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Updated: 1 hour 19 min ago

GTA Online, Red Dead Online Will Temporarily Go Offline In Honor of George Floyd

Fri, 2020-06-05 00:25
Rockstar Games, 2K games, and their parent company Take-Two Interactive announced on Thursday that they will shut down the servers for games such as Grand Theft Auto Online, Red Dead Online, and NBA 2K for two hours on Thursday afternoon "to honor the legacy of George Floyd." Polygon reports: "Black Lives Matter," said Rockstar Games on its official Twitter account. "To honor the legacy of George Floyd, today, 6/4/20, from 2:00-4:00 p.m. ET, we will be shutting down access to our online games, Grand Theft Auto Online and Red Dead Online." "Following the memorial," Rockstar added in a follow-up tweet, "we hope you will join us in further honoring the many victims of America's racial injustices by supporting their families, black-owned businesses, those marching on the streets, and coalitions." Rockstar ended its thread with a link to Charity Navigator, a nonprofit organization that maintains a vetted list of civil rights-focused charities. In addition to Rockstar's titles, additional games from 2K Games and Social Point will go offline as well from 2-4 p.m. EDT on Thursday, Take-Two Interactive said in a statement to Polygon. The list includes NBA 2K, Dragon City, and Monster Legend. Private Division, whose portfolio includes The Outer Worlds and Kerbal Space Program, will also "suspend" its activities during the window. "George Floyd's memory will serve as a reminder that racism and the violence it incites cannot be tolerated," Take-Two Interactive said. "We are committed to supporting efforts to eradicate racial injustice and stand in solidarity with the Black community against this systemic issue that causes conflict and division in our society."

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Facebook To Block Ads From State-Controlled Media Entities In the US

Fri, 2020-06-05 00:05
Facebook said Thursday it will begin blocking state-controlled media outlets from buying advertising in the U.S. this summer. It's also rolling out a new set of labels to provide users with transparency around ads and posts from state-controlled outlets. Outlets that feel wrongly labeled can appeal the process. Axios reports: Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook's head of security policy, says the company hasn't seen many examples yet of foreign governments using advertising to promote manipulative content to U.S. users, but that the platform is taking this action out of an abundance of caution ahead of the 2020 election. Beginning Thursday, the types of state-backed media that U.S. users will see labels on include outlets like Russia's Sputnik, China's People's Daily, Iran's Tasnim News Agency and others. [...] The purpose of labeling these outlets is to give users transparency about any kind of potential bias a state-backed entity may have when providing information to U.S. users. Gleicher says it's labeling these outlets, not removing them altogether, because in many places around the world, state-backed media is the only form of local news. Facebook considers an outlet to be state-backed not just if it takes state funding, but also based on the organization's structure (whether a government official helps them make editorial decisions) and whether there are clear indications that the entity has editorial independence (like a law or charter granting them that independence).

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Categories: Technology

Musk Says 'Time To Break Up Amazon,' Escalating Feud With Bezos

Thu, 2020-06-04 23:45
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: Tesla Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk said it's "time to break up Amazon" in a tweet Thursday, escalating a rivalry with Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, another billionaire investing in space exploration. "Monopolies are wrong," Musk tweeted while tagging Bezos, the world's wealthiest man. Musk's post came in response to a tweet from a writer who said his book titled "Unreported Truths About COVID-19 and The Lockdown" was being removed from Amazon's Kindle publishing division for violating unspecified guidelines. The book that was removed by Amazon was written by lockdown critic and former New York Times reporter Alex Berenson. "Due to the rapidly changing nature of information around the COVID-19 virus, we are referring customers to official sources for health information about the virus," Amazon said to Berenson. "Please consider removing references to COVID-19 for this book." In comments to Breitbart News, Berenson explained the topic of his now-censored e-book on the coronavirus, calling it "An introduction and a discussion of death coding, death counts, and who is really dying from COVID, as well as a worst-case estimate of deaths with no mitigation efforts." Berenson added, "I briefly considered censorship but assumed I wouldn't have a problem both because of my background, because anyone who reads the booklet will realize it is impeccably sourced, nary a conspiracy theory to be found, and frankly because Amazon shouldn't be censoring anything that doesn't explicitly help people commit criminal behavior. [...] I have no idea if the decision was made by a person, an automated system, or a combination (i.e. the system flags anything with COVID-19 or coronavirus in the title and then a person decides on the content)."

