Submission + - Comcast Sues Vermont After the State Requires the Company To Expand Its Network (vtdigger.org)

An anonymous reader writes: Cable television giant Comcast is suing the Vermont Public Utility Commission over the panel’s decision to require the company to expand its network and step up support for community access TV if it wants to continue doing business in Vermont. A key issue is the services Comcast must provide to local community access systems that carry municipal government and school board meetings and other local events. The 26 community access systems have been pushing — against resistance by Comcast — for high-definition video, greater ability to operate from remote locations, and inclusion in the interactive program guides that Comcast customers can use to decide what to watch. The PUC — formerly known as the Public Service Board — in January issued a new 11-year permit for Comcast to operate in Vermont. In July the panel rejected the company’s request to drop some of the conditions attached to the permit.

In a lawsuit filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Burlington, Comcast argued that the PUC “exceeded its authority under federal and Vermont law” by imposing “numerous conditions on Comcast’s continued cable operations in the state that are arbitrary, unprecedented and will ultimately harm local cable subscribers by resulting in millions of dollars in increased cable costs.” It said the commission “did so despite overwhelming record evidence that Vermont cable subscribers do not want to incur any additional costs or fees for the kinds of conditions imposed” in the commission’s January order.

Submission + - Temperature Driven Sea Level Rise Is Accelerating, Not Constant, Study Finds (cnn.com)

dryriver writes: A research team studying climate change driven sea level rise has found that unlike previously assumed by some, sea level rise is not constant year on year, but rather accelerating as the earth warms. This means that rather than sea levels rising about 30 centimeters by 2100 as some projections based on constant rise rates had forecast, the real sea level rise by the end of the century may be 60 centimeters or even higher, causing major problems for coastal cities and coastal areas around the world. Extreme water levels, such as high tides and surges from strong storms, would be made exponentially worse. The chief reason previous projections appear to have underestimated how quickly sea levels would rise is that ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica and mountain glaciers are disappearing much faster than had been projected before. Currently, over half of the observed rise is the result of "thermal expansion": As ocean water warms, it expands, and sea levels rise. The rest of the rise is the result of melted ice in Greenland and Antarctica and mountain glaciers flowing into the oceans. This is a troubling finding when considering the recent rapid ice loss in the ice sheets. "Sixty-five centimeters is probably on the low end for 2100," researcher Steve Nerem said, "since it assumes the rate and acceleration we have seen over the last 25 years continues for the next 82 years." We are already seeing signs of ice sheet instability in Greenland and Antarctica, so if they experience rapid changes, then we would likely see more than 65 centimeters of sea level rise by 2100." "We are already seeing signs of ice sheet instability in Greenland and Antarctica, so if they experience rapid changes, then we would likely see more than 65 centimeters of sea level rise by 2100." Penn State climate scientist Michael Mann, who was not involved with the study, said "it confirms what we have long feared: that the sooner-than-expected ice loss from the west Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets is leading to acceleration in sea level rise sooner than was projected."

Submission + - 25 Years of Satellite Data Shows Global Warming Is Accelerating Sea Level Rise (usnews.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Melting ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica are speeding up the already fast pace of sea level rise, new satellite research shows. At the current rate, the world's oceans on average will be at least 2 feet (61 centimeters) higher by the end of the century compared to today, according to researchers who published in Monday's Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences. Sea level rise is caused by warming of the ocean and melting from glaciers and ice sheets. The research, based on 25 years of satellite data, shows that pace has quickened, mainly from the melting of massive ice sheets. It confirms scientists' computer simulations and is in line with predictions from the United Nations, which releases regular climate change reports. Of the 3 inches (7.5 centimeters) of sea level rise in the past quarter century, about 55 percent is from warmer water expanding, and the rest is from melting ice. But the process is accelerating, and more than three-quarters of that acceleration since 1993 is due to melting ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica, the study shows.

