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Massive Recall of Homeopathic Kids' Products Spotlights Dubious Health Claims
Posted by News Fetcher on August 24 '18 at 05:30 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department:
Earlier this week, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a statement that the homeopathic drug company King Bio is recalling 32 of its children's pain-relievers. According to the FDA, a "small percentage" of those products tested positive for bacterial contamination during regular, random testing by King Bio. From a report: The announcement does not provide any specifics about the contamination or potential risks. However, the North Carolina-based manufacturer behind the recall, King Bio, issued a similar announcement back in July. At that time, the company recalled three other products after an FDA inspection found batches contaminated with the bacteria Pseudomonas brenneri, Pseudomonas fluorescens, and Burkholderia multivorans. Pseudomonas brenneri is a bacterium recently found in natural mineral waters, and its clinical significance is murky. However, Pseudomonas fluorescens is known to be an opportunistic pathogen, causing blood infections, and Burkholderia multivorans can cause infections in people with compromised immune systems and cystic fibrosis. It was also recently found to be a rare but emerging cause of meningitis. King Bio did not respond to Ars' request for comment on the contamination, its potential source, or the company's actions to prevent further contamination. Homeopathic products, as Ars readers are likely familiar, are those based on a pseudoscientific belief that substances generating similar symptoms to an ailment can cure that ailment, aka the "law of similars." The potentially dangerous substances are generally safe to consume because homeopaths believe that "vigorous shaking" and excessive dilution -- often to the point where no atoms of the original substance remain -- make them more effective. As King Bio puts it, this preparation "potentizes" the substances. King Bio told the FDA that the items of concern were a group of various over-the-counter remedies produced between August 1, 2017 and April 2018.

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Airbnb Sues New York City To Block User-Data Bill Over Privacy
Posted by News Fetcher on August 24 '18 at 04:11 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's tussle-continues department:
Airbnb has filed a lawsuit against the city of New York over a recent law the city passed, requiring the home-sharing site to hand over information about its hosts. From a report: The company is hoping to avoid millions in losses when the law, designed to police short-term home rentals, takes effect this winter. The New York City legislation, which passed with a 45-0 vote, would require Airbnb to share the names and addresses of its hosts with the city's Office of Special Enforcement. "The ordinance is an unlawful end-run around established restraints on governmental action and violates core constitutional rights," the company said in a claim filed in New York court on Friday. New York, which faces an affordable housing shortage, has struggled with how to enforce regulations to control Airbnb and other home-sharing services like Expedia's HomeAway. Regulators argue that short-term rentals, which can be more profitable than long-term leases, disrupt neighborhoods and drive up rents. The new legislation is designed to give officials enough information to catch Airbnb hosts who operate outside of strict home-sharing laws.

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Senators Demand Voting Machine Vendor Explain Why It Dismisses Researchers Prodding Its Devices
Posted by News Fetcher on August 24 '18 at 02:50 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's holding-accountable department:
Four US senators, members of the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, sent a letter on Wednesday to Election Systems and Software (ES&S), the largest voting machine vendor in the US, asking for clarifications on why the vendor is trying to discourage independent security reviews of its products. From a report: The four senators who signed the letter are Kamala D. Harris (D-CA), Mark Warner (D-VA), Susan Collins (R-ME), and James Lankford (R-OK). The senators sent the letter to ES&S following the conclusion of the Voting Village at the DEF CON 26 security conference held in Las Vegas at the start of the month, where security researchers found several security vulnerabilities in the company's products. "We are disheartened that ES&S chose to dismiss these demonstrations as unrealistic and that your company is not supportive of independent testing," the letter reads. "Many of the world's leading electronics and software companies have opened their arms to the research community, maintaining active presences at the largest security research conferences and inviting 'white hat' hackers to probe their products to identify how they can improve product security," the letter continued. At DEF CON, security researchers found vulnerabilities in the voting machines of other vendors. Only ES&S is mentioned in the senators' letter because of the company's dismissive approach to external security research.

