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New FCC Rules Will Require Wireless Companies To Deliver Emergency Alerts More Accurately
Posted by News Fetcher on January 30 '18 at 10:37 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's up-next department:
The Federal Communications Commission voted Tuesday to update the country's wireless emergency alert system, aiming to ensure that local officials only sound alarms on Americans' smartphones when those citizens are truly in harm's way. From a report: The system, implemented in 2012, allows first responders around the country to dispatch short, loud, text-message-like bulletins to warn mobile users about inclement weather, abducted children or criminals at large. But public-safety leaders long have complained the alerts are inaccurate, rendering it difficult to use them in times of disaster without creating undue panic. And they fret that "over-alerting" has proven so frustrating to smartphone owners that they've simply turned off the alarms entirely -- rendering it even more difficult to communicate in times of an emergency.

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Naked Mole Rats Defy Mortality Mathematics
Posted by News Fetcher on January 30 '18 at 09:13 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's stranger-things department:
An anonymous reader shares a report: Naked mole rats are adorably ugly creatures that challenge what we think we know about aging. Naked mole rats can live to be 30 years old. Further, female mole rats show no signs of menopause, and remain highly fertile even into their final years of life. Neurogenesis in naked mole rats continues over two decades, and their hearts and bones don't seem to change significantly over time. They rarely get cancer. Hell, they can even live up to 18 minutes utterly deprived of oxygen. [...] At Google's biotech company, Calico, in San Francisco, California, biologist Rochelle Buffenstein is looking to the naked survivors to unlock their secrets of aging. Buffenstein says naked mole rats violate to the Gompertz-Makeham law, and she has over 3,000 data points to back her conclusion. After reaching adulthood six months into their lives, a naked mole rat's mortality risk remained the same for the rest of its days her analysis revealed. Rather than grow exponentially, a naked mole rat's risk of death on any given day, no matter their point in life, hovered around 1 in 10,000. Surprisingly, their mortality risk even fell a little when they grew very old. In this sense, Buffenstein writes, naked mole rats have established themselves as "a non-aging mammal. This life-history trend is unprecedented for mammals," Buffenstein and colleagues wrote in a study published recently in the journal eLife.

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Child Experts: Just Say 'No' To Facebook's Kids App
Posted by News Fetcher on January 30 '18 at 09:13 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's big-concerns department:
A group letter sent Tuesday to CEO Mark Zuckerberg argues that younger children -- the app is intended for those under 13 -- aren't ready to have social media accounts, navigate the complexities of online relationships or protect their own privacy. From a report: Facebook launched the free Messenger Kids app in December, pitching it as a way for children to chat with family members and parent-approved friends. It doesn't give kids separate Facebook or Messenger accounts. Rather, the app works as an extension of a parent's account, and parents get controls such as the ability to decide who their kids can chat with. The social media giant has said it fills "a need for a messaging app that lets kids connect with people they love but also has the level of control parents want." But a group of 100 experts, advocates and parenting organizations is contesting those claims. Led by the Boston-based Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, the group includes psychiatrists, pediatricians, educators and the children's music singer Raffi Cavoukian. "Messenger Kids is not responding to a need -- it is creating one," the letter states. "It appeals primarily to children who otherwise would not have their own social media accounts."

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Drug Firms Shipped 20.8 Million Pain Pills To West Virginia Town of 2,900
Posted by News Fetcher on January 30 '18 at 07:54 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's outrageous department:
A congressional committee investigating the opioid crisis has discovered out-of-state drug companies shipped 20.8 million prescription painkillers over a decade to two pharmacies in a Southern West Virginia town with 2,900 people. From a report: Between 2006 and 2016, two drug wholesalers shipped 10.2 million hydrocodone pills and 10.6 million oxycodone pills to Tug Valley Pharmacy and Hurley Drug in the town of Williamson, in Mingo County, the Charleston Gazette-Mail reported. "These numbers are outrageous, and we will get to the bottom of how this destruction was able to be unleashed across West Virginia," the House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden, R-Ore. and ranking member Frank Pallone Jr., D-N.J. said in a joint statement.