Submission + - Several NGOs And Aid Agencies Appear To Have A Sexual Exploitation Problem (cnn.com)

dryriver writes: Many people admire NGOs and Aid Agencies that go into war zones, disaster zones, poverty stricken communities and such and provide much needed aid, assistance, food and medical supplies and comfort to people at risk. The job is often risky, unglamorous, stressful and low-pay. But people who do do this kind of work tend to be regarded as "heroes" and "saviors" by society. A CNN opinion piece written by Jonathan Foreman in the aftermath of the Oxfam sexual misbehavior revelations however reveals that all is not well in NGO-land at all. Apparently, it is not uncommon at all for NGO staff to engage in behavior that can only be characterized as "deeply immoral". The author writes: "Anyone who has spent time working in or reporting from war zones and disaster areas has likely encountered bad behavior in the NGO community. I'm not simply referring to the blowing off of steam — the drink- or drug-assisted partying and in-house sexual shenanigans to be encountered in NGO watering holes from Kabul to Kinshasa. These are inevitable and even necessary in the high-stress, often dangerous places where emergency aid work is carried out. Rather more dismaying — and surprising for people whose only knowledge of aid work comes from golden-hued industry marketing — is the sheer toxicity of the work environment in many NGOs: the bullying, the exploitation of local workers, the arrogant mistreatment of the people the organizations are supposed to be helping. It's almost as if some aid workers feel that because they are devoting time and perhaps risking their lives to help others, they no longer have to be governed by the moral rules that bind ordinary civilians.

After all, they are already moral exemplars thanks to their vocation and their sacrifices; whatever small wrongs they might commit are mitigated by the fact that they are out there on the front lines, saving the unfortunate when they could be selfishly making a good living in the comfort and safety of the first world.

The second, even more important reason why these awful acts of exploitation should not come as such as shock is that they are the products of a particularly dangerous kind of opportunity — the kind that opens up when overwhelming human desperation meets ordinary human weakness.
In the worst disaster areas and conflict zones, officials who work for international organizations — like their imperialist and missionary predecessors of the late 19th and early 20th century — can find themselves wielding something close to the power of life and death over their wards. Not everyone has the moral fiber to resist the resulting temptations."

Submission + - Sued for giving nutritional advice on twitter (medium.com)

arnott writes: Tim Noakes, a South African scientist gave nutritional advice to a new mom on Twitter in 2014, and it ended up becoming one of the most expensive tweets ever. Based on a complaint, the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) started a case against Prof. Noakes for unprofessional conduct in June 2015. He was cleared of misconduct in April 2017, but HPCSA has appealed the verdict. Prof. Noakes promotes low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet.

Submission + - IMF chief: Cryptocurrency regulation is 'inevitable' (cnn.com)

SonicSpike writes: International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde says it's only a matter of time before cryptocurrencies come under government regulation.

"It's inevitable," she told CNNMoney emerging markets editor John Defterios. "It's clearly a domain where we need international regulation and proper supervision."

"There is probably quite a bit of dark activity [in cryptocurrencies]," she added at the World Government Summit in Dubai on Sunday.

Lagarde said that the IMF is actively trying to prevent digital currencies from being used to launder money or finance terrorism. But she argued that regulators need to focus less on entities, and more on activities — who is doing what, and whether they're properly licensed and supervised.

Submission + - South African lions eat 'poacher', leaving just his head (bbc.com)

An anonymous reader writes: A suspected big cat poacher has been eaten by lions near the Kruger National Park in South Africa, police say.

The animals left little behind, but some body parts were found over the weekend at a game park near Hoedspruit.

"It seems the victim was poaching in the game park when he was attacked and killed by lions," Limpopo police spokesman Moatshe Ngoepe told AFP.

"They ate his body, nearly all of it, and just left his head and some remains."

Police have not yet established the victim's identity. A loaded hunting rifle and ammunition were found next to the body, South African website Eyewitness News reports.

Submission + - ISS may become playground for billionaires (washingtonpost.com)

Earthquake Retrofit writes: The Trump administration wants to turn the International Space Station into a kind of orbiting real estate venture run not by the government, but by private industry.

