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China, Russia Are Listening To Trump's Phone Calls, Says NYT Report
Posted by News Fetcher on October 24 '18 at 03:50 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's always-listening department:
Rick Zeman writes: According to The New York Times, the Chinese are regularly listening to Donald Trump's cellphone calls (Warning: source may be paywalled; alternative source). While he has two NSA-hardened iPhones, and a secure landline, he insists on using a consumer-grade iPhone -- even while knowing he's being eavesdropped upon -- because it has his contact list on it. "White House officials say they can only hope he refrains from discussing classified information when he is on them," reports the New York Times. But, officials were also confident that "he was not spilling secrets because he rarely digs into the details of the intelligence he is shown and is not well versed in the operational specifics of military or covert activities"; in other words, security through ignorance. The article mentions the rationale is to be able to listen to his calls to find out what and whom influences him, and that the Russians also listen in, albeit with less frequency because of his unique relationship with Vladimir Putin.

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Medtronic Co-Founder Who Created Wearable Pacemaker Dies At Age 94
Posted by News Fetcher on October 24 '18 at 03:50 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's rest-in-pace department:
YVRGeek shares a report: Earl Bakken, an electronics repairman who created the first wearable external pacemaker and co-founded one of the world's largest medical device companies, Medtronic, has died. He was 94. Bakken, who also commercialized the first implantable pacemaker in 1960, died Sunday at his home in Hawaii, Medtronic said in a statement. It didn't give a cause of death. Bakken and his brother-in-law, Palmer Hermundslie, formed Medtronic in 1949 and turned it from a struggling company they ran out of the Hermundlie family's Minneapolis garage into a multinational medical technology powerhouse.

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New Windows Zero-Day Bug Helps Delete Any File, Exploit Available
Posted by News Fetcher on October 24 '18 at 02:30 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's here-we-go-again department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bleeping Computer: Proof-of-concept code for a new zero-day vulnerability in Windows has been released by a security researcher before Microsoft was able to release a fix. The code exploits a vulnerability that allows deleting without permission any files on a machine, including system data, and it has the potential to lead to privilege escalation. The vulnerability could be used to delete application DLLs, thus forcing the programs to look for the missing libraries in other places. If the search reaches a location that grants write permission to the local user, the attacker could take advantage by providing a malicious DLL.

The problem is with Microsoft Data Sharing Service, present in Windows 10, Server 2016 and 2019 operating systems, which provides data brokering between applications. Will Dormann, a vulnerability analyst at CERT/CC, tested the exploit code successfully on a Windows 10 operating system running the latest security updates. Behind the discovery is a researcher using the online alias SandboxEscaper, also responsible for publicly sharing in late August another security bug in Windows Task Scheduler component. Microsoft hasn't addressed the issue, but there is a temporary fix available through the oPatch platform. "A micropatch candidate was ready seven hours after the zero-day vulnerability announcement, and it blocked the exploit successfully," reports Bleeping Computer. "oPatch now delivers the stable version of the micropatch for fully updated Windows 10 1803.

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Apple Just Killed The 'GrayKey' iPhone Passcode Hack
Posted by News Fetcher on October 24 '18 at 02:30 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's cat-and-mouse-race department:
Apple's newest version of iOS has rendered the GrayKey hacking tech useless, a report said Wednesday. How Apple pulled it off wasn't immediately clear, but it would have a huge implication for the law enforcement agencies around the world that have relied on GrayKey to break into locked iPhones. Forbes reports: Apple has put up what may be an insurmountable wall. Multiple sources familiar with the GrayKey tech tell Forbes the device can no longer break the passcodes of any iPhone running iOS 12 or above. On those devices, GrayKey can only do what's called a "partial extraction," sources from the forensic community said. That means police using the tool can only draw out unencrypted files and some metadata, such as file sizes and folder structures. Previously, GrayKey used "brute forcing" techniques to guess passcodes and had found a way to get around Apple's protections preventing such repeat guesses. But no more. And if it's impossible for GrayKey, which counts an ex-Apple security engineer among its founders, it's a safe assumption few can break iPhone passcodes. Police officer Captain John Sherwin of the Rochester Police Department in Minnesota said of the claim iOS 12 was preventing GrayKey from unlocking iPhones: "That's a fairly accurate assessment as to what we have experienced."

