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  1. OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland on Thursday dismissed a suggestion that Ottawa block the extradition of a top executive from China’s Huawei Technologies Co Ltd to the United States, saying it would set a dangerous precedent. FILE PHOTO: Canada's Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland Huawei’s Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou, who was arrested on U.S. fraud charges in Vancouver last December, will challenge Washington’s extradition request at hearings that are set to begin next January. China angrily demanded Canada release Meng and detained two Canadians on spying charges. It has also blocked imports of Canadian canola seed and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said he fears further retaliation. The Globe and Mail newspaper on Thursday said former Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien had floated the idea of the government intervening to stop the extradition case and thereby improve ties with Beijing. “When it comes to Ms Meng there has been no political interference ... and that is the right way for extradition requests to proceed,” Freeland told a televised news conference in Washington. “It would be a very dangerous precedent indeed for Canada to alter its behavior when it comes to honoring an extradition treaty in response to external pressure,” she added, saying to do so could make Canadians around the world less safe. Canadian officials say they see no prospect of relations with China improving until Meng’s future is resolved. Trudeau said last week he would look at whether it was “appropriate or desirable” to seek a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of a Group of 20 summit in Japan later this month. Trudeau plans to visit Washington for talks on June 20 which will address the case of the two detained Canadians. Source
  2. Sajid Javid inks court papers for hearing tomorrow UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid revealed this morning that he has signed papers to have Julian Assange extradited to the US. Speaking on BBC radio earlier today, Javid said: "There's an extradition request from the US that is before the courts tomorrow but yesterday I signed the extradition order and certified it and that will be going in front of the courts tomorrow." Javid's certifying of the US extradition request lodged this week is the first formal step in having Assange sent across the pond. The next phase is tomorrow, when Belmarsh Magistrates' Court will set a date for a full extradition hearing. After that, assuming a district judge (full-time professional magistrate) OKs the extradition, Javid himself will make the final decision on whether or not to send the one-time chief WikiLeaker to America, as UK.gov's website explains. It is almost certain Assange will file an appeal to the High Court after the district judge's ruling, and again (as the law allows) after the Home Secretary's final decision. Avenging US government agents have long wanted Assange in their clutches because of his website WikiLeaks. As world+dog knows, WikiLeaks published classified material that mostly came from the US government, including the infamous "Collateral Murder" footage from gun cameras aboard American attack helicopters in the Middle East, depicting US pilots killing unarmed civilians. It also published thousands of entirely unredacted US diplomatic cables, exposing the nation's foreign policy workings and causing it severe embarrassment in the process. Sweden, which previously wanted Assange over allegations of sexual assault, abandoned its attempt to get its hands on the Australian national a week ago after a local court decided not to grant prosecutors an EU Arrest Warrant. That would have bypassed normal extradition protections in UK law. Assange's fans have always maintained that the Swedish proceedings were a front to have him extradited on to America. Assange is charged in the US with 18 counts including publishing classified material, collaborating with ex-US Army leaker Chelsea Manning, and various other crimes. In UK law, the Americans must promise only to try Assange on the charges they have published so far before he can be handed over – and the possibility of the death sentence would automatically bar his extradition. So far the WikiLeaker has not been charged with capital crimes. In his defence, Assange is understood to be claiming that he is a journalist and that the activities of WikiLeaks were journalism, rather than espionage as American prosecutors claim. In May, Assange was sentenced for jumping bail in the UK when he fled to London's Ecuadorian embassy, back in June 2012. He is currently serving 22 weeks in HM Prison Belmarsh in Woolwich, southeast London, with a theoretical release date of 2 October, well after the normal legal timescales for extradition hearings would be over. Source
  3. China’s saber-rattling on rare-earths trade has US officials looking for options Coal runoff could be a solution; Pentagon wants funding for rare-earths independence. Rare earth oxides. Clockwise from top center: praseodymium, cerium, lanthanum, neodymium, samarium, and gadolinium. Peggy Greb, US Department of Agriculture On Wednesday, Chinese newspapers ran commentaries warning the United States that escalating trade tensions would result in China cutting off its rare-earth-minerals trade with the US. China is the dominant supplier of rare-earth minerals around the world. The minerals are used in all sorts of advanced materials and play a prominent role in the operation of electric motors, wind turbines, and military-related material. According to Reuters, China's official People's Daily ran an article saying: "Undoubtedly, the US side wants to use the products made by China's exported rare-earths to counter and suppress China's development. The Chinese people will never accept this!" The commentary continued: "We advise the US side not to underestimate the Chinese side's ability to safeguard its development rights and interests. Don't say we didn't warn you!" A similar message apparently ran as an editorial in the Global Times on Wednesday. US response: Get rare-earths from coal waste China has thus far imposed mild tariffs on the rare-earth ore coming to it for processing. This tariff has squeezed the bottom lines of the owners of the only US rare-earth mine at Mountain Pass, Calif. Mountain Pass ships its ore to China for processing into industrial-grade metal, because there are no comparable rare-earths processing plants in the US. An Australian rare-earth minerals company announced last week that it would join with a US chemical company to build a rare-earths processing plant in Texas, but such a plant is likely years away from becoming a reality. China restricted its rare-earths supply before, in 2010, when it cut its export quota by 40 percent and sent prices skyward. In 2012, the US asked the World Trade Organization (WTO) to intervene, and in 2014, the WTO said that China's restriction of rare-earth-metals exports violated international trade law. Despite the high prices caused by China's export restrictions in 2010, the country is still the dominant supplier of processed rare-earth minerals. This is, in part, because processing the minerals can be environmentally taxing and wealthier countries like the US have little appetite for being home to a processing plant that creates a lot of (sometimes radioactive) waste. But a group of US senators in April reintroduced the Rare Earth Element Advanced Coal Technologies Act (REEACT) to try to glean some of these rare-earth minerals from coal-mining sludge. (An earlier version of the bill died in the Senate in 2018.) REEACT would spend $23 million each year between 2020 and 2027 to "conduct R&D on the separation of rare-earth elements from coal and coal byproducts." So far, researchers at West Virginia University (WVU) have been working at a pilot facility that's funded by more than $4 million in grants from the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL). They hope the plant will be able to extract certain rare-earth minerals from sludge created during acid coal-mine drainage. Let’s hear it for sludge! Treated sludge from West Virginia coal mines contain heavy rare-earths