By BeauHD from Slashdot's look-at-the-evidence department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: Evidence that an entire class of pesticides threatens the health of children and pregnant women is now so arresting that the substances should be banned, an expert panel of toxicologists has said. Exposure to organophosphates (OPs) increases the risk of reduced IQs, memory and attention deficits, and autism for prenatal children, according to the paper, published in Plos Medicine. More than 10,000 tonnes of OP pesticides are sprayed in 24 European countries each year and usage is higher in the US, where the Trump administration is appealing against a federal court ban on chlorpyrifos, one of the most popular agricultural insecticides.
Irva Hertz-Picciotto, the paper's lead author and director of the UC Davis environmental health sciences centre, said: "We have compelling evidence from dozens of human studies that exposures of pregnant women to very low levels of organophosphate pesticides put children and fetuses at risk for developmental problems that may last a lifetime. By law, the EPA cannot ignore such clear findings: It's time for a ban not just on chlorpyrifos, but all organophosphate pesticides." Bruce Lanphear, one of the paper's co-authors, said: "We found no evidence of a safe level of organophosphate pesticide exposure for children. Well before birth, organophosphate pesticides are disrupting the brain in its earliest stages, putting them on track for difficulties in learning, memory and attention, effects which may not appear until they reach school-age. Government officials around the world need to listen to science, not chemical lobbyists."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's business-as-usual department
Bismillah writes: China Telecom is up to no good with Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) shenanigans researchers have discovered. The state-owned telco is hijacking and rerouting internet traffic to China via it's U.S. and Canadian points of presence (PoPs). As for how the researchers came to their conclusion, they reportedly "built a route tracing system that monitors BGP announcements and which picks up on patterns suggesting accidental or deliberate hijacks and discovered multiple attacks by China Telecom over the past few years," reports iTNews.
In one example occurring in 2016, "China Telecom diverted traffic between Canada and Korean government networks to its PoP in Toronto," the report says. "From there, traffic was forwarded to the China Telecom PoP on the U.S. West Coast and sent to China, and finally delivered to Korea. Normally, the traffic would take a shorter route, going between Canada, the U.S. and directly to Korea." The telecommunications company is able to reroute the traffic by announcing fake routes via the BGP, which "governs data flow between Autonomous Systems, the large networks operated by telcos, internet providers and corporations."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's why-insurance-exists department
A new study from AAA highlights the high repair costs associated with cars that have advanced safety technology. "[S]eemingly small damages to a vehicle's front end can incur costs nearing $3,000," CNET reports. From the report: The study looked at three solid sellers in multiple vehicle segments, including a small SUV, a midsize sedan and a pickup truck. It looked at repair costs using original equipment list prices and an established average for technician labor rates.
Let's use AAA's examples for some relatable horror stories. Mess up your rear bumper? Well, if you have ultrasonic parking sensors or radar back there, it could cost anywhere from $500 to $2,000 to fix. Knock off a side mirror equipped with a camera as part of a surround-view system? $500 to $1,100. Windshields are especially tricky. People who own cars with windshields that have embedded heating elements already have to pony up hundreds of dollars to replace what you might think is just a piece of glass. Factor complex camera systems (like autobrake) into the mix, and not only do folks get hit with the windshield replacement, they possibly have to find a trained professional to recalibrate all that tech behind it.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's knowledge-is-power department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Quartz: If you haven't heard, universities around the world are offering their courses online for free (or at least partially free). These courses are collectively called MOOCs or Massive Open Online Courses. In the past six years or so, over 800 universities have created more than 10,000 of these MOOCs. And I've been keeping track of these MOOCs the entire time over at Class Central, ever since they rose to prominence.
