Linux fréttir

Hitchhiker's Guide To the Galaxy: New Research Says #42 Really Is Our Number

Slashdot - Sun, 2021-01-31 17:34
Just 11 months before his death in 2001, famous author Douglas Adams answered questions from Slashdot readers. And Slashdot reader Informativity still remembers how Adams (also a Doctor Who script editor) had included a supercomputer named Deep Thought in his first book which spent 7.5 million years to determine that the answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything, was...the number 42: Turns out the entire universe is a product of the number 42, specifically 42 times the collection of lm/2t, such that l, m and t are the Planck Units. In a newly published paper, Measurement Quantization Describes the Physical Constants , both the constants and laws of nature are resolved from a simple geometry between two frames of reference, the non-discrete Target Frame of the universe and the discrete Measurement Frame of the observer. Its only and primary connection to our physical reality is a scalar, 42. Forty-two is what defines our universe from say any other version of our universe. So, while Douglas Adams may have just been picking numbers out of the sky when writing Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, it turns out he picked the right number, the one that defines ... well ... everything. In addition to presenting new descriptions for most of the physical constants (descriptions that don't reference other physical constants), the paper is also noted for presenting a classical unification of gravity and electromagnetism. One more interesting piece of trivia. Wikipedia reminds us that in January 2004, asteroid 2001 DA42 was given the permanent name 25924 Douglasadams... Brian G. Marsden, the director of the Minor Planet Center and the secretary for the naming committee, remarked that, with even his initials in the provisional designation, "This was sort of made for him, wasn't it?"

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Researchers Try Using CRISPR To Genetically Engineer Zika-Resistant Mosquitoes

Slashdot - Sun, 2021-01-31 16:34
A new research study at the University of Missouri is using CRISPR gene-editing technology to produce mosquitoes that are unable to replicate Zika virus and therefore cannot infect a human through biting. Slashdot reader wooloohoo shared an announcement from Cornell's Alliance for Science: Alexander Franz, an associate professor in the MU College of Veterinary Medicine, collaborated with researchers at Colorado State University... Their work was recently published in the journal Viruses. Franz added that the genetic modification is inheritable, so future generations of the altered mosquitoes would be resistant to Zika virus as well... "[W]e are simply trying to expand the toolbox and provide a solution by genetically modifying the mosquitoes to become Zika-resistant while keeping them alive at the same time." Franz' research is designed to help prevent another outbreak of Zika virus disease from occurring while also addressing concerns that have some have raised about reducing populations of mosquitoes, which are a food source for some animals... The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health.

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Are We Overestimating the Number of COBOL Transactions Each Day?

Slashdot - Sun, 2021-01-31 15:34
An anonymous Slashdot reader warns of a possible miscalculation: 20 years ago today, cobolreport.com published an article, according to which there are 30 billion Customer Information Control System/COBOL transactions per day. This number has since been cited countless times... [T]his number is still to be found in the marketing of most COBOL service providers, compiler vendors (IBM, Micro-Focus and others) and countless articles about how relevant COBOL supposedly still was. The article originally reported 30 billion "CICS transactions", but within 2 years it had already been turned into "COBOL transactions"... The "30 billion" likely originates from a DataPro survey in 1997, in which they still reported 20 billion transactions per day. Only 421 companies participated in that survey. They actually scaled the results from such a small survey up to the IT-market of the entire world! That same survey is also the source of many other numbers that are still to be found in the marketing of COBOL compiler vendors and articles: - There are 200 billion lines of COBOL Code - That's 60-80% of all the source codes in the world [sic] - 5 billion lines of COBOL code are newly written each year - There are 2 million COBOL developers in the world - COBOL processes 95% of all "in person transactions", "ATM swipes" or similar DataPro was bought by Gartner Inc. in 1997. Since then, all the numbers are reported to come "from Gartner". Only very early sources quote DataPro as their source. Some of these numbers are obvious nonsense. The explanation for this is that DataPro had only surveyed mainframe owners. So it only says that 60-80% of all the source codes on mainframes are written in COBOL (which is plausible at least for 1997). And only 95% of all credit companies that have mainframes use their mainframes for processing credit card transactions. Considering the low participation, we are probably talking about 19 of 20 credit companies here.