in particular, which are valuable and have few suppliers outside of China. "Studies show that the Appalachian basin could produce 800 tons of rare-earth elements per year, approximately the amount the defense industry would need," according to a WVU press release from 2018. Paul Ziemkiewicz, a director of WVU's Energy Institute testified before Congress in mid-May to brief lawmakers about advancements in the field. Ziemkiewicz said that refining coal-mine sludge to deliver certain rare-earth minerals may have a lower regulatory hurdle than would normally be expected. "Recovering rare-earths from acid mine drainage doesn't require much permitting," Ziemkiewicz told Congress. "You've already got infrastructure, you've got a workforce, you've got SMCRA permits required by the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act, and the state and Federal clean water permits." Though the permitting might be simple, it's unclear how quickly the process could be commercialized, especially if the REEACT bill fails to pass. In the meantime, the Pentagon late yesterday issued a report urging US action or securing rare-earths supply, according to Reuters. The report apparently urges the White House to use economic incentives under the Defense Production Act to bolster rare-earths production. Source: China’s saber-rattling on rare-earths trade has US officials looking for options (Ars Technica)
  4. Time has published an article written by Apple CEO Tim Cook arguing in favor of stronger U.S. privacy laws. The article was published under the headline “You Deserve Privacy Online. Here's How You Could Actually Get It.” Much of the article rehashes what Cook has said before, which can be summarized by what he believes are the four basic privacy rights: “First, the right to have personal data minimized. Companies should challenge themselves to strip identifying information from customer data or avoid collecting it in the first place. Second, the right to knowledge—to know what data is being collected and why. Third, the right to access. Companies should make it easy for you to access, correct and delete your personal data. And fourth, the right to data security, without which trust is impossible.” A new proposal regarding the regulation of data brokers is a bit more novel. These companies violate all of those principles by gathering as much information as possible, in secret, with no guarantee of its security. And most people can’t do a single thing about it. This setup isn't just invasive; it's dangerous. Just consider the Equifax hack, or this Motherboard report about how easy data brokers make it to buy personal information, or any of the other examples of just how much data is traded without true oversight. Here’s what Cook wants to do about that: “We believe the Federal Trade Commission should establish a data-broker clearinghouse, requiring all data brokers to register, enabling consumers to track the transactions that have bundled and sold their data from place to place, and giving users the power to delete their data on demand, freely, easily and online, once and for all.” Those protections would be in addition to stronger federal laws regarding consumer privacy, too, and not just for data brokers. They get their data from somewhere, and that list of sources includes tech companies. Which is where Apple’s self interest comes in. Many tech companies make their money by selling information about their users. That's why so many services are free—the monetization occurs behind the scenes with data sharing deals or advertising platforms. See: Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Apple makes its money by selling devices. That affords it the opportunity to limit data collection and, naturally, use privacy as a marketing tool. It sees demand for non-invasive tech and it’s more than happy to meet that demand with its products. Stricter privacy laws wouldn't be a win for Apple because of Cook’s personal beliefs. They’d be a win for Apple because so much of its competition relies on for-profit surveillance to survive. So you have to consider that when executives back policy, even if it may benefit many people. Source
  5. Your Netflix subscription is about to get pricier. ‬ It’s a 13% to 18% increase. ‪The popular streaming service announced that it will raise prices across its U.S. plans for new subscribers on Tuesday, and for existing users over the next three months. ‬ ‪Netflix’s most popular plan, previously $10.99 a month for two HD streams, will rise to $12.99. The cheapest $7.99 non-HD plan will now be $8.99, while the premium option that allowed four simultaneous streams in 4K will rise to $15.99 per month from $13.99. ‬ Netflix is raising the rates to fund its push into original programming. It was reported by The Economist last year that the company was spending between $12 billion and $13 billion on original programming in 2018, releasing popular films such as "Bird Box" and "Roma" as well as new seasons of TV shows like "13 Reasons Why," "Orange is the New Black" and "Marvel's Daredevil." Netflix has become a content powerhouse over the last few years. “We change pricing from time to time as we continue investing in great entertainment and improving the overall Netflix experience for the benefit of our members,” a Netflix spokesperson said in a statement to USA TODAY. The company plans to notify existing users by email and in the app of the price increase. Tuesday's price hike is the fourth time the company has raised its prices in the U.S., the last hike coming in 2017. In September, the company said it had 58 million U.S. subscribers. The move comes amid growing competition in the streaming space in 2019. AT&T, now the owners of Time Warner's vast content library (including HBO), plans to launch a streaming offering later this year. As does Disney, which is in the process of acquiring 21st Century Fox's movie and TV studios. Source
  6. Air traffic controllers in the U.S. must stay on the job under partial government shutdown 'Thanks to our friends to the north at Moncton Center for the pizza, Air traffic controllers from Atlantic Canada directed a fleet of special arrivals into the New York Air Traffic Control Centre on Friday night, as a gesture of solidarity and respect. And each was covered in a layer of gooey melted cheese. The Canadian Air Traffic Controller Association units in Gander, N.L., and Moncton, N.B., ordered pizzas for all of their colleagues at the control centre on Long Island, who have been working without pay since the partial U.S. government shutdown began on Dec. 22. U.S. President Donald Trump wants $5.7 billion to build a border wall with Mexico, and says he won't put through a bill to cover the cost of operating parts of the government until he gets it. The Democrats have put forward a funding bill, but don't support the wall. "It's been so overwhelmingly negative and it's nice to see that there's solidarity out there. There's people out there who are just saying, 'Hey, I work with you as a friend or a colleague and here's a nice gesture of friendship, that we care,'" said David Lombardo, a former air traffic controller who lives in Long Island and runs a social media site for people in the industry. He posted a notice to Reddit about the impending pizza arrival seen in the hallways of the New York control centre. "Aviation is a really tight-knit group of people, it's like a family. And plus, it goes against the whole rhetoric here that we're talking about because it's an international boundary!" Air traffic controllers in Cleveland enjoy pizza from their counterparts in Toronto. Workers at the Minneapolis Air Route Traffic Control Centre also enjoyed pizza from the Winnipeg Area Control Centre. Air traffic controllers provide essential services and are unable to suspend work or take any other job action during the government shutdown, he said. As a result, with no other government services running, they're working without paycheques. "They're worried about their mortgages, their medical bills. It's one thing to have a date set and say, 'Hey you're going to get your back pay in a week or two,' but they have absolutely no idea when they're going to get paid, And you can imagine that's pretty disheartening and pretty scary for many people." Sometimes solidarity comes