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Submission + - Russian Supply Rocket Malfunctions, Breaks Up Over Siberia En Route To ISS (npr.org)

An anonymous reader writes: An unmanned cargo rocket bound for the International Space Station was destroyed after takeoff on Thursday. The Russian rocket took off as planned from Baikonur, Kazahkstan, on Thursday morning but stopped transmitting data about six minutes into its flight, as NPR's Rae Ellen Bichell reported: "'Russian officials say the spacecraft failed ... when it was about 100 miles above a remote part of Siberia. The ship was carrying more than 2 1/2 tons of supplies — including food, fuel and clothes. Most of that very likely burned up as the unmanned spacecraft fell back toward Earth. NASA says the six crew members on board the International Space station, including two Americans, are well stocked for now.'" This is the fourth botched launch of an unmanned Russian rocket in the past two years.

Submission + - Not one, not two, but three undersea cables cut in Jersey (cloudflare.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Sometime before midnight Monday (UK local time) a ship dropped its anchor and broke, not one, not two, but three undersea cables serving the island of Jersey in the English Channel. Jersey is part of the Channel Islands along with Guernsey and some smaller islands. These things happen and that’s not a good thing. The cut was reported on the venerable BBC news website. For the telecom operators in Jersey (JT Global) this wasn’t good news. However looking at the traffic from Cloudflare’s point of view; we can see that while the cable cut removed the direct path from London to Jersey, it was replaced by the backup path from Paris to Jersey. The move was 100% under the control of the BGP routing protocol. It's a relief that there's a fallback for when these unpredictable events happen.

Submission + - San Francisco's 58-Story Millennium Tower Seen Sinking From Space (sfgate.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Engineers in San Francisco have tunneled underground to try and understand the sinking of the 58-story Millennium Tower. Now comes an analysis from space. The European Space Agency has released detailed data from satellite imagery that shows the skyscraper in San Francisco's financial district is continuing to sink at a steady rate — and perhaps faster than previously known. The luxury high-rise that opened its doors in 2009 has been dubbed the Leaning Tower of San Francisco. It has sunk about 16 inches into landfill and is tilting several inches to the northwest. Engineers have estimated the building is sinking at a rate of about 1-inch per year. The Sentinel-1 twin satellites show almost double that rate based on data collected from April 2015 to September 2016. The satellite data shows the Millennium Tower sunk 40 to 45 millimeters — or 1.6 to 1.8 inches — over a recent one-year period and almost double that amount — 70 to 75 mm (2.6 to 2.9 inches) — over its 17-month observation period, said Petar Marinkovic, founder and chief scientist of PPO Labs which analyzed the satellite's radar imagery for the ESA along with Norway-based research institute Norut. The Sentinel-1 study is not focused on the Millennium Tower but is part of a larger mission by the European Space Agency tracking urban ground movement around the world, and particularly subsidence "hotspots" in Europe, said Pierre Potin, Sentinel-1 mission manager for the ESA. The ESA decided to conduct regular observations of the San Francisco Bay Area, including the Hayward Fault, since it is prone to tectonic movement and earthquakes, said Potin, who is based in Italy. Data from the satellite, which is orbiting about 400 miles (700 kilometers) from the earth's surface, was recorded every 24 days. The building's developer, Millennium Partners, insists the building is safe for occupancy and could withstand an earthquake.

Submission + - Directed Evolution Teaches Nature the Unnatural, Brings Silicon to Life (hacked.com)

giulioprisco writes: Caltech researchers have achieved a spectacular demonstration that living organisms can be persuaded to make silicon-carbon bonds. The study is the first to show that nature can adapt to incorporate silicon into carbon-based molecules, the building blocks of life. This breakthrough could have en important impact on how medicines and other chemicals are made in the future, and open new horizons to synthetic biology.

Submission + - One of the biggest Fake News producers uncovered (npr.org)

Gunstick writes: Npr inteviewed the owner of a fake news company called Disinfomedia. They produce fake news to highlight the extremism of the white nationalist alt-right: "The whole idea from the start was to build a site that could kind of infiltrate the echo chambers of the alt-right, publish blatantly or fictional stories and then be able to publicly denounce those stories and point out the fact that they were fiction," also interesting: "writers have tried to write fake news for liberals — but they just never take the bait." there's somewhere around 25 domains that are currently managed by Disinfomedia.