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Categories: Technology

Google Search a Target of US Antitrust Probes, Rival Says

Thu, 2020-06-04 23:05
U.S. federal and state authorities are asking detailed questions about how to limit Google's power in the online search market as part of their antitrust investigations into the tech giant, according to rival DuckDuckGo. From a report: Gabriel Weinberg, chief executive officer of the privacy-focused search engine, said he has spoken with state regulators, and talked with the U.S. Justice Department as recently as a few weeks ago. Justice Department officials and state attorneys general asked the CEO about requiring Google to give consumers alternatives to its search engine on Android devices and in Google's Chrome web browser, Weinberg said in an interview. "We've been talking to all of them about search and all of them have asked us detailed search questions," he added. Weinberg's comments shine a light into how the inquiry is examining Google's core business -- online search.

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Incognito Mode Detection Still Works in Chrome Despite Promise To Fix

Thu, 2020-06-04 22:20
Websites are still capable of detecting when a visitor is using Chrome's incognito (private browsing) mode, despite Google's efforts last year to disrupt the practice. From a report: It is still possible to detect incognito mode in Chrome, and all the other Chromium-based browsers, such as Edge, Opera, Vivaldi, and Brave, all of which share the core of Chrome's codebase. Furthermore, developers have taken the scripts shared last year and have expanded support to non-Chrome browsers, such as Firefox and Safari, allowing sites to block users in incognito mode across the board. Currently, there is no deadline for a new Chrome update to block incognito mode detections, however, today, Google might be interested more than ever in fixing this issue.

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Germany Will Require All Petrol Stations To Provide Electric Car Charging

Thu, 2020-06-04 21:45
Speaking of Germany it will oblige all petrol stations to offer electric car charging to help remove refueling concerns and boost consumer demand for the vehicles as part of its 130 billion euro ($146 billion) economic recovery plan. From a report: The move could provide a significant boost to electric vehicle demand along with the broader stimulus plan which included taxes to penalize ownership of large polluting combustion-engined sports utility vehicles and a 6,000 euro subsidy towards the cost of an electric vehicle. Germany's announcement follows a French plan to boost electric car sales announced last week by President Macron.

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Dropbox is Working On Its Own Password Manager

Thu, 2020-06-04 21:00
AndroidPolice: Dropbox just unceremoniously dumped a brand new app on the Play Store with no fanfare or formal announcement. The new Dropbox Passwords app, according to its listing, is a password manager available exclusively in an invite-only private beta for some Dropbox customers. Based on screenshots and description, the app seems pretty barebones -- or "minimal," depending on your tastes. Dropbox seems to intentionally avoid calling it a "password manager," though its functionality otherwise appears about the same as other solutions. Like other password managers, Dropbox Password can generate passwords for new accounts as required and sync them remotely so you can access all your passwords on multiple devices. It also uses zero-knowledge encryption to store those passwords remotely.

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GM Plans Electric Van for Business Users in Bid To Pre-empt Tesla

Thu, 2020-06-04 20:25
General Motors is developing an electric van aimed at business users, joining a growing list of carmakers planning EVs for the same segment which includes customers such as Amazon.com and United Parcel Service, Reuters reported Thursday. From the report: That multibillion-dollar strategy could enable GM, Ford Motor and at least two EV startups to build and deliver more electric vehicles at a time when consumer demand for battery-powered models is still a small fraction of overall industry sales, while targeting a potentially lucrative market segment that Tesla Inc has yet to address. GM's plan to develop an electric van has not previously been reported. The No. 1 U.S. automaker did not confirm the van, but has said it plans to introduce at least 20 new all-electric vehicles by 2023, in a variety of body styles including sedans, trucks and crossovers. Suppliers familiar with such plans at GM and Ford told Reuters the Detroit automakers, which count trucks and commercial vehicles among their most profitable businesses, "don't want to leave the door open for Tesla" as they did in consumer passenger cars.

