Submission + - Why the Post Office Gives Amazon Special Delivery (wsj.com)

schwit1 writes: A Citigroup analysis finds each box gets a $1.46 subsidy. It’s like a gift card from Uncle Sam.

In my neighborhood, I frequently walk past “shop local” signs in the windows of struggling stores. Yet I don’t feel guilty ordering most of my family’s household goods on Amazon. In a world of fair competition, there will be winners and losers.

But when a mail truck pulls up filled to the top with Amazon boxes for my neighbors and me, I do feel some guilt. Like many close observers of the shipping business, I know a secret about the federal government’s relationship with Amazon: The U.S. Postal Service delivers the company’s boxes well below its own costs. Like an accelerant added to a fire, this subsidy is speeding up the collapse of traditional retailers in the U.S. and providing an unfair advantage for Amazon.

Submission + - Afghan Girls Robotics Team Allowed To Enter U.S. For Competition (reuters.com)

An anonymous reader writes: A team of Afghan girls are on their way to compete in an academic robotics competition in the United States after American officials agreed to allow them to enter the country despite initially denying them visas. The reversal reportedly came at the request of U.S. President Donald Trump.

Submission + - Popular Chrome Extension Sold to New Dev Who Immediately Turns It Into Adware (bleepingcomputer.com)

An anonymous reader writes: A company is going around buying abandoned Chrome extensions from their original developers and converting these add-ons into adware. The latest case is the Particle for YouTube Chrome extension, a simple tool that allows users to change the UI and behavior of some of YouTube's standard features.

Because Google was planning major changes to YouTube's UI, the extension's original author decided to retire it and create a new one. This is when the a mysterious company approached the original author and offered to buy the extension from him for a price of his choosing. The original dev says he gave them a high price, but the company agreed to pay right away, but only after the dev signed an non-disclosure agreement preventing him from talking about the company or the transaction.

Soon after the sale, the company issued an update that included code for injecting rogue ads on websites such as Google, Yahoo, Bing, Amazon, eBay, and Booking.com. Users also found other Chrome extensions that were also bought by the same company and had also been turned into adware, such as "Typewriter Sounds" and "Twitch Mini Player." According to some other Chrome extension devs, there are many companies willing to pay large sums of money for taking over legitimate Chrome extensions.

Submission + - Automakers are asking China to slow down EVs (electrek.co)

Kant writes: Fred Lambert of electrek reports:

The auto industry is once again attempting to slow down the rollout of electric vehicles. Virtually all automakers, except for Tesla of course, have sent a letter to the Chinese government in an attempt to have them drastically weaken their zero-emission vehicle mandate. As we previously reported, China, the world’s biggest car market, has somewhat of an aggressive ZEV mandate that would force Automakers to have zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) represent 8% of new car sales as soon as 2018 and quickly ramp up to 12% by 2020.


Submission + - Insider Trader Arrested After He Googled 'insider trading', Authorities Allege

Spy Handler writes: Fei Yan, a research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and 31-year-old Chinese citizen, was arrested by federal authorities on Wednesday on insider trading charges.

Mr. Yan used Google to search for phrases such as "how sec detect unusual trade" and "insider trading with international account." He also allegedly read an article titled "Want to Commit Insider Trading? Here's How Not to Do It", according to the U.S. Attorney prosecuting the case.

Submission + - Vaccines Will Soon Be Mandatory For Children In France (theverge.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Last week, the French Health Ministry announced plans to make 11 vaccines mandatory for young children by 2018. French law currently mandates three vaccines — diphtheria, tetanus, and polio — for children under the age of two. The government’s proposal would expand that list to include eight other vaccines — including those against Hepatitis B, whooping cough, and measles — that were previously only recommended. The proposal, which is to be presented to lawmakers by the end of this year, comes amid an ongoing measles outbreak across Europe, which the World Health Organization (WHO) attributed to low immunization rates. Italy passed a similar decree in May, requiring children to receive 10 vaccines as a condition for school enrollment. Germany, while stopping short of a mandate, has moved to tighten its laws on child immunization. But some experts question whether a vaccination mandate will sway public opinion in France, where distrust in vaccines has risen alarmingly in recent years. In a survey published last year, 41 percent of respondents in France disagreed with the statement that vaccines are safe — the highest rate of distrust among the 67 countries that were surveyed, and more than three times higher than the global average.