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Google Might Be Hiding the Fact That Its Own Reviews Are Shoddy
Posted by News Fetcher on August 24 '18 at 02:50 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's my-way-or-highway department:
Google appears to have quietly purged its own user-generated review content from its search results. From a report: This is significant, critics of Google say, because it obscures the fact that Google's search engine judges the company's own reviews poorly. Google's search engine ranks content by relevance and quality, and Google's review content previously showed up deep into the search results, far from the first page of links that takes most of the clicks. A Google spokesperson disagreed that the review content was "de-indexed," simply noting that because Google reviews don't currently live on a web page, they are not displayed as web results. Given that reviews once showed up in regular Google search results and now do not, it follows that the reviews were moved from a web page to the Maps platform, whose code prevents search engines from crawling it. What was once searchable is now not searchable, something Google did not explain. As a result, Google reviews do not have to rank highly in search engines. Instead, the Google snippet -- the map and reviews box above the standard search result -- allows the company to capture clicks that would otherwise flow off the platform to whatever website had the best result in the algorithm made by the search team down the hall at Mountain View deemed as the best.

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China Shuts Down Blockchain News Accounts on WeChat App, Bans Hotels in Beijing From Hosting Cryptocurrency Events
Posted by News Fetcher on August 24 '18 at 01:30 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's further-crackdown department:
China has shut down numerous blockchain-related news accounts on the WeChat social app, and banned hotels in downtown Beijing from hosting events promoting cryptocurrencies, in a renewed crackdown on activities related to the digital money. From a report: At least eight blockchain and cryptocurrency-focused online media outlets -- some of which raised several million dollars in venture capital -- found their official public accounts on WeChat blocked on Tuesday evening, due to violations against new regulations from China's top internet watchdog. Tencent, operator of WeChat, said in a statement that it has shut down these accounts permanently as they are "suspected of publishing information related to ICOs [initial coin offerings] and speculations on cryptocurrency trading." It cited regulations enacted earlier this month by the Cyberspace Administration of China, which, among other things, demand content providers within chat apps comply with "national interests" and "public orders."

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Europe To Ban Halogen Lightbulbs
Posted by News Fetcher on August 24 '18 at 01:30 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's taking-a-stand department:
After nearly 60 years of brightening homes and streets, halogen lightbulbs will finally be banned across Europe on 1 September. From a report: The lights will dim gradually for halogen. Remaining stocks may still be sold, and capsules, linear and low voltage incandescents used in oven lights will be exempted. But a continent-wide switchover to light-emitting diodes (LEDs) is underway that will slash emissions and energy bills, according to industry, campaigners and experts. LEDs consume one-fifth of the energy of halogen bulbs and their phase-out will prevent more than 15m tonnes of carbon emissions a year, an amount equal to Portugal's annual electricity usage. Philips, the lighting manufacturer estimates consumer savings of up to 112 pound ($144) a year from the switchover because LEDs last much longer than halogens and use far less power.

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Japan Wants To Bring Flying Cars To Its Skies
Posted by News Fetcher on August 24 '18 at 12:11 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's plain-and-simple department:
Japan is making a push to develop flying cars, enlisting companies including Uber and Boeing in a government-led group to bring airborne vehicles to the country in the next decade. From a report: The group will initially comprise 21 businesses and organizations, including Airbus, NEC, a Toyota Motor-backed startup called Cartivator, ANA, Japan Airlines, and Yamato, according to a statement Friday from the trade ministry in Tokyo. Delegates will gather Aug. 29 to help chart a road map this year, it said. "The Japanese government will provide appropriate support to help realize the concept of flying cars, such as creation of acceptable rules," the ministry said. Flying cars that can zoom over congested roads are closer to reality than many people think. Startups around the world are pursuing small aircraft, which were until recently only in the realm of science fiction. With Japanese companies already trailing their global peers in electric vehicles and self-driving cars, the government is showing urgency on the aircraft technology, stepping in to facilitate legislation and infrastructure to help gain leadership.

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Trump Accuses Social Media Firms of 'Silencing Millions'
Posted by News Fetcher on August 24 '18 at 10:51 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's tussle-continues department:
U.S. President Donald Trump accused social media companies on Friday of silencing "millions of people" in an act of censorship, but without offering evidence to support the claim. From a report: "Social Media Giants are silencing millions of people. Can't do this even if it means we must continue to hear Fake News like CNN, whose ratings have suffered gravely. People have to figure out what is real, and what is not, without censorship!" Trump wrote on Twitter, not mentioning any specific companies. Trump also criticized social media outlets last week, saying without providing proof that unidentified companies were "totally discriminating against Republican/Conservative voices."

