Mac App Store
Posted by News Fetcher on April 05 '19 at 01:50 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's it-all-works-out,-eventually department:
Bare Bones Software this week announced the return of BBEdit, a popular text, code, and markup editor, to the Mac App Store after a nearly five year hiatus. Bare Bones Software: When the Mac App Store debuted in 2011, BBEdit was one of its first products available for sale. However, due to technical and business constraints we encountered in the store, we decided to withdraw BBEdit from the Mac App Store in 2014. Following BBEdit's exit from the Mac App Store, we had many conversations with our customers, and with Apple, regarding the issues that we had encountered with the store. In the spring of 2018, Bare Bones and Apple announced that, subsequent to the release of macOS Mojave (10.14) and the accompanying refresh of the Mac App Store, BBEdit would be returning to the store.

This was made possible by changes to the OS itself which allow Mac App Store versions of BBEdit to function to their fullest extent while complying with Mac App Store rules; as well as changes to the Mac App Store business mechanics which make it possible for us to distribute our software through the Mac App Store as part of a sustainable business model. A limited features version of BBEdit is free to download and use, while the suite with all the features is priced at $3.99 a month or $39.99 a year. BBEdit remains available on a perpetual license basis for $49.99 via Bare Bones Software's online store and at participating resellers. Further reading: The Old Guard of Mac Indy Apps Has Thrived For More Than 25 Years.

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12 Years After It Was Notified, Firefox To Add Full Protection Against 'Login Prompt' Spam
Posted by News Fetcher on April 05 '19 at 01:50 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's better-later-than-never department:
Twelve years after it was first notified of the issue, Mozilla has finally shipped a fix this week that will prevent abusive websites -- usually tech support scam sites -- from flooding users with non-stop "authentication required" login popups and prevent users from leaving or closing their browsers. From a report: The fix has been shipped in Firefox v68, the current Nightly release, and will hit the browser's stable branch sometimes in early July. According to Firefox engineer Johann Hofmann, starting with Firefox 68, web pages won't be allowed to show more than two login prompts. Starting with the third request, Firefox will intervene to suppress the authentication popup.

Mozilla previously shipped a fix for this issue, but it was incomplete, as it blocked authentication prompts that originated from subresources, such as iframes. This latest patch completes the fix by blocking all types of authentication required prompts -- including those generated by the site's main domain.

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BMW, Daimler, and VW Colluded To Prevent Better Emissions Control Tech, EU Says
Posted by News Fetcher on April 05 '19 at 12:30 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department:
The European Union Commission today accused BMW, Daimler, and Volkswagen Group (which makes VW, Audi, and Porsche vehicles) of colluding to limit emissions reduction technology in their diesel and gas vehicles. From a report: The commission accused the three manufacturers of coordinating to limit the size and refill ranges of AdBlue tanks on their diesel vehicles made between 2006 and 2014. AdBlue is a urea-based liquid that is injected into exhaust gas to reduce the amount of nitrogen oxides (NOx) that are released during diesel combustion. The commission also accused the three manufacturers of agreeing to avoid or delay the introduction of "Otto" particulate filters on gas-powered vehicles between 2009 and 2014.

After opening an investigation last September, the EU Commission today sent the three German automakers Statements of Objections, that is, a formal letter outlining the preliminary view that the manufacturers' behavior was illegal. "Such market behavior, if confirmed... would violate EU competition rules prohibiting cartel agreements to limit or control production, markets or technical development," an EU Commission press release read.

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Facebook, Google, Twitter To Face US Lawmakers About Tech 'Censorship'
Posted by News Fetcher on April 05 '19 at 12:30 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's shape-of-things-to-come department:
Facebook, Google and Twitter are headed back to Washington next week to testify at a congressional hearing about alleged tech censorship. From a report: Tech companies have faced accusations that they're censoring conservative speech on their platforms. The companies have denied the allegations in the past. The hearing before the Senate Judiciary's subcommittee on the Constitution is scheduled for April 10 and is titled "Stifling Free Speech: Technological Censorship and the Public Discourse." A Facebook spokesperson said Neil Potts, its public policy director, will be testifying. Twitter and Google didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. A source familiar with the Senate hearing said Twitter and Google officials will also be attending. The hearing will likely mark Potts' second congressional appearance next week. Facebook and Google officials are expected to appear before the House Judiciary Committee on April 9 to answer questions about the spread of white nationalism on their platforms.