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Firefox 85 Isolated Supercookies, But Dropped Progressive Web App Support

Slashdot - Sun, 2021-01-31 12:34
Tech blogger Paul Thurrott writes: Firefox 85 now protects users against supercookies, which Mozilla says is "a type of tracker that can stay hidden in your browser and track you online, even after you clear cookies. By isolating supercookies, Firefox prevents them from tracking your web browsing from one site to the next." It also includes small improvements to bookmarks and password management. Unfortunately, Mozilla has separately — and much more quietly — stopped work on Site Specific Browser (SSB) functionality... This feature allowed users to use Firefox to create apps on the local PC from Progressive Web Apps and other web apps, similar to the functionality provided in Chrome, Microsoft Edge, and other Chromium-based web browsers. "The SSB feature has only ever been available through a hidden [preference] and has multiple known bugs," Mozilla's Dave Townsend explains in a Bugzilla issue tracker. "Additionally, user research found little to no perceived user benefit to the feature and so there is no intent to continue development on it at this time. As the feature is costing us time in terms of bug triage and keeping it around is sending the wrong signal that this is a supported feature, we are going to remove the feature from Firefox." Thurrott's conclusion? "Mozilla is walking away from a key tenet of modern web apps and, in doing so, they are making themselves irrelevant."

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Perl.com Domain Stolen, Now Using IP Address of Past Malware Campaigns

Slashdot - Sun, 2021-01-31 08:34
"The domain name perl.com was stolen and now points to an IP address associated with malware campaigns," reports Bleeping Computer: Perl.com is a site owned by Tom Christiansen and has been used since 1997 to post news and articles about the Perl programming language. On January 27th, Perl programming author and Perl.com editor brian d foy tweeted that the perl.com domain was suddenly registered under another person. Intellectual property lawyer John Berryhill later replied to the tweet that the domain was stolen in September 2020 while at Network Solutions, transferred to a registrar in China on Christmas Day, and finally moved to the Key-Systems registrar on January 27th, 2020. It wasn't until the last transfer that the IP addresses assigned to the domain were changed from 151.101.2.132 to the Google Cloud IP address 35.186.238[.]101... On the 28th, d foy tweeted that they have set up perl.com temporarily at http://perldotcom.perl.org for users who wish to access the site until the domain is recovered... d foy has told BleepingComputer that it is not believed that the domain owner's account was hacked and that they are currently working with Network solutions and Key-Systems to resolve the issue. "I do know from direct communication with the Network Solutions and Key Systems that they are working on this and that the perl.com domain is locked. Tom Christiansen, the rightful owner, is going through the recovery process with those registrars." "Both registrars, along with a few others, reached out to me personally to offer help and guidance. We are confident that we will be able to recover the domain, but I do not have a timetable for that," d foy told BleepingComputer. The IP address that perl.com is now hosted has a long history of being used in older malware campaigns and more recent ones. "Anyone using a perl.com host for their CPAN mirror should use www.cpan.org instead," advises an announcement page today at Perl.org, which d foy tweeted "is now going to be the source for the latest http://Perl.com info." On Thursday d foy tweeted that "There's no news on the recovery progress. Everyone who needs to be talking is talking to each other and it's just a process now."

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Will Mark Zuckerberg Retire From Facebook in 2022?