with a soft crust and a layer of melted cheese. According to Doug Church, deputy director of public affairs with the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) in the U.S., there are currently 14,000 controllers working without pay. And they're thrilled about the pizzas. "It's just a really good shot in the arm of positive energy and positive emotion to know that, 'Hey they've got our back,'" he said. "On behalf of the entire NATCA and air traffic control around this country, we extend our thanks and our gratitude." A concerted, Canada-wide pizza delivery The pizza-delivering task force from the Gander and Moncton crews is part of a national effort on behalf of Canadian air traffic controllers to show support for their American counterparts, said Peter Duffey, president of the Canadian Air Traffic Control Association (CATCA). Duffey said local unions have been asking the national union what they could do to help since the U.S. government shutdown began. On Thursday evening, controllers in Edmonton had the idea to send pizzas across the border to controllers in Alaska. It snowballed from there. As of Sunday morning, Canadian units have sent pizzas to 35 different units in the U.S. "This is as grassroots as it gets, with our members just jumping on board this like crazy," he said. "I couldn't be more proud of what my members are doing." 'We're all taking care of the skies over North America' Duffey echoed Lombardo's sentiment that air traffic controllers keep each other close, even though they don't work side-by-side and often only hear each other's voices in headsets. "We always stand together, especially with our American counterparts," he said. "Our members just want to reach out to those people that they consider to be co-workers. We're all taking care of the skies over North America." The nature of the job also builds a strong bond, he said. "We always say that we have to be 100 per cent correct, 100 per cent of the time, with zero room for error. That's the nature of our job. To have somebody have to report to work with the added pressure of knowing they're now into their second period of work with no paycheque, they don't need that kind of added stress and pressure. We just want to send them a message that says, 'Hey we're with you, we stand with you, and we're sorry that this is happening to you.'" Church agreed that the current working conditions only made a tough job tougher. "We hold our aviation system and the safety of it in a very high regard and treat it with the utmost professionalism. It's very painful to see that system suffer because of political dispute and it really needs to end now." It was tasty pizza Lombardo said the shipment from the Gander and Moncton units were the first evidence he saw of the pan-Canadian pizza effort, but that he knew there were a lot of pies being ordered from north of the border. Gander, he said, may be a small town in a small province, but they play a big role in the skies. "They have a massive chunk of airspace that they handle," he said. "They're well-known for being very, very important in the aviation world, and it's so nice to see them care about everyone else around them." They may now be known for having good taste in pizza, too. Reddit users responded to Lombardo's post asking about the pizza place the Gander and Moncton crews chose — Gino's of Ronkonkoma — he assured them the folks at the New York control centre had a good feed. "It's really good pizza," he wrote. "And this is Long Island. Believe me, we are pizza perfectionists." Source
  7. Times are tough in 2019 thanks to the US-China trade war and an escalating war of words between Washington and Beijing over tech leadership Chinese companies at CES all agreed though that while the trade war has adversely impacted their business in the US, it remains a very important market CES, the world’s largest client electronics commerce present held yearly in Las Vegas, has historically been an occasion for firms, from international names reminiscent of Sony, Samsung and Huawei to smaller Shenzhen-based suppliers, to indicate off their expertise, services – normally to an keen crowd. It has even been known as the ‘Chinese language Electronics Present’ lately due to the growing presence of members from China. However for Chinese language suppliers hoping to make use of the occasion as a technique to achieve new enterprise leads, occasions are robust in 2019 due to the US-China commerce struggle and an escalating disagreement between Washington and Beijing over management in a spread of innovative applied sciences and improvements, reminiscent of synthetic intelligence and 5G cell networks. China cools on world’s largest tech present as commerce struggle bites The US and China, the 2 largest economies on this planet, have slapped billions of {dollars} in tariffs on one another, sending markets reeling and commentators right into a frenzy over the long-term implications for US-China relations. However on the Design and Supply tent, the place part suppliers set out their wares, it was extra quiet then ordinary as rows of Chinese salespeople manning small cubicles stood forlornly in entrance of product shows, making an attempt exhausting to catch the attention of passers-by within the hope of snaring a sale. Chinese firms that the Publish spoke to at CES all agreed that the US-China commerce struggle has adversely impacted their enterprise with US clients, however all stated that whatever the lowering margins, the US market stays extraordinarily essential. “We’re positively affected by the tariffs, in actual fact certainly one of our large US clients is shifting their manufacturing operations outdoors of China to Vietnam to keep away from a rise in the price of doing enterprise,” stated Yuki, a saleswoman from Dongguan-based Ruiheng Digital Co. Ltd., which manufactures energy adaptors and circuit boards. Source
  8. The US Commerce Department has refused to renew an export licence at a Huawei subsidy in Silicon Valley, meaning China cannot access new developments at the site. According to the Wall Street Journal, Huawei R&D outfit Futurewei was informed over the summer that the US Department of Commerce would not be renewing the license meaning some of the technologies developed at the site, but not all, could not be exported back to China. It’s a new strategy in the conflict between the US and China, but it could prove to be an effective one. Silicon Valley is not the hotspot of the technology world because of the favourable climate or the presence of helpful regulations, it has one of the most talented workforces around the world. There are of course challengers to this claim emerging, India or Eastern European for example, but companies flock to Silicon Valley to open up R&D offices to tap into this resource. Such a ban from the US Commerce Department means Huawei is going to miss out on some of these smarts. The block will prove problematic to overcome as there does not appear to be any logical way to combat the move. The rationale behind the blockage is quite simple; national security. Seeing as Huawei is currently being trialled and punished without the burden of evidence, there seems to be little the vendor can do to combat such passive aggressive moves by the US. This is of course just another stage is the incrementally escalating conflict between the US and China. The tension between the pair does seem to have escalated over the last few days following a minor hiatus at Christmas. Rumours are circling the Oval Office concerning an all-out ban on Huawei and ZTE technology in the US, while suspicions will only increase following the arrest of a Huawei employee in Poland on the grounds of espionage. With all the drama before Christmas and the hullaballoo kicking off again now, perhaps we should expect some sort of retaliation from Beijing. The Chinese governments has not been anywhere near as confrontation as the US, though there might be a breaking point somewhere in the future. Source