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Apple's Tim Cook Makes Blistering Attack on the 'Data Industrial Complex'
Posted by News Fetcher on October 24 '18 at 02:30 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's not-mincing-words department:
Apple's CEO Tim Cook has joined the chorus of voices warning that data itself is being weaponized again people and societies -- arguing that the trade in digital data has exploded into a "data industrial complex." From a report: Cook did not namecheck the adtech elephants in the room: Google, Facebook and other background data brokers that profit from privacy-hostile business models. But his target was clear. "Our own information -- from the everyday to the deeply personal -- is being weaponized against us with military efficiency," warned Cook. "These scraps of data, each one harmless enough on its own, are carefully assembled, synthesized, traded and sold. Taken to the extreme this process creates an enduring digital profile and lets companies know you better than you may know yourself. Your profile is a bunch of algorithms that serve up increasingly extreme content, pounding our harmless preferences into harm. We shouldn't sugarcoat the consequences. This is surveillance," he added. In a series of tweets, Cook added: It was an honor to be invited to ICDPPC 2018 in Brussels this morning. I'd like to share a bit of what I said to this gathering of privacy regulators from around the world. It all boils down to a fundamental question: What kind of world do we want to live in? GDPR has shown us all that good policy and political will can come together to protect the rights of everyone. We believe that privacy is a fundamental human right. No matter what country you live in, that right should be protected in keeping with four essential principles. First, companies should challenge themselves to de-identify customer data or not collect that data in the first place. Second, users should always know what data is being collected from them and what it's being collected for. This is the only way to empower users to decide what collection is legitimate and what isn't. Anything less is a sham. Third, companies should recognize that data belongs to users and we should make it easy for people to get a copy of their personal data, as well as correct and delete it. And fourth, everyone has a right to the security of their data. Security is at the heart of all data privacy and privacy rights. Technology is capable of doing great things. But it doesn't want to do great things. It doesn't want anything. That part takes all of us. We are optimistic about technology's awesome potential for good -- but we know that it won't happen on its own.

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Samsung is Suing Its Brand Ambassador For Using an iPhone in Public
Posted by News Fetcher on October 24 '18 at 01:10 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's well-that's-unfortunate department:
Samsung is suing its Russian brand ambassador for using an iPhone X, demanding as much as $1.6m in compensation, media reports submitted by readers said Wednesday. From a report: Russian brand ambassador for Samsung, Ksenia Sobchak, is reportedly being sued by the South Korean smartphone producer, for allegedly being caught in public using an iPhone X instead of handsets she was supposed to be promoting. Ksenia Sobchak was hired by Samsung to market its smartphones in the country, with the Russian TV presenter, journalist, and politician contracted to use the smartphones in public. Under the terms of similar agreements between companies and influential people, they are not typically allowed to be seen using competing products in public, a rule that Sobchak broke. According to The Mirror, Sobchak was spotted using an iPhone X during a television interview, with the personality attempting to hide the Apple smartphone under a piece of paper while the cameras were on. Sobchak is also said to have used the iPhone X during social events in Moscow and other TV appearances, again against the contract's rules.

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In First Ruling of Its Kind, Apple and Samsung Fined For Deliberately Slowing Down Old Phones
Posted by News Fetcher on October 24 '18 at 01:10 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's paying-the-price department:
An investigation by Italy's competition authority has found that software updates "significantly reduced performance" on Samsung's Android handsets and iPhones. From a report: Apple and Samsung are being fined Euro 10m ($11.4m) and Euro 5m ($5.7) respectively in Italy for the "planned obsolescence" of their smartphones. An investigation launched in January by the nation's competition authority found that certain smartphone software updates had a negative effect on the performance of the devices. Believed to be the first ruling of its kind against smartphone manufacturers, the investigation followed accusations operating system updates for older phones slowed them down, thereby encouraging the purchase of new phones. In a statement the antitrust watchdog said "Apple and Samsung implemented dishonest commercial practices" and that operating system updates "caused serious malfunctions and significantly reduced performance, thus accelerating phones' substitution." It added the two firms had not provided clients adequate information about the impact of the new software "or any means of restoring the original functionality of the products."