In the past four months alone, 190 universities have announced 600 such free online courses. I've compiled a list of them and categorized them according to the following subjects: Computer Science, Mathematics, Programming, Data Science, Humanities, Social Sciences, Education & Teaching, Health & Medicine, Business, Personal Development, Engineering, Art & Design, and finally Science. The full list is available in the report. If you need help signing up, there's a report for that too.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's someone-got-ripped-off department
A portrait created by artificial intelligence fetched $432,500 at Christie's in New York on Thursday, the first time a computer-generated artwork was offered by a major auction house. Bloomberg reports: The print on canvas, titled "Edmond de Belamy, from La Famille de Belamy," depicts a blurry and unfinished image of a man. Displayed in a gilded wooden frame, it was estimated to fetch $7,000 to $10,000 and offered as the final lot at Christie's auction of prints and multiples. The work was the brainchild of Obvious Art, a Paris-based collective, with help from an algorithm known as GAN (Generative Adversarial Network). "We fed the system with a data set of 15,000 portraits painted between the 14th century to the 20th," collective member Hugo Caselles-Dupre told Christie's. The piece sparked a bidding war among five parties that lasted about seven minutes, with an anonymous phone buyer prevailing, said Christie's spokeswoman Jennifer Cuminale.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's poor-choices department
The New York Times has revealed new details on the circumstances that surrounded Andy Rubin's departure from Google in 2014. According to the report, Google "investigated sexual misconduct claims against Rubin, which revolved around an incident in which he allegedly coerced another Google employee into 'performing oral sex in a hotel room in 2013,'" The Verge reports. "Despite reportedly finding the claims credible -- to the point that Page decided Rubin needed to go -- Google gave him a $90 million exit package. The last $2 million of that agreement will be paid out next month." From the report: Before that payout, and during the initial stages of its investigation in 2014, Google awarded Rubin "a stock grant worth $150 million." The move gave Rubin, at that time a highly-valued executive at the company, major financial incentive for sticking around after he'd moved on from Android to focus his efforts on a robotics unit. The Times says it's unclear whether Page or Google's leadership committee knew about the misconduct allegations when they approved that huge grant. But they certainly did when reaching the $90 million figure as Rubin headed out the door, and Page offered public praise for Rubin in announcing his departure. After he left, Google proceeded to invest in his VC, Playground Ventures. And the company even allowed him to delay paying back a $14 million loan it'd given him "to buy a beach estate in Japan." In a statement to the New York Times, Google said: "[W]e investigate and take action, including termination. In recent years, we've taken a particularly hard line on inappropriate conduct by people in positions of authority. We're working hard to keep improving how we handle this type of behavior." UPDATE: Google CEO Sundar Pichai sent an email to employees Thursday in response to the report, saying 48 employees have been fired for sexual misconduct over the last two years.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's groundbreaking-decisions department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: The Librarian of Congress and U.S. Copyright Office just proposed new rules that will give consumers and independent repair experts wide latitude to legally hack embedded software on their devices in order to repair or maintain them. This exemption to copyright law will apply to smartphones, tractors, cars, smart home appliances, and many other devices. The move is a landmark win for the "right to repair" movement; essentially, the federal government has ruled that consumers and repair professionals have the right to legally hack the firmware of "lawfully acquired" devices for the "maintenance" and "repair" of that device. Previously, it was legal to hack tractor firmware for the purposes of repair; it is now legal to hack many consumer electronics.
Specifically, it allows breaking digital rights management (DRM) and embedded software locks for "the maintenance of a device or system in order to make it work in accordance with its original specifications" or for "the repair of a device or system to a state of working in accordance with its original specifications." New copyright rules are released once every three years by the U.S. Copyright Office and are officially put into place by the Librarian of Congress. These are considered "exemptions" to section 1201 of U.S. copyright law, and makes DRM circumvention legal in certain specific cases. The new repair exemption is broad, applies to a wide variety of devices (an exemption in 2015 applied only to tractors and farm equipment, for example), and makes clear that the federal government believes you should be legally allowed to fix the things you own.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's further-expansion department
Xiaomi really wants to shed its down-market image. China's No. 2 smartphone maker is counting on its most expensive device yet to face off against Huawei and Apple at home while carving out a bigger footprint in Europe. From a report: The Chinese smartphone maker on Thursday unveiled the MIX 3, the fourth generation of a series introduced in 2016. Xiaomi's latest effort to acquire a premium gloss features a bezel-less 6.4-inch screen, Qualcomm processors and slick ceramic body. It now sports front-facing cameras on a sliding structure nestled behind the screen, doing away with the notch popularized by the iPhone. The device will go on sale from November starting at 3,299 yuan ($475) and going all the way up to 4,999 yuan for a "Forbidden City" special edition. It marks Chairman Lei Jun's effort to make greater headway into a more profitable premium market dominated by Apple, Samsung and -- to an increasing extent -- Chinese rival Huawei. That's where customers have deeper pockets to pay for services such as music and games that Xiaomi deems the future of its business. Xiaomi claims that its MIX 3 handset is the first commercial handset that is 5G ready (though the variant with 5G capabilities will go on sale in Europe only in the first quarter of next year.) Other specs of the handset includes: Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 845; Screen: 6.39-inch FHD+ AMOLED (1080Ã--2340, 19.5:9 aspect ratio); RAM: 6/8/10GB; Rear camera: 12-megapixel, f/1.8 + 12-megapixel, f/2.4; Front camera: 24-megapixel, f/2.2 + 2-megapixel; Battery: 3,200 mAh; Internal memory: 128/256GB.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's shape-of-things-to-come department