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Amazon Warehouse Envoys Rally To Tweet Upbeat Comments About Working Conditions
Posted by News Fetcher on August 24 '18 at 10:51 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's positive-PR department:
Amazon has been criticized for years by activists and labor unions for working conditions in its warehouses. So it caught the eye of a Seattle Times journalist when he saw several people, all of which created account recently, tweet positive things about their work experience at Amazon's warehouse. The report says: A group of more than a dozen Amazon Twitter users in the last two weeks started responding to critics of the company on the social media site, sharing upbeat tales of their working conditions and pay at Amazon's distribution network. Identified by first names and "Amazon FC Ambassador," they each opened a Twitter account this month, are unfailingly polite, and pepper emojis into conversations about the generosity of their benefits packages and job satisfaction at Amazon's fulfillment centers, the company's term for its sprawling warehouses. [...] Amazon's Twitter legion, though small, appears to represent a new front in the company's effort to portray itself as a generous employer. The company has been criticized for years by activists and labor unions for working conditions in its warehouses, with media reports finding the company failed to provide air conditioning at some facilities during the summer, and set work quotas that could exceed employees' ability to keep up.

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Woman Sues US Border Agents Over Seized iPhone
Posted by News Fetcher on August 24 '18 at 09:32 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's fighting-for-your-rights department:
An American woman who had her phone seized by border agents as she returned home to the United States is suing the country's border protection agency. Bob the Super Hamste shares a report: Rejhane Lazoja was stopped at Newark airport, New Jersey, after returning from a trip to Switzerland in February. Her iPhone was seized by agents after she refused to unlock it for them. The lawsuit alleges that border agents took a copy of the data on her smartphone and failed to say whether it had been deleted. According to legal documents, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) kept the phone for more than 120 days before returning it to Ms Lazoja, who is a Muslim woman and wears a hijab. [...] "Neither was there probable cause, nor a warrant [to search the phone]. Therefore, the search and seizure of Ms Lazoja's property violated her rights under the Fourth Amendment," the filing says.

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Scientists Deliver a Longer-Lasting Lithium-Oxygen Battery
Posted by News Fetcher on August 24 '18 at 09:32 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department:
Packing more energy into batteries is the key to delivering electric cars with longer range, smartphones that can last days -- and cheaper electronic products all around. Lithium-oxygen batteries represent one of the more promising paths toward that end. From a report: They could boost energy density by an order of magnitude above conventional lithium-ion batteries -- in theory, at least. In a paper published this week in Science journal, researchers at the University of Waterloo identified ways of addressing some of the major hurdles to converting that potential into commercial reality. A critical problem has been that as a lithium-oxygen battery discharges, oxygen is converted into superoxide and then lithium peroxide, reactive compounds that corrode the battery's components over time. That, in turn, limits its recharging ability -- and any real-world utility. To get around the problem, researchers switched from a carbon cathode to one made of nickel oxide and supported by a stainless steel mesh. They also used molten salt for the electrolyte -- the part of the battery that allows positively charged ions to move between the electrodes -- and raised the battery's operating temperature to 150C. Those steps made it possible to achieve about three times the number of charging cycles as earlier lithium-oxygen efforts. The researchers also managed to increase the energy per unit of mass by more than 50 percent.

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Bitdefender Disables Anti-Exploit Monitoring in Chrome After Google Policy Change
Posted by News Fetcher on August 24 '18 at 08:11 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's tussle-continues department:
secwatcher shares a report: Last week we reported that Chrome has started displaying alerts more often that suggest users remove programs that are considered incompatible applications with Chrome because they inject code into the browser's processes. These alerts are displayed by Chrome after the browser crashes and suggest the user remove the listed programs because "this application could prevent Chrome from working properly." One of the programs that a lot of users have seen listed in these alerts and is suggested to be removed is the Bitdefender antivirus program as shown above. Having a well known company like Google telling users to remove a security solution is a problem as these programs are important for many users to have installed on their computers in order to protect them from malware, unwanted programs, and malicious websites. Due to these alerts and their suggestion to remove the antivirus software, Bogdan Botezatu, a senior e-threat analyst for Bitdefender, has told Bleeping Computer that as of August 20th, Bitdefender is no longer monitoring Chrome 66 and later with their anti-exploit technology.

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IRC Turns 30
Posted by News Fetcher on August 24 '18 at 08:11 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's never-gonna-give-you-up department:
IRC (Internet Relay Chat) was born at the Department of Information Processing Science of the University of Oulu 30 years ago. Taking some time out of his summer job, Jarkko Oikarinen developed the internet chat system. For the last several years, Oikarinen has been working at Google, overseeing the development of several communication services. Though several mainstream services have ended support for IRC over the years, the system is still in existence and used by many.