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Google Now Requires Partner OEMs To Offer Two Years of Security Updates To Popular Phones
Posted by News Fetcher on October 24 '18 at 11:50 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's marching-forward department:
Confidential contracts obtained by news outlet The Verge show many Android smartphone vendors now have explicit obligations to keep their phones updated. From the report: A contract obtained by The Verge requires Android device makers to regularly install updates for any popular phone or tablet for at least two years. Google's contract with Android partners stipulates that they must provide "at least four security updates" within one year of the phone's launch. Security updates are mandated within the second year as well, though without a specified minimum number of releases. David Kleidermacher, Google's head of Android security, referred to these terms earlier this year during a talk at Google I/O. Kleidermacher said that Google had added a provision into its agreements with partners to roll out "regular" security updates. But it wasn't clear which devices those would apply to, how often those updates would come, or for how long. The terms cover any device launched after January 31st, 2018 that's been activated by more than 100,000 users. Starting July 31st, the patching requirements were applied to 75 percent of a manufacturer's "security mandatory models." Starting on January 31st, 2019, Google will require that all security mandatory devices receive these updates.

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Tim Berners-Lee on the Huge Sociotechnical Design Challenge
Posted by News Fetcher on October 24 '18 at 11:50 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's increasingly-growing-concerns department:
In a speech discussing ethics and the Internet, the inventor of the World Wide Web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, has tasked the technology industry and its coder army with paying continuous attention to the world their software is consuming as they go about connecting humanity through technology. From a report: Coding must mean consciously grappling with ethical choices in addition to architecting systems that respect core human rights like privacy, he suggested. "Ethics, like technology, is design," he told delegates at the 40th International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners (ICDPPC) which is taking place in Brussels this week. "As we're designing the system, we're designing society. Ethical rules that we choose to put in that design [impact the society]... Nothing is self evident. Everything has to be put out there as something that we think we will be a good idea as a component of our society." If your tech philosophy is the equivalent of 'move fast and break things' it's a failure of both imagination and innovation to not also keep rethinking policies and terms of service -- "to a certain extent from scratch" -- to account for fresh social impacts, he argued in the speech. He pointed to how Wikipedia had to rapidly adapt its policies after putting online the power for anyone to edit its encyclopedia, noting: "They introduced a whole lot of bureaucracy around it but that actually makes it work, and it ended up be coming very functional." He described today's digital platforms as "sociotechnical systems" -- meaning "it's not just about the technology when you click on the link it is about the motivation someone has to make such a great thing because then they are read and the excitement they get just knowing that other people are reading the things that they have written."

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Government Spyware Vendor Left Customer, Victim Data Online for Everyone To See
Posted by News Fetcher on October 24 '18 at 10:30 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's well-that's-unfortunate department:
The Germany-based spyware startup Wolf Intelligence exposed its own data, including surveillance target's information, passports scans of its founder and family, and recordings of meetings. From a report: A startup that claims to sell surveillance and hacking technologies to governments around the world left nearly all its data -- including information taken from infected targets and victims -- exposed online, according to a security firm who found the data. Wolf Intelligence, a Germany-based spyware company that made headlines for sending a bodyguard to Mauritania and prompting an international incident after the local government detained the bodyguard as collateral for a deal went wrong, left a trove of its own data exposed online. The leak exposed 20 gigabytes of data, including recordings of meetings with customers, a scan of a passport belonging to the company's founder, and scans of the founder's credit cards, and surveillance targets' data, according to researchers. Security researchers from CSIS Security discovered the data on an unprotected command and control server and a public Google Drive folder. The researchers showed screenshots of the leaked data during a talk at the Virus Bulletin conference in Montreal, which Motherboard attended. "This is a very stupid story in the sense that you would think that a company actually selling surveillance tools like this would know more about operational security," CSIS co-founder Peter Kruse told Motherboard in an interview. "They exposed themselves -- literally everything was available publicly on the internet."