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Google Says Iranian, Chinese Hackers Targeted Trump, Biden Campaigns

Thu, 2020-06-04 19:40
Google security researchers say they've identified efforts by at least two nation state-backed hackers against the Trump and Biden presidential campaigns. From a report: Shane Huntley, director for Google's Threat Analysis Group, said in a tweet that hackers backed by China and Iran recently targeted the campaigns using malicious phishing emails. But, Huntley said, there are "no signs of compromise" and that the campaigns were both alerted to the attempts.

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Hydroxychloroquine Does Not prevent Covid-19 Infection if Exposed, Study Says

Thu, 2020-06-04 19:05
The malaria drug hydroxychloroquine did not help prevent people who had been exposed to others with Covid-19 from developing the disease, according to the results of an eagerly awaited study that was published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine. From a report: Despite a lack of evidence, many people began taking the medicine to try to prevent infection early in the Covid-19 pandemic, following anecdotal reports it could be effective and claims by President Trump and conservative commentators. Trump, too, said he took hydroxychloroquine to prevent infection. But the new study, the first double-blind randomized, placebo-controlled trial of hydroxychloroquine, found otherwise. "I think in the setting of post-exposure prophylaxis, it doesn't seem to work," said Sarah Lofgren, an assistant professor at the University of Minnesota who is a co-author of the study. Other studies of hydroxychloroquine are ongoing. Also Wednesday, the World Health Organization said it is resuming a clinical trial testing hydroxychloroquine as a treatment after pausing it over safety concerns.

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Categories: Technology

Sega Announces Mysterious "Fog Gaming" Program, Will Use Arcade Machines Somehow

Thu, 2020-06-04 18:21
An anonymous reader shares a report: Thanks to some Japanese-language news sources, we now know the nature of the big Sega reveal that was teased for this week's Famitsu. The publisher is working on some kind of initiative that it's dubbed "fog gaming." While it's not exactly clear what that is -- or if it's comparable to cloud gaming services like Google Stadia -- according to analyst Serkan Toto, it will likely involve using the guts of arcade machines during off-hours.

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Signal Launches Face-Blurring Tool as US Protesters Embrace Encrypted Messaging

Thu, 2020-06-04 17:40
Law enforcement officials across the U.S. have already revealed that they will leverage facial recognition technology to retroactively target protesters following the killing of George Floyd, with police asking the public for footage and photos. Against this backdrop, Signal is introducing a new feature that can automatically obfuscate faces shared within the encrypted messaging app, as the company says it's "working hard to keep up with the increased traffic" from protesters. From a report: Moving forward, Signal users will be able to activate a feature in the main photo editing toolbox that will automatically blur all faces it identifies in an image. As with many automated computer vision tools, Signal doesn't claim that its face-blurring smarts are 100% effective. It may not identify all faces in a photo, which is why users can manually obscure faces by drawing the blur brush across each face with their finger.

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SpaceX Launches 60 More Starlink Satellites and Achieves a Reusability Record For a Falcon 9 Booster

Thu, 2020-06-04 17:15
SpaceX launched its second Falcon 9 rocket in the span of just four days on Wednesday at 9:25 PM EDT (6:25 PM PDT). This one was carrying 60 more satellites for its Starlink constellation, which will bring the total currently in operation on orbit to 480. From a report: The launch took off from Florida, where SpaceX's first astronaut launch took place on Saturday for the final demonstration mission of its Crew Dragon to fulfill the requirements of NASA's Commercial Crew human-rating process. Today's launch didn't include any human passengers, but it did fly that next big batch of Starlink broadband internet satellites, as mentioned. Those will join the other Starlink satellites in low Earth orbit, forming part of a network that will eventually serve to provide high-bandwidth, reliable internet connectivity, particularly in underserved areas where terrestrial networks either aren't present or don't offer high-speed connections. This launch included a test of a new system that SpaceX designed in order to hopefully improve an issue its satellites have had with nighttime visibility from Earth. The test Starlink satellite, one of the 60, has a visor system installed that it can deploy post-launch in order to block the sun from reflecting off its communication antenna surfaces. If it works as designed, it should greatly reduce sunlight reflected off the satellite back to Earth, and SpaceX will then look to make it a standard part of its Starlink satellite design going forward.

