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   131579480 story Social Networks 

Trump Signs Executive Order Targeting Protections For Social Media Platforms (  66

   Posted by BeauHD on Thursday May 28, 2020 @05:10PM from the good-luck-with-that dept.
   President Trump signed an executive order on Thursday designed to limit the legal protections that shield social media companies from liability for the content users post on their platforms. Axios reports: "Currently, social media giants like Twitter received unprecedented viability shield based on the theory that they are a neutral platform, which they are not," Trump said in the Oval Office. "We are fed up with it. It is unfair, and it's been very unfair." The order comes after the president escalated his attacks against Big Tech in recent days -- specifically Twitter, which
   fact-checked him for the first time this week over an unsubstantiated claim that mail-in voting drives voter fraud.
   The order focuses on a portion of the Communications Decency Act known as Section 230, which grants broad liability protections to tech platforms from civil suits when it comes to what users post, and would press regulators to create new rules aimed at pulling back that shield, Trump said at the White House Thursday. It also asks the Federal Trade Commission to report on acts of political bias collected by the White House, he added. Attorney General Bill Barr said that the administration is preparing legislation as well. The Trump administration has long mulled reining in Section 230, and the Justice Department convened a workshop earlier this year on the topic. Trump said he expects the executive order to draw a lawsuit.
    unconstitutional authoritarianasshole 
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   131572002 story Businesses 

Amazon To Offer Permanent Roles To 70% of 175,000 New US Hires (  5

   Posted by msmash on Thursday May 28, 2020 @04:45PM from the good-call dept.
   Amazon plans to offer permanent jobs to about 70% of the U.S. workforce it has hired temporarily to meet consumer demand during the coronavirus pandemic, the company told Reuters on Thursday. From a report: The world's largest online retailer will begin telling 125,000 warehouse employees in June that they can keep their roles longer-term. The remaining 50,000 workers it has brought on will stay on seasonal contracts that last up to 11 months, a company spokeswoman said. The decision is a sign that Amazon's sales have increased sufficiently to justify an expanded workforce for order fulfillment, even as government lockdowns ease and rivals open their retail stores for pickup. Amazon started the hiring spree in March with a blog post appealing to workers laid off by restaurants and other shuttered businesses, promising employment "until things return to normal and
   their past employer is able to bring them back."
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   131571974 story China 

China Rules Out Animal Market and Lab as Coronavirus Origin (  78

   Posted by msmash on Thursday May 28, 2020 @04:05PM from the how-about-that dept.
   Chinese scientists in recent days said they had ruled out both a laboratory and an animal market in the city of Wuhan as possible origins of the coronavirus pandemic, in their most detailed pushback to date against allegations from U.S. officials and others over what might have sparked it. From a report: The director of the Wuhan Institute of Virology, at the center of allegations around a potential laboratory accident, Wang Yanyi, over the weekend told China Central Television that the coronavirus was significantly different from any live pathogen that has been studied at the institute and that there therefore was no chance it could have leaked from there. Separately, China's top epidemiologist said Tuesday that testing of samples from a Wuhan food market, initially suspected as a path for the virus's spread to humans, failed to show links between
   animals being sold there and the pathogen.
   Gao Fu, director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said in comments carried in Chinese state media, "It now turns out that the market is one of the victims." The comments, aimed at countering what Beijing perceives as efforts from top U.S. officials to focus solely on China, are unlikely to pacify critics. The Chinese officials didn't address fundamental issues, such as widespread evidence that China initially covered up the extent of the outbreak. In their calls for more global scientific collaboration to track the source of the virus, they also stopped short of endorsing widespread scientific belief that the coronavirus originated in China.
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   131576974 story Medicine 

