By EditorDavid from Slashdot's sun-never-setting department
"Nuclear experts have warned against re-opening a 43-year-old Scottish nuclear reactor riddled with cracks over fears of a meltdown," writes the Daily Mirror.
An anonymous reader quotes their report:
Hunterston B nuclear power plant was shut down last year after it was found that Reactor 3 had almost 400 cracks in it -- exceeding the operational limit. EDF, which own the plant in Ardrossan, Ayrshire, are pushing to return the reactor to service at the end of June and July and want to extend the operational limit of crack allowed from 350 to 700. However, the plans to reopen the plant have sparked fears it could lead to a nuclear meltdown similar to the 1986 Chernoybl disaster.
Experts have warned that in the very worst case the hot graphite core could become exposed to air and ignite leading to radioactive contamination and evacuation of a large area of Scotland's central belt -- including Glasgow and Edinburgh. According to Dr Ian Fairlie, an independent consultant on radioactivity in the environment, and Dr David Toke, Reader in Energy Policy at the University of Aberdeen, the two reactors definitely should not be restarted...
The plant, which is more than 40 years old, can generate enough electricity to power more than 1.7 million homes, and is one of Britain's eight nuclear plants which provide around 20 percent of the country's electricity.
Nuclear expert Professor Neil Hyat reminds The Sun that the reactor will be shut down by 2030 -- and "possibly earlier."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's can't-Make-me department
McGruber quotes TechCrunch:
Maker Media Inc ceased operations this week and let go of all of its employees — about 22 employees" founder and CEO Dale Dougherty told TechCrunch. "I started this 15 years ago and it's always been a struggle as a business to make this work. Print publishing is not a great business for anybody, but it works . . . barely. Events are hard . . . there was a drop off in corporate sponsorship." Microsoft and Autodesk failed to sponsor this year's flagship Bay Area Maker Faire.
But Dougherty is still desperately trying to resuscitate the company in some capacity, if only to keep MAKE:'s online archive running and continue allowing third-party organizers to license the Maker Faire name to throw affiliated events. Rather than bankruptcy, Maker Media is working through an alternative Assignment for Benefit of Creditors process.
"We're trying to keep the servers running" Dougherty tells me. "I hope to be able to get control of the assets of the company and restart it. We're not necessarily going to do everything we did in the past but I'm committed to keeping the print magazine going and the Maker Faire licensing program." The fate of those hopes will depend on negotiations with banks and financiers over the next few weeks. For now the sites remain online.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's mistakes-were-made department
AmiMoJo shares an article by Cory Doctorow:
Wednesday, Youtube announced that it would shut down, demonetize and otherwise punish channels that promoted violent extremism, "supremacy" and other forms of hateful expression; predictably enough, this crackdown has caught some of the world's leading human rights campaigners, who publish Youtube channels full of examples of human rights abuses in order to document them and prompt the public and governments to take action....
Some timely reading: Caught in the Net: The Impact of "Extremist" Speech Regulations on Human Rights Content, a report by the Electronic Frontier Foundation's Jillian C York: "The examples highlighted in this document show that casting a wide net into the Internet with faulty automated moderation technology not only captures content deemed extremist, but also inadvertently captures useful content like human rights documentation, thus shrinking the democratic sphere. No proponent of automated content moderation has provided a satisfactory solution to this problem."
A British history teacher living in Romania complained Wednesday that his YouTube channel had been banned completely from YouTube, possibly over its documenting of propaganda speeches from World War II. He tweeted that he was frustrated that "15 years of materials for #HistoryTeacher community have ended so abruptly."
Later that same day, his account was restored -- but he's still concerned about other YouTube accounts. "It's absolutely vital that @YouTube work to undo the damage caused by their indiscriminate implementation as soon as possible," he tweeted Wednesday. "Access to important material is being denied wholesale as many other channels are left branded as promoting hate when they do nothing of the sort."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's bad-directions department
"Neuroscientists can now see that brain behavior changes when people rely on turn-by-turn directions," says science writer M.R. O'Connor, citing a study of personal GPS devices co-authored by Kent-based cognitive neuroscience researcher Amir-Homayoun Javadi:
What isn't known is the effect of GPS use on hippocampal function when employed daily over long periods of time. Javadi said the conclusions he draws from recent studies is that "when people use tools such as GPS, they tend to engage less with navigation. Therefore, brain area responsible for navigation is less used, and consequently their brain areas involved in navigation tend to shrink."
How people navigate naturally changes with age. Navigation aptitude appears to peak around age 19, and after that, most people slowly stop using spatial memory strategies to find their way, relying on habit instead. But neuroscientist Veronique Bohbot has found that using spatial-memory strategies for navigation correlates with increased gray matter in the hippocampus at any age. She thinks that interventions focused on improving spatial memory by exercising the hippocampus -- paying attention to the spatial relationships of places in our environment -- might help offset age-related cognitive impairments or even neurodegenerative diseases. "If we are paying attention to our environment, we are stimulating our hippocampus, and a bigger hippocampus seems to be protective against Alzheimer's disease," Bohbot told me in an email.