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Samsung Begins Mass Production of Its Own 5G Chips
Posted by News Fetcher on April 05 '19 at 11:10 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's up-next department:
Samsung Electronics has started mass-producing its 5G chips, the company said. From a report: Among the company's new chip offerings is the Exynos Modem 5100, which contains a 5G multi-mode chipset; it is the same chipset that is used to power the Galaxy S10 5G, which became available for sale in South Korea as of Wednesday. The model, unveiled in August, is the world's first 5G modem to be compatible with the 3GPP's 5G New Radio (5G-NR) standard. Mass production for its single-chip radio frequency transceiver, the Exynos RF 5500, and supply modulator solution, the Exynos SM 5800, have also started, Samsung said. These technologies also power Samsung's flagship 5G phone. The Exynos RF 5500 has 14 receiver paths for download, 4x4 MIMO (Multiple-Input, Multiple-Output), and a higher-order 256 QAM (Quadrature Amplitude Modulation) scheme for data transfer in 5G networks; and the Eyxnos SM5800 is 30% more power efficient than previous offerings.

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2.7 Million Americans Still Get Netflix DVDs in the Mail
Posted by News Fetcher on April 05 '19 at 11:10 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department:
Remember when Netflix used to be a DVD-by-mail company? Well, for 2.7 million subscribers in the US, it still is. From a report: The familiar red envelopes have been arriving in customers' mailboxes since 1998 and helped earn the company a healthy $212 million profit last year. Why are so many people still using this old-school service in the age of streaming? There are a number of reasons. Streaming Netflix video requires a lot of bandwidth -- so much so that Netflix consumes 15% of all US internet bandwidth, according to a 2018 industry report. But many rural areas of the country remain without broadband access. The Federal Communications Commission estimates 24 million Americans fall on the wrong side of this digital divide. The US Postal Service, however, can reach every ZIP code with those red envelopes. One such customer is Dana Palmateer, who lives in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

"Streaming movies was a no-go, so I just went with the disc service that Netflix offers," she says. "As all of us are doing it in these parts." But Netflix also has plenty of DVD customers in urban areas who prefer the service for its convenience and selection of movies, spokeswoman Annie Jung says. "People assume that our customers must either be super seniors or folks that live in the boonies with no internet access," she says. "Actually, our biggest hot spots are the coasts, like the Bay Area and New York." In 2017, the number of people who subscribed to Netflix's DVD subscription was about 4 million.

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The Nations of the Amazon Want the Name Back
Posted by News Fetcher on April 05 '19 at 09:50 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's tussle-continues department:
Online retail giant Amazon and the governments of eight South American countries have been given a final deadline to reach an agreement over how to use the ".amazon" web address extension after a seven-year dispute. From a report: What will happen next? It's a name that evokes epic proportions: the world's largest rainforest; a global tech company; and now a diplomatic saga nearing its end. This is the battle of the Amazon and it starts back in 2012. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the body that polices the world wide web's address system, decided to expand its list of generic top-level domains (gTLD) - the bit that comes after the dot in a web address. The new rules allowed companies to apply for brand new extensions, offering internet users and businesses more ways to personalise their website name and addresses. But eight countries containing the Amazon rainforest objected to the retail giant's plans concerning the new .amazon domain name.

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The US Just Had the Most Q1 Layoffs in a Decade
Posted by News Fetcher on April 05 '19 at 09:50 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department:
The U.S. saw its highest level of layoffs in a first quarter since 2009, data from staffing firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas released this week showed. From a report: Employers cut 190,410 jobs in the first 3 months of the year -- 10.3% higher than the number of layoffs announced in the fourth quarter of 2018 and 35.6% higher than job cuts announced in the same quarter of 2018. It's the highest number of job cuts in a quarter since 2015. The financial industry saw the third highest number of layoffs and the year-to-date total was 239% higher than it was in 2018.