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Lawyers Faced With Emojis and Emoticons Are All _("/)_/
Posted by News Fetcher on January 30 '18 at 07:54 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's stranger-things department:
Zorro shares a WSJ report: Lawyers gathered at the Atlanta office of a big law firm were debating a head-scratching legal question. What does the emoji known as the "unamused face" actually mean? They couldn't even agree that the emoji in question -- it has raised eyebrows and a frown -- looked unamused. "Everybody said something different," recalls Morgan Clemons, 33 years old, a regulatory compliance lawyer at Aldridge Pite who organized the gathering last summer at Bryan Cave LLP, called "Emoji Law 101." Emojis -- tiny pictures of facial expressions or objects used in text messages, emails and on social media -- are no longer a laughing matter for the legal profession. (Editor's note: the link may be paywalled; alternative source.) Increasingly, they are bones of contention in lawsuits ranging from business disputes to harassment to defamation. In one Michigan defamation dispute, the meaning of an emoticon, an emoji-like image created with text characters from a standard keyboard, was up for debate. A comment on an internet message board appeared to accuse a local official of corruption. The comment was followed by a ":P" emoticon. The judges on the Michigan Court of Appeals concluded in 2014 that the emoticon "is used to represent a face with its tongue sticking out to denote a joke or sarcasm." The court said the comment couldn't be taken seriously or viewed as defamatory. Puzzled lawyers are turning to seminars, informal meetings and academic papers to discern innuendo in seemingly innocuous pictures of martini glasses and prancing horses.

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Apple is Postponing Release of New Features To iOS This Year To Focus on Reliability and Performance: Report
Posted by News Fetcher on January 30 '18 at 06:34 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's priorities department:
For a change, Apple plans to not push new features to iOS devices this year so that it could focus on reliability and quality of the software instead, Axios reported on Tuesday. From the report: Apple has been criticized of late, both for security issues and for a number of quality issues, as well as for how it handles battery issues on older devices. Software head Craig Federighi announced the revised plan to employees at a meeting earlier this month, shortly before he and some top lieutenants headed to a company offsite. Pushed into 2019 are a number of features including a refresh of the home screen and in-car user interfaces, improvements to core apps like mail and updates to the picture-taking, photo editing and sharing experiences.

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AI May Have Finally Decoded the Mysterious 'Voynich Manuscript'
Posted by News Fetcher on January 30 '18 at 05:10 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's shrouded-in-secrecy department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Gizmodo: Since its discovery over a hundred years ago, the 240-page Voynich manuscript, filled with seemingly coded language and inscrutable illustrations, of has confounded linguists and cryptographers. Using artificial intelligence, Canadian researchers have taken a huge step forward in unraveling the document's hidden meaning. Named after Wilfrid Voynich, the Polish book dealer who procured the manuscript in 1912, the document is written in an unknown script that encodes an unknown language -- a double-whammy of unknowns that has, until this point, been impossible to interpret. The Voynich manuscript contains hundreds of fragile pages, some missing, with hand-written text going from left to right. Most pages are adorned with illustrations of diagrams, including plants, nude figures, and astronomical symbols. But as for the meaning of the text -- nothing. No clue. For Greg Kondrak, an expert in natural language processing at the University of Alberta, this seemed a perfect task for artificial intelligence. With the help of his grad student Bradley Hauer, the computer scientists have taken a big step in cracking the code, discovering that the text is written in what appears to be the Hebrew language, and with letters arranged in a fixed pattern. To be fair, the researchers still don't know the meaning of the Voynich manuscript, but the stage is now set for other experts to join the investigation. The researchers used an AI to study "the text of the 'Universal Declaration of Human Rights' as it was written in 380 different languages, looking for patterns," reports Gizmodo. Following this training, the AI analyzed the Voynich gibberish, concluding with a high rate of certainty that the text was written in encoded Hebrew." The researchers then entertained a hypothesis that the script was created with alphagrams, words in which text has been replaced by an alphabetically ordered anagram. "Armed with the knowledge that text was originally coded from Hebrew, the researchers devised an algorithm that could take these anagrams and create real Hebrew words." Finally, "the researchers deciphered the opening phrase of the manuscript" and ran it through Google Translate to convert it into passable English: "She made recommendations to the priest, man of the house and me and people." The study appears in Transactions of the Association of Computational Linguistics .