Slashdot - Sun, 2021-01-31 05:34
Among tech pundit Robert Cringley's predictions for 2021? "This year is going to be a tough one for Mark Zuckerberg." [W]hile I don't expect Zuckerberg to abandon his CEO job this year, he eventually will, simply because it isn't as much fun as it used to be and there will come a point (maybe in 2022) when leaving the top job will help Facebook's stock... Zuckerberg no longer has any who have faced what he is facing today. He has outgrown his own psychological support system... Zuckerberg's primary role models have been Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Larry Page. Each modeled different ways to manage through dominance. Steve was a brilliant tyrant ("I know I'm an asshole," he told me more than once); Bill tried to technically dominate by claiming to identify bad code from across a room (he really can't); Larry taught by example to hide behind the algorithm, blaming it for, well, everything from nonexistent customer service to employee income inequality. The only unique truly self-actualized character in this mentor group was Steve Jobs and Steve is dead... But none of those guys faced what Zuckerberg faces today, calling all the shots and making all the hard calls by himself. That has to be exhausting... [T]he social media market is in transition and none of my kids have Facebook accounts, which I think is telling... And so 2021 will see Facebook poked and prodded and taxed and regulated and possibly even torn apart. Google will be, too, but Facebook is frankly less essential and more vulnerable. How Zuckerberg responds will be where he blazes his own managerial trail. However it goes will take a toll, though, and even Zuck will eventually decide it's better to become a philanthropist and find some new way to change the world. Though probably not until 2022.

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With New User-Defined Functions, Microsoft Excel is Now Turing Complete

Slashdot - Sun, 2021-01-31 02:34
Visual Studio Magazine reports: Microsoft, which calls its Excel spreadsheet a programming language, reports that an effort called LAMBDA to make it even more of a programming language is paying off, recently being deemed Turing complete. Being Turing complete is the litmus test of a full-fledged programming language, marking the ability to imitate a Turing machine. According to one definition, that means, "A programming language is Turing complete if you can implement any possible algorithm with it." And that's exactly what LAMBDA can now do. "You can now, in principle, write any computation in the Excel formula language," said Microsoft researchers in a Jan. 25 blog post. To get there, researchers at the Calc Intelligence project addressed two shortcomings to the LAMBDA project, which is conducted in coordination with the Excel team and which was first announced early last month. They are: - The Excel formula language supported only scalar values like numbers, strings and Booleans - It didn't let users define new functions.... "Moreover, even if it takes greater skill and knowledge to author a lambda, it takes no extra skill to call it," researchers said. "LAMBDA allows skilled authors to extend Excel with application-domain-specific functions that appear seamlessly part of Excel to their colleagues, who simply call them. "It will be interesting to see how users continue to experiment with and apply not only LAMBDA but also data types and dynamic arrays. We believe these new functional programming features will transform how people make decisions with Excel." And there is certainly a large audience of both programmers and coders, as Microsoft claims "Excel formulas are written by an order of magnitude more users than all the C, C++, C#, Java, and Python programmers in the world combined." Towards the end the article points out that right now to actually use the new feature, "you have to be a member of the Insiders: Beta program."

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'Recovering' QAnon Members Seek Help from Therapists, Subreddits, and On Telegram