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China Halts Special Approval Process for New Games
Posted by News Fetcher on October 24 '18 at 10:30 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's further-crackdown department:
China's regulators have ended the issuance of game licenses through a stopgap approval process, Bloomberg reported Wednesday, citing people familiar with the matter. The move would close the last known official path for making money from new titles in the world's biggest gaming market. From the report: Licenses are no longer being granted through a process known as the "green channel," used for testing both domestic and foreign games, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the matter is private. The approval mechanism had been in place since at least August, following the government's decision earlier this year to restructure how it reviews video games for violence, gambling and sensitive topics. The new restrictions in the $38 billion market threaten the fortunes of game companies such as Tencent Holdings and NetEase and add to the uncertainty about the Communist Party's long-term plans for regulating the industry. While it's unclear why Beijing has shut that window, the government has stepped up its oversight of an industry it sees fomenting addiction, myopia and other ills among the country's youth. Some analysts had anticipated that the broader freeze would end by September. They had seen the green channel as a temporary solution to carry the industry until then.

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ACLU Demands DHS Disclose Its Use of Facial-Recognition Tech
Posted by News Fetcher on October 24 '18 at 09:10 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's tussle-continues department:
The American Civil Liberties Union on Wednesday called on the Department of Homeland Security to disclose its use of facial-recognition software. The nonprofit also again pushed for an end of law enforcement's use of the technology. From a report: The ACLU's statements follow reports Tuesday that US Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials met this summer with Amazon. Around that time, the company pitched the agency on potentially using its facial-recognition software, called Rekognition, along with other Amazon products. A handful of US police agencies are already trying out Rekognition as part of their crime-fighting and investigative efforts. The ACLU since May has criticized Amazon's marketing of its facial-recognition software to law enforcement and has asked Congress and the public to debate whether the technology should be used. The nonprofit has argued that facial-recognition technology has the potential of being misused by policing agencies and misidentifying people.

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Apple's Tim Cook Makes Blistering Attack on the 'Data Industrial Complex'
Posted by News Fetcher on October 24 '18 at 09:10 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's not-mincing-words department:
Apple's CEO Tim Cook has joined the chorus of voices warning that data itself is being weaponized again people and societies -- arguing that the trade in digital data has exploded into a "data industrial complex." From a report: Cook did not namecheck the adtech elephants in the room: Google, Facebook and other background data brokers that profit from privacy-hostile business models. But his target was clear. "Our own information -- from the everyday to the deeply personal -- is being weaponized against us with military efficiency," warned Cook. "These scraps of data, each one harmless enough on its own, are carefully assembled, synthesized, traded and sold. Taken to the extreme this process creates an enduring digital profile and lets companies know you better than you may know yourself. Your profile is a bunch of algorithms that serve up increasingly extreme content, pounding our harmless preferences into harm. We shouldn't sugarcoat the consequences. This is surveillance," he added. In a series of tweets, Cook added: It was an honor to be invited to ICDPPC 2018 in Brussels this morning. I'd like to share a bit of what I said to this gathering of privacy regulators from around the world. It all boils down to a fundamental question: What kind of world do we want to live in? GDPR has shown us all that good policy and political will can come together to protect the rights of everyone. We believe that privacy is a fundamental human right. No matter what country you live in, that right should be protected in keeping with four essential principles. First, companies should challenge themselves to de-identify customer data or not collect that data in the first place. Second, users should always know what data is being collected from them and what it's being collected for. This is the only way to empower users to decide what collection is legitimate and what isn't. Anything less is a sham. Third, companies should recognize that data belongs to users and we should make it easy for people to get a copy of their personal data, as well as correct and delete it. And fourth, everyone has a right to the security of their data. Security is at the heart of all data privacy and privacy rights. Technology is capable of doing great things. But it doesn't want to do great things. It doesn't want anything. That part takes all of us. We are optimistic about technology's awesome potential for good -- but we know that it won't happen on its own.