Coronavirus Antibody Testing Shows Lower Fatality Rate For Infection (  84

   Posted by msmash on Thursday May 28, 2020 @03:25PM from the closer-look dept.
   Jon Hamilton, reporting for NPR: Mounting evidence suggests the coronavirus is more common and less deadly than it first appeared. The evidence comes from tests that detect antibodies to the coronavirus in a person's blood rather than the virus itself. The tests are finding large numbers of people in the U.S. who were infected but never became seriously ill. And when these mild infections are included in coronavirus statistics, the virus appears less dangerous. "The current best estimates for the infection fatality risk are between 0.5% and 1%," says Caitlin Rivers, an epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.
   That's in contrast with death rates of 5% or more based on calculations that included only people who got sick enough to be diagnosed with tests that detect the presence of virus in a person's body. And the revised estimates support an early prediction by Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a leading member of the White House coronavirus task force. In an editorial published in late March in The New England Journal of Medicine, Fauci and colleagues wrote that the case fatality rate for COVID-19 "may be considerably less than 1%." But even a virus with a fatality rate less than 1% presents a formidable threat, Rivers says. "That is many times more deadly than seasonal influenza," she says. The new evidence is coming from places such as Indiana, which completed the first phase of a massive testing effort early in May. Further reading:
   Antibody Tests and Accuracy Issues Leave Some Americans With More Questions Than Answers.
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   131571770 story Science 

A Monday Is a Tuesday Is a Sunday as COVID-19 Disrupts Internal Clocks (  35

   Posted by msmash on Thursday May 28, 2020 @02:45PM from the times,-they-are-changin' dept.
   A global natural experiment examines the time warp of life under quarantine. From a report: In April Jenny Rappaport sat down to inspect her calendar because she could not tell how many days had passed since New Jersey's stay-at-home order took effect. Before COVID-19, her life had structure and a pace, and she knew the day of the week without giving it a second thought. The pandemic has changed all of that. Several research groups have taken advantage of this unplanned natural experiment to gauge the psychological impacts of time distortions and, in turn, their effects on mental health. Psychologists know that time sense links to well-being. Its perceived slower passage can represent signs of depression or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
   Rappaport's feelings jibe with the findings of preliminary studies. Overall, people seem to be experiencing time more slowly, according to data that are beginning to be compiled. In a not yet peer-reviewed preprint paper, Sylvie Droit-Volet, a time perception researcher at the University of Clermont Auvergne in France, and her colleagues show that people there report the clock moving more slowly during the lockdown. The researchers also document feelings of sadness and boredom and tie them to the overall feeling of deceleration. "Their findings directly support the emotional connection with time perception," says Philip Gable of the University of Alabama. He is also using survey data to examine how people across the U.S. experience time during the pandemic. "It's a societal event that's going to have a profound psychological influence on us," Gable says, adding that the temporal shift is an integral part of our feelings
   about what is happening. He plans to collect data over the next nine months, but so far has found evidence that the everyday tempo now lags. Nearly 50 percent of people experienced time dragging during March, whereas about 24 percent perceived it to be speeding up.
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   131571170 story Security 

$100 Million in Bounties Paid by HackerOne To Ethical Hackers (  6

   Posted by msmash on Thursday May 28, 2020 @02:02PM from the moving-forward dept.
   Bug bounty platform HackerOne announced today that it has paid out $100,000,000 in rewards to white-hat hackers around the world as of May 26, 2020. From a report: Since it started delivering vulnerability reports to its customers, HackerOne bug bounty hunters have found roughly 170,000 security vulnerabilities according to the company's CEO Marten Mickos. Over 700,000 ethical hackers are no using the bug bounty platform to get paid for security bugs in the products of more than 1,900 HackerOne customers. "It is impossible to know exactly how many cyber breaches have thereby been averted but we can estimate that it is thousands or perhaps over ten thousand," Mickos said.
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   131571070 story Earth 