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Researchers Find More Evidence For the Strange Link Between Sugar and Alzheimer's
Posted by News Fetcher on January 30 '18 at 02:30 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's cognitive-decline department:
schwit1 shares a report from ScienceAlert: People with high blood sugar stand to experience worse long-term cognitive decline than their healthy peers, even if they're not technically type 2 diabetic, new research suggests. The findings are not the first linking diabetes with impaired cognitive functions, but they're some of the clearest yet showing blood sugar isn't just a marker of our dietary health -- it's also a telling predictor of how our brains may cope as we get older. "Our findings suggest that interventions that delay diabetes onset, as well as management strategies for blood sugar control, might help alleviate the progression of subsequent cognitive decline over the long-term," explain the researchers, led by epidemiologist Wuxiang Xie from Imperial College London. The researchers sourced their data from the English Longitudinal Study of Aging, an ongoing assessment of the health of a representative sample of the English population aged 50 and older, which began in in 2002. For its analysis, the team tracked 5,189 participants -- 55 percent women, with an average age of 66 years -- assessing their level of cognitive function between 2004-2005 to 2014-2015, spanning several waves of the ELSA study. The findings are reported in the journal Diabetologia.

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MPEG Founder Says the MPEG Business Model Is Broken
Posted by News Fetcher on January 29 '18 at 11:50 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's edit-undo department:
theweatherelectric writes: Leonardo Chiariglione, the founder and chairman of MPEG, argues on his blog that the current MPEG business model is broken. He writes, "Thanks to [MPEG's] 'business model' that can be simply described as: produce standards having the best performance as a goal, irrespective of the IPR involved. Because MPEG standards are the best in the market and have an international standard status, manufacturers/service providers get a global market of digital media products, services and applications, and end users can seamless communicate with billions of people and access millions of services. Patent holders who allow use of their patents get hefty royalties with which they can develop new technologies for the next generation of MPEG standards. A virtuous cycle everybody benefits from." But, he argues, the MPEG model is now in crisis because the forthcoming AV1 video format from the Alliance for Open Media means that "everybody realizes that the old MPEG business model is broke, all the investments (collectively hundreds of millions USD) made by the industry for the new video codec [HEVC] will go up in smoke and AOM's royalty free model will spread to other business segments as well." Chiariglione goes on to explain what can be done: "The first action is to introduce what I call 'fractional options.' ISO envisages two forms of licensing: Option 1, i.e. royalty free and Option 2, i.e. FRAND, which is taken to mean 'with undetermined license.' We could introduce fractional options in the sense that a proposer could indicate that the technology be assigned to a specifically identified profile with an 'industry license' (defined outside MPEG) that does not contain monetary values. For instance, one such license could be 'no charge' (i.e. Option 1), another could be targeted to the OTT market etc." "The second action, not meant to be alternative to the first, is to streamline the MPEG standard development process. Within this a first goal is to develop coding tools with 'clear ownership,' unlike today's tools which are often the result of contributions with possibly very different weights. A second goal is not to define profiles in MPEG. A third goal could be to embed in the standard the capability to switch coding tools on and off."