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Categories: Technology

CES Will Be Held In-person in Las Vegas Next Year

Thu, 2020-06-04 16:49
The group behind CES plans to hold the enormous tech convention in person in Las Vegas next January, despite concerns that the coronavirus pandemic may still be a threat. The Consumer Technology Association has announced that it intends to give exhibitors a way to showcase their products "both physically in Las Vegas and digitally." From a report: The stakes are high for CES. It's one of the largest conventions held each year in Las Vegas, responsible for bringing a huge number of visitors to the city, with around 175,000 attendees last year. The Las Vegas Convention Center, the primary venue where the event is held, is scheduled to complete a $980 million expansion just in time for next year's show. And while consumers may know CES as the event where new TVs, cars, and other gadgets are announced, it also remains an important venue for meetings between retailers, manufacturers, and all the companies in between.

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Spain Readies Big Reduction in Single-Use Plastics From Mid-2021

Thu, 2020-06-04 16:00
Spain is preparing to significantly reduce the distribution and sale of single-use plastic cutlery, straws, cups and products containing microplastics as part of the government's drive to promote recycling and reduce waste. From a report: The government wants to ban the sale of single-use plastics from July 3, 2021, and to ban the free distribution of these items from the start of 2023, according to a bill distributed to journalists. It's due to approve the legislation at its weekly cabinet meeting on Tuesday before taking it to congress for full debate. Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has already made protection of the environment a centerpiece of government's strategy after setting a goal for Spain to be carbon neutral by 2050. The government is also presenting bills to regulate waste transport and outline Spain's push for an economic model based on re-use of materials and elimination of waste.

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Categories: Technology

Anti-Racism Sites Hit By Wave of Cyberattacks

Thu, 2020-06-04 14:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from the BBC: Cyber-attacks against anti-racism organizations shot up in the wake of the death of George Floyd, a leading provider of protection services says. Cloudflare, which blocks attacks designed to knock websites offline, says advocacy groups in general saw attacks increase 1,120-fold. Mr Floyd's death, in police custody, has sparked nationwide civil unrest in the US. Government and military websites also saw a notable increase in attacks. Cloudflare says that after Mr Floyd's death and the ensuing violent clashes between police and protesters, it saw a noticeable jump in the amount of requests it blocked -- an extra 19 billion (17%) from the corresponding weekend the previous month. That equates to an extra 110,000 blocked requests every second, it said. The problem was particularly acute for certain types of organizations. One single website belonging to an unnamed advocacy group dealt with 20,000 requests a second. Anti-racism groups which belong to Cloudflare's free program for at-risk organizations saw a large surge in the past week, from near-zero to more than 120 million blocked requests. Attacks on government and military websites were also up — by 1.8 and 3.8 times respectively.

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Categories: Technology

Bird Is Scrapping Thousands of Electric Scooters In the Middle East

Thu, 2020-06-04 11:00
Hot on the heels of Uber scrapping thousands of e-bikes and e-scooters, Bird is taking similar action. The micromobility company is reportedly disposing of thousands of e-scooters in the Middle East and shutting down its operations in the majority of the region as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. CNBC reports: The e-scooters being scrapped belong to Circ, which was acquired by Bird for an undisclosed sum in January. There are between 8,000 and 10,000 Circ scooters across cities in Qatar, Bahrain and United Arab Emirates, according to one former employee and one company source who asked to be kept anonymous as they've signed a confidentiality agreement. Bird is paying around $300,000 to have all of Circ's scooters in the Middle East scrapped, the former employee told CNBC. Bird said it has "temporarily paused operations" in the Middle East because of the hot weather, adding that it is using the break to "recycle" some vehicles. Bird will continue to operate its own scooters in Tel Aviv. "During this pause, we are taking the opportunity to responsibly recycle parts of the old Circ fleet that were previously used in the region," a Bird spokesperson said. "Following extreme wear and tear, the Circ vehicles no longer met our rigorous quality standards. Selling or re-use of these vehicles would potentially result in safety and reliability issues, which would not have been fair or ethical to the purchasers or potential riders. We look forward to resuming our service throughout more parts of the region later this year."