Slashdot - Sun, 2021-01-31 00:34
"More than at any point since the QAnon conspiracy began, there is a tremendous opportunity to pull disaffected followers out of the conspiracy," writes FiveThirtyEight. And while it's just one of three possible scenarios, online posts suggest at least some members are abandoning the group, "but they will need support to really sever their connection." ABC News reports that some QAnon adherents "are turning to therapy and online support groups to talk about the damage done when beliefs collide with reality," including Ceally Smith, a working single mom in Kansas City: "We as a society need to start teaching our kids to ask: Where is this information coming from? Can I trust it?" she said. "Anyone can cut and paste anything." After a year, Smith wanted out, suffocated by dark prophesies that were taking up more and more of her time, leaving her terrified.... Another ex-believer, Jitarth Jadeja, now moderates a Reddit forum called QAnon Casualties to help others like him, as well as the relatives of people still consumed by the theory. Membership has doubled in recent weeks to more than 119,000 members. Three new moderators had to be added just to keep up. "They are our friends and family," said Jadeja, of Sydney, Australia. "It's not about who is right or who is wrong. I'm here to preach empathy, for the normal people, the good people who got brainwashed by this death cult." His advice to those fleeing QAnon? Get off social media, take deep breaths, and pour that energy and internet time into local volunteering. Michael Frink is a Mississippi computer engineer who helps administer a QAnon recovery channel on the social media platform Telegram. He said that while mocking the group has never been more popular online, it will only further alienate people. Frink said he never believed in the QAnon theory but sympathizes with those who did. "I think after the inauguration a lot of them realized they've been taken for a ride," he said. The New York Times tells the story of one Bernie Sanders supporter who entered — and then exited — the QAnon movement: Those who do leave are often filled with shame. Sometimes their addiction was so severe that they have become estranged from family and friends... "We felt we were coming from a place of moral superiority. We were part of a special club." Meanwhile, her family was eating takeout all the time since she had stopped cooking and her stress levels had shot up, causing her blood pressure medication to stop working. Her doctor, worried, doubled her dose... When she first left QAnon, she felt a lot of shame and guilt. It was also humbling: Ms. Perron, who has a master's degree, had looked down on Scientologists as people who believed crazy things. But there she was... She agreed to speak for this article to help others who are still in the throes of QAnon. And CNN reporter Anderson Cooper recently interviewed a recovering QAnon supporter, who tells him there were many theories about Cooper, including one that said he was actually a robot. The embarrassed former QAnon supporter admits that he had once believed that the people behind Q "were actually a group of 5th dimensional, intra-dimensional, extraterrestrial bi-pedal bird aliens called blue avians." During that interview, he also tells Anderson Cooper, "I apologize for thinking that you ate babies."

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Nominet faces showdown with British internet industry: Extraordinary vote called to oust CEO, board

TheRegister - Sun, 2021-01-31 00:01
Ex-BBC chairman, former RIPE NCC boss lined up to run .UK registry as caretakers if campaign successful

The UK internet industry has called for the ousting of the CEO and board of Nominet – the organization that operates the .uk registry – accusing them of lining their own pockets at the expense of charitable causes and millions of ordinary Brits.…

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The Problems of Touchscreens In the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter

Slashdot - Sat, 2021-01-30 23:34
Long-time Slashdot reader AmiMoJo quotes a recent blog post from BoingBoing: The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is the most crammed-with-digital-tech fighter jet in history, the product of a multi-decade, trillion-dollar design process that has been famously messy. But the jet is out there, and pilots are flying it. One big design shift with the F-35 is that it removes many of the small physical switches that crowded older jet cockpits, and replaces them with a big touchscreen... The folks at the Husk-Kit aviation magazine got an (anonymous) pilot of the F-35 to give their candid assessment of the plane, and it turns out the touchscreen causes some serious problems — for this pilot, anyway, an astounding error rate of 20% while trying to activate a feature.

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Could This Powerful New Fusion Rocket Thruster Propel Us Beyond Mars?

Slashdot - Sat, 2021-01-30 21:34
Long-time Slashdot reader schwit1 shared this article from Sky.com: Dr. Fatima Ebrahimi "has invented a new fusion rocket thruster concept which could power humans to Mars and beyond," writes Sky.com Long-time Slashdot reader schwit1 shared their report: The physicist who works for the U.S. Department of Energy's Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory designed the rocket which will use magnetic fields to shoot plasma particles — electrically charged gas — into the vacuum of space. According to Newton's second and third laws of motion, the conservation of momentum would mean the rocket was propelled forwards — and at speeds 10 times faster than comparable devices. While current space-proven plasma propulsion engines use electric fields to propel the particles, the new rocket design would accelerate them using magnetic reconnection... Dr. Ebrahimi's new concept performs much better than existing plasma thrusters in computer simulations — generating exhaust with velocities of hundreds of kilometres per second, 10 times faster than those of other thrusters. That faster velocity at the beginning of a spacecraft's journey could bring the outer planets within reach of astronauts, the physicist said.... "The next step is building a prototype!"