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Hacker Group Has Been Hijacking DNS Traffic On D-Link Routers For Three Months [Update]
Posted by News Fetcher on April 05 '19 at 09:50 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's behind-the-scenes department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from ZDNet: For the past three months, a cybercrime group has been hacking into home routers -- mostly D-Link models -- to change DNS server settings and hijack traffic meant for legitimate sites and redirect it to malicious clones. The attackers operate by using well-known exploits in router firmware to hack into vulnerable devices and make silent changes to the router's DNS configuration, changes that most users won't ever notice. Targeted routers include the following models (the number to the side of each model lists the number of internet-exposed routers, as seen by the BinaryEdge search engine): D-Link DSL-2640B - 14,327; D-Link DSL-2740R - 379; D-Link DSL-2780B - 0; D-Link DSL-526B - 7; ARG-W4 ADSL routers - 0; DSLink 260E routers - 7; Secutech routers - 17; and TOTOLINK routers - 2,265.

Troy Mursch, founder and security researcher at internet monitoring firm Bad Packets, said he detected three distinct waves during which hackers have launched attacks to poison routers' DNS settings --late December 2018, early February 2019, and late March 2019. Attacks are still ongoing, he said today in a report about these attacks. A normal attack would look like this:
1. User's computer or smartphone receives wrong DNS server settings from the hacked router.
2. User tries to access legitimate site.
3. User's device makes a DNS request to the malicious DNS server.
4. Rogue server returns an incorrect IP address for the legitimate site.
5. User lands on a clone of the legitimate site, where he might be required to log in and share his password with the attackers. Update: 04/05 16:45 GMT by M : The story adds, "According to Stefan Tanase, security researcher at Ixia, these campaigns have hijacked traffic meant for Netflix, Google,PayPal, and some Brazilian banks, and have redirected users to clone sites, hosted over HTTP, on the networks of known bulletproof hosting providers."

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Microsoft To Combine Xbox Game Pass and Xbox Live Into $14.99-a-Month Subscription
Posted by News Fetcher on April 05 '19 at 08:30 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's up-next department:
Microsoft is planning on launching a new Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription that combines Xbox Live Gold and Xbox Game Pass into a single monthly charge. From a report: Twitter user h0x0d first revealed the new Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription, and it claims the service will be priced at $14.99 per month. The Verge understands that Microsoft will likely unveil this service alongside the company's new disc-less Xbox One S All-Digital edition later this month. The combination of Xbox Game Pass and Xbox Live subscriptions into a single monthly charge means Xbox owners will save around $5 per month compared to the $19.98 monthly subscription price for an existing combination of the two. It's not a massive savings, but the new Xbox Game Pass Ultimate offering will make a lot of sense for Microsoft's new disc-less Xbox One S since this console won't include a Blu-ray drive and will rely heavily on digital downloads and Xbox subscription services.

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Making Video Games Is Not a Dream Job
Posted by News Fetcher on April 05 '19 at 08:30 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department:
The video game industry is richer than it has ever been. Its revenue in 2018 was $43.8 billion, a recent report estimated, thanks in large part to hugely popular games like Fortnite and Call of Duty. These record-breaking profits could have led one to think that the people who develop video games had it made. But then the blood bath began. From a story, shared by an anonymous reader: In February, Call of Duty's publisher, Activision Blizzard, laid off 8 percent of its staff, or nearly 800 workers, in a cost-cutting massacre. A few weeks later, the game studio ArenaNet cut dozens of positions, while smaller layoffs hit companies like Valve and the digital store operator GOG. And just last week, the video game giant Electronic Arts announced that it was laying off 350 people across the globe.

This brutal start to 2019 followed the closures of major game companies like Telltale, the makers of games based on The Walking Dead, and Capcom Vancouver, the large studio behind the popular action series Dead Rising in 2018. All in all, thousands of video game workers have lost their jobs in the past 12 months. In many of these cases, laid-off employees had no idea what was coming. One developer at a major studio told me in February that he and his colleagues had been crunching -- putting in long hours, including nights and weekends -- for a video game release, only to be suddenly told that security was waiting to escort them off the premises.

< article continued at Slashdot's closer-look department >

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Facebook's Black Markets Just Keystrokes Away, Researchers Say
Posted by News Fetcher on April 05 '19 at 07:10 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department:
Facebook is connecting not only old friends, but also new criminals. Researchers uncovered more than 70 Facebook groups openly selling black-market cyberfraud services, some of which they say had been running for up to eight years. From a report: The now-removed groups had more than 385,000 members in total and offered a variety of illegal services, from credit card information and identity theft to website hacking and email phishing, according to cybersecurity researchers at Talos, the threat intelligence division for the technology company Cisco. By searching for a few well-known fraud terms, the researchers exposed a sizable online black market hiding in plain sight on the world's most popular social media site. "Selling CVV fresh $5" read one post for stolen credit card numbers. "100k mail list fresh" touted another from the "Professional Spammer's and Hacker's [sic]" page. Both posts included purported screenshots of their wares.