  9. The U.S. was ranked one of the deadliest countries for journalists in 2018 for the first time in an annual report from Reporters Without Borders. The U.S. ranked sixth among the most lethal countries for journalists, behind Afghanistan, Syria, Mexico, Yemen and India, in that order. Six journalists were killed in the U.S. this year. Four journalists, as well as a sales assistant, were killed in June when a gunman opened fire at the Annapolis, Md. offices of the Capital Gazette. Two other journalists, a North Carolina television anchor and cameraman, were killed by a falling tree while covering a hurricane in May. Overall, more journalists were killed, abused and subjected to violence in 2018 than in any other year on record, according to the report, which added that reporters are facing an “unprecedented level of hostility." Murder, imprisonment, hostage-taking and enforced disappearances of journalists all increased compared to last year. A total of 80 journalists were killed in 2018, with 49 murdered or deliberately targeted while 31 were killed while reporting. While the report partially blames bombings and shootings targeting the media in Afghanistan with the increase in deaths, 45 percent of those killed were not in conflict zones. In 2018, 348 reporters were detained and 60 were held hostage. China leads the world in detentions, with 60 journalists held in that country. Thirty-one journalists are being held hostage in Syria. “Violence against journalists has reached unprecedented levels this year, and the situation is now critical,” Reporters Without Borders Secretary General Christophe Deloire said in a press release. “The hatred of journalists that is voiced, and sometimes very openly proclaimed, by unscrupulous politicians, religious leaders and businessmen has tragic consequences on the ground, and has been reflected in this disturbing increase in violations against journalists,” he added. The October murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a columnist for The Washington Post who resided in Virginia, in Istanbul sparked international outrage. The CIA has concluded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the hit as part of his crackdown on dissent. Reporters Without Borders has been heavily involved in the #ProtectJournalists campaign, which calls for the appointment of a special representative of the United Nations secretary general for the protection of journalists. Source
  10. An invasive tick that feeds on humans, pets, livestock and wildlife is now making a new home for itself in the United States. The Asian longhorned tick (Haemaphysalis longicornis) is a potentially disease-carrying, blood-sucking species native to East Asia. Last year, however, this exotic pest was somehow found in the US state of New Jersey, hitching a ride on a sheep, thousands of kilometres from home. Since then, this intrepid and opportunistic explorer has been popping up all over, in multiple different states, including New York, Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Arkansas, Connecticut and Maryland. It's the first invasive tick to emerge in the US in nearly 80 years, and researchers think it is here to stay. A new study suggests that the steady and furtive creep of the Asian longhorned tick has only just begun. "The Asian longhorned tick is a very adaptable species, especially in its native East Asia,"says lead author Ilia Rochlin, an entomologist at the Rutgers University Center for Vector Biology. "The optimal tick habitat appears to be defined by temperate conditions--moderate temperature, humidity, and precipitation. These climatic conditions also support forested or shrubby vegetation, providing prime environment for ticks." And unfortunately, these ideal conditions are found right across North America. Using climate and environmental data from the tick's home in China, Japan and Korea, Rochlin created a statistical model that identifies similarly suitable habitats in the US and Canada. The findings reveal that much of North America is a veritable breeding ground for the Asian longhorned tick, with moderate to high suitability. Vast regions of this continent, including the west coast and especially the east coast, were found to boast ideal humid temperatures and subtropical broadleaf forests in which these ticks commonly flourish. "Similar to China's mainland, this potential H. longicornis habitat in North America is limited by low temperatures in the north, by dry climatic conditions in the west, and by high temperatures in the south," the study concludes. This leaves plenty of room for movement. Dipping down to northern Florida and stretching all the way up to southeastern Canada; tracing the Gulf coast as far as Louisiana; reaching inland to the Midwest and southeastern states; running along the northern coast of California and Oregon, and speckling the waterline of Washington. The regions where this tick could potentially set up residence are immense. The results are concerning, because this tick is notorious for carrying disease, and this puts all of its food sources in North America at risk, including goats, sheep, cattle, pigs, deer, cats, dogs, rats, mice, hedgehogs, birds and even humans. At present, there is no evidence that the longhorned tick has transmitted any diseases in the US, but given its track record, expectations are not good, prompting the US Centres for Disease Control (CDC) to issue a warning about the invasive species last month. In its homeland, this tick has been found to carry a severe, fever-inducing virus of the Phlebovirus genus. And incidentally, this emerging disease is closely related to the Heartland virus in the US, which is currently transported by the Lone Star tick. "Introduction of a tick species that is a competent vector for a closely related virus should be a matter of concern for the public health agencies and requires further investigations," the study argues. But perhaps the biggest worry has to do with livestock. In Australia and New Zealand, where this invasive species has already set up camp, the Asian longhorned tick has been found to carry bovine theileriosis, which can result in costly production losses and high mortality. This blood-sucking tick can even cause a dairy cow's milk production to drop by as much as 25 percent. Given the species' tiny size, its versatility and its ability to asexually reproduce, laying thousands of eggs at a time, Rochlin says that eradicating it from the US will be extremely difficult if not impossible. The only thing we really can do at this stage is keep tabs on this parasite as closely as possible. "The main question I am often asked is 'What can be done about ticks?' - and I don't have a good answer to that. While research and surveillance are important, we are in dire need of comprehensive tick-control strategy and new tools to carry it out," Rochlin says. "Mosquito control has been very successful in this country, but we are losing the battle with tick-borne diseases." This study has been published in the Journal of Medical Entomology. source
  11. SAN DIEGO (AP) — U.S. authorities arrested 32 people at a demonstration Monday that was organized by a Quaker group on the border with Mexico, authorities said. Demonstrators were calling for an end to detaining and deporting immigrants and showing support for migrants in a caravan of Central American asylum seekers. A photographer for The Associated Press saw about a dozen people being handcuffed after they were told by agents to back away from a wall that the Border Patrol calls “an enforcement zone.” The American Friends Service Committee, which organized the demonstration, said 30 people were stopped by agents in riot gear and taken into custody while they tried to move forward to offer a ceremonial blessing near the wall. Border Patrol spokesman Eduardo Olmos said 31 people were arrested on suspicion of trespassing by the Federal Protective Service and one was arrested by the Border Patrol for assaulting an agent. More than 300 people, many the leaders of churches, mosques, synagogues and indigenous communities, participated in the demonstration at San Diego’s Border Field State Park, which borders Tijuana, Mexico. Source