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Phone Numbers For 533 Million Facebook Users Were Being Sold On Telegram

Slashdot - Sat, 2021-01-30 20:34
Slashdot reader DevNull127 writes: This week a security researcher discovered a bot on Telegram that sold the phone numbers of Facebook users for $20 apiece. "The security researcher who found this vulnerability, Alon Gal, says that the person who runs the bot claims to have the information of 533 million users, which came from a Facebook vulnerability that was patched in 2019," reported the Verge. Motherboard reported the bot was also offering "bulk" pricing, selling 10,000 phone numbers for $5,000. Telegram told the New York Post that they'd blocked the bot Tuesday morning, while Facebook downplayed the incident, reminding the Post "This is old data." But the Post notes that Facebook already had more than 1.6 billion daily active users in September 2019, and security researcher Alon Gal posted a count of the millions of affected users in each country, finding 32,315,282 in America, 11,522,328 in the United Kingdom, 7,320,478 in Australia, and 3,494,385 in Canada. But the Verge points out the most ominous message of the breach: that ""the data is still out there on the web" — and that it's already resurfaced, more than once, in the days since it was initially scraped.

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Study Finds The Least-Affordable City for Tech Workers: Silicon Valley's San Jose

Slashdot - Sat, 2021-01-30 19:34
The Bay Area Newsgroup reports: Despite high salaries and world-class amenities, San Jose is the least affordable place for tech workers to buy a home. [Alternate URL here] A new analysis by the American Enterprise Institute found the typical tech worker and his or her partner — with two incomes totaling $200,000 — can afford just 12 percent of the homes for sale in the San Jose metro area. The picture in San Francisco and the East Bay is nearly as bad, with just 21 percent of homes for sale fitting in the budget of an average tech couple. The high-hurdles to home ownership are fueling a Bay Area exodus that has contributed to the state's sluggish population growth in recent years, researchers say. Study author Ed Pinto, director of the AEI Housing Center, said tech workers can afford their pick of homes in almost every other U.S. city. "But in those places like San Jose, San Francisco and Los Angeles," he said, "that is not the case." The analysis gives another explanation for the Bay Area exodus. And it's not only workers who are leaving. Tech heavyweights HPE and Oracle have announced moves of their headquarters from Silicon Valley to Texas. Pinto believes the spread of remote work will only accelerate migration from the Bay Area. With new workplace flexibilities, tech workers have a choice between high-cost regions near their offices and low-cost regions with bigger houses and remote work. "Work from home is winning," he said.

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Are the US Military's GPS Tests Threatening Airline Safety?

Slashdot - Sat, 2021-01-30 18:34
Long-time Slashdot reader cusco quotes a new report from IEEE Spectrum: In August 2018, a passenger aircraft in Idaho, flying in smoky conditions, reportedly suffered GPS interference from military tests and was saved from crashing into a mountain only by the last-minute intervention of an air traffic controller. "Loss of life can happen because air traffic control and a flight crew believe their equipment are working as intended, but are in fact leading them into the side of the mountain," wrote the controller. "Had [we] not noticed, that flight crew and the passengers would be dead...." There are some 90 reports on NASA's Aviation Safety Reporting System forum detailing GPS interference in the United States over the past eight years, the majority of which were filed in 2019 and 2020. Now IEEE Spectrum has new evidence that GPS disruption to commercial aviation is much more common than even the ASRS database suggests. Previously undisclosed Federal Aviation Administration data for a few months in 2017 and 2018 detail hundreds of aircraft losing GPS reception in the vicinity of military tests. On a single day in March 2018, 21 aircraft reported GPS problems to air traffic controllers near Los Angeles. These included a medevac helicopter, several private planes, and a dozen commercial passenger jets. Some managed to keep flying normally; others required help from air traffic controllers. Five aircraft reported making unexpected turns or navigating off course. In all likelihood, there are many hundreds, possibly thousands, of such incidents each year nationwide, each one a potential accident. The vast majority of this disruption can be traced back to the U.S. military, which now routinely jams GPS signals over wide areas on an almost daily basis somewhere in the country. The military is jamming GPS signals to develop its own defenses against GPS jamming. Ironically, though, the Pentagon's efforts to safeguard its own troops and systems are putting the lives of civilian pilots, passengers, and crew at risk... Todd E. Humphreys, director of the Radionavigation Laboratory at the University of Texas at Austin, says. "When something works well 99.99 percent of the time, humans don't do well in being vigilant for that 0.01 percent of the time that it doesn't."

