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China Covers Up Killing Of Prisoners To Continue Harvesting Organs For Transplant: New Report (forbes.com)

(Saturday November 16, 2019 @05:34PM (EditorDavid) from the very-bad-things dept.)

"Despite repeated denials, China stands accused of a systematic cover-up to hide the continuing practice of forced organ harvesting and murder," reports Forbes' cybersecurity writer Zak Doffman:

> The practice, described as "state-run mass murder" and valued at $1 billion each year, has supposedly been outlawed in the country. But [1]a new report , published on November 14 in the BMC Medical Ethics journal, refutes this, [2]accusing China of a "systematic falsification and manipulation of official organ transplant datasets ," as the killings continue.

>

> In June, I reported on the [3]China Tribunal in London, which [4]found evidence of "forced organ harvesting" from Chinese prisoners , including Falun Gong practitioners and Uighur Muslims. The Tribunal's final judgment concluded that this "forced organ harvesting [5]has been committed for years throughout China on a significant scale , [and] the tribunal has had no evidence that the significant infrastructure associated with China's transplantation industry has been dismantled..." With China's illegal organ transplant industry said to be worth $1 billion each year, the country is determined to deflect the international outcry that has intensified as details of the organ harvesting have come to light. But this latest report casts doubt over claims of reform, exposing a material delta between the estimated number of transplants and the state's official statistics. In short, a new system of voluntary donations has been operating alongside and not instead of forced extractions.

>

> The giveaway, according to the report, is patterns in the data provided by China which are too neat to be genuine -- they were falsified.

In short, the article claims that China is "artificially manufacturing organ transplant donation data."



[1] https://bmcmedethics.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12910-019-0406-6

[2] https://www.forbes.com/sites/zakdoffman/2019/11/16/china-covers-up-killing-of-prisoners-to-harvest-organs-for-transplant-new-report/

[3] https://chinatribunal.com/

[4] https://www.forbes.com/sites/zakdoffman/2019/06/18/china-killing-prisoners-to-harvest-organs-for-transplant-tribunal-finds/

[5] https://chinatribunal.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/Short-Form-Conclusion-China-Tribunal.pdf

Thousands of Hacked Disney+ Accounts Are Already For Sale On Hacking Forums (zdnet.com)

(Saturday November 16, 2019 @05:34PM (EditorDavid) from the when-you-wish-upon-a-star dept.)

An anonymous reader quotes ZDNet:

> Hackers didn't waste any time and [1]have started hijacking Disney+ user accounts hours after the service launched . Many of these accounts are now being offered for free on hacking forums, or available for sale for prices varying from $3 to $11, a ZDNet investigation has discovered... Many users reported that hackers were accessing their accounts, logging them out of all devices, and then changing the account's email and password, effectively taking over the account and locking the previous owner out...

>

> Two users who spoke with ZDNet on the condition we do not share their names admitted that they reused passwords. However, other users said online that they did not, and had used passwords unique for their Disney+ accounts. This suggests that in some cases hackers gained access to accounts by using email and password combos leaked at other sites, while in other cases the Disney+ credentials might have been obtained from users infected with keylogging or info-stealing malware.

>

> The speed at which hackers have mobilized to monetize Disney+ accounts is astounding.



[1] https://www.zdnet.com/article/thousands-of-hacked-disney-accounts-are-already-for-sale-on-hacking-forums/

New Micro 3D Printing Technology Wins Prestigious NZ Engineering Award (callaghaninnovation.govt.nz)

(Saturday November 16, 2019 @05:34PM (EditorDavid) from the one-twentieth-the-width-of-a-human-hair dept.)

Long-time Slashdot reader [1]ClarkMills quotes New Zealand's Innovation Agency:

> New 3D printing technology [2]creating highly detailed objects, smaller than a strand of human hair , has won the 2019 ENVI Engineering Innovation Award (Engineering New Zealand Awards). Micromaker3D, powered by breakthrough Laminated Resin Printing (LRP), makes it easy and more accessible to create detailed submillimetre structures for applications such as sensors, wearables, point-of-care diagnostics, micro-robotics or aerospace components.... LRP enables the printing of submillimetre structures with complex geometries of up to 100 per cent density, in extraordinary low-layer thicknesses and with imaging speeds as quick as one second per layer independent of complexity or density...