  12. “We’ve launched our last satellite,” John Donovan, CEO of AT&T Communications, said in a meeting with analysts on Nov. 29. The AT&T executive effectively declared the end of the satellite-TV era with that statement. AT&T owns DirecTV, the US’s largest satellite company—and second largest TV provider overall, behind Comcast. DirecTV will continue offering satellite-TV service—it had nearly 20 million satellite video subscribers as of September, per company filings. But the company will focus on growing its online video business instead, Donovan said. It has a new set-top box, where people can get the same TV service they’d get with satellite, through an internet-connected box they can install themselves. It expects that box to become a greater share of its new premium-TV service installations in the first half of 2019. It also sells cheaper, TV packages with fewer channels through its DirecTV Now and WatchTV streaming services, which work with many smart TVs and streaming media players like Roku and Amazon Fire TV devices. The practice of getting TV through satellite dishes propped up in backyards and perched on rooftops first took hold in the US in the last 1970s and early 1980s, after TV networks like HBO and Turner Broadcasting System started sending TV signals to cable providers via satellites. People in areas without cable or broadcast TV began putting up their own dishes to receive the TV signals, and that grew into a TV business of its own. But in recent years, consumers have shifted to new digital TV offerings like Netflix and Hulu or the live, PlayStation Vue service. That shift away from traditional TV services has hit satellite particularly hard. The US pay-TV industry reportedly lost a record number of TV subscribers last quarter, and the satellite services from DirecTV and Dish Network (which also owns internet-TV service Sling TV) were the hardest hit. In 2017, AT&T lost 554,000 satellite video subscribers, and it continued to hemorrhage customers this year, according to company filings. “He’s not going to launch more satellites,” AT&T’s top boss, chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson, said of Donovan, during the meeting. “We’re kind of done.” Source
  13. Xi Jinping and Donald Trump discussed a range of issues — among them the trade dispute that has left over $200 billion worth of goods hanging in the balance. "President Trump has agreed that on January 1, 2019, he will leave the tariffs on $200 billion worth of product at the 10 percent rate, and not raise it to 25 percent at this time," the White House said. Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Donald Trump put their bilateral trade war on pause momentarily, striking an agreement to hold off on slapping additional tariffs on each other's goods after January 1, as talks continue between both countries. In a White House readout of a dinner at the G-20 summit in Argentina, Xi and Trump discussed a range of nettlesome issues — among them the trade dispute that has left over $200 billion worth of goods hanging in the balance. "President Trump has agreed that on January 1, 2019, he will leave the tariffs on $200 billion worth of product at the 10 percent rate, and not raise it to 25 percent at this time," the statement read. Over the next 90 days, American and Chinese officials will continue to negotiate lingering disagreements on technology transfer, intellectual property and agriculture. "Both parties agree that they will endeavor to have this transaction completed within the next 90 days. If at the end of this period of time, the parties are unable to reach an agreement, the 10 percent tariffs will be raised to 25 percent," the statement added. Meanwhile, "China will agree to purchase a not yet agreed upon, but very substantial, amount of agricultural, energy, industrial, and other product from the United States to reduce the trade imbalance between our two countries. China has agreed to start purchasing agricultural product from our farmers immediately," the White House said. Xi also plans to designate Fentanyl as a controlled substance, according to the statement. As the U.S. opioid crisis continues to rage, it would suggest that people selling the drug to parties in the U.S. would be subject to stiff penalties in China. The Trump administration had threatened to more than double the tariffs it has already slapped on $250 billion worth of Chinese imports, while Xi's government has put targeted tariffs on $110 billion in U.S. goods. The standoff has raised fears among investors and businesses that the global economy could be dragged down by the dispute between the world's two largest economies. Trump, who made U.S. trade policy a central plank of his platform as a presidential candidate in 2016, wants to address specific gripes with China's trade practices, especially its alleged theft of U.S. intellectual property. Trump touted the G-20 meeting thus far as a "great success" in a pair of tweets Saturday. But he postponed a press conference, which was scheduled to follow a summit meeting, until after the funeral of former President George H.W. Bush, who died at age 94 on Friday. In a joint declaration, the group of nations said the current multilateral trading system is "falling short of its objectives and there is room for improvement," and supported reforms to the World Trade Organization. Source
  14. Artificial intelligence technology has the capability to be the most impactful software advance in history and the US government has no idea how to properly regulate it. The US does know that it doesn’t want other countries using its own AI against it. A new proposal published (Nov. 19) by the Department of Commerce (pdf) lists wide areas of AI software that could potentially require a license to sell to certain countries. These categories are as broad as “computer vision” and “natural language processing.” It also lists military-specific products like adaptive camouflage and surveillance technology. The small number of countries these regulations would target includes a big name in AI: China. Donald Trump, who has placed tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars of Chinese goods as part of a simmering trade war, has long railed against China’s alleged theft of intellectual property. This proposal looks like a warning from US officials, just as Chinese president Xi Jinping aims to boost AI in his own country. “This is intended to be a shot across the bow, directed specifically at Beijing, in an attempt to flex their muscles on just how broad these restrictions could be,” says R. David Edelman, a former adviser to president Barack Obama who leads research on technology and public policy issues at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. On two occasions this year, the White House has moved to stop China from receiving tech exports on national-security grounds. The US already regulates certain exports to China, and products capable of military use are required to be licensed before they can be exported, as is the case with North Korea, Syria, and Iran. Since AI software isn’t a device or a physical product, it could prove a difficult task to restrict how the technology flows out of the country, says Jack Clark, policy director at the nonprofit OpenAI. He argues that artificial intelligence, as a dual-use technology, can be utilized as a weapon or tool. Because AI is not tethered to a specific physical device, regulating it must address how a broad technology could function on any computer. “It’s like trying to restrict math,” Edelman says. In addition, tech companies regularly post open-source AI software and tools on the internet, in an effort to get more people using their paid services and expanding the reach of AI tools in general. It’s still unclear whether open-source code would be called an export. Publicly available code was exempt when the US regulated the export of encryption. These kinds of hard questions are needed for sensible regulation, Clark says: “I’m happy to see this because it’s a conversation that needs to be had. It’s going to be a difficult and frustrating process because it’s complicated issue.” Negotiations will be complicated by the 30-day window offered for comments, which Edelman and Clark said is unusually short. Source