Submission + - How Banks Hurt Porn And Sex Toy Startups (fastcompany.com) 1

tedlistens writes: Sex toy and porn startups are legal but plagued by restrictions that range from municipal zoning laws to financial discrimination by banks of all sizes. Even the new wave of financial tech startups like Paypal and Square prohibit adult businesses from using their products, both explicitly and in tacit ways.

While financial institutions cannot systematically deny loans and other services based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability, or familial status, no federal laws explicitly prohibit discrimination against adult businesses. In practice, say critics, this allows for occupational discrimination against adult-industry workers. In a time of constrained investment across the board, financial discrimination might be most hurtful to small, pioneering ventures--the kind seeking to upend the taboo around sex and porn and promote sexual health and awareness. "The people that these policies hurt most are the small guy or probably more accurately the small woman," says PJ Rey, a sociology doctoral candidate at the University of Maryland studying digitally mediated sex work. "It is the startup companies that are doing the more progressive stuff, and they are going to be affected more than the really big porn giants."

Submission + - Crash: how automation is setting us up for disaster (theguardian.com)

Esteanil writes: We increasingly let computers fly planes and carry out security checks. Driverless cars are next. But is our reliance on automation dangerously diminishing our skills?

When a sleepy Marc Dubois walked into the cockpit of his own aeroplane, he was confronted with a scene of confusion. The plane was shaking so violently that it was hard to read the instruments. An alarm was alternating between a chirruping trill and an automated voice: “STALL STALL STALL.” [...] “We completely lost control of the aeroplane, and we don’t understand anything! We tried everything!”

The crew were, in fact, in control of the aeroplane. One simple course of action could have ended the crisis they were facing, and they had not tried it. But David Robert was right on one count: he didn’t understand what was happening.

Submission + - Boeing CEO Vows To Beat Elon Musk To Mars (bloomberg.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Boeing Chief Executive Officer Dennis Muilenburg sketched out a Jetsons-like future at a conference Tuesday, envisioning a commercial space-travel market with dozens of destinations orbiting the Earth and hypersonic aircraft shuttling travelers between continents in two hours or less. And Boeing intends to be a key player in the initial push to send humans to Mars, maybe even beating Musk to his long-time goal. “I’m convinced the first person to step foot on Mars will arrive there riding a Boeing rocket,” Muilenburg said at the Chicago event on innovation, which was sponsored by the Atlantic magazine. Like Musk’s SpaceX, Boeing is focused on building out the commercial space sector near earth as spaceflight becomes more routine, while developing technology to venture far beyond the moon. The Chicago-based aerospace giant is working with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to develop a heavy-lift rocket called the Space Launch System for deep space exploration. Boeing and SpaceX are also the first commercial companies NASA selected to ferry astronauts to the International Space Station. Boeing built the first stage for the Saturn V, the most powerful U.S. rocket ever built, which took men to the moon. Nowadays, Muilenburg sees space tourism closer to home “blossoming over the next couple of decades into a viable commercial market.” The International Space Station could be joined in low-earth orbit by dozens of hotels and companies pursuing micro-gravity manufacturing and research, he said. Muilenburg said Boeing will make spacecraft for the new era of tourists. He also sees potential for hypersonic aircraft, traveling at upwards of three times the speed of sound.

Submission + - Surveillance Capabilities of Future Employee ID Badges

Presto Vivace writes: Bosses can take biometrics of employees with an ID badge that monitors motion and listens.

In the Washington Post, Jeff Heath tells the story of Humanyze, an employee analytics company that took technology developed at MIT and spun it into identification badges meant to hang off employees' necks via a lanyard. The badge has two microphones that do real-time voice analysis, with sensors that follow where you are and motion detectors that record how much you move while working.

A report in Bloomberg reveals the origins of the company. In 2014, 57 stock and bond traders "lent their bodies to science" by allowing MIT finance professor Andrew Lo to monitor their actions in a conference room. The study subjects were given a $3 million risk limit and told to make money in various markets. Lo discovered that the successful subjects were "emotional athletes. Their bodies swiftly respond to stressful situations and relax when calm returns, leaving them primed for the next challenge." Traders who encountered problems "were hounded by their mistakes and remained emotionally charged, as measured by their heart rate and other markers such as cortisol levels, even after the volatility subsided."