An anonymous reader shares a report: When most people think of 5G, they're envisioning an ultra-fast, high-bandwidth connection that lets you download seasons of your favorite shows in minutes. But 5G's possibilities go way beyond that, potentially reinventing how we watch video, and opening up a mess of privacy uncertainties. "Right now you make a video much the same way you did for TV," Dan Garraway, co-founder of interactive video company Wirewax, said in an interview this month. "The dramatic thing is when you turn video into a two-way conversation. Your audience is touching and interacting inside the experience and making things happen as a result." The personalized horror flick or tailored rom-com? They would hinge on interactive video layers that use emotional analysis based on your phone's front-facing camera to adjust what you're watching in real time. You may think it's far-fetched, but one of key traits of 5G is an ultra-responsive connection with virtually no lag, meaning the network and systems would be fast enough to react to your physical responses. 5G is on the cusp of reality, with the first compatible smartphones set to debut next year.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's here-we-go-again department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from ZDNet: Hong Kong-based airline Cathay Pacific informed the Hong Kong stock exchange of a data breach late on Wednesday night that could affect 9.4 million people. In a notice, the airline said it would reach out to members of its Marco Polo Club, Asia Miles, and registered users. Otherwise, people who are worried about whether they have been hit should fill in an enquiry form. Cathay said that passenger details including name, nationality, date of birth, phone number, email address, passport number, identity card number, frequent flyer membership number, customer service remarks, and historical travel information could have been accessed. In its statement [PDF] to the exchange, Cathay said 860,000 passport numbers and approximately 245,000 Hong Kong identity card numbers were accessed. A small number of credit card numbers, 403 in total, were accessed, as well as 27 cards with no CVV. Don't worry, the airline is "offering ID monitoring services" and "free credit monitoring services" to those impacted...Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's wiped-clean department
Facebook announced today in a blog post that it has removed 8.7 million posts last quarter that violated its rules against child exploitation. The company said it used new AI and machine learning technology to remove 99 percent of those posts before anyone reported them. TechCrunch reports: The new technology examines posts for child nudity and other exploitative content when they are uploaded and, if necessary, photos and accounts are reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Facebook had already been using photo-matching technology to compare newly uploaded photos with known images of child exploitation and revenge porn, but the new tools are meant to prevent previously unidentified content from being disseminated through its platform. The technology isn't perfect, with many parents complaining that innocuous photos of their kids have been removed. Davis addressed this in her post, writing that in order to "avoid even the potential for abuse, we take action on nonsexual content as well, like seemingly benign photos of children in the bath" and that this "comprehensive approach" is one reason Facebook removed as much content as it did last quarter. The tech isn't always right though. In 2016, it was criticized for removing content like the iconic 1972 photo of Phan Thi Kim Phuc, known as the "Napalm Girl," fleeing naked after suffering third-degree burns in a South Vietnamese napalm attack on her village. COO Sheryl Sandberg apologized for it at the time.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's science-behind-the-magic department
An anonymous reader writes: In a study published Tuesday in the journal Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, [physiologist and neuroscientist Hideki Kashiwadani] and his colleagues found that sniffing linalool, an alcohol component of lavender odor, was kind of like popping a Valium (Warning: source may be paywalled; alternative source). It worked on the same parts of a mouse's brain, but without all the dizzying side effects. And it didn't target parts of the brain directly from the bloodstream, as was thought. Relief from anxiety could be triggered just by inhaling through a healthy nose. Their findings add to a growing body of research demonstrating anxiety-reducing qualities of lavender odors and suggest a new mechanism for how they work in the body. Dr. Kashiwadani believes this new insight is a key step in developing lavender-derived compounds like linalool for clinical use in humans.
In this study, they exposed mice to linalool vapor, wafting from filter paper inside a specially made chamber to see if the odor triggered relaxation. Mice on linalool were more open to exploring, indicating they were less anxious than normal mice. And they didn't behave like they were drunk, as mice on benzodiazepines, a drug used to treat anxiety, or injected with linalool did. But the linalool didn't work when they blocked the mice's ability to smell, or when they gave the mice a drug that blocks certain receptors in the brain. This suggested that to work, linalool tickled odor-sensitive neurons in the nose that send signals to just the right spots in the brain -- the same ones triggered by Valium.Read Replies (0)