  15. It appeared to be a sweet, easy way to import large loads of cocaine from southern California to the highly-profitable and unquenchable market of Australia. Owen Hanson, the good-looking former University of Southern California athlete turned cocaine kingpin and leader of violent criminal enterprise ODOG, teamed up with Los Angeles-based fine chocolate importer/exporters Nathan and Andrew Dulley. Hanson and his California-based henchmen would drop off large batches of cocaine - usually in quantities of tens of kilograms or more - and the Dulley brothers would intermix and package the drugs with legitimate chocolate merchandise to disguise it from the shipper and Australian and US customs authorities. The Dulleys would use their established import/export routes, and when the shipments landed in Australia ODOG members would distribute the drugs. Just like Hanson, sentenced in a San Diego court last year to more than 21 years in prison, the Dulleys, Nathan, 36, and Andrew, 34, now face long jail stints in America's federal prison system. The brothers entered guilty pleas to international drug trafficking charges in San Diego on Thursday to become the latest affiliates of the ODOG drug, money laundering and illegal gambling syndicate to fall following a highly-successful joint covert operation by NSW Police, the NSW Crime Commission, FBI and US Drug Enforcement Administration. So far 22 other defendants charged in connection with the case have pleaded guilty in US courts. "Transnational racketeering organisations represent a clear and present danger to the safety and security of our communities," US Attorney for the southern district of California Adam Braverman said. "Those who assist such criminal enterprises by allowing the corruption of their otherwise legitimate businesses will be held accountable for the harm wrought on our communities." The gangster lifestyle that Hanson, a muscle-bound playboy and former member of the champion USC gridiron team, had enjoyed collapsed when New South Wales police, the FBI and other authorities swooped on him at a golf course near San Diego in 2015. The 36-year-old was attracted to the huge profits he could make by trafficking cocaine to eager buyers in Australia. He boasted how he could sell a kilogram of cocaine in Australia for US$175,000 (NZ$262,885) compared to US$20,000 in Los Angeles. His downfall began in 2011 with the discovery in a Sydney hotel room of a suitcase containing A$702,000 (NZ$760,305) cash. Authorities followed a trail that eventually led them to Hanson and ODOG. At Hanson's sentencing last year prosecutor Andrew Young described how Hanson fashioned himself as a mob boss. He used the handle "Don Corleone" on his encrypted Blackberry and insisted a restaurant he was a partner in had a "Wise Guy Room" adorned with mob photos. Professional gambler Robert Cipriani told the court how Hanson embarked on a terror campaign against him and his actress girlfriend Greice Santo in an attempt to recoup money Hanson demanded. Hanson had red paint splattered on Cipriani's mother's grave and sent DVDs to the couple showing actual beheadings of people with a chainsaw and knife. Source
  16. The trade war is starting to hurt the Asian nation, depressing the consumer spending that the Alibaba relies on to drive much of its growth. Alibaba trimmed its annual forecast after quarterly sales missed estimates, underscoring the extent to which escalating tensions with the US are hurting the Chinese economy. For the fiscal year ending March, the company is now predicting revenue of 375 billion yuan ($54.5 billion) to 383 billion yuan, equating to growth of as much as 53% versus the 60% it guided towards previously. Second-quarter sales came in 1.6% below analysts’ estimates. While the US and China appear willing to discuss a deal of some sort, Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma has warned of longer-term conflict between the world’s two largest economies. The trade war is starting to hurt the Asian nation, depressing the consumer spending that the online giant relies on to drive much of its growth. Domestically, it’s grappling with a migration of smaller merchants to cheaper platforms such as JD.com and Pinduoduo, both backed by nemesis Tencent. “China’s e-commerce sector will feel the drag of the economy slowdown even more next year,” said Steven Zhu, an analyst with Pacific Epoch. “Platforms like Pinduoduo are charging much lower in commissions, posing significant competition to Alibaba.” Heightening the uncertainty, Chinese regulators are clamping down on the country’s internet sector, reining in everything from gaming apps and travel sites to ride-hailing. That’s exacerbating already slowing growth in Alibaba’s business. The Hangzhou-based company is trying to counter that by stepping up its marketing services and investing in its own grocery stores and delivery to boost sales. Alibaba’s closely watched customer management revenue, which includes the high-margin business of helping merchants with marketing, grew 25%– down a tad from the previous quarter’s 26%. Other divisions however remained humming — the cloud business grew 90%. Youku, its Netflix-style video service, more than doubled its average daily subscribers, while the international business — a relatively smaller piece of the pie — grew 55%. Revenue at China’s biggest e-commerce company rose 54% to 85.15 billion yuan in the three months ended September. That compares with the 86.5 billion-yuan average of estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Adjusted earnings-per-share came to 9.60 yuan, compared with estimates for 7.43 yuan. Shares of Alibaba gained 2.6 percent in pre-market trade, as stocks surged amid hopes China and the U.S. might have possible terms of a trade deal to discuss this month. Its shares have slid 12.3 percent this year compared with a 3.5 percent loss for the NYSE Composite Index. The reduced forecast comes as Alibaba ramps up for its annual Singles’ Day shopping festival, a litmus test of not just the company’s health but also China’s overall consumption. Chinese online retail sales growth is already slowing, to 24% in the third quarter from 36% in the second. Chief Executive Officer Daniel Zhang, who succeeds Ma as chairman next year, will preside over the November 11 event as it broadens the shopping categories to include purchases made in affiliated shopping malls and food deliveries. Alibaba faces “a soft quarter ahead on weak consumption and intensifying competition,” Wendy Huang, an analyst at Macquarie, said in a report. Source
  17. US official fears supply chain attack on US military systems. The Trump administration on Monday announced it was banning US exports to a Chinese semiconductor firm named Fujian Jinhua Integrated Circuit Company, Ltd., citing national security concerns. In a statement released by the US Department of Commerce (DoC), officials said the Chinese chipmaker posed "a significant risk of being or becoming involved, in activities contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States." DoC officials are now barring US companies from selling any products to Fujian Jinhua, which was recently nearing completion of a new dynamic random access memory (DRAM) factory project. US hardware maker Micron Technology has repeatedly accused Fujian Jinhua, and its Taiwanese partner United Microelectronics Corp (UMC), of stealing its chips designs [1, 2]. The three companies are currently duking it out in US and Chinese courts. Now, the Trump administration is taking action "in light of the likely U.S.-origin technology" that "threatens the long term economic viability of U.S. suppliers of these essential components of U.S. military systems." "When a foreign company engages in activity contrary to our national security interests, we will take strong action to protect our national security. Placing Jinhua on the Entity List will limit its ability to threaten the supply chain for essential components in our military systems," said Wilbur Ross, Secretary of Commerce. Fujian Jinhua is nearing completion of a mammoth $5.7 billion factory in China's Fujian province, a factory that is said to dwarf any existing plants. The Chinese chipmaker is the second major tech company after ZTE to have landed on the Trump administration export ban list --known as the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) Entity List. The first was ZTE after the company was caught exporting products to Iran and North Korea. The Trump administration revoked the ban after ZTE agreed to pay a $1 billion fine. The Trump administration has also banned government agencies from using Huawei and ZTE devices on the fear they may contain backdoors that allow Chinese spies access to US government networks. Source