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Americans Are Saving Energy Because Fewer People Go Outside
Posted by News Fetcher on January 29 '18 at 07:55 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's sign-of-the-times department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: Americans are saving energy because they don't go outside as much anymore, researchers say. It's a plus for the environment, though in another light (no pun intended), it's just sad. In 2012, Americans spent an extra eight days at home compared to 2003, according to the American Time Use Surveys. Being at home means using more energy by keeping the lights on and watching TV. But it also means less travel, and it means that fewer people are outside operating offices and stores. So overall in 2012, we saved 1,700 trillion British thermal units (BTU) of heat, or 1.8 percent of the national total, according to an analysis published today in the journal Joule. That's about how much energy Kentucky produced in all of 2015. Specifically in 2012, Americans spent one day less traveling and one week less in buildings other than their homes when compared to a decade earlier. The trend of staying indoors is especially strong for those ages 18 to 24: the youths spent 70 percent more time at home than the general population. At the other end of the age spectrum, those 65 and older were the only group that spent more time outside the home compared to 2003. Next, the researchers want to look at energy consumption changes in other countries as a result of lifestyle changes.

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Ethereum Startup Vanishes After Seemingly Making $11, Leaves Message: 'Penis'
Posted by News Fetcher on January 29 '18 at 06:36 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's came-and-went department:
CaptainDork shares a report from Motherboard: An Ethereum startup called Prodeum disappeared from the web on Sunday after raising a grand total of $11 USD from investors in a crowdsale. Shortly after the website disappeared, a message appeared on its homepage: "penis." Prodeum's website now redirects visitors to the Twitter account of a cryptocurrency trader (they did not immediately respond to our request for comment), and its Twitter account has been deactivated. Prodeum is at least the second Ethereum startup to pull up stakes after raising money from people in events called Initial Coin Offerings, or ICOs, in which a startup funds their enterprise by taking cryptocurrency from people in exchange for digital tokens. Some ICOs have managed to raise millions of dollars, and the last startup to vanish after conducting an ICO -- Confido, which disappeared from the internet in late 2017 -- made off with roughly $374,000. (A message later appeared on Confido's site stating that it would buy back investors' tokens, but it's unclear if that took place.) Prodeum, by comparison, only seems to have raised $11 based on the Ethereum address that was advertised on Prodeum's site as being the ICO address. (Update: After this article was published the contents of the ICO wallet were sent to another wallet. That wallet contains roughly $100, with the other funds all coming from a single wallet that predates the Prodeum ICO and contains 46 cents.) Prodeum's pitch, according to a cached version of its webpage, was to track vegetables in a supply chain using digital addresses on a blockchain -- a decentralized ledger at the heart of Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. As for why the "penis" message was left on its homepage, it may have something to do with the name of the startup. Prodeum is a medication that treats urinary tract infections and other urinary problems...

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World's Second Largest Meat Processor Invests In Lab-Grown Meat Startup
Posted by News Fetcher on January 29 '18 at 05:16 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's clean-meat department:
Tyson Foods, the world's second largest processor and marketer of chicken, beef, and pork, announced it has invested in Silicon Valley startup Memphis Meats, a company that makes lab-grown meat using animal cells. The investment amount was not disclosed, but it follows a slew of other high-profile backers including Cargill Inc., Bill Gates and Richard Branson. Fox Business reports: Last December, Tyson made a similar investment in another meatless startup called Beyond Meat, investing a roughly 5% stake in the company that produces plant-based meat alternatives. Tyson CEO Tom Hayes told FOX Business in March of last year that he sees plant-based protein as a big part of the company's future. "If you take a look at the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) stats, protein consumption is growing around the world -- and it continues to grow. It's not just hot in the U.S.; it's hot everywhere, people want protein, so whether it's animal-based protein or plant-based protein, they have an appetite for it. Plant-based protein is growing almost, at this point, a little faster than animal-based, so I think the migration may continue in that direction," Hayes told FOX Business. Memphis Meats, which debuted its first animal-free meatball in 2016, followed by the world's first chicken strip in 2017, said customers should expect to see these products on store shelves by 2021 or 2022.