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'Terms of Service' Agreements Are Unbalanced, Need Reforming, Urges New York Times

Slashdot - Sat, 2021-01-30 17:34
"The same legalese that can ban Donald Trump from Twitter can bar users from joining class-action lawsuits," warns the official Editorial Board of the New York Times, urging "It's time to fix the fine print." [Alternate URL here] [M]ost people have no idea what is signed away when they click "agree" to binding terms of service contracts — again and again on phones, laptops, tablets, watches, e-readers and televisions. Agreeing often means allowing personal data to be resold or waiving the right to sue or join a class-action lawsuit... Because corporations and their lawyers know most consumers don't have the time or wherewithal to study their new terms, which can stretch to 20,000 words — about the length of Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar" — they stuff them with opaque provisions and lengthy legalistic explanations meant to confuse or obfuscate. Understanding a typical company's terms, according to one study, requires 14 years of education, which is beyond the level most Americans attain. A 2012 Carnegie Mellon study found that the average American would have to devote 76 work days just to read over tech companies' policies. That number would probably be much higher today. At its core, the arrangement is unbalanced, putting the burden on consumers to read through voluminous, nonnegotiable documents, written to benefit corporations in exchange for access to their services. It's hard to imagine, by contrast, being asked to sign a 60-page printed contract before entering a bowling alley or a florist shop... Though courts have held terms of service contracts to be binding, there is generally no legal requirement that companies make them comprehensible. It is understandable, then, that companies may feel emboldened to insert terms that advantage them at their customers' expense. That includes provisions that most consumers wouldn't knowingly agree to: an inability to delete one's own account, granting companies the right to claim credit for or alter their creative work, letting companies retain content even after a user deletes it, letting them gain access to a user's full browsing history and giving them blanket indemnity. More often than not, there is a clause (including for The New York Times's website) that the terms can be updated at any time without prior notice. Some terms approach the absurd. Food and ride-share companies, like DoorDash and Lyft, ask users to agree that the companies are not delivery or transportation businesses, a sleight of hand designed to give the companies license to treat their contract drivers as employees while also sheltering the companies from liability for whatever may happen on a ride or delivery. Handy, an on-demand housecleaning service, once sought in its terms of service to put customers on the hook for future tax liabilities should their contract workers' job classification be changed to employee... "This is one of the tools used by corporations to assert themselves over their customers and whittle away their rights," said Nancy Kim, a California Western School of Law professor who studies online contracts. "With their constant updates to terms and conditions, it amounts to a massive bait-and-switch...." "We have become so beaten down by this that we just accept it," said Woodrow Hartzog, a Northeastern University law professor. "The idea that anyone should be expected to read these terms of service is preposterous — they are written to discourage people from reading them...." The Board urges the U.S. Congress to consider requiring greater transparency about terms and their changes — as well as simpler explanations. "If a company's online service is open to 13-year-olds, as many are, then the terms of use need to be written so an eighth grader can understand them."

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Can Oklahoma Return Its $2 Million Stockpile of Hydroxychloroquine?