  18. Multiple European gambling commissions, as well as one in the US, have joined in a common investigation of gaming practices and intend to crack down on any practice suggestive of illegal gambling. It’s the first time such a large collective of authorities have addressed the issue before, and it’s an escalation from the mostly fragmented efforts in the recent past. The 16-member group intends to analyze and “address” the risks posed by gambling-like practices in games, primarily the more predatory tactics which they say work best on children. In a declaration of intent, they say: While the language merely expresses a desire to “inform” and “raise awareness” of the potential problems caused by such practices, the declaration also mentions potential legislation: “Each gambling regulator will of course reserve the right to use instruments of enforcement given by its national gambling regulatory framework.” The declaration comes from gambling commissions across Europe, including those in France, Spain, Norway, and the Netherlands. You can see the full list of participating organizations on the UK Gambling Commission’s site, along with their intentions. Some of these countries have already taken action against game developers, or at least considered it. For example, the Dutch Kansspelautoriteit has had loot boxes under a magnifying glass since earlier this year. Neil McArthur of the UK Gambling Commission said the primary aim of the group’s efforts is to reduce the potential manipulation of children, who are vulnerable to the more suggestive tactics: It’s interesting to see something that was, for a long time, a bugaboo solely of gamers being taken up as a cause by suspicious investigators. Gamers have had to contend with lootboxes, expensive cosmetic upgrades, and microtransactions for years, but now that games are more widespread and accepted as entertainment for young children, officials are finally catching on to their shadier practices. We’re used to seeing governments go after lootboxes in particular, but this group appears to be expanding their investigation to include things like third-party scams and gambling sites. Interestingly the one American participant in this declaration is the Washington State Gaming Commission. This is the same state currently locked in a tussle with Big Fish Games, the company that runs a mobile casino with in-app blackjack, slots, and roulette. Big Fish has been trying for quite some time to get the Commission to see its games as not being illegal gambling (the name “Big Fish Casino” apparently notwithstanding). In fact, there’s even a page on the Commission’s site dedicated to the complaint. Given that kind of experience, it’s probably not a surprise to see Washington joining in the declaration. The group wraps up the declaration with what sounds like a tacit warning to developers: “We expect that this Declaration will initiate a constructive dialogue between gambling regulators and responsible game developers.” These aren’t the only European authorities investigating — officials from both Belgium and Finland have announced their intention to crack down on any kind of gambling elements in video games. International concern over blurred lines between gambling and video games on UK Gambling Commission Source
  19. Around 95 percent of all ransomware payments were laundered through Vinnik's BTC-e platform. The Supreme Court in Greece has ruled today that the owner of a shady Bitcoin exchange platform through which ransomware operators laundered cyber-crime money will be extradited to Russia, instead of the US or France, countries which also requested the hacker's extradition. The suspect at the center of this tug-of-war is Alexander Vinnik, also known under the nickname of "Mr. Bitcoin," and the owner of the BTC-e.com cryptocurrency exchange. US authorities shut down BTC-e in July 2017. Vinnik was arrested the same month by Greek police while vacationing in a seaside resort in the country's northern Halkidiki region. The US requested Vinnik's extradition on a case involving 21 charges related to money laundering and the operation of an unlicensed money exchange. Vinnik faced a combined maximum sentence of up to 35 years in prison, along with various fines, in the US case alone. As soon as Vinnik's arrest became public, Russia filed an extradition claim of their own. Russian authorities said Vinnik was also a suspected in an investigation in Russia in relation to a €9,500 ($11,000) fraud charge. Details about the case remained murky. France filed its own extradition claim in June 2018, for involvement in "cybercrime, money laundering, and membership in a criminal organization and extortion." Greek judges waivered in the case at every turn and with every appeal. They initially agreed to extradite Vinnik to the US, then to France over the summer, then to Russia at the start of September. The case eventually reached Greece's Supreme Court, and today, it was decided that Vinnik should face charges in Russia, the suspect's native country, and where he expressed his desire to be trialed, mainly because of the thinner charges brought against him. On the same day Greek authorities were arresting Vinnik, a team of researchers that also included Google staffers, presented findings at the Black Hat USA 2017 security conference, revealing that 95 percent of all ransomware ransom payments were cashed out and converted into fiat currency through Vinnik's BTC-e portal. Also on the same day, a group of Bitcoin security specialists calling themselves WizSec published the results of an investigation that linked Vinnik's Bitcoin accounts to laundering funds stolen from the Mt. Gox exchange. Researchers said that Vinnik was also involved in laundering funds stolen from other cryptocurrency exchanges, such as Bitcoinica, Bitfloor, and other platforms they did not name at the time. US authorities said in an indictment that Vinnik's platform helped launder over $4 billion in illegal funds. BTC-e's website, before it went down, claimed to have handled over $7 billion during its lifetime. Vinnik extradition to Russia is now in the hands of the Greek Justice Minister. The Minister can decline to sign, although, state officials rarely overrule justice systems on these decisions. Source
  20. A 35-year-old Russian was extradited to the United States from Georgia on Friday to answer criminal charges over the massive theft of customer data from JPMorgan Chase and Dow Jones, officials announced. Andrei Tyurin is accused of orchestrating major hacking crimes against US financial institutions, brokerage firms and financial news publishers, including the largest theft of customer data from a US financial institution. US prosecutors say the schemes from 2012 to mid-2015 included the theft of personal information of over 100 million customers of the victim companies. The scheme compromised data from millions of customers of JPMorgan Chase and other firms, previously identified as the Dow Jones media group and online brokers ETrade and Scottrade. Tyurin, originally from Moscow, was arrested in Georgia at the request of US authorities, US officials said. He faces 10 charges on multiple conspiracy counts, as well as wire fraud, aggravated identity theft and four counts of computer hacking. The most serious charges carry a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison. Three other purported co-conspirators, Israeli citizens Gery Shalon and Ziv Orenstein, and American Joshua Aaron were arrested in 2015 and 2016. Tyurin will appear before a Manhattan federal court later on Friday, with another scheduled court hearing on September 25, US prosecutors said. His alleged hacking activities "lay claim to the largest theft of US customer data from a single financial institution in history, accounting for a staggering 80 million-plus victims," said US Attorney Geoffrey Berman. Source