This piece originally appeared in the Washington Post's opinion section -- under the headline "Ditch the GPS. It's Ruining Your Brain."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's too-quiet-for-their-own-good department
Starting July 1st, electric vehicles with four or more wheels must be fitted with an "Acoustic Vehicle Alert System" (AVAS) if they want to be able to legally drive in the European Union. With AVAS, vehicles would make a continuous noise of at least 56 decibels if the car's going 20 km/h (12 mph) or slower. New Atlas reports: Designed to address the public's fear of quiet electric vehicles, the new laws require cars -- not motorcycles -- to make some kind of noise at slower speeds. The noise, which isn't prescribed to be any particular sound, must rise and fall in pitch to signal whether the vehicle is accelerating or decelerating.
Fifty-six decibels isn't particularly loud, mercifully -- it's about the sound level of a running air con unit or electric toothbrush. A diesel truck, for example, will make about 85 decibels when it passes, and the rules state that the warning sounds can't be any louder than 75 decibels, or about the noise level of a regular dinosaur burning car. So the AVAS systems will make no difference at all to people who walk around with earphones in. Jaguar has decided to go with a "weird kind of spaceship sound," while BMW has gone with something that sounds more like a traditional engine. Nissan "seems to have gone for a bit of a jet airliner feel," writes Loz Blain for New Atlas.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's reinventing-the-wheel department
At an event in Montreal earlier this week, Michelin and General Motors unveiled a new airless wheel prototype called the Uptis Prototype, which stands for "Unique Puncture-proof Tire System." The prototype looks like an old-fashioned tire, but has treads in the middle and no sidewalls. Interesting Engineering reports: "Uptis" as it is more simply called, was first unveiled at the Movin'On Summit for sustainable mobility in 2017. The aim is for a complete reshuffle of conventional wheels and tires, so that they are fully replaced as an assembly unit for passenger cars. GM's plan is to start tests at the end of this year on their Michigan-based Bolt Electic Vehicles (EVs).
The airless tire has all-round benefits: less raw material and energy are used in their production, the amount of scrapped tires due to punctures or damage will dramatically minimize, wear and tear issues due to over or under inflation will be eliminated, and roads will become safer with fewer blowouts or flat tires. Michelin has been on the case since 2005 when it unveiled its Tweel system. The Uptis is a production-ready version of the Tweel system. For those not navigating such large vehicles, the Uptis will be just the ticket. Michelin further states that these airless tires won't feel any different to our current, very air-filled ones.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's underestimated-findings department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Smithsonian: A new study is shining troubling light on the quantity of microplastics Americans are consuming each year -- as many as 121,000 particles, per a conservative estimate. A research team led by Kieran Cox, a PhD candidate at the University of Victoria and a former Link Fellow at the Smithsonian Institute, looked at 26 papers assessing the amount of microplastics in commonly consumed food items, among them seafood, sugars, salts, honey, alcohol and water. The team also evaluated the potential consumption of microplastics through inhalation using previously reported data on microplastic concentrations in the air and the Environmental Protection Agency's reported respiration rates. To account for factors like age and sex, the researchers consulted dietary intakes recommended by the U.S. Health Department.
Based on this data, the researchers calculated that our annual consumption of microplastics via food and drink ranges between 39,000 and 52,000 particles, depending on age and sex. Female children consume the least and male adults consume the most, the team reveals in the journal Environmental Science & Technology. When microplastics ingested through inhalation are taken into account, the range jumps from 74,000 to 121,000 particles per year.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's taking-matters-into-your-own-hands department
In what marks the largest ever philanthropic effort to combat climate change, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is pledging $500 million to close all of the nation's remaining coal plants by 2030 and put the United States on track toward a 100% clean energy economy. The New York Times reports: The new campaign, called Beyond Carbon, is designed to help eliminate coal by focusing on state and local governments. The effort will bypass Washington, where Mr. Bloomberg has said national action appears unlikely because of a divided Congress and a president who denies the established science of climate change. "We're in a race against time with climate change, and yet there is virtually no hope of bold federal action on this issue for at least another two years," Mr. Bloomberg said in a statement before the announcement, which he made in a commencement address at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "Mother Nature is not waiting on our political calendar, and neither can we."