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EU Charges Valve and 5 Game Publishers With Unfair 'Geo-Blocking'
Posted by News Fetcher on April 05 '19 at 07:10 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department:
The European Commission charged Valve, the owner of a video distribution platform, and five game publishers on Friday with preventing EU consumers from shopping around within the European Union to find the best deal for the games they offer. From a report: The case is the latest move by EU antitrust regulators against cross-border curbs on online trade, key to what is seen as a major part of economic growth in the 28-country bloc. The Commission, which oversees competition policy in the 28 EU countries, said that the companies were Valve, the owner of the world's largest video game distribution platform 'Steam', and five game makers -- Bandai Namco, Capcom, Focus Home, Koch Media and ZeniMax. "In a true digital single market, European consumers should have the right to buy and play video games of their choice regardless of where they live in the EU," European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said. The Commission has sent what it calls a "statement of objections" to the companies, allowing them to reply and request hearings to present their arguments.

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Hacker Group Has Been Hijacking DNS Traffic On D-Link Routers For Three Months
Posted by News Fetcher on April 05 '19 at 05:50 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's behind-the-scenes department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from ZDNet: For the past three months, a cybercrime group has been hacking into home routers -- mostly D-Link models -- to change DNS server settings and hijack traffic meant for legitimate sites and redirect it to malicious clones. The attackers operate by using well-known exploits in router firmware to hack into vulnerable devices and make silent changes to the router's DNS configuration, changes that most users won't ever notice. Targeted routers include the following models (the number to the side of each model lists the number of internet-exposed routers, as seen by the BinaryEdge search engine): D-Link DSL-2640B - 14,327; D-Link DSL-2740R - 379; D-Link DSL-2780B - 0; D-Link DSL-526B - 7; ARG-W4 ADSL routers - 0; DSLink 260E routers - 7; Secutech routers - 17; and TOTOLINK routers - 2,265.

Troy Mursch, founder and security researcher at internet monitoring firm Bad Packets, said he detected three distinct waves during which hackers have launched attacks to poison routers' DNS settings --late December 2018, early February 2019, and late March 2019. Attacks are still ongoing, he said today in a report about these attacks. A normal attack would look like this:
1. User's computer or smartphone receives wrong DNS server settings from the hacked router.
2. User tries to access legitimate site.
3. User's device makes a DNS request to the malicious DNS server.
4. Rogue server returns an incorrect IP address for the legitimate site.
5. User lands on a clone of the legitimate site, where he might be required to log in and share his password with the attackers.

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Cats Can Recognize Their Own Names, Study Suggests
Posted by News Fetcher on April 05 '19 at 03:10 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's animal-behavior department:
AmiMoJo shares a report from Gizmodo: Plenty of cat owners will happily tell you their felines are capable of responding to their own names, but the scientific jury remains ambivalent on the matter. A fascinating new experiment suggests this might actually be true for some cats, and it's a capacity very much tied to the social environment in which the cat lives. The new research, published today in Scientific Advances, doesn't mean cats understand the human conception of a name, but it does show that at least some cats can distinguish their names from other words. Prior research has shown that cats can recognize human gestures, facial expressions, and vocal cues. Slashdot reader sciencehabit adds: Give this a shot at home: Say four random words to your cat -- separated by about 15 seconds -- with the same length and intonation as its name. Then say its actual name. If it swivels its ears or perks up its head, chances are it knows what you call it. That's essentially what researchers did in a new study. The scientists saw similar responses when the cat's name came after the names of other felines he lived with, or when a stranger spoke the words. The findings are the first to experimentally show that cats have some understanding of what we are saying to them, the team concludes.