>

> The judges saw MicroMaker3D as a gamechanger and believe it will spark many other innovations... The ENVI Engineering Innovation Award category is described as: "A breathtakingly clever engineering project or product that has solved an age-old problem or shifted from the 'always done this way' mentality...."

>

> Callaghan Innovation is working to take the technology global, from the development and demonstration phase to commercial reality...

Lead engineer Neil Glasson points out that while a human hair is about 100 microns in width, "we're looking at five-micron resolution."



[1] https://slashdot.org/~ClarkMills

[2] https://www.callaghaninnovation.govt.nz/MicroMaker3D-ENVI-Award

Quantum Computer Made From Photons Achieves New Record (scientificamerican.com)

(Saturday November 16, 2019 @05:34PM (EditorDavid) from the road-to-supremacy dept.)

Slashdot reader [1]hackingbear shared this article from Scientific American:

> In the race to create a quantum computer that can outperform a classical one, [2]a method using particles of light (photons) has taken a promising step forward . Jian-Wei Pan and Chao-Yang Lu, both at the University of Science and Technology of China, and their colleagues improved a quantum computing technique called boson sampling to achieve a record 14 detected photons in its final results. Previous experiments were capped at only five detected photons. The increase in the number of the particles is small, but it amounts to a 6.5-billion-fold gain in "state space," or the number of ways in which a computer system can be configured. The larger the state space, the less likely a classical computer can perform the same calculation.

>

> The result was [3]reported in a paper posted at the preprint server arXiv.org on October 22 and has yet to be peer-reviewed. But if it is confirmed, it would be an important milestone in the race for quantum-computational supremacy -- a fuzzy goalpost defined as the point where quantum computers outpace their best classical counterparts.... Pan and Lu argue in their paper that their technique is another possible route toward quantum supremacy... Part of the trouble is its limited utility. "A universal computer can solve any different type of problem," says Jonathan Dowling, a theoretical physicist at Louisiana State University, who was not involved with the research. "This can only solve one." But solving just one problem faster than a classical computer would count as a demonstration of quantum-computational supremacy...

>

> Over the past few weeks, the race for quantum computational supremacy has reached a breakneck pace. Google's quantum computer performed an operation that its scientists claim would take a classical computer 10,000 years in just 200 seconds. IBM researchers, who are also working on a quantum computer, have expressed doubts, suggesting a classical computer could solve that problem in under three days... "Quantum supremacy is like a horse race where you don't know how fast your horse is, you don't know how fast anybody else's horse is, and some of the horses are goats," Jonathan Dowling, a theoretical physicist at Louisiana State University, says. But this result, he clarifies, is not a goat.



[1] https://slashdot.org/~hackingbear

[2] https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/quantum-computer-made-from-photons-achieves-a-new-record/

[3] https://arxiv.org/abs/1910.09930

How Google Interferes With Its Search Algorithms and Changes Your Results (msn.com)

(Saturday November 16, 2019 @05:34PM (EditorDavid) from the I'm-feeling-unlucky dept.)

Long-time Slashdot reader [1]walterbyrd shared this report on "arguably the most powerful lines of computer code in the global economy," the Google algorithms that handle 3.8 million queries every single minute.

But though Google claims its algorithms are objective and autonomous, the Wall Street Journal reports Google "has increasingly re-engineered and interfered with search results to a far greater degree than the company and its executives have acknowledged":

> More than 100 interviews and the Journal's own testing of Google's search results reveal:

>

> - Google [2]made algorithmic changes to its search results that favor big businesses over smaller ones , and in at least one case made changes on behalf of a major advertiser, eBay Inc., contrary to its public position that it never takes that type of action. The company also boosts some major websites, such as Amazon.com Inc. and Facebook Inc., according to people familiar with the matter.

>

> - Google engineers regularly make behind-the-scenes adjustments to other information the company is increasingly layering on top of its basic search results. These features include auto-complete suggestions, boxes called "knowledge panels" and "featured snippets," and news results, which aren't subject to the same company policies limiting what engineers can remove or change.