What a Week's Disasters Tell Us About Climate and the Pandemic (  54

   Posted by msmash on Thursday May 28, 2020 @01:21PM from the closer-look dept.
   The hits came this week in rapid succession: A cyclone slammed into the Indian megacity of Kolkata, pounding rains breached two dams in the Midwestern United States, and on Thursday came warning that the Atlantic hurricane season could be severe. It all served as a reminder that the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed 325,000 people so far, is colliding with another global menace: a fast-heating planet that acutely threatens millions of people, especially the world's poor. From a report: Climate change makes extreme weather events more frequent and more intense. Now, because of the pandemic, they come at a time when national economies are crashing and ordinary people are stretched to their limits. Relief organizations working in
   eastern India and Bangladesh, for instance, say the lockdown had already forced people to rely on food aid by the time the storm, Cyclone Amphan, hit. Then, the high winds and heavy rains ruined newly sown crops that were meant to feed communities through next season. "People have nothing to fall back on," Pankaj Anand, a director at Oxfam India, said in a statement Thursday. The worst may be yet to come.
   Several other climate hazards are looming, as the coronavirus unspools its long tail around the world. They include the prospect of heat waves in Europe and South Asia, wildfires from the western United States to Europe to Australia, and water scarcity in South America and Southern Africa, where a persistent drought is already deepening hunger. And then there's the locusts. Locusts. Abnormally heavy rains last year, which scientists say were made more likely by the long-term warming of the Indian Ocean, a hallmark of climate change, have exacerbated a locust infestation across eastern Africa. Higher temperatures make it more inviting for locusts to spread to places where the climate wasn't as suitable before -- and in turn, destroy vast swaths of farmland and pasture for some of the poorest people on the planet.
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   131571384 story AI 

How Baidu's AI Produces News Videos Using Just a URL (  14

   Posted by msmash on Thursday May 28, 2020 @12:45PM from the how-about-that dept.
   An anonymous reader shares a report: AI for news production is one of the areas that has drawn contrasting opinions. On one hand, it might help media houses produce more news in a better format with minimal effort, on the other, it might take away the human element of journalism or take people out of jobs. In 2018, an AI anchor developed by China's Xinhua news agency made its debut. Earlier this month, the agency released an improved version that mimics human voices and gestures. There's been advancement in AI with text-based news with algorithms writing great headlines. China's search giant Baidu has developed a new AI model called Vidpress that brings video and text together by creating a clip based on articles.
   The company has currently deployed Vidpress on its short videos app Haokan and only works with Mandarin language. It claims that the AI algorithm can produce up to 1,000 videos per day, which is a whole lot more than the 300-500 its human editors are currently putting out. Vidpress can create a two-minute 720p video in two and a half minutes, while human editors take an average of 15 minutes to do that task. To train this model, Baidu used thousands of articles online to understand context of a news story. Additionally, the company had to train AI models for voice and video generation separately. However, in the final step, the algorithm syncs both streams for a smooth final video. When you feed the AI algorithm a URL, it automatically fetches all related articles from the internet and creates a summary.
       apply tags__________

   131571316 story Programming 

Developers Reveal Programming Languages They Love and Loathe, and What Pays Best (  105

   Posted by msmash on Thursday May 28, 2020 @12:04PM from the closer-look dept.
   Stack Overflow has released the results of its 2020 survey of nearly 65,000 developers, revealing their favorite and most dreaded programming languages, tools and frameworks. From a news writeup: The survey shows that TypeScript, Microsoft's superset of the widely-used JavaScript programming language, has overtaken Python as the second most beloved programming language behind Rust. This year 86% of respondents say they are keen to use Rust, while 67.1% want to use TypeScript, and 66.7% want to use Python. Stack Overflow attributes TypeScript's rising popularity to Microsoft's embrace of open source software as well as the existence of larger and more complex JavaScript and Node.js codebases.
   Rust has been the most loved programming language for five years running, despite few developers having experience with it. This year, just 5.1% developers report having used Rust, compared with the 68% who use JavaScript, which is the most commonly used language. [...] Meanwhile, the top 10 most dreaded programming languages are VBA, Objective-C, Perl, Assembly, C, PHP, Ruby, C++, Java and R.
   The report also looks at average salaries of each developer role. In the US, engineering managers attract the highest salary at $152,000 per year, followed by site reliability engineers who earn $140,000 per year. Salaries across the globe for these roles are lower, at $92,000 for an engineering manager and $80,000 for a site reliability engineer. Other high-paying roles with an average salary of at least $115,000 in the US include data scientist and machine learning specialist, DevOps specialist, engineer, back-end developer, embedded application developers, mobile developers, scientist, desktop application developer, and educator.
       apply tags__________