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Amazon Is Working On Hot Air Balloon Drone That Approaches Homes Silently
Posted by News Fetcher on April 04 '19 at 11:10 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's quiet-as-a-mouse department:
Amazon has been granted a patent that describes an "unmanned aerial vehicle with inflatable membrane" that would allow it to approach homes silently. The UAV "would have a balloon hidden inside the chasis," reports Slashgear. "That could be inflated using compressed gas, via a tank or chamber also carried on the drone. When the UAV roamed into an area where noise levels needed to be cut -- such as the delivery location, Amazon suggests -- the balloon could be inflated." From the report: In the process it would mean that the traditional drone propellers would have less work to do, since the UAV's buoyancy would be taken care of by the balloon. All the motors would be required for is general positioning. Amazon doesn't envisage flying the drone like a miniature zeppelin, however. Instead, the balloon system would be used to raise and lower the UAV to and from the delivery location. In that way it could help reduce the noise -- and energy -- involved in achieving a cruising altitude, whereupon the balloon would be deflated and gathered back into its dock.

The drone would proceed to the delivery destination, and then the balloon would be reinflated. That could be used to then gently lower the aircraft to the ground, to leave behind its package. Of course, having an inflating balloon near a system of fast-spinning propellers seems like a recipe for disaster, and so part of Amazon's patent outlines the retracting mechanism by which the two elements would be kept apart. The whole thing would be handled by an onboard autopilot, with the balloon reeled back into the storage area. The drone could either return the gas used for inflation to the compression chamber, or allow it to escape. Indeed, another possibility that Amazon suggests is a completely detachable balloon. That, the patent describes, might then float away, or biodegrade, rather than being reused.

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Google Cancels AI Ethics Board In Response To Outcry
Posted by News Fetcher on April 04 '19 at 09:50 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's that-was-quick department:
After facing criticism for including two controversial members in its AI ethics board, Google told Vox that it's pulling the plug on the board altogether. "The inclusion of drone company CEO Dyan Gibbens reopened old divisions in the company over the use of the company's AI for military applications," reports Vox. But it's Heritage Foundation president Kay Coles James who proved most controversial due to her company's hard line stance on immigration and LGBTQ rights. Thousands of Google employees signed a petition earlier this week calling for her removal. From the report: The board survived for barely more than one week. Founded to guide "responsible development of AI" at Google, it would have had eight members and met four times over the course of 2019 to consider concerns about Google's AI program. Those concerns include how AI can enable authoritarian states, how AI algorithms produce disparate outcomes, whether to work on military applications of AI, and more. But it ran into problems from the start.

Board member Alessandro Acquisti resigned. Another member, Joanna Bryson, defending her decision not to resign, claimed of James, "Believe it or not, I know worse about one of the other people." Other board members found themselves swamped with demands that they justify their decision to remain on the board. The panel was supposed to add outside perspectives to ongoing AI ethics work by Google engineers, all of which will continue. Hopefully, the cancellation of the board doesn't represent a retreat from Google's AI ethics work, but a chance to consider how to more constructively engage outside stakeholders. Here is Google's statement on the matter: "It's become clear that in the current environment, ATEAC can't function as we wanted. So we're ending the council and going back to the drawing board. We'll continue to be responsible in our work on the important issues that AI raises, and will find different ways of getting outside opinions on these topics."

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'Dead Corals Don't Make Babies': Great Barrier Reef Losing Its Ability To Recover From Bleaching
Posted by News Fetcher on April 04 '19 at 08:30 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's downward-spiral department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNN: Successive ocean heat waves are not only damaging Australia's Great Barrier Reef, they are compromising its ability to recover, raising the risk of "widespread ecological collapse," a new study has found. The 2,300-kilometer-long (1,500 mile) reef has endured multiple large-scale "bleaching" events caused by above-average water temperatures in the last two decades, including back-to-back occurrences in 2016 and 2017.
The new study, released Wednesday in the journal Nature, examined the number of adult corals which survived these two events and how many new corals they created to replenish the reef in 2018.

The answer was as bleak as it was stark: "Dead corals don't make babies," the study's lead author, Terry Hughes, said in a press release. Scientists working on the study found the loss in adult corals caused a "crash in coral replenishment" on the reef, as heat stresses brought about by warming ocean temperatures impacted the ability of coral to heal. "The number of new corals settling on the Great Barrier Reef declined by 89% following the unprecedented loss of adult corals from global warming in 2016 and 2017," said Hughes. Scientists working on the report say they would expect coral recruitment to recover over the next 5 to 10 years, as more corals reach sexual maturity, but only in the absence of another bleaching event. However, with sea temperatures continuing to rise this seems a near-impossiblity.

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