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Google Is Teaching Children How To Act Online. Is It the Best Role Model?
Posted by News Fetcher on October 24 '18 at 07:50 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's hold-your-horses department:
Google is positioning itself in schools as a trusted authority on digital citizenship at a moment when the company's data-handling practices are under growing scrutiny. From a report: Google is on a mission to teach children how to be safe online. That is the message behind "Be Internet Awesome," a so-called digital-citizenship education program that the technology giant developed for schools. The lessons include a cartoon game branded with Google's logo and blue, red, yellow and green color palette. The game is meant to help students from third grade through sixth guard against schemers, hackers and other bad actors. Google plans to reach five million schoolchildren with the program this year and has teamed up with the National Parent Teacher Association to offer related workshops to parents. But critics say the company's recent woes -- including revelations that it was developing a censored version of its search engine for the Chinese market and had tracked the whereabouts of users who had explicitly turned off their location history -- should disqualify Google from promoting itself in schools as a model of proper digital conduct.

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Google Can't Remove Third-Party App Store Aptoide From Users' Android Phones, Portuguese Courts Rule
Posted by News Fetcher on October 24 '18 at 07:50 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department:
Earlier this week, the Portuguese Courts ruled a decision against Google in relation to the injunction filed by Aptoide, a popular third-party app store. It is applicable on 82 countries including UK, Germany, USA, India, among others. Google will have to stop Google Play Protect from removing the competitor Aptoide's app store from users' phone without users' knowledge which has caused losses of over 2.2 million users in the last 60 days. From a press release: The acceptance of the injunction is totally aligned with Aptoide's claim for Google to stop hiding the app store in the Android devices and showing warning messages to the users. Aptoide is now working alongside its legal team to next week fill in courts the main action, demanding from Google indemnity for all the damages caused. Aptoide, with over 250 million users, 6 billion downloads and one of the top stores globally, has presented this July, a formal complaint to the European Union's anti-trust departments against Google.

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'We Expected VR To Be Two To Three Times as Big', Says CCP Games CEO
Posted by News Fetcher on October 24 '18 at 06:30 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's reality-check department:
CCP Games, the Icelandic studio known for their long-running MMO Eve: Online (2003), shuttered their VR production studios in a surprise move last year, selling off their Newcastle-based branch behind their multiplayer space dogfighter EVE: Valkyrie (2016), and completely shutting down their Atlanta studio behind sports game Sparc (2017). Now, CEO Hilmar Veigar Petursson speaks out in an interview with Destructoid about the studio's return to traditional desktop gaming, and his thoughts about the VR landscape. From a report: In short, he thought VR would be bigger by now, and more capable of supporting a healthy multiplayer userbase. EVE: Valkyrie, the company's flagship VR game, was the result of over three years of development before becoming a day-one launch title on Oculus Rift and PSVR, arriving shortly afterwards on HTC Vive via Steam in 2016 -- a seemingly best-case scenario for any multiplayer-only game. Under CCP direction, EVE: Valkyrie saw a number of updates designed to entice players back, including new ships, maps, and weekly events; CCP even pushed a major update to the game last year that brought support for desktop and console players, a move to help boost sales and revive the ailing VR-only playerbase. Still, the multiplayer game just didn't perform as CCP ultimately expected, and the company officially stepped back from VR shortly thereafter. "We expected VR to be two to three times as big as it was, period," Petursson tells Destructoid. "You can't build a business on that."

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Prank Calls Brought ICE Hotline To a Standstill, Internal Emails Show
Posted by News Fetcher on October 24 '18 at 05:10 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's overwhelming-response department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: When ICE launched an immigration crime hotline last year, the Trump administration pitched it as a way to provide resources to victims, but activists saw something else: an attack on the immigrant community. The hotline was part of the Victims Of Immigration Crime Engagement (VOICE) Office, an outfit established in February 2017. When the office first launched a line for its services the following April, protestors flooded the hotline to call in pranks and slow down response times. The plan picked up even more steam as the protestors shared the hotline number online, encouraging others to call in with fake tips.

According to internal emails and documents obtained by The Verge under the Freedom of Information Act, prank calls fully upended the system, leaving operators unable to answer more than 98 percent of incoming calls during the protest as the media relations team attempted to contain the narrative. In reports and emails produced in the first days of operation, ICE officials described an "overwhelming" amount of calls. The day after the launch, the office received more than 16,400. Of those, only a little more than 2,100 were placed into a queue, and only 260 answered. Callers in the queue waited as long as 79 minutes to reach an operator. An official noted that, should the rate of calls continue, they would need an additional 400 operators to field the hotline.