>

> - Despite publicly denying doing so, Google keeps blacklists to remove certain sites or prevent others from surfacing in certain types of results... Google employees and executives, including co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, have disagreed on how much to intervene on search results and to what extent. Employees can push for revisions in specific search results, including on topics such as vaccinations and autism.

>

> - To evaluate its search results, Google employs thousands of low-paid contractors whose purpose the company says is to assess the quality of the algorithms' rankings. Even so, contractors said Google gave feedback to these workers to convey what it considered to be the correct ranking of results, and they revised their assessments accordingly, according to contractors interviewed by the Journal. The contractors' collective evaluations are then used to adjust algorithms.

>

> The Journal's findings undercut one of Google's core defenses against global regulators worried about how it wields its immense power -- that the company doesn't exert editorial control over what it shows users.



[1] https://slashdot.org/~walterbyrd

[2] https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/technology/how-google-interferes-with-its-search-algorithms-and-changes-your-results/ar-BBWOCm2

Something Strange Seems To Be Causing Distant Galaxies To Synchronize (futurism.com)

(Saturday November 16, 2019 @05:34PM (EditorDavid) from the syncing-star-to-the-right dept.)

[1]pgmrdlm quotes Futurism:

> Massive Structures

> Galaxies millions of light years away [2]seem to be connected by an unseen network of massive intergalactic structures , which force them to synchronize in ways that can't be explained by existing astrophysics, [3]Vice reports . The discoveries could force us to rethink our fundamental understanding of the universe.

>

> "The observed coherence must have some relationship with large-scale structures, because it is impossible that the galaxies separated by six megaparsecs [roughly 20 million light years] directly interact with each other," Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute astronomer Hyeop Lee told the site.

>

> There have been many instances of astronomers observing galaxies that seem to be connected and moving in sync with each other. A [4]study by Lee , published in The Astrophysical Journal in October, found that hundreds of galaxies are rotating in exactly the same way, despite being millions of light years apart. And [5]a separate study , published in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics in 2014, found supermassive black holes aligning with each other, despite being billions of light years apart.



[1] https://slashdot.org/~pgmrdlm

[2] https://futurism.com/the-byte/something-strange-synchronizing-distant-galaxies

[3] https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/zmj7pw/theres-growing-evidence-that-the-universe-is-connected-by-giant-structures

[4] https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.3847/1538-4357/ab3fa3

[5] https://www.aanda.org/articles/aa/abs/2014/12/aa24631-14/aa24631-14.html

Consumer Reports Restores 'Recommended' Ratings to Both Tesla's Model 3 and Model S (cnn.com)

(Saturday November 16, 2019 @05:34PM (EditorDavid) from the thumbs-up dept.)

"Consumer Reports has restored its coveted 'recommended' rating to the Tesla Model S and Model 3, because Tesla has made its cars more reliable," reports CNN:

> "The Tesla Model 3 struggled last year as the company made frequent design changes and ramped up production to meet demand," said Jake Fisher, senior director of auto testing at CR. "But as the production stabilized, we have seen [1]improvements to the reliability of the Model 3 and S that now allow us to recommend both models ."

>

> Although Consumer Reports says the Models S and 3 need fewer repairs, it did have some bad news for Tesla, too: The Model X SUV continues to rank among the magazine's least reliable.

The Model S had lost its recommended status last year, CNN notes. And while initially giving Tesla's Model 3 a "recommended" rating in 2018, further reliability survey data from more Tesla owners had prompted Consumer Reports to [2]remove it from its recommended list in February of this year .

The new ratings are just part of a good month for Tesla. Since [3]reporting an unexpected profit last month , Tesla's stock price has shot up more than 40%.



[1] https://www.cnn.com/2019/11/14/tech/tesla-consumer-reports/index.html

[2] https://tech.slashdot.org/story/19/02/21/2214217/consumer-reports-no-longer-recommends-the-tesla-model-3

[3] https://news.slashdot.org/story/19/10/24/0126242/tesla-returns-to-profitability-smashes-analyst-estimates

Debian Project Drafts General Resolution on Init-System Diversity (lwn.net)

(Saturday November 16, 2019 @05:34PM (EditorDavid) from the systemd-versus-elogind dept.)

Debian "is heading toward a new general resolution to [1]decide at what level init systems other than systemd should be supported ," reports LWN.net.