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Facebook Will Prioritize Local Stories In Your News Feed
Posted by News Fetcher on January 29 '18 at 05:16 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's high-quality-news department:
Facebook announced today that it will begin prioritizing local news, bumping it up higher in your feed if you follow a local publisher's Page or if a friend shares a locally-published story. "We are prioritizing local news as part of our emphasis on high-quality news, and with today's update, stories from local news publishers may appear higher in News Feed for followers in publishers' geographic areas," Facebook said in the announcement. Engadget reports: Facebook, which recently announced it would be shifting its News Feed focus away from news and more towards friends' posts, says the local news prioritization will kick off in the U.S., but it plans to expand it to other countries this year. "These efforts to prioritize quality news in News Feed, including this local initiative, are a direct result of the ongoing collaboration with partners," said Facebook. "Our goal is to show more news that connects people to their local communities, and we look forward to improving and expanding these efforts this year."

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Volkswagen Admits To Testing Diesel Fumes On Monkeys
Posted by News Fetcher on January 29 '18 at 03:55 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's poor-business-decisions department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNET: In what seems like a John Henry versus the steam shovel-style competition to dig diesel's grave, Volkswagen has admitted to funding (and subsequently cheating on) animal testing to prove the relative safety of diesel exhaust fumes, according to findings by the New York Times. The tests, which were undertaken at the Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute in Albuquerque in 2014, involved as many as 10 monkeys and had them sitting in airtight containers as they breathed exhaust fumes from a diesel-powered Volkswagen Beetle while they watched cartoons for entertainment. The tests went on for 4 hours. "We apologize for the misconduct and the lack of judgment of individuals," said a Volkswagen representative in a statement. "We're convinced the scientific methods chosen then were wrong. It would have been better to do without such a study in the first place." The Volkswagen Beetle used in the test was equipped with the same compromised emissions software that could detect when the car was being tested in a lab environment so it was running as cleanly as it could, which I guess proves that Volkswagen will waste no opportunity to be hoisted by its own oil-burning petard.

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There May Not Be An iPhone SE 2 After All
Posted by News Fetcher on January 29 '18 at 03:55 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's rumor-mill department:
KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo issued a research note today that casts doubt on rumors about a second-generation iPhone SE launching in the second quarter of 2018. If there is a successor, customers can expect a minor update that amounts to a run-of-the-mill spec boost and no new features like wireless charging or Face ID. The Verge reports: According to Kuo, between the three phones Apple released last year (iPhone 8, 8 Plus, and X) and the three phones rumored to be released this fall, the company may not have enough development resources for an SE follow up as a fourth phone for 2018. That said, Kuo also does acknowledge that a basic processor update could still happen, but it seems that SE fans should keep expectations low. The iPhone SE still fills an interesting place in Apple's lineup. It uses the same design as the iPhone 5, which was released in 2012, with the 2015 internals of an iPhone 6s. This means the current model would get a boost in processor speed -- something that will likely continue to get worse with the presumed release of iOS 12 this fall. But SE is still popular for its low price and smaller size among consumers. Compared to the giant 6-inch-plus phones Apple is rumored to be releasing this year, it could make sense to keep an updated version of the smaller SE around.

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Inside Amazon's Mini Rainforest Work Space Spheres
Posted by News Fetcher on January 29 '18 at 02:37 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's climate-control department:
Amazon's indoor rainforest-like office space opened today after being in development for seven years. CNBC reports of what can be found inside the Spheres: The Spheres' three glass domes house some 40,000 plants of 400 species. Amazon, famous for its demanding work culture, hopes the Spheres' lush environs will let employees reflect and have chance encounters, spawning new products or plans. The space is more like a greenhouse than a typical office. Instead of enclosed conference rooms or desks, there are walkways and unconventional meeting spaces with chairs. Amazon has invested $3.7 billion on buildings and infrastructure in Seattle from 2010 to summer 2017, a figure that has public officials competing for its "HQ2" salivating. Amazon has said it expects to invest more than $5 billion in construction of HQ2 and to create as many as 50,000 jobs. The Spheres, designed by architecture firm NBBJ, will become part of Amazon's guided campus tours. Members of the public can also visit an exhibit at the Spheres by appointment starting Tuesday.