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Hackers Stole Personal Data of 2 Million T-Mobile Customers
Posted by News Fetcher on August 24 '18 at 06:50 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's security-woes department:
On late Thursday, T-Mobile revealed that hackers stole some of the personal data of 2 million people in a new data breach. From a report: In a brief intrusion, hackers stole "some" customer data including names, email addresses, account numbers, and other billing information. The good news is that they did not get credit card numbers, social security numbers, or passwords, according to the company. In its announcement, T-Mobile said that its cybersecurity team detected an "unauthorized capture of some information" on Monday, Aug. 20. A company spokesperson told me that the breach affected "about" or "slightly less than" 3% of its 77 million customers.

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Linux Apps Are Not Coming To Many Still-Supported Chromebooks
Posted by News Fetcher on August 24 '18 at 06:50 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's you-have-been-served department:
While we know that Linux app support is coming to a range of Chromebooks from Lenovo, Acer, Dell and others, a post on the Chromium Gerrit reveals that devices running Linux 3.14 or older will miss out. BetaNews: Chrome OS is able to run Linux apps through the use of containers which help to keep the rest of the operating system safe from harm. As container support requires features that are only found in more recent versions of the Linux kernel, it means that many Chromebooks -- whose kernels are usually not updated -- will not be able to run Linux apps. Here's the full list of Chromebooks that won't be getting the Linux love: AOpen Chromebase Mini (Feb 2017; tiger, veyron_pinky), AOpen Chromebox Mini (Feb 2017; fievel, veyron_pinky), ASUS Chromebook C201 (May 2015; speedy, veyron_pinky), Acer C670 Chromebook 11 (Feb 2015; paine, auron), Acer Chromebase 24 (Apr 2016; buddy, auron), Acer Chromebook 15 (Apr 2015; yuna, auron), Acer Chromebox CXI2 (May 2015; rikku, jecht), Asus Chromebit CS10 (Nov 2015; mickey, veyron_pinky), Asus Chromebook Flip C100PA (Jul 2015; minnie, veyron_pinky), Asus Chromebox CN62 (Aug 2015; guado, jecht), Dell Chromebook 13 7310 (Aug 2015; lulu, auron),
Google Chromebook Pixel (Mar 2015; samus), Lenovo ThinkCentre Chromebook (May 2015; tidus, jecht), Toshiba Chromebookk 2 (Sep 2015; gandof, auron).

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North Korean Hackers Hit Cryptocurrency Exchange With macOS Malware
Posted by News Fetcher on August 24 '18 at 05:31 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's going-the-extra-mile department:
A North Korea-linked hacking group, dubbed Lazarus, deployed malware for macOS in an effort to infiltrate cryptocurrency exchanges. "In one of the attacks, which Kaspersky refers to as Operation AppleJeus, the group tricked an unsuspecting employee to download a trojanized cryptocurrency trading application that covertly downloaded and installed the Fallchill malware," reports SecurityWeek. Their malware was designed to target macOS in addition to Windows, marking the first time Lazarus has been observed using malware for Apple's OS, according to Kaspersky. The malware was reportedly pushed via an update. Slashdot reader asjk writes: The legitimate-looking application is called Celas Trade Pro and comes from Celas Limited. It's an all-in-one style cryptocurrency trading program which installs malicious code via an update. "... [the program] was seen running the Updater.exe module, which would collect system information and send it back to the server in the form of a GIF image," reports SecurityWeek. "Based on the server's response, the updater either keeps quiet or extracts a payload with base64 and decrypts it using RC4 with another hardcoded key to retrieve an executable file."

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Windows 95 Is Now An App You Can Download and Install On macOS, Windows, and Linux
Posted by News Fetcher on August 24 '18 at 02:50 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's made-for-nostalgics department:
Slack developer Felix Rieseberg has made Windows 95 into an electron app that you can run on macOS, Windows, and Linux. The source code and app installers are available on GitHub. According to The Verge, "apps like Wordpad, phone dialer, MS Paint, and Minesweeper all run like you'd expect," but "Internet Explorer isn't fully functional as it simply refused to load pages." From the report: The app its only 129MB in size and you can download it over at Github for both macOS and Windows. Once it's running it surprisingly only takes up around 200MB of RAM, even when running all of the old Windows 95 system utilities, apps, and games. If you run into any issues with the app you can always reset the Windows 95 instance inside the app and start over again. Enjoy this quirky trip down memory lane.