"I'm absolutely convinced we've reached a point where in order to respect the people trying to get work done, we need to figure out where we are as a project," [2]writes Debian project leader Sam Hartman . "We can either decide that this is work we want to facilitate, or work that we as a project decide is not important."

LWN.net reports:

> The immediate motivation for a reconsideration would appear to be [3]the proposed addition of elogind , a standalone fork of the systemd-logind daemon, to Debian. Elogind would provide support for systemd's D-Bus-based login mechanism -- needed to support small projects like the GNOME desktop -- without the need for systemd itself. The addition of elogind has been controversial; it is a difficult package to integrate for a number of reasons. Much of the discussion has evidently been carried out away from the mailing lists, but some context on the problem can be found [4]in this bug report . In short: merging elogind appears to be complex enough that it would be hard to justify in the absence of a strong commitment to the support of non-systemd init systems. It seems possible that this commitment no longer exists across the distribution as a whole; the purpose of a general resolution would be to determine whether that is the case or not.

>

> Unsurprisingly, Debian developers have a variety of opinions on this issue. [5]This response from Russ Allbery is worth reading in its entirety. He argues that the 2014 decision (of which he was a part) never really nailed down the project's position toward other init systems. That was a necessary compromise at the time, he said, but it is causing stress now: "while I feel somewhat vindicated by the fact that this didn't immediately fall apart and has sort of worked, I think it's becoming increasingly untenable".... Josh Triplett [6]zeroed in on one of the issues that is testing the init-system peace now. There is, he said, an increasingly long list of features that are only available with systemd, and application developers want to use those features... The responses to this argument took a couple of different approaches. Ted Ts'o [7]described those features as "the 'embrace, extend, and extinguish' phenomenon of systemd which caused so much fear and loathing."

There's much more information in LWN.net's 1,600-word article -- but where do things stand now? Hartman [8]posted a draft general resolution last week with three choices .

Affirm init diversity

Support "exploring" alternatives to systemd, "but believing sysvinit [9]is a distraction in achieving that ." [Marco d'Itri later noted that [10]less than 1% of new installs use sysvinit ]

"Systemd without diversity as a priority." There would be no requirement to support anything but systemd in Debian.

"It should be noted, though, that this is explicitly a draft," concludes LWN.net. "It is likely to evolve considerably before it reaches the point where the project will vote on it."



[1] https://lwn.net/SubscriberLink/804254/71240d6b83844653/

[2] https://lwn.net/ml/debian-devel-announce/tsl36fbpj4q.fsf@suchdamage.org/

[3] https://linux.slashdot.org/story/19/09/21/042213/debian-may-need-to-re-evaluate-its-interest-in-init-system-diversity

[4] https://bugs.debian.org/cgi-bin/bugreport.cgi?bug=934132

[5] https://lwn.net/ml/debian-devel/87a79jjiug.fsf@hope.eyrie.org/

[6] https://lwn.net/ml/debian-devel/20191030121402.GA14450@localhost/

[7] https://lwn.net/ml/debian-devel/20191030193017.GA3309@mit.edu/

[8] https://lwn.net/ml/debian-vote/tslk18bd0m3.fsf@suchdamage.org/

[9] https://lwn.net/ml/debian-vote/tslftivmz96.fsf_-_@suchdamage.org/

[10] https://lwn.net/ml/debian-devel/20191031092738.GC21773@bongo.bofh.it/

Pointless Work Meetings 'Really a Form of Therapy' (bbc.com)

(Saturday November 16, 2019 @05:34PM (BeauHD) from the political-science dept.)

An anonymous reader quotes a report from the BBC:

> Meetings at work [1]should be seen as a form of "therapy" rather than about decision-making , say researchers. Academics from the University of Malmo in Sweden say meetings provide an outlet for people at work to show off their status or to express frustration. Professor Patrik Hall says they are becoming increasingly frequent -- as more managerial and "strategy" jobs generate more meetings. But he says despite there being more meetings "few decisions are made." Prof Hall has investigated an apparent contradiction in how people can have a low opinion of work meetings, yet their numbers keep increasing.