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Pentagon Reviews GPS Policies After Fitness Trackers Reveal Locations
Posted by News Fetcher on January 29 '18 at 02:37 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's hide-and-seek department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from NPR: Locations and activity of U.S. military bases; jogging and patrol routes of American soldiers -- experts say those details are among the GPS data shared by the exercise tracking company Strava, whose Heat Map reflects more than a billion exercise activities globally. The Pentagon says it's looking at adding new training and policies to address security concerns. "Recent data releases emphasize the need for situational awareness when members of the military share personal information," Pentagon spokesman Major Adrian J.T. Rankine-Galloway of the U.S. Marine Corps said in a statement about the implications of the Strava data that has made international headlines. Strava -- which includes an option for keeping users' workout data private -- published the updated Heat Map late last year. The California-based company calls itself "the social network for athletes," saying that its mobile apps and website connect millions of people every day. Using data from fitness trackers such as the Fitbit, Strava's map shows millions of users' runs, walks, and bike trips from 2015 to September of 2017 -- and in some countries, the activities of military and aid personnel are seen in stark contrast, as their outposts shine brightly among the comparative darkness of their surroundings.

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Automation To Take 1 in 3 Jobs in UK's Northern Centres, Report Finds
Posted by News Fetcher on January 29 '18 at 01:15 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department:
Workers in Mansfield, Sunderland and Wakefield are at the highest risk of having their jobs taken by machines, according to a report warning that automation stands to further widen the north-south divide. From a report: Outside of the south of England, one in four jobs are at risk of being replaced by advances in technology -- much higher than the 18% average for wealthier locations closer to London. Struggling towns and cities in the north and the Midlands are most exposed. A total of 3.6m UK jobs could be replaced by machines. The Centre for Cities thinktank says almost one-third of the jobs in the Nottinghamshire town of Mansfield, near the Sports Direct warehouse, are involved in lines of work under threat as robots begin to replace humans in the years up to 2030. Jobs at the highest risk of replacement include those in retail sales, customer services, administration and warehouse work.

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Longest-standing Video Game Record Declared 'Impossible,' Thrown Out After 35 Years
Posted by News Fetcher on January 29 '18 at 01:15 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's end-of-an-era department:
Twin Galaxies, the video game record keeper and official source for Guinness World Records, has declared one of the oldest gaming world records invalid after 35 years. From a report: Player Todd Rogers has been stripped of his world record for finishing the simple Atari 2600 racing game Dragster, after months of debate over his completion time. "Based on the complete body of evidence presented in this official dispute thread, Twin Galaxies administrative staff has unanimously decided to remove all of Todd Rogers' scores as well as ban him from participating in our competitive leaderboards," reads a post on the Twin Galaxies forum from the organization's staff. That's a major blow to a prolific record holder, whose career stretches back to the earliest days of console gaming. Rogers courted controversy with his oldest record, however -- and it directly caused his ban. In 1982, Rogers submitted to Activision's official fan newsletter a time of 5.51 seconds, which the company recognized in print, awarding Rogers a patch Twin Galaxies later added Rogers to its own leaderboards in 2001, and Guinness World Records awarded the player with the honor of holding the world's longest-standing gaming record in April 2017.

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China Denies Report it Hacked African Union Headquarters
Posted by News Fetcher on January 29 '18 at 01:15 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department:
China and the African Union dismissed on Monday a report in French newspaper Le Monde that Beijing had bugged the regional bloc's headquarters in the Ethiopian capital. From a report: An article published Friday in Le Monde, quoting anonymous AU sources, reported that data from computers in the Chinese-built building had been transferred nightly to Chinese servers for five years. After the massive hack was discovered a year ago, the building's IT system including servers was changed, according to Le Monde. During a sweep for bugs after the discovery, microphones hidden in desks and the walls were also detected and removed, the newspaper reported. The $200 million headquarters was fully funded and built by China and opened to great fanfare in 2012. It was seen as a symbol of Beijing's thrust for influence in Africa, and access to the continent's natural resources.

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