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Australian Researchers Set Record For Carbon Dioxide Capture

Thu, 2020-06-04 08:00
Researchers from Monash University and the CSIRO have set a record for carbon dioxide capture and storage (CCS) using technology that resembles a sponge filled with tiny magnets. Phys.Org reports: Using a Metal Organic Frameworks (MOFs) nanocomposite that can be regenerated with remarkable speed and low energy cost, researchers have developed sponge-like technology that can capture carbon dioxide from a number of sources, even directly from air. The magnetic sponge is used to remove carbon dioxide using the same techniques as induction cooktops using one-third of the energy than any other reported method. In the study, published in Cell Reports Physical Science, researchers designed a unique adsorbent material called M-74 CPT@PTMSP that delivered a record low energy cost of just 1.29 MJ kg-1CO2 , 45 per cent below commercially deployed materials, and the best CCS efficiency recorded. MOFs are a class of compounds consisting of metal ions that form a crystalline material with the largest surface area of any material known. In fact, MOFs are so porous that they can fit the entire surface of a football field in a teaspoon. This technology makes it possible to store, separate, release or protect valuable commodities, enabling companies to develop high value products. The stability of M-74 CPT@PTMSP was evaluated by estimating the amount of CO2 and H2O captured and released via the researchers' magnetic induction swing adsorption (MISA) process over 20 consecutive cycles. The regeneration energy calculated for M-74 CPT@PTMSP is the lowest reported for any solid porous adsorbent. At magnetic fields of 14 and 15 mT, the regeneration energy calculated for M-74 CPT was 1.29 and 1.44 MJ kg CO2-1.

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Categories: Technology

Could Granite Solve the Hard Problem of Nuclear Waste Storage?

Thu, 2020-06-04 04:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: A new study published in Scientific Reports reveals that crystalline rocks, such as granite, have a natural self-sealing mechanism, capable of keeping fluids locked away for millions of years. Careful analysis of the chemistry and structure of granites from Japan and the UK revealed that when fluid did enter the rock (via fractures), it travelled a few centimeters at most. The scientists believe that calcium in the rock reacted with carbonate in the fluid to create tiny crystals of calcite that plugged all the gaps and prevented further flow. "This amount of calcite would never be expected in a granite, and the distribution of it indicates it almost certainly formed from small quantities of fluid trying to move through the rock," says Roy Wogelius from the University of Manchester. Greater understanding is needed before we finalize our radioactive waste disposal strategies, but this is a promising step forward.

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UK Willing To Admit Nearly 3 Million From Hong Kong If China Adopts Security Law

Thu, 2020-06-04 03:02
schwit1 shares news that UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he would be willing to allow more than 2.8 million people from Hong Kong to live and work in the country if China implements a controversial proposed national security law on the former British colony. The law could take effect as soon as this month, and would expand mainland China's control over Hong Kong. NPR reports: Johnson wrote in a column that appeared in The Times of London that the law would infringe on the "one country, two systems" agreement China reached with Britain in 1997 when Britain ceded control of the territory. He added that the law "would curtail [Hong Kong's] freedoms and dramatically erode its autonomy." If China were to implement the law, Johnson wrote, Britain is prepared to take in around 350,000 people from Hong Kong who already have British National (Overseas) passports and 2.5 million who would be eligible to apply for them. He also noted that the U.K. would be making "one of the biggest changes in our visa system in history." It would allow Hong Kongers with these passports to come to the U.K. for a renewable period of a year. The current system allows them to come without a visa for up to six months. The potential new system would include a right to work and, potentially, a path to citizenship. Johnson did not elaborate in the column about how the 2.5 million people eligible for a British passport would be able to attain one, or how arrivals from Hong Kong would attain citizenship. "Many people in Hong Kong fear that their way of life -- which China pledged to uphold -- is under threat," Johnson wrote. "If China proceeds to justify their fears, then Britain could not in good conscience shrug our shoulders and walk away... I still hope that China will remember that responsibilities go hand in glove with strength and leadership." The law would authorize mainland China to prevent "secession, subversion, terrorism and foreign interference" in the semi-autonomous city. "One part that has got people worried is the suggestion that China could set up its own institutions in Hong Kong responsible for security," reports the BBC. "Hong Kong was handed back to China from British control in 1997, but under a unique agreement -- a mini-constitution called the Basic Law and a so-called 'one country, two systems' principle," the report adds. "They are supposed to protect certain freedoms for Hong Kong: freedom of assembly and speech, an independent judiciary and some democratic rights -- freedoms that no other part of mainland China has." People in Hong Kong believe the law will result in a loss of these freedoms and could see Beijing punish people for criticizing the country, as happens in mainland China.

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