>

> The political scientist says the rise in meetings reflects changes in the workforce -- with fewer people doing and making things and an increase in those involved in "meetings-intense" roles such as strategists, advisers, consultants and managers. "People don't do concrete things any more," he says. Instead he says there has been a rise of managerial roles, which are often not very well defined, and where "the hierarchy is not that clear." [...] Meetings can "arouse feelings of meaninglessness," he says. But he argues that is often missing their point. Once in a meeting -- particularly long ones -- their function can become "almost therapeutic."

Prof Hall goes on to suggest booking rooms for shorter periods, as he says meetings will expand to fill whatever time is given to them. He also says that "equality" of participants is important, otherwise a "power struggle" will emerge when the meetings are dominated by different levels of status.



[1] https://www.bbc.com/news/education-50418317

Most Americans Think They're Being Constantly Tracked, Study Finds (technologyreview.com)

(Saturday November 16, 2019 @05:34PM (BeauHD) from the always-watching dept.)

An anonymous reader quotes a report from MIT Technology Review:

> More than 60% of Americans think it's impossible to go through daily life without being tracked by companies or the government, according to [1]a new Pew Research study . It's not just that Americans (correctly) think companies are collecting their data. They don't like it. About 69% of Americans [2]are skeptical that companies will use their private information in a way they're comfortable with , while 79% don't believe that companies will come clean if they misuse the information. When it comes to who they trust, there are differences by race. About 73% of black Americans, for instance, are at least a little worried about what law enforcement knows about them, compared with 56% of white Americans. But among all respondents, more than 80% were concerned about what social-media sites and advertisers might know. Despite these concerns, more than 80% of Americans feel they have no control over how their information is collected.



[1] https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/2019/11/15/americans-and-privacy-concerned-confused-and-feeling-lack-of-control-over-their-personal-information/

[2] https://www.technologyreview.com/f/614720/privacy-pew-research-data-collection-big-tech-facebook-google-apple/

Fuel Cell Drone Makes An Epic Ocean Crossing (newatlas.com)

(Saturday November 16, 2019 @12:34PM (BeauHD) from the mission-accomplished dept.)

Earlier this week, a hydrogen-powered delivery drone [1]managed to make a one-hour, 43-minute ocean crossing . New Atlas reports:

> The exercise was the result of a collaboration between Texas-based drone development company Guinn Partners, Georgia-based Skyfire Consulting, the U.S. Department of Health, and drone manufacturer Doosan Mobility Innovation -- the latter supplied the aircraft, a hydrogen fuel cell-powered DS30 octocopter. Utilizing its temperature-controlled payload system, the drone was used to transport live bacteria samples from a hospital on the Caribbean island of St. Croix to a testing facility on the neighboring island of St. Thomas. This involved crossing 43 miles (69 km) of open ocean. Upon successfully reaching its destination, the copter reportedly still had almost 30 minutes of flight time left on its fuel cell.



[1] https://newatlas.com/drones/fuel-cell-drone-ocean-crossing/

Ancestry Taps AI To Sift Through Millions of Obituaries

(Saturday November 16, 2019 @05:34PM (msmash) from the how-about-that dept.)

Algorithms identified death notices in old newspaper pages, then [1]another set of algorithms pulled names and other key details into a searchable database . From a report:

> Ancestry used artificial intelligence to extract obituary details hidden in a half-billion digitized newspaper pages dating back to 1690, data invaluable for customers building their family trees. The family history and consumer-genomics company, based in Lehi, Utah, began the project in late 2017 and introduced the new functionality last month. Through its subsidiary Newspapers.com, the company had a trove of newspaper pages, including obituaries -- but it said that manually finding and importing those death notices to Ancestry.com in a form that was usable for customers would likely have taken years. Instead, Ancestry tasked its 24-person data-science team with having technology pinpoint and make sense of the data. The team trained machine-learning algorithms to recognize obituary content in those 525 million newspaper pages. It then trained another set of algorithms to detect and index key facts from the obituaries, such as names of the deceased's spouse and children, birth dates, birthplaces and more.

>

> Ancestry, which has about 3.5 million subscribers, now offers about 262 million obituaries, up from roughly 40 million two years ago. Its database includes about a billion names associated with obituaries, including names of the deceased and their relatives. Besides analyzing the trove of old newspaper pages, the algorithms were also applied to online obituaries coming into Ancestry's database, making them more searchable. Before the AI overhaul, the roughly 40 million obituaries on Ancestry.com were searchable only by the name of the deceased. That meant a search for "Mary R. Smith," for instance, would yield obituaries only for people with that name -- not other obituaries that mentioned that name as a sibling or child.