Submission + - Amazon Is Getting Too Big and the Government Is Talking About It (marketwatch.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Fresh off its biggest Prime Day yet, the Whole Foods Market bid, and a slew of announcements including Amazon Wardrobe, Amazon.com Inc. was the subject of two investor calls Thursday that raised concerns that it is getting too big. In one case, hedge-fund manager Douglas Kass said government intervention could be imminent. “I am shorting Amazon today because I have learned that there are currently early discussions and due diligence being considered in the legislative chambers in Washington DC with regard to possible antitrust opposition to Amazon’s business practices, pricing strategy and expansion announcements already made (as well as being aimed at expansion strategies being considered in the future,” wrote Kass, head of Seabreeze Partners Management. “My understanding is that certain Democrats in the Senate have instituted the very recent and preliminary investigation of Amazon’s possible adverse impact on competition,” he said. “But, in the Trump administration we also have a foe against Jeff Bezos, who not only runs Amazon but happens to own an editorially unfriendly (to President Trump) newspaper, The Washington Post.”

Kass said he thinks the government “discussions may have just begun and may never result in any serious effort to limit Amazon’s growth plans.” But he has been writing a series of columns about whether we’ve reached “peak Amazon,” and said in an earlier column that the Whole Foods deal puts “Amazon’s vast power under the microscope.” “Is Amazon a productive change agent and force for the good of the consumer by virtue of a reduction in product prices? Or is Amazon’s disruption of the general retail business a destroyer of jobs, moving previously productively employed workers into the unemployment line?” he asked.

Submission + - Uber Offers A Thankless Job As The Applications Flood In (nytimes.com) 5

cdreimer writes: According to The New York Time: "Wanted: a seasoned executive to take the top position at a troubled technology start-up. Must be willing to fix a broken culture, deal with an aggressive predecessor, battle a risky lawsuit and prepare the company for an initial public offering. Self-starters preferred. This is essentially the pitch that Uber is making to potential chief executive candidates after Travis Kalanick, the ride-hailing company’s co-founder, was ousted from the top spot last month. By some accounts, the job appears to be a thankless one at a company whose reputation is in the toilet. So who would want it? Quite a few people, as it turns out."

Submission + - Canada's Next Governor General To Be Julie Payette, Former Astronaut (www.cbc.ca)

MightyMartian writes: From the story:

"Former astronaut Julie Payette will be the Queen's new representative in Canada, CBC News has confirmed.

The 53-year-old Montrealer, who speaks six languages, will be named the 29th governor general, a position that comes with a $290,660 annual salary and an official residence at Rideau Hall. ...

Payette, who is also an accomplished athlete, pianist and choral singer, will succeed outgoing Gov. Gen. David Johnston.

A computer engineer with a commercial pilot licence, Payette was picked from among 5,330 applicants in 1992 to be one of four new astronauts with the Canadian Space Agency (CSA).

She participated in two space flights to the International Space Station and served as the CSA's chief astronaut between 2000 and 2007."

I defy anyone else to find a head of state who is an astronaut!

Submission + - Ask Slashdot: Why do so many of you think carrying cash is 'dangerous'? 5

An anonymous reader writes: Recently I Asked Slashdot what you thought about paying for things online using plastic, and the security of using plastic in general; thank you all for your many and varied responses, they're all much appreciated and gave me things to consider.

However I got quite a few responses that puzzled me: People claiming that paying for things with cash, and carrying any amount of cash around at all, was somehow dangerous, that I'd be 'robbed', and that I shoudn't carry cash at all, only plastic. I'm Gen-Y; I've walked around my entire life, in all sorts of places, and have never been approached or robbed by anyone, so I'm more than a little puzzled by that.

So now I ask you, Slashdotters: Why do you think carrying cash is so dangerous? Where do you live/spend your time that you worry so much about being robbed? Have you been robbed before, and that's why you feel this way? I'm not going to stop carrying cash in my wallet but I'd like to understand why it is so many of you feel this way — so please be thorough in your explanations.

Submission + - Trump intervenes in Afghan robotics contestants visa case (politico.com)

slew writes: At the urging of President Donald Trump, U.S. officials have reversed course and decided to allow into the United States a group of Afghan girls hoping to participate in an international robotics competition next week.

The Department of Homeland Security agreed to allow the girls in on a system known as “parole,” which will allow them to stay in the United States for 10 days, though technically not on visas.

Submission + - Chrome-browser hijack Windows DOS exploit (jsish.org) 3

Bent Spoke writes: Windows should be wary of a new Chrome browser Denial of Service threat that is making the rounds.