A spokesman for Mr. Bloomberg said most of the money would be spent over the next three years, though the time frame could be extended. It will fund lobbying efforts by environmental groups -- in state legislatures, City Councils and public utility commissions -- that aim to close coal plants and replace them with wind, solar and other renewable power. Part of the cash also will go toward efforts to elect local lawmakers who prioritize clean energy. The campaign will be based on the need to avoid the most dangerous effects of climate change, but will also emphasize the economic benefits of switching to clean energy.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's unspeakable-filthy-things department
A new strain of malware intercepts and tampers with internet traffic on infected Apple Macs to inject Bing results into users' Google search results. The Register reports: A report out this month by security house AiroAV details how its bods apparently spotted a software nasty that configures compromised macOS computers to route the user's network connections through a local proxy server that modifies Google search results. In this latest case, it is claimed, the malware masquerades as an installer for an Adobe Flash plugin -- delivered perhaps by email or a drive-by download -- that the user is tricked into running. This bogus installer asks the victim for their macOS account username and password, which it can use to gain sufficient privileges to install a local web proxy and configure the system so that all web browser requests go through it. That proxy can meddle with unencrypted data as it flows in and out to and from the public internet.
A root security certificate is also added to the Mac's keychain, giving the proxy the ability to generate SSL/TLS certs on the fly for websites requested. This allows it to potentially intercept and tamper with encrypted HTTPS traffic. This man-in-the-middle eavesdropping works against HTTP websites, and any HTTPS sites that do not employ MITM countermeasures. When the user opens their browser and attempts to run a Google search on an infected Mac, the request is routed to the local proxy, which injects into the Google results page an HTML iframe containing fetched Bing results for the same query, weirdly enough. As for why, "it's believed the Bing results bring in web ads that generate revenue for the malware's masterminds," the report says.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's cease-and-desist department
Maine Governor Janet Mills has signed a law banning internet service providers from using, selling, or distributing consumer data without their content. The Hill reports: The Act to Protect the Privacy of Online Consumer Information would prohibit any ISPs in Maine from refusing to serve a customer, penalizing them or offering a discount in order to pressure consumers into allowing the ISP to sell their data. The law will take effect on July 1. Mills described the new law as "common sense," adding that "Maine people value their privacy, online and off." "The internet is a powerful tool, and as it becomes increasingly intertwined with our lives, it is appropriate to take steps to protect the personal information and privacy of Maine people," Mills said in a statement. "With this common-sense law, Maine people can access the internet with the knowledge and comfort that their personal information cannot be bought or sold by their ISPs without their express approval."
Some privacy activists say the Maine law is even stronger than the law California passed last year because it mandates that ISPs require explicit consent from customers to sell their personal data, while the California law requires consumers to request that their data not be sold by their own volition.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's not-really-surprising department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Comcast yesterday was ordered to refund nearly 50,000 customers and pay a $9.1 million fine when a judge ruled that it violated Washington state consumer protection law hundreds of thousands of times. Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson sued Comcast in August 2016, accusing the nation's largest cable company of tricking customers into buying a "near-worthless 'protection plan' without disclosing its significant limitations." Buying the $5-per-month plan ostensibly prevented customers from having to pay each time a Comcast technician visited their home to fix problems covered by the plan. But in reality, the plan did not cover the vast majority of wiring problems, the AG's lawsuit said. Moreover, Washington state attorneys said that Comcast led customers to believe that they needed to buy a Service Protection Plan (SPP) to get services that were actually covered for free by the company's "Customer Guarantee."
In yesterday's ruling, King County Superior Court Judge Timothy Bradshaw found that "Comcast violated the Consumer Protection Act more than 445,000 times when it charged tens of thousands of Washingtonians for its Service Protection Plan without their consent," Ferguson's announcement said. Each wrongful monthly charge was a separate violation, so there were multiple violations per customer. Washington state attorneys sought more than $171 million, asking the judge to order Comcast to pay $88 million in restitution to customers and $83 million in fines. The $9.1 million fine Comcast was ordered to pay is a fraction of the amount sought by Washington. But Comcast's refunds to customers are separate from the fine, and it's not clear exactly how much they'll amount to.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's cease-and-desist department
Russian telecoms watchdog Roscomnadzor will start blocking major VPNs including NordVPN, ExpressVPN, IPVanish and HideMyAss, following through with its threat back in March. At the time, ten major VPN providers were ordered to begin blocking sites present in the country's national blacklist -- but almost all of them didn't comply. TorrentFreak reports: When questioned on the timeline for blocking, Roscomnadzor chief Alexander Zharov said that the matter could be closed within a month. If that happens, the non-compliant providers will themselves be placed on the country's blacklist (known locally as FGIS), meaning that local ISPs will have to prevent their users from accessing them. It is not yet clear whether that means their web presences, their VPN servers, or both. In the case of the latter, it's currently unclear whether there will be a battle or not. TorGuard has already pulled its servers out of Russia and ExpressVPN currently lists no servers in the country. The same is true for OpenVPN although VyprVPN still lists servers in Moscow, as does HideMyAss. Even if Roscomnadzor is successful in blocking any or all of the non-compliant services, there are still dozens more to choose from, a fact acknowledged by Zharov.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's pick-and-choose department