[1] https://www.wsj.com/articles/ancestry-taps-ai-to-sift-through-millions-of-obituaries-11573554603

'Algorithms Are Like Convex Mirrors That Refract Human Biases' (venturebeat.com)

(Saturday November 16, 2019 @05:34PM (msmash) from the closer-look dept.)

Emil Protalinski, [1]writing for VentureBeat :

> At the Movethedial Global Summit in Toronto yesterday, I listened intently to a talk titled "No polite fictions: What AI reveals about humanity." Kathryn Hume, Borealis AI's director of product, listed a bunch of AI and algorithmic failures -- we've seen plenty of that. But it was how Hume described algorithms that really stood out to me. " [2]Algorithms are like convex mirrors that refract human biases, but do it in a pretty blunt way ," Hume said. "They don't permit polite fictions like those that we often sustain our society with." I really like this analogy. It's probably the best one I've heard so far, because it doesn't end there. Later in her talk, Hume took it further, after discussing an algorithm biased against black people used to predict future criminals in the U.S.

>

> "These systems don't permit polite fictions," Hume said. "They're actually a mirror that can enable us to directly observe what might be wrong in society so that we can fix it. But we need to be careful, because if we don't design these systems well, all that they're going to do is encode what's in the data and potentially amplify the prejudices that exist in society today." If an algorithm is designed poorly or -- as almost anyone in AI will tell you nowadays -- if your data is inherently biased, the result will be too. Chances are you've heard this so often it's been hammered into your brain.



[1] https://venturebeat.com/2019/11/14/hypernet-labs-raises-10-million-to-democratize-data-science/

[2] https://venturebeat.com/2019/11/14/hypernet-labs-raises-10-million-to-democratize-data-science/

Web Summit Cancels Next Year's Rise, One of Asia's Largest Tech Conferences, Over Tension in Hong Kong (techcrunch.com)

(Saturday November 16, 2019 @05:34PM (msmash) from the strange-times dept.)

The ongoing tension in Hong Kong between the government and pro-democracy protesters continues to spill into the tech domain. From a report:

> Rise, which is among the largest tech conferences in Asia, will [1]not run next year as planned due to "the ongoing situation in Hong Kong," according to Web Summit, the Ireland-based company that organizes the show. The organizer said it is postponing the sixth edition of its annual conference, which is held in Hong Kong, to March 2021 from March 2020. Web Summit, which hosts similar large-scale conferences in other parts of the world, made the announcement today in an email to previous attendees. A spokesperson confirmed the veracity of the email to TechCrunch. "Over recent months, we have been monitoring the ongoing situation in Hong Kong. Our number one concern is the wellbeing, safety, and security of attendees at our events," it said in a statement. "Given the uncertainty of the situation by early 2020 and after consulting with experts and advisories, we have decided to postpone RISE until 2021."



[1] https://techcrunch.com/2019/11/15/rise-conference-2020-2021/

Google Chrome Experiment Crashes Browser Tabs, Impacts Companies Worldwide (zdnet.com)

(Saturday November 16, 2019 @05:34PM (msmash) from the watch-out dept.)

A Google Chrome experiment has gone horribly wrong this week and [1]ended up crashing browsers on thousands, if not more, enterprise networks for nearly two days . From a report:

> The issue first appeared on Wednesday, November 13. It didn't impact all Chrome users, but only Chrome browsers running on Windows Server "terminal server" setups -- a very common setup in enterprise networks According to hundreds of reports, users said that Chrome tabs were going blank, all of a sudden, in what's called a "White Screen of Death" (WSOD) error. The issue was no joke. System administrators at many companies reported that hundreds and thousands of employees couldn't use Chrome to access the internet, as the active browser tab kept going blank while working. In tightly controlled enterprise environments, many employees didn't have the option to change browsers and were left unable to do their jobs. Similarly, system administrators couldn't just replace Chrome with another browser right away.