It starts when you click on a certain link and Windows freezes.
The mouse doesn’t respond and even Ctrl-Alt-Delete doesn’t seem to work, or takes a really long time (eg. 10-20 minutes).
The tab or browser close buttons don’t seem to work. However, by disconnecting the network cable and (eventually) opening task manager you can kill the browser.
This is not as big a problem on Linux, as the system does not freeze so the tab is easily closed.

The payload that eventually appears in the browser window is:

      Windows Defender Alert : Zeus Virus Detected In Your Computer !!
      Please Do Not Shut Down or Reset Your Computer.

      The following data will be compromised if you continue:

            1. Passwords
            2. Browser History
            3. Credit Card Information
            4.Local Hard Disk Files.

      This virus is well known for complete identity and credit card theft.
      Further action through this computer or any computer on the network will reveal private information and involve serious risks.

      Call Microsoft Technical Department: (Toll Free) 866 XXX-XXXX

This message, which is rather convincing as Windows is effectively hung, presumably connects you with a social-engineering service (sic).

The link that triggers the issue is of the following form (actual url changed for security reasons).

1234567891012345678.bid

This uses Javascript to successively redirect to:

1234567891012345678.bid/0
1234567891012345678.bid/01
1234567891012345678.bid/012

ie. it defeats redirect loop detection as each url is different.

One nasty side effect of this is that your browser history is filled with junk urls, making it practically impossible to access previously visited sites.
There are too many links to delete individually without hanging the browser (15K+), however this can be mitigated with "Clear Browser/History/Last Hour" if used right away.

Another issue to be aware of is that upon restart, you do not want to let the browser reopen previous tabs.

Submission + - AI Creates Fake Obama (ieee.org) 1

schwit1 writes: Computer scientists at the University of Washington previously revealed they could generate digital doppelgängers of anyone by analyzing images of them collected from the Internet, from celebrities such as Tom Hanks and Arnold Schwarzenegger to public figures such as George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Such work suggested it could one day be relatively easy to create such models of anybody, when there are untold numbers of digital photos of everyone on the Internet.

Are we going to have to create Heinlein’s “fair witness” as machine records become easier to fake?

Submission + - LIU XIAOBO Dies in Chinese Hospital: A deserving Nobel Peace Prize winner (voanews.com)

schwit1 writes: Chinese human rights prisoner Liu Xiaobo died Thursday at age 61 following a high-profile battle with liver cancer that made his death as controversial as his life.

Liu, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate who spent his last eight years as a prisoner of conscience, passed away at a hospital in Shenyang, China, where he had been moved from his prison cell in the final stage of his illness.

Submission + - 'India deployed troops in a 3rd country for the first time to challenge China" (rediff.com)

prajendran writes: M Taylor Fravel, an expert on China's border issues, weighed in on the standoff between China and India at Dokalam over a dispute with a third country, Bhutan. Fravel, an associate professor of political science and member of the Security Studies Program at MIT, said that China may be trying to consolidate its position in its border dispute with the two nations while Bhutan had to go to India, the only power capable of taking on China.

Submission + - Swedish Security Company Boss Declared 'Bankrupt' After Identity Stolen (bloomberg.com)

tychoS writes: The man running Sweden’s biggest security firm was declared bankrupt this week after his identity was hacked.

Goransson wasn’t informed until after the court’s swift decision to accept the bankruptcy application, a one-page document bearing a signature with little or no resemblance to Goransson’s.

As a consequence of the bankruptcy decision, Goransson was deregistered as chairman of Loomis AB and as board member of Hexpol AB, according to separate statements. Both companies will appeal to get Goransson formally reinstated.

The hack attack “has no effect on the company, other than that our CEO has been declared bankrupt,” spokeswoman Gisela Lindstrand said. “And that will hopefully only last until later today, depending on how soon they can remove the decision.”

Submission + - China Readies First Commercial Quantum Network, Teleport Photons to Space (theneweconomy.com)

hackingbear writes: Chinese state media has reported that a trial of a quantum communications network in the city of Jinan has been successful, paving the way for the commercial rollout of a new “impenetrable” communications technology. The trial marks a key milestone for the viability of quantum communication, which so far has only seen small-scale applications. The network, part of the much longer Beijing-Shanghai link, is expected to be put to use by government bodies in Jinan by the end of next month, but could later be rolled out much more widely in finance, energy and other sectors. In another related major breakthrough in the same week, a Chinese research team established the first ground-to-satellite quantum network, which allowed them to transmit a photon from an entangled pair up to 870 miles (1,400 kilometers) to the Micius quantum satellite which earlier this year also conducted the world's first space-based quantum communication experiment.

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