   131571680 story Facebook 

Mark Zuckerberg Says Social Networks Should Not Be Fact-Checking Political Speech (  187

   Posted by msmash on Thursday May 28, 2020 @11:25AM from the how-about-that dept.
   Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he does not think social networks should be fact-checking what politicians post. From a report: Zuckerberg's comment came after CNBC asked him for thoughts on Twitter's decision to start fact-checking the tweets of President Donald Trump. Twitter's move came on Tuesday after Trump tweeted that mail-in ballots would be "substantially fraudulent." Earlier Tuesday, Twitter declined to censor or warn users after Trump tweeted baseless claims that MSNBC host Joe Scarborough should be investigated for the death of his former staffer. "I don't think that Facebook or internet platforms in general should be arbiters of truth," Zuckerberg said. "Political speech is one of the most sensitive parts in a democracy, and people should be able to see what politicians say."
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   131571588 story Social Networks 

Trump To Order Review of Law Protecting Social Media Firms After Twitter Spat (  375

   Posted by msmash on Thursday May 28, 2020 @10:40AM from the up-next dept.
   President Trump will sign an executive order later today that mandates a review of a law that shields companies like Twitter, Google and Facebook from being held liable for the content appearing on their platforms after fact checks for the first time were added to two of his tweets. From a news report: The executive order Trump is expected to sign would direct the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to propose and clarify regulations stipulated under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, according to a draft copy obtained by multiple news outlets. Section 230 protects social media platforms from facing lawsuits over what users share, though there are exceptions when it comes to copyright violations and breaches of federal criminal law. The move is set to come as Trump rails against Silicon Valley over Twitter's decision
   earlier this week to add a fact-check label to two of his tweets about mail-in voting. Trump, who has repeatedly accused the tech giants of political bias, has cast the decision as an attempt to "silence" conservatives and threatened to shut down social media sites altogether.
    unconstitutional authoritarianasshole 
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   131570968 story Google 

Google Highlights Indian 'Hack-for-Hire' Companies in New TAG Report (  3

   Posted by msmash on Thursday May 28, 2020 @10:04AM from the growing-trend dept.
   The Google Threat Analysis Group (TAG), a division inside Google's security department that tracks nation-state and high-end cybercrime groups, has published its inaugural TAG quarterly report. In the Q1 2020 TAG Bulletin, Google analysts chose to highlight two rising trends the company saw in the first three months of 2020. The first is the rising scene of hack-for-fire companies currently operating out of India, a country where such services have not been prominent until now. From a news story: The second trend was the rising number of political influence operations carried out by governments across the world. This also marks the first time when Google publishes official disclosures of coordinated influence operations that abused the company's platforms. According to Google, attacks that leveraged the coronavirus (COVID-19) theme were one of the most
   common trends the company saw among nation-state and high-end cybercrime operators in Q1 2020. While the company saw efforts from Chinese and Iranian hacking groups, there was also a novel set of threat actors exploiting the coronavirus pandemic to launch cyber-attacks.
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   131552648 story The Internet 