[1] https://www.zdnet.com/article/google-chrome-experiment-crashes-browser-tabs-impacts-companies-worldwide/

US Workers Show Little Improvement In 21st Century Skills

(Saturday November 16, 2019 @05:34PM (BeauHD) from the basic-skills-or-lack-thereof dept.)

A new government agency report found that U.S. workers are [1]failing to improve the skills needed to succeed in an increasingly global economy . Bloomberg reports:

> The National Center for Education Statistics asked 3,300 respondents ages 16-to-65 to read simple passages and solve basic math problems. What the researchers found is that literacy, numeracy and digital problem-solving ability in the U.S. have stagnated over the past few years. Some 19% of the test-takers ranked at the lowest of three levels for literacy and 24% lacked basic digital problem-solving abilities. Meanwhile, a shocking 29% performed at the lowest level for numeracy, the same as findings from the previous study conducted in 2012-2014. Almost one in three couldn't correctly answer "how much gas is in a 24-gallon tank if the gas gauge reads three-quarters full."

>

> There were a few bright spots among the research. Latino adults saw their overall scores improve in both literacy and digital problem solving. Some 35% ranked at the highest of three levels for the latter, up from 24% during the 2012-2014 survey period. In addition, high school graduation rates climbed 2 percentage-points to 14%, while the percentage of people with more than a high school diploma jumped 3 percentage-points to 48%.



[1] https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-11-15/u-s-workers-show-little-improvement-in-21st-century-skills

Ghost Ships, Crop Circles, and Soft Gold: A GPS Mystery in Shanghai (technologyreview.com)

(Saturday November 16, 2019 @12:34PM (msmash) from the stranger-things dept.)

An anonymous reader shares a report:

> One night last summer, a ship called the MV Manukai arrived at the port of Shanghai. It would be the American container ship's last stop in China before making its long homeward journey to Long Beach, California. As the crew carefully maneuvered the 700-foot ship through the world's busiest port, its captain watched his navigation screens closely. They showed another ship steaming up the same channel at about seven knots (eight miles per hour). Suddenly, it disappeared from the display. Then it reappeared, then disappeared again. Eventually, mystified, the captain picked up his binoculars and scanned the dockside. The other ship had been stationary at the dock the entire time.

>

> When it came time for the Manukai to head for its own berth, the bridge began echoing to multiple alarms. Both of the ship's GPS units had lost their signals, and its transponder had failed. Even a last-ditch emergency distress system could not get a fix. Now, new research shows the Manukai and thousands of other vessels in Shanghai are falling victim to a mysterious new weapon that can spoof GPS systems. Who could be behind it? The Chinese state? Or could it be daring and sophisticated sand thieves? Read [1]MIT Technology Review story to find out more .



[1] https://www.technologyreview.com/s/614689/ghost-ships-crop-circles-and-soft-gold-a-gps-mystery-in-shanghai/

Germany Forces Apple To Let Other Mobile Wallet Services Use iPhone's NFC Chip

(Saturday November 16, 2019 @12:34PM (BeauHD) from the open-access dept.)

A new German law passed yesterday [1]requires Apple to allow other mobile payments services access to the iPhone's NFC chip for payments to allow them to fully compete with Apple Pay. 9to5Mac reports:

> Apple initially completely locked down the NFC chip so that it could be used only by Apple Pay. It later allowed some third-party apps to use the chip but has always refused to do so for other mobile payment apps. [2]Reuters reports that the law doesn't name Apple specifically, but would apply to the tech giant. The piece somewhat confusingly refers to access to the NFC chip by third-party payment apps as Apple Pay.

>

> "A German parliamentary committee unexpectedly voted in a late-night session on Wednesday to force the tech giant to open up Apple Pay to rival providers in Germany," reports Reuters. "This came in the form of an amendment to an anti-money laundering law that was adopted late on Thursday by the full parliament and is set to come into effect early next year. The legislation, which did not name Apple specifically, will force operators of electronic money infrastructure to offer access to rivals for a reasonable fee." Apple says that the change would be harmful: "We are surprised at how suddenly this legislation was introduced. We fear that the draft law could be harmful to user friendliness, data protection and the security of financial information."