The White House plans to stop funding the station after 2024, ending direct federal support of the orbiting laboratory. But it does not intend to abandon the orbiting laboratory altogether and is working on a transition plan that could turn the station over to the private sector, according to an internal NASA document obtained by The Washington Post.

Also, according to Popular Mechanics: ... in a few years, space tourism agents might be offering five-star orbital adventures, courtesy of the Russian space agency. The amenities will include a luxury orbital suite parked at the International Space Station (ISS) offering private cabins with big windows, personal hygiene facilities, exercise equipment and even Wi-Fi. In addition gazing at our tiny blue orb from a dizzying altitude of 250 miles, space tourists will have an opportunity for space walks accompanied by a professional cosmonaut.

Submission + - Microsoft's aggressive Get Windows 10 (GWX) app slapped by Finnish authorities (betanews.com)

AmiMoJo writes: The hostile Get Windows 10 — often referred to as simply GWX — push by Microsoft proved controversial around the world. Now the Finnish Consumer Authority has reached an agreement with the company that means the Windows-maker will no longer force apps onto users. The authority was unhappy with Microsoft not only for pushing the GWX app to computers without consent, but also for changing the design language used in the UI. In the GWX app, clicking the X button did not close the notification window as users would have expected, but instead started the installation of Windows 10.

Submission + - The Noise Paradox: Why Quantum Computing May Flop (quantamagazine.org)

Tablizer writes: The mathematician Gil Kalai believes that quantum computers can't possibly work, even in principle. In an interview, Gil states: "I tried to understand what happens if the errors due to noise are correlated — or connected. There is a Hebrew proverb that says that trouble comes in clusters. In English you would say: When it rains, it pours. In other words, interacting systems will have a tendency for errors to be correlated. There will be a probability that errors will affect many qubits all at once. ... our first result shows that the noise level cannot be reduced, because doing so will contradict an insight from the theory of computing about the power of primitive computational devices. Noisy quantum computers in the small and intermediate scale deliver primitive computational power. They are too primitive to reach “quantum supremacy” — and if quantum supremacy is not possible, then creating quantum error-correcting codes, which is harder, is also impossible."

Submission + - fldigi (Fast Light Digital), a modem program for digital modes for amateur radio (sourceforge.net)

bsharma writes: For December “Community Choice” Project of the Month, the SourceForge community elected fldigi, a Ham Radio Digital Modem Application. fldigi (Fast Light Digital) is a modem program for most of the digital modes used by radio amateurs today: CW, PSK, MFSK, RTTY, Hell, DominoEX, Olivia, and Throb. It works by allowing an ordinary computer’s sound card to be used as a simple two-way data modem. It is primarily used by amateur radio operators worldwide for the transfer of emergency data and images on high frequency (HF), very high frequency (VHF), and ultra high frequency (UHF) radio links.

Submission + - Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 Benchmarks Unveiled Ahead Of Mobile World Congress (hothardware.com)

MojoKid writes: Though the company has been evangelizing its new Snapdragon 845 Mobile Platform for a while now, Qualcomm is lifting the veil today on the new chip's benchmark performance profile. At the heart of the Snapdragon 845 is the new Kyro 385 CPU, which features four high-performance cores operating at 2.8GHz and four efficiency cores that are dialed back to 1.7GHz, all of which should culminate in a claimed 25 percent uplift over the previous generation Snapdragon 835, along with improved power efficiency. In addition, the Snapdragon 845's new Adreno 630 integrated GPU core should deliver a boost in performance over its predecessor as well, with up to a 30 percent increase in graphics throughput, allowing it to become the first mobile platform to enable room-scale VR/AR experiences. Armed with prototype reference devices, members of the press put the Snapdragon 845 through its paces and the chip proved to be anywhere from 15 to 35 percent faster, depending on workloads and benchmarks, with graphics showing epsecially strong. Next generation Android smartphones and other devices based on Snapdragon 845 are expected to be unveiled at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona at the end of this month.

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