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Apple Hired Scores of Ex-Tesla Employees This Year
Posted by News Fetcher on August 24 '18 at 12:10 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's cherry-picking department:
According to CNBC, citing current and former Tesla employees and LinkedIn, Apple has hired scores of employees from Tesla since late 2017, including manufacturing, security and software engineers, as well as supply chain experts. The report mentions that they're hiring Tesla employees not just for the company's Project Titan self-driving car project, but for its other products too. From the report: In 2018 so far, LinkedIn data shows Apple has hired at least 46 people who worked at Tesla directly before joining the consumer electronics juggernaut. Eight of these were engineering interns. This year Apple has also hired former Tesla Autopilot, QA, Powertrain, mechanical design and firmware engineers, and several global supply chain managers. Some employees joined directly from Tesla, while others had been dismissed or laid off before joining Apple. Some ex-Tesla employees who joined Apple this year have not yet updated their public social media profiles with their new career info. That includes Apple's most noteworthy hire, Doug Field, Tesla's former Senior Vice President of Engineering. Tesla disputes CNBC's report, saying that voluntary attrition has decreased by one-third over the last twelve months, and that it has recently added talent from Apple and other companies. Regarding competition with Apple for talent, a Tesla spokesperson said, "We wish them well. Tesla is the hard path. We have 100 times less money than Apple, so of course they can afford to pay more. We are in extremely difficult battles against entrenched auto companies that make 100 times more cars than we did last year, so of course this is very hard work."

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No Healthy Level of Alcohol Consumption, Says Major Study
Posted by News Fetcher on August 23 '18 at 08:10 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's societal-norms department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: Even the occasional drink is harmful to health, according to the largest and most detailed research carried out on the effects of alcohol, which suggests governments should think of advising people to abstain completely. The uncompromising message comes from the authors of the Global Burden of Diseases study, a rolling project based at the University of Washington, in Seattle, which produces the most comprehensive data on the causes of illness and death in the world. Alcohol, says their report published in the Lancet medical journal, led to 2.8 million deaths in 2016. It was the leading risk factor for premature mortality and disability in the 15 to 49 age group, accounting for 20% of deaths. The study was carried out by researchers at the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), who investigated levels of alcohol consumption and health effects in 195 countries between 1990 to 2016. They used data from 694 studies to work out how common drinking was and from 592 studies including 28 million people worldwide to work out the health risks. According to the report, "27.1% of cancer deaths in women and 18.9% in men over 50 were linked to their drinking habits." The biggest causes of death linked to alcohol in younger people were tuberculosis (1.4% of deaths), road injuries (1.2%), and self-harm (1.1%).

"Worldwide we need to revisit alcohol control policies and health programs, and to consider recommendations for abstaining from alcohol," said the report's senior author, Professor Emmanuela Gakidou. "These include excise taxes on alcohol, controlling the physical availability of alcohol and the hours of sale, and controlling alcohol advertising. Any of these policy actions would contribute to reductions in population-level consumption, a vital step toward decreasing the health loss associated with alcohol use."

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Comcast/Charter Lobby Asks FTC To Preempt State Broadband Regulations
Posted by News Fetcher on August 23 '18 at 06:50 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's hands-off-approach department:
Lobby groups on behalf of Comcast and Charter are asking the FTC to preempt state and local broadband regulations. "In comments filed this week, cable industry lobby group NCTA told the FTC that 'there is plainly no reasonable basis in today's marketplace for singling out ISPs for unique regulatory burdens,'" reports Ars Technica. "The FTC should let 'market forces' prevent bad behavior and avoid specific net neutrality or privacy regulation for the broadband industry, the lobby group said." From the report: The comments were filed in an FTC proceeding titled "Competition and Consumer Protection in the 21st Century." The FTC is planning to hold hearings on the communications industry, the FTC's enforcement processes, and other competition and consumer protection topics. "The FTC should ensure that the Internet is subject to uniform, consistent federal regulations, including by issuing guidance explicitly setting forth that inconsistent state and local requirements are preempted," the NCTA wrote.

The FTC should endorse and reinforce the FCC's ruling by issuing guidance to state attorneys general and consumer protection authorities reaffirming that they are bound by FCC and FTC precedent in this arena," NCTA argued. NCTA's filing focused mostly on potential privacy regulation, saying that the FCC should continue its "technology-neutral approach to privacy and data security." Net neutrality concerns are best addressed by existing antitrust laws, the filing said.

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