[1] https://9to5mac.com/2019/11/15/use-nfc-chip/

[2] https://www.reuters.com/article/us-apple-germany-apple-pay/apple-warns-of-risks-from-german-law-to-open-up-mobile-payments-idUSKBN1XP16M?feedType=RSS&feedName=technologyNews&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+reuters%2FtechnologyNews+(Reuters+Technology+News)

Google Cancels Weekly All-Hands Meetings Amid Growing Workplace Tensions

(Saturday November 16, 2019 @12:34PM (BeauHD) from the workplace-tensions dept.)

An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNBC:

> Google is getting rid of one of its best-known workplace features: TGIF, its weekly all-hands meeting. The company confirmed to CNBC that [1]it will instead hold monthly all-hands meetings that will be focused on business and strategy while holding separate town halls for "workplace issues." An email announcing the change was previously [2]reported by The Verge .

>

> Founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin started TGIFs in 1999 as a forum where employees could regularly express concerns and discuss topics open and freely with management. At that time, the company was small enough to fit in a meeting room, but the all-hands continued to grow as the employee base grew -- until recently, that is. Page and Brin stopped attending regularly in 2019. A company spokesperson said that the meetings had recently become a bi-weekly instead of weekly occurrence. The new model comes as the company cracks down on the open work culture that's long been part of its identity of holding free discussion. Employees have increasingly [3]voiced their concerns about everything from the handling of sexual harassment to government hires and contracts. In recent months, employees have leaked meeting notes to the media, which have shown growing tension between executives and workers.

"In other places -- like TGIF -- our scale is challenging us to evolve," Pichai said in a memo to employees this week. "TGIF has traditionally provided a place to come together, share progress, and ask questions, but it's not working in its current form."

"We're unfortunately seeing a coordinated effort to share our conversations outside of the company after every TGIF," the note reportedly states. "I know this is new information to many of you, and it has affected our ability to use TGIF as a forum for candid conversations on important topics."



[1] https://www.cnbc.com/2019/11/15/google-cancels-tgif-weekly-all-hands-meetings.html

[2] https://www.theverge.com/2019/11/15/20966718/google-weekly-all-hands-tgif-staff-meeting-changes-ceo-sundar-pichai

[3] https://tech.slashdot.org/story/18/11/01/2146249/google-employees-stage-protest-over-handling-of-sexual-harassment

Hulu Boosts the Price of Its Live-TV Service (bloomberg.com)

(Saturday November 16, 2019 @06:45AM (msmash) from the they-want-more-money dept.)

Hulu said Friday it will increase the price of its online cable TV alternative product [1]Hulu Live by $10 to $55 a month in what is the latest sign providers are having trouble making money on discounted packages of channels that rival cable. From a report:

> Hulu Live, which offers about 60 channels such as ESPN and CNN, was first introduced two years ago. The price increase takes effect Dec. 18, the company said in a statement. So-called skinny bundles -- cheaper online alternatives to cable packages -- have struggled recently as budget-conscious consumers seem more willing to just cut out traditional cable networks entirely. Sony is [2]shutting down its offering, PlayStation Vue, in January .



[1] https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-11-15/hulu-boosts-price-of-live-tv-service-in-industry-s-latest-hike

[2] https://entertainment.slashdot.org/story/19/10/29/1956238/sony-is-closing-vue-its-pay-tv-streaming-service-you-never-used

White House Unveils Rules Requiring Online Disclosure of Hospital Prices

(Saturday November 16, 2019 @12:34PM (BeauHD) from the full-disclosure dept.)

[1]schwit1 shares a report from The Hill:

> The Trump administration on Friday [2]unveiled new rules to require increased disclosure of health care prices , in a move officials said would drive down costs by increasing competition. One regulation would require hospitals to provide a consumer-friendly online page where prices are listed for 300 common procedures like X-rays and lab tests. A second regulation would require insurers to provide an online tool where people could compare their out-of-pocket costs at different medical providers before receiving treatment. The rule announced Friday affecting hospitals is a final rule, set to take effect Jan. 1, 2021. The rule for insurers is still a proposal that is not yet finalized.

"Hospitals and insurers will fight this. The last thing they want is consumers price shopping," adds schwit1.



[1] https://slashdot.org/~schwit1

[2] https://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/470620-white-house-unveils-rules-requiring-online-disclosure-of-hospital-prices

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