Google will have to face a California lawsuit accusing the company of bias against conservative job candidates as part of a legal challenge first brought against the company by James Damore, author of the infamous 2017 "Google memo." The Verge reports: Damore exited the lawsuit last year and entered arbitration with the company. But the suit, which argues Google's hiring practices are biased against white and Asian people, conservatives, and men, will move ahead after surviving a dismissal motion from the company. In a statement, the law firm representing the plaintiffs said the suit will now move into the discovery phase. The plaintiffs in the case are seeking class certification to represent others they believe have been discriminated against, a decision the court will make at a later date. In legal filings, Google has disputed that conservatives are an identifiable class under the law. In a decision, the judge on the case said the court "indeed has doubts" about the viability of the idea, but it is, for the time being, letting the case move ahead. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the ruling.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's it's-only-news-because-it's-China department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from ZDNet: For more than two hours on Thursday, June 6, a large chunk of European mobile traffic was rerouted through the infrastructure of China Telecom, China's third-largest telco and internet service provider (ISP). The incident occurred because of a BGP route leak at Swiss data center colocation company Safe Host, which accidentally leaked over 70,000 routes from its internal routing table to the Chinese ISP. But instead of ignoring the BGP leak, like most ISPs, China Telecom re-announced Safe Host's routes as its own, and by doing so, interposed itself as one of the shortest ways to reach Safe Host's network and other nearby European telcos and ISPs. "But if any other ISP would have caused this incident, it would have likely been ignored," the reader adds. "Alas, it was China Telecom, and there's a backstory, as this is the same Chinese ISP that was accused last year in an academic paper of 'hijacking the vital internet backbone of western countries' for intelligence gathering purposes."Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
Most people know all too well that it's against the law to share a pirated copy of a movie or TV-show. Law and ethics are not always in sync. Not even among those who are schooled as lawyers. From a report: This is the conclusion of an intriguing new study conducted among Harvard lawyers by Prof. Dariusz Jemielniak and Dr. Jerome Hergueux. The research, published in The Information Society journal, found that many lawyers believe that casual piracy is ethically acceptable. The researchers polled the perceptions of more than 100 international Masters of Law (LL.M.) students at Harvard, who all have a law degree. They were asked to evaluate how acceptable various piracy scenarios are, on a five-point scale going from very unacceptable to very acceptable.
The piracy scenarios ranged from downloading a TV-show or movie which isn't legally available, through pirating music to simply save money, to downloading content for educational or even commercial purposes. In total, 19 different alternatives were presented. While the researchers expected that lawyers would have conservative ethical positions when it comes to piracy, the opposite was true. The average of all answers was 3.23, which means that it leans toward the "acceptable" point of the scale. "We find that digital file sharing ranks relatively high in terms of ethical acceptability among our population of lawyers -- with the only notable exception being infringing copyright with a commercial purpose," the researchers conclude.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's up-next department
The House Intelligence Committee will next week examine the risks posed by deepfakes, artificial intelligence technology that can create realistic-looking fake videos, House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff said this week. From a report: Schiff, a California Democrat, said he feared that Russia could engage in a "severe escalation" of its disinformation campaign targeting the United States ahead of the 2020 US presidential election. "And the most severe escalation might be the introduction of a deep fake -- a video of one of the candidates saying something they never said," Schiff said.
Schiff made the comments during an interview with CNN's Washington Bureau Chief Sam Feist at the Council on Foreign Relations on Tuesday. He said that while the doctored video of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that went viral on social media two weeks ago was not a deepfake, it was an example of how manipulated media could be used.
"That was what's called a cheap fake; very easy to make, very simple to make, real content just doctored," Schiff sad. "But if you look back at how impactful the Mitt Romney videotape about the 47% was, you could imagine how a videotape that is more incendiary could be election-altering."Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's reality-check department
Technology services provider Probrand has carried out a study at a cyber expo attended by UK security professionals, where attendees voluntarily shared sensitive data including their name, date of birth and favourite football team -- all to get their hands on a free donut. From a report: "We wanted to put this theory to the test and see just how willing people were to give up their data," says Mark Lomas, technical architect at Probrand. "We started by asking conversational questions such as 'How are you finding the day? Got any plans for after the event?' If someone happened to mention they were collecting their kids from school, we then asked what their names and ages were. One individual even showed a photograph of their children." As part of the task, Probrand also asked more direct questions such as, 'Which football team do you support?', 'What type of music are you into?' and 'What is your favourite band?' Whether asking questions transparently as part of a survey, or trying to adopt more hacker-type methods, they were alarmed to find how easy it was to obtain personal data -- which many people may be using as the basis of their passwords.Read Replies (0)