stephenmac7 writes: President Obama has recently signed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017, which "authorizes FY2017 appropriations and sets forth policies regarding the military activities of the Department of Defense (DOD), military construction, and the national security programs of the Department of Energy (DOE)." Perhaps more notably, it establishes a new Department of State agency, the Global Engagement Center, that some claim may be the beginning of an Orwellian propaganda agency. Its task is to “understand, expose, and counter foreign state and non-state propaganda and disinformation aimed at undermining United States national security interests" and support “the development and dissemination of fact-based narratives and analysis to counter propaganda and disinformation directed at the United States and” its partners and allies. It is also authorized to gather information from intelligence agencies and financially support various groups, apparently of its own choosing, including “civil society groups, media content providers, nongovernmental organizations, federally funded research and development centers, private companies, or academic institutions.”
schwit1 writes: Social isolation is a growing epidemic — one that’s increasingly recognized as having dire physical, mental and emotional consequences. Since the 1980s, the percentage of American adults who say they’re lonely has
doubled from 20 percent to 40 percent.
About one-third of Americans older than 65 now
live alone, and half of those over 85 do. People in
poorer health — especially those with mood disorders like anxiety and
depression — are more likely to feel lonely. Those
without a college education are the least likely to have someone they can talk to about important personal matters.
Another analysis that pooled data from 70 studies and 3.4 million people found that socially isolated individuals had a 30 percent higher risk of dying in the next seven years, and that this effect was largest in middle age.
accelerate cognitive decline in older adults, and isolated individuals are twice as likely to die prematurely as those with more robust social interactions. These effects start early:
Socially isolated children have significantly poorer health 20 years later, even after controlling for other factors. All told, loneliness is as important a risk factor for early death as
obesity and smoking.
schwit1 writes: Since Tuesday, foreign travelers arriving in the United States on the visa waiver program have been presented with an “optional” request to “enter information associated with your online presence,” a government official confirmed Thursday. The prompt includes a drop-down menu that lists platforms including Facebook, Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube, as well as a space for users to input their account names on those sites.
schwit1 writes: As a result, the federal government must submit roughly 260 pages of previously withheld or heavily redacted records to the court so that it can review them and decide whether to make more information about Hemisphere public.
Hemisphere is a partnership between AT&T and federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies that allows police almost real-time access to telephone call detail records. The program is both extremely controversial—AT&T requires police to hide its use from the public—and appears to violate our First and Fourth Amendment rights.
schwit1 writes: The malware was able to retrieve communications and some locational data from infected devices, intelligence that would have likely been used to strike against the artillery in support of pro-Russian separatists fighting in eastern Ukraine, the report from cyber security firm CrowdStrike foundThe hacking group, known commonly as Fancy Bear or APT 28, is believed by U.S. intelligence officials to work primarily on behalf of the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence agency.
The implant leveraged a legitimate Android application developed by a Ukrainian artillery officer to process targeting data more quickly, CrowdStrike said.
Its deployment “extends Russian cyber capabilities to the front lines of the battlefield”, the report said, and “could have facilitated anticipatory awareness of Ukrainian artillery force troop movement, thus providing Russian forces with useful strategic planning information”.
harrymcc writes: Over at Fast Company, we rounded up the year's dumbest, silliest, and/or most embarrassing moments--covering ground from the year's big news (Trump's tweets, Yahoo's leaks) to the mememorably strange (Facebook accidentally telling users they were dead) to odd little items you might have missed when they happened (in September, a tech writer confidently declared that the Samsuing Galaxy Note 7 was definitely not going to be banned from air travel).
dcblogs writes: The Electronic Frontier Foundation is keenly worried that President-elect Donald Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress will step up surveillance activities and pass laws that infringe on electronic rights. The EFF is advising the tech sector to use end-to-end encryption for every transaction by default and to scrub logs. "You cannot be made to surrender data you do not have," the EFF said. "It's very clear to us that he (President-elect Donald Trump) is no friend to civil liberties," sais Rainey Reitman, director of the EFF's activism team. It believes Trump and the new Congress will seek encryption backdoors. The tech community is wary, generally, of Trump. More than 1,000 people who work at tech firms have signed a pledge, Neveragain.tech, not to help the incoming administration create a database to target people because of race or religion or to facilitate mass deportations. In arguing for resistance, Neveragain is pointing to the importance of databases used in atrocities back to World War II. Commenting generally on the use of data collection by governments, Christopher Browning, a Holocaust researcher who wrote a number of books on the Holocaust, Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland said that in western Europe, especially The Netherlands, "registration is a key, endangering factor."
iampiti writes: The Document Foundation has announced a new user interface concept for LibreOffice. Users will be able to choose from several toolbar configurations including the "Notebook bar" which is similar to Microsoft Office's ribbon. According to TDF "The MUFFIN (My User Friendly & Flexible INterface) represents a new approach to UI design, based on the respect of user needs rather than on the imposition of a single UI to all users"
cnettel writes: Doing I/O over a large directory tree is far slower than handling the same amount of data in a single file. This is due to the latency for individual requests, even if data is laid out sequentially. In theory, many tasks could be done in parallel, but many common tools are purely serial in their I/O.
CannyFS is a new GPLed FUSE-based file system wrapper that will immediately return from operations such as writing to or creating new files, while queuing them. In effect, standard tools such as tar, rm, and unzip suddenly launch I/O in parallel. Especially over high-latency SAN, NAS, or WAN mounts using NFS or sshfs, this can give huge time reductions. Test the proof-of-concept code, or read the paper on arXiv.
mirandakatz writes: In 2017, cancer might overtake heart disease as the leading cause of death in the US: As deaths from heart disease and stroke have dwindled, cancer has held strong, steadily narrowing the gap. But cancer researchers are starting to realize that their approach to fighting the war on cancer has been wrong for a long time. They've been waiting for tumors to get big enough to feel or see before attacking them—but the next big step in cancer prevention and treatment could be finding premalignancies, shutting down tumors before they get nasty. At Backchannel, Kat McGowan details two big advances in the way we think about cancer treatment, and what's to come in the year 2017.
paranoidd writes: GoboLinux announced today the availability of a new major release. What's special about it is that it comes together with a container-free filesystem virtualization that's kind of unique thanks to the way that installed programs are arranged by the distro. Rather than having to create full-fledged containers simply to get around conflicting libraries, a lightweight solution simply plays with overlays to create dynamic filesystem views for each process that wants them. Even more interesting, the whole concept also enables 32-bit and 64-bit programs to coexist with no need for a lib64 directory (as implemented by mostly all bi-arch distributions out there). The announcement page brings some more interesting pieces of work coming from the 15-years old project.
lwmv writes: On December 8, 2016, the U.S. Senate passed the Countering Disinformation And Propaganda Act as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) Conference Report for fiscal year 2017. The bipartisan bill was written in March 2016 by U.S. Senators Republican Rob Portman and Democrat Chris Murphy, and designed to help American allies counter foreign government propaganda from Russia, China, and other nations. In the version of the bill incorporated into the 2017 NDAA, the U.S. Congress would ask the United States Secretary of State to collaborate with the United States Secretary of Defense and create a Global Engagement Center to monitor information warfare from foreign governments, and publicize the nature of ongoing foreign propaganda and disinformation operations against the U.S. and other countries. To support these efforts, the bill also creates a grant program for NGOs, think tanks, civil society and other experts outside government who are engaged in counter-propaganda related work.