Slashdot - Sat, 2021-01-30 16:34
A nonprofit watchdog news site in Tulsa, Oklahoma reports: The Oklahoma Attorney General's Office has been tasked with attempting to return a $2 million stockpile of a malaria drug once touted by former President Donald Trump as a way to treat the coronavirus. In April, Gov. Kevin Stitt, who ordered the hydroxychloroquine purchase, defended it by saying that while it may not be a useful treatment for the coronavirus, the drug had multiple other uses and "that money will not have gone to waste in any respect." But nearly a year later the state is trying to offload the drug back to its original supplier, California-based FFF Enterprises, Inc, a private pharmaceutical wholesaler... It's unclear yet how much of the initial $2 million investment in the hydroxychloroquine the state could recoup. "While governments in at least 20 other states obtained more than 30 million doses of the drug through donations from the federal reserve or private companies, Oklahoma and Utah bought them from private pharmaceutical companies," notes ABC News: Then-Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, a Republican, initially defended the state's $800,000 purchase of 20,000 packets of hydroxychloroquine compounded with zinc, but later canceled an additional plan to spend $8 million more to buy 200,000 more treatments. The state then managed to secure a refund on the $800,000 no-bid contract it signed with a local pharmacy company that had been promoting the drugs. The CEO of the pharmacy company has since pleaded guilty to a federal misdemeanor for mislabeling the drug imported from China.

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The US Government's Entire 645,000-Vehicle Fleet Will Go All-Electric

Slashdot - Sat, 2021-01-30 16:24
Jalopnik reports: The United States government operates a fleet of about 645,000 vehicles, from mail delivery trucks to military vehicles and passenger cars. On Monday, President Joe Biden announced that his administration intends to replace them all with American-made, electric alternatives... In 2015, the government operated 357,610 gasoline vehicles and 3,896 electric ones; in 2019, those numbers grew to 368,807 and 4,475, respectively. That's excluding the tens of thousands of E-85 ["flex fuel"] and diesel-based vehicles on the road, which, together, comprise nearly a third of the 645,047 total. So, yeah, there's certainly a lot of work to do... The Washington Post reports: The declaration is a boon to the fledgling electric vehicle industry, which has grown exponentially in the past decade but still represents less than 2 percent of automobiles sold in the United States... "It's important as a symbolic thing," said Timothy Lipman, co-director of the Transportation Sustainability Research Center at the University of California at Berkeley. "But I think it also will have a way of helping to jolt the industry forward at a time when it kind of needed that...." One of the biggest issues: Just three automakers currently manufacture electric vehicles in the United States, and none of those cars meet Biden's criteria of being produced by union workers from at least 50 percent American-made materials. The closest is the Chevrolet Bolt, assembled at a General Motors plant in Lake Orion, Michigan. But most of that car's parts — including the battery, motor and drive unit — are produced overseas. But that could easily change, said Kristin Dziczek, vice president of industry, labor and economics at the nonprofit Center for Automotive Research. If Biden succeeds in making every car in the federal fleet electric, he would increase the total number of electric vehicles in the United States by more than 50 percent. "One of the big questions for companies is, 'Is the consumer there?' Well, [the government] is a big consumer," Dziczek said. "Now they know there's some solid demand from the government to support their early launches of new vehicles...." With 640,000 nonelectric vehicles, the federal fleet represents the annual output of about three or four automotive plants, Dziczek said. That's not exactly the million jobs Biden promised in his announcement Monday. But it might be sufficient to convince car manufacturers to change their supply chains or shift their production to U.S. facilities.