Americans, It Turns Out, Would Rather Visit a Store Than Buy Food Online (  94

   Posted by BeauHD on Thursday May 28, 2020 @09:00AM from the tangible-goods dept.
   An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: Online grocery sales have surged as much as 200% this year, according to Earnest Research, part of a broader boom in home cooking now that thousands of restaurants are closed. The $840 billion grocery industry has been one of the few bright spots amid a pandemic that has infected about 1.7 million Americans, killed almost 100,000 and crushed the economy. Walmart, Amazon and startup Instacart are all reaping the rewards, and some e-commerce prognosticators say the online grocery industry has finally hit an inflection point promised for decades. But how much of that spending shift will stick is guesswork. It's difficult to predict lasting behavior changes from a fear-fueled surge -- growth peaked more than a month ago. Problems with online food shopping also persist. The operations are expensive to run, and limits on capacity and inventory abound right now with supply chains upended. The shopping experience can be clunky and confusing,
   especially for older consumers. And one thing the pandemic hasn't changed is that Americans still like to squeeze their cantaloupes and eyeball their rib-eyes.
   In the pandemic's early days it seemed as though buying online groceries would become routine -- or at least pick up a sizable number of converts. [...] But even in cities hardest hit by the pandemic, more than 7 in 10 people have continued to visit stores for groceries and other essentials, according to surveys by the consulting firm McKinsey & Co. In states with more relaxed restrictions, the figure is more than 8 in 10. Over one-third of shoppers say they'll decrease their use of web groceries or stop ordering food online altogether when shelter-in-place restrictions ease in their area, according to a survey conducted for Bloomberg by Civic Science. Among those who use online grocery pickup services, only half include produce in their orders primarily due to concerns over quality, according to Field Agent, an industry researcher. Fresh food is the thing that consumers are most likely to buy in physical stores exclusively once the pandemic subsides, according to research from Evercore
   ISI. Items like bottled water, pet food and other bulky, non-perishable household staples have better prospects online, due to the hassle of lugging them out of stores.
       apply tags__________

   131552556 story Medicine 

A Third of Americans Now Show Signs of Clinical Anxiety or Depression (  201

   Posted by BeauHD on Thursday May 28, 2020 @06:00AM from the concerning-trends dept.
   A third of Americans are showing signs of clinical anxiety or depression (alternative source), Census Bureau data shows, the most definitive and alarming sign yet of the psychological toll exacted by the coronavirus pandemic. The Washington Post reports: When asked questions normally used to screen patients for mental health problems, 24 percent showed clinically significant symptoms of major depressive disorder and 30 percent showed symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder. The findings suggest a huge jump from before the pandemic. For example, on one question about depressed mood, the percentage reporting such
   symptoms was double that found in a 2014 national survey.
   How Americans responded to the question "How often have you been bothered by feeling down, depressed, or hopeless?" Someone who answered "several days" or "more than half the days" would need to show other symptoms to screen positive for clinical depression. The 2013-2014 study reflects symptoms over a two-week period, while the 2020 survey reflects symptoms over a one-week period. [...] Some groups have been hit harder than others. Rates of anxiety and depression were far higher among younger adults, women and the poor. The worse scores in young adults were especially notable, given that the virus has been more likely to kill the elderly or leave them critically ill.
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   131552474 story Communications 

Bankrupt OneWeb Seeks License For 48,000 Satellites, Even More Than SpaceX (  63

   Posted by BeauHD on Thursday May 28, 2020 @03:00AM from the good-luck-with-that dept.
   Yesterday, SpaceX and OneWeb filed applications to launch tens of thousands of additional satellites into low Earth orbit. "SpaceX's application to launch 30,000 satellites -- in addition to the nearly 12,000 it already has permission for -- is consistent with SpaceX's previously announced plans for Starlink," reports Ars Technica. "OneWeb's application to launch nearly 48,000 satellites is surprising because the satellite-broadband company filed for bankruptcy in March." From the report: OneWeb is highly unlikely to launch a significant percentage of these satellites under its
   current structure, as the company reportedly "axed most of its staff" when it filed for bankruptcy and says it intends to use bankruptcy proceedings "to pursue a sale of its business in order to maximize the value of the company." Getting FCC approval to launch more satellites could improve the value of OneWeb's assets and give more options to whoever buys the company. "OneWeb has already secured debtor-in-possession financing and expects to soon exit the Chapter 11 process in a manner that maximizes the value of OneWeb's strategic assets and also ensures a viable path forward for its stakeholders and customers," the company said in its FCC application.
   "It's important to understand that the reason OneWeb filed for so many satellites is that it will make others' efforts more difficult, especially [for Amazon subsidiary] Kuiper, and thereby potentially enhance the value of OneWeb's first gen license. Similar rationale to SpaceX's 30K satellite proposal," satellite-industry consultant Tim Farrar wrote on Twitter. FCC rules give satellite licensees six years to launch 50 percent of licensed satellites and nine years to launch all of them, unless a waiver is granted.
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