Submission + - Google Program Seeks to Deradicalize Jihadis and American Right Wing Extremists

HughPickens.com writes: Nami LaChance writes at The Intercept that a google-incubated program that targets potential ISIS members with deradicalizing content will soon be used to target violent right-wing extremists in North America. Using research and targeted advertising, the initiative by London-based startup Moonshot CVE and Google’s Jigsaw technology incubator targets potentially violent Jihadis and directs them to a YouTube channel with videos that refute ISIS propaganda. In the pilot program countering ISIS, the so-called Redirect Method collected the metadata of 320,000 individuals over the course of eight weeks, using 1,700 keywords, and served them advertisements that led them to the videos. “I think this is an extremely promising method,” says Richard Stengel, U.S. Undersecretary of State for public diplomacy and public affairs. In the ISIS pilot program, the YouTube channel pulls preexisting videos that, according to Yasmin Green, the head of research and development for Jigsaw, “refute ISIS’s messaging.” One video is from a woman who secretly filmed her life in ISIS-controlled Raqqa. Another shows young people in Mosul, their faces obscured by keffiyehs for their protection, talking about life under the Islamic State. “The branding philosophy for the entire pilot project was not to appear judgmental or be moralistic, but really to pique interest of individuals who have questions, questions that are being raised and answered by the Islamic State,” Green said.

Ross Frenett, co-founder of Moonshot, says his company and Jigsaw are now working with funding from private groups to target other violent extremists, including the hard right in America. “Our efforts during phase two, when we’re going to focus on the violent far right in America, will be very much focused on the small element of those that are violent. The interesting thing about how they behave is they’re a little bit more brazen online these days than ISIS fan boys,” says Frenett.

Submission + - IBM Launches Linux Server Range Targeted at Artificial Intelligence Tasks (thestack.com)

An anonymous reader writes: IBM today launched a range of Linux-based servers specifically engineered for high performance in tasks related to artificial intelligence, deep learning and advanced analytics – with a central mission to increase data centre efficiency. The elaborately-named IBM Power Systems S822LC for High Performance Computing uses NVidia's NVLink high-speed interconnect to create a notably faster CPU/GPU throughput than is currently possible over a PCIe bus, or with previous X86 offerings. Early tests with Tencent reveal a threefold performance increase, even at 2/3rds blade deployment.

Submission + - JavaScript Evangelist Douglas Crockford Loses Keynote Spot

An anonymous reader writes: JS Evangelist Douglas Crockford was recently removed as a keynote speaker from an upcoming JavaScript conference. There's very little context for this other than an angry blog post and some speculation. This is seemingly about Crockford's assertion that promiscuity is bad, and commitment is good which has been part of his recent talks about upgrading the web

Submission + - The court that rules the world (buzzfeed.com) 1

schwit1 writes: Imagine a private, global super court that empowers corporations to bend countries to their will.

Say a nation tries to prosecute a corrupt CEO or ban dangerous pollution. Imagine that a company could turn to this super court and sue the whole country for daring to interfere with its profits, demanding hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars as retribution.

Imagine that this court is so powerful that nations often must heed its rulings as if they came from their own supreme courts, with no meaningful way to appeal. That it operates unconstrained by precedent or any significant public oversight, often keeping its proceedings and sometimes even its decisions secret. That the people who decide its cases are largely elite Western corporate attorneys who have a vested interest in expanding the court’s authority because they profit from it directly, arguing cases one day and then sitting in judgment another. That some of them half-jokingly refer to themselves as “The Club” or “The Mafia.”

And imagine that the penalties this court has imposed have been so crushing — and its decisions so unpredictable — that some nations dare not risk a trial, responding to the mere threat of a lawsuit by offering vast concessions, such as rolling back their own laws or even wiping away the punishments of convicted criminals.

This system is already in place, operating behind closed doors in office buildings and conference rooms in cities around the world. Known as investor-state dispute settlement, or ISDS, it is written into a vast network of treaties that govern international trade and investment, including NAFTA and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which Congress must soon decide whether to ratify.

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