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How Reddit's Co-Founder, Jim Cramer, and Wall Street Reacted to GameStop's Surge

Slashdot - Sat, 2021-01-30 15:34
Friday afternoon CNBC reported that "heightened speculative trading by retail investors" (later referred to as "GameStop mania") had "continued to unnerve the market." The Dow Jones Industrial average lost 620.74 points, or 2%, to 29,982.62, the first time the 30-stock gauge has closed below the 30,000 mark since Dec. 14.... The market also experienced the highest trading volume in years as the mania heated up. On Wednesday, total market volume hit more than 23.7 billion shares, surpassing the level during the height of the financial crisis in 2008. Thursday also saw extremely heavy trading with more than 19 billion shares changing hands. But Forbes reports that experts "seem in broad agreement that the bull market can rage on." "The market is not broken, but recent events have revealed some cracks," says Commonwealth Financial Network Chief Investment Officer Brad McMillan, who thinks one likely result of the week's frenzy could be that the price of options — which helped fuel some of the outsized meme-stock demand — rise to help curb "price hacking" in the future. McMillan eschews concerns from other experts that the Reddit-fueled price mania could be a sign the market is in the middle of a bubble akin to the dot-com era in the late 1990s, but he says "crackdown" by regulators is likely. CNN pointed out that the tagline of Reddit's forum is "like 4chan found a Bloomberg terminal illness" — and cited two more reactions: - "We've seen how social media can be manipulated to expose fault lines in our democracy," said Arthur Levitt, Jr., the former chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission, in an op-ed [titled "Danger Lurks Beneath Reddit Day Traders' GameStop Triumph"]. "Are we certain the same isn't happening in our financial markets? Time to find out." - "I think it's a real example of what we're already seeing with the way media has been upended," said Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian in an Instagram video this week. "All of these big institutions have been challenged, quietly and sometimes loudly, at moments, for the last 10 years with the rise of social media." Meanwhile, CNBC's stock pundit Jim Cramer advised the traders who'd helped spark the runup to grab their profits now: "Take the home run. Don't go for the grand slam. Take the home run. You've already won. You've won the game. You're done," Cramer said on "Squawk on the Street." "Please don't lose a lot of money on GameStop," added the "Mad Money" host. Cramer, who's being treated in the hospital for a pinched nerve, said he called into CNBC in hopes of making sure people recognize the potential downside risk in GameStop and other soaring short squeezed stocks. "Don't let them get hurt. It's our job" to make sure people know they may get burned if the stock price collapses, he said.... Cramer said he was concerned about the stability of the rest of the U.S. equity market the longer the frenzied trading continued... "I'm not saying that Reddit is good or bad, or that the shorts are good or bad," he said. "I'm just saying that the government has to step in and at least try to address the situation so the rest of the market isn't panicked by four stocks that are heavily shorted."

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US Intelligence Officials Say Chinese Government Is Collecting Americans' DNA

Slashdot - Sat, 2021-01-30 13:00
schwit1 shares a report from CBS News: The largest biotech firm in the world wasted no time in offering to build and run COVID testing labs in Washington, contacting its governor right after the first major COVID outbreak in the U.S. occurred there. The Chinese company, the BGI Group, made the same offer to at least five other states, including New York and California, 60 Minutes has learned. This, along with other COVID testing offers by BGI, so worried Bill Evanina, then the country's top counterintelligence officer, that he authorized a rare public warning. "Foreign powers can collect, store and exploit biometric information from COVID tests" declared the notice. Evanina believes the Chinese are trying to collect Americans' DNA to win a race to control the world's biodata. Jon Wertheim speaks to Evanina and others for an investigation into how personal data, particularly biodata, has become a precious commodity and in the wrong hands, poses threats to national security and the economy.

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Remember life on Venus? One of the telescopes had 'an undesirable side effect' that could kill off the whole idea

TheRegister - Sat, 2021-01-30 11:03
Alas, it looks as though, for now, us humans are still alone in the pitch-black depths of space

The notion of phosphine-producing microbes floating in Venus’s atmosphere is looking more and more shaky, as scientists believe the detection of the gas may have been skewed by the antenna of a telescope used to discover it.…

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