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Lyft Buys AR Company To Bolster Its Self-Driving Car Efforts
Posted by News Fetcher on October 24 '18 at 02:30 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's autonomous-initiatives department:
Lyft is acquiring Blue Vision Labs, a UK-based augmented reality firm whose underlying technology helps cars both know their location and understand their surroundings. It's also unveiling its first test vehicle to advance its vision for self-driving cars. TechCrunch reports: The first car from Lyft's Level 5 self-driving initiative will be the Ford Fusion Hybrid. While the integration of Lyft's autonomous technologies and a Ford car is impressive, perhaps more meaningful is the company's acquisition of Blue Vision Labs, a startup out of London that has developed a way of ingesting street-level imagery and is using it to build collaborative, interactive augmented reality layers -- all by way of basic smartphone cameras.

Blue Vision will sit within Lyft's Level 5 autonomous car division headed up by Luc Vincent (who joined the company last year as VP of engineering after creating and running Google Street View). The startup and its staff of 39 (everyone is joining Lyft) will also become the anchor for a new R&D operation in London or the San Francisco-based company, focused on that autonomous driving effort. Level 5 is stepping up a gear in another way today, too: Lyft is unveiling a new vehicle that it will be using for testing. Blue Vision has developed technology that provides both street level mapping and interactive augmented reality that lets two people see the same virtual objects. The company has already built highly detailed maps that developers can now use to develop collaborative AR experiences -- it's like the maps of these spaces become canvasses for virtual objects to be painted on. Over time, we may see various uses of it throughout the Lyft platform, but for now the main focus is Level 5. The report doesn't provide an exact amount that Blue Vision was acquired for, but people familiar with the acquisition say it's around $72 million with $30 million on top of that based on hitting certain milestones.

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Uber Planning Fleet of Food Delivery Drones 'As Soon As 2021'
Posted by News Fetcher on October 23 '18 at 11:50 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's ambitious-goals department:
At this year's Uber Elevate Summit in May, CEO Dara Khosrowshahi discussed the possibility of a drone-based food delivery service. Now, it looks like a job posting has hinted that the company is looking to launch the service in 2021. Engadget reports: According to the Wall Street Journal, Uber is looking to hire someone with "flight standards and training" experience, who can "enable safe, legal, efficient and scalable flight operations." If the info is legit, It looks like Uber is looking to keep development of the program under wraps as the job posting is no longer listed on its website. According to the Wall Street Journal's report, the drone-based delivery service has been dubbed "UberExpress," and will exist under the umbrella of Uber Eats. The job description reportedly described a desire for an applicant that can "help make delivery drones functional as soon as next year and commercially operational in multiple markets by 2021."

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Microplastics Found In Human Stools For the First Time
Posted by News Fetcher on October 23 '18 at 07:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's stinky-news department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The New York Times: In a pilot study with a small sample size, researchers looked for microplastics in stool samples of eight people from Finland, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia, the United Kingdom and Austria. To their surprise, every single sample tested positive for the presence of a variety of microplastics (Warning: source may be paywalled; alternative source). In a pilot study with a small sample size, researchers looked for microplastics in stool samples of eight people from Finland, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia, the United Kingdom and Austria. To their surprise, every single sample tested positive for the presence of a variety of microplastics.

The new paper, which was presented Monday at a gastroenterology conference in Vienna, could provide support for marine biologists who have long warned of the dangers posed by microplastics in our oceans. But the paper suggests that microplastics are entering our bodies through other means, as well. To conduct the study, they selected volunteers from each country who kept food diaries for a week and provided stool samples. Dr. Philipp Schwabl, a researcher at the Medical University of Vienna who led the study, and his colleagues analyzed the samples with a spectrometer. Up to nine different kinds of plastics were detected, ranging in size from .002 to .02 inches. The most common plastics detected were polypropylene and polyethylene terephthalate -- both major components of plastic bottles and caps.

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