  21. from the result-of-asking-'why-not?'-rather-than-'why?' dept Reuters has a long, detailed examination of the Chinese surveillance state. China's intrusion into the lives of its citizens has never been minimal, but advances in technology have allowed the government to keep tabs on pretty much every aspect of citizens' lives. Facial recognition has been deployed at scale and it's not limited to finding criminals. It's used to identify regular citizens as they go about their daily lives. This is paired with license plate readers and a wealth of information gathered from online activity to provide the government dozens of data points for every citizen that wanders into the path of its cameras. Other biometric information is gathered and analyzed to help the security and law enforcement agencies better pin down exactly who it is they're looking at. But it goes further than that. The Chinese version of stop-and-frisk involves "patting down" cellphones for illegal content or evidence of illegal activities. China is home to several companies offering phone cracking services and forensic software. It's not only Cellebrite and Grayshift, although these two are best known for selling tech to US law enforcement. Not that phone cracking is really a necessity in China. Most citizens hand over passwords when asked, considering the alternative isn't going to be a detainment while a warrant is sought. The option is far more likely to be something like a trip to a modern dungeon for a little conversational beating. What's notable about this isn't the tech. This tech is everywhere. US law enforcement has access to much of this, minus the full-blown facial recognition and other biometric tracking. (That's on its way, though.) Plate readers, forensic devices, numerous law enforcement databases, social media tracking software… these are all in use already. Much of what China has deployed is being done in the name of security. That's the same justification for the massive surveillance apparatus erected after the 2001 attacks. The framework for a totalitarian state is already in place. The only thing separating us from China is our Constitutional rights. Whenever you hear a US government official lamenting perps walking on technicalities or encryption making it tough to lock criminals up, keep in mind the alternative is China: a full-blown police state stocked to the teeth with surveillance tech. Source
  22. Privacy and government affairs officers from a number of the largest tech companies plan to convene in San Francisco on Wednesday to discuss how to tackle growing questions and concerns about consumer privacy online. Privacy and government affairs officers from a number of the largest tech companies plan to convene in San Francisco on Wednesday to discuss how to tackle growing questions and concerns about consumer privacy online. Why it matters: It's been a tough year for the industry on the privacy front, driven largely by Europe's new privacy regime and the media frenzy around Facebook's Cambridge Analytica data scandal. What's happening: The Information Technology Industry Council, a Washington trade group that represents major tech companies, organized an all-day meeting to jump-start the conversations. Members include Facebook, Google, Apple, Salesforce, IBM, Microsoft, Intel, Qualcomm, Samsung, Dropbox, and others. ITI expects the meeting to be attended by companies across the industry's sectors, including hardware, software and device makers — but declined to say which companies would be there. Dean Garfield, ITI CEO and president, told Axios that tech companies are aware there's a new sense of urgency around consumer privacy. "My experience is that they’ve always viewed privacy as a foundational principle, but the question of how do you give meaning to it and talk about it in a way that resonates is now something that’s more pressing," he said. Driving the news: Europe's strict and sweeping privacy rules, GDPR, went into effect last month and are already considered de-facto standards because they affect so many U.S. companies. On top of that, California lawmakers are scrambling to pass a privacy bill before a major privacy initiative ends up on the November ballot. As Axios reported last week, the Trump administration is exploring possible approaches to create a framework for how companies can use and share consumers' online data. ITI says its focus on privacy began before Gail Slater, the Trump advisor leading discussions on privacy, arrived at the White House, and that this process is not a direct result of those conversations. U.S. vs EU: The U.S. has generally approached privacy rules on a sector-by-sector basis, meaning the health care industry has different privacy standards than the financial industry. Tech companies handle data according to their privacy policies and other agreements, such as the Privacy Shield between the EU and U.S. And the FTC makes sure companies stay true to their promises to consumers. "Just because Europe has taken a comprehensive approach doesn't mean our different approach is deficient," Garfield said. "And just because Europe is early doesn't mean it's best or final. But we should always be thinking about how we evolve to make sure consumers have trust in our products." Our take: It will be very difficult to get such a diverse group of companies to reach consensus about privacy, which has become incredibly complicated in the internet era, as companies with different business models want different standards. This process will extend far beyond this week's meeting. Source
  23. Bargain basement pricing with flagship-level update support. Fresh off an announcement last month, HMD's Nokia 3.1 is coming to America. Starting July 2nd, you'll be able to buy the US version of the Nokia 3.1 for $159 from Amazon, Best Buy and B&H. With a price like that, the Nokia 3.1 is definitely on the low end of the spectrum, but like the rest of Nokia's phone lineup, this one stands out thanks to its build of stock Android, an emphasis on software updates, and for being one of the few low-end or mid-range phones that don't feel like shovelware. On the front of the phone you have a 5.5-inch, 1440×720 (293PPI) LCD. The whole front is wrapped in Gorilla Glass 3, and while it's not exactly a slim-bezel design, HMD is still equipping the device with an extra-tall 18:9 aspect ratio display. For the body of the phone you get an aluminum chassis, which is only exposed on the sides, and a plastic back. Surprisingly, the Nokia 3.1 has a MediaTek 6750 SoC instead of the usual Qualcomm chip. This is a 28nm SoC with eight Cortex A53 cores (four clocked at 1.5GHz and four at 1.0GHz) which gives it a decent speed advantage over, say, the Snapdragon 427 in the $184 Moto E5 Play or $199 Moto G6 Play, which only have four Cortex A53 cores. The baseline Nokia 3.1 also comes with 2GB or RAM, 16GB of storage, and a 2990 mAh battery. There's a micro-USB port, a microSD slot, and a headphone jack. At this price point, there are going to be some compromises; in this case, you miss out on a fingerprint reader and NFC. International versions of the 3.1 have NFC, but the US version doesn't. Speaking of US limitations, it doesn't seem like the 3GB RAM/32GB storage variant will come to the US, either. Nokia's update policy is basically unheard of at this price point—it's offering monthly security updates for three years and major OS updates for two years, the same deal you'd get with a good Android flagship. Most other OEMs would take your money and run. And since it's an Android One phone, you get pure stock Android 8.0 without any skins or crapware. Usually, the only decent US phones in this price range are found in Motorola's lineup, but the Nokia 3.1 is cheaper than anything from Motorola and should be a bit faster. Motorola is offering bigger batteries, while Nokia has a better update program. Source
  24. Despite an outpouring of resources, like greater access to the overdose antidote naloxone, opioids continue to kill Americans at a record pace. It’s no secret that opioids kill more Americans annually than ever before. But a new study published Friday in JAMA Network Open highlights just how devastating the crisis has been to certain age groups. In 2016, it found, opioid overdoses were responsible for a fifth of all deaths among people in their mid-20s to 30s—a fivefold increase from 15 years ago. The researchers looked at mortality data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from 2001 to 2016. The overall percentage of deaths caused by opioids had jumped 296 percent over that time period, they found, accounting for 335,123 deaths in total. By 2016, one in every 65 deaths could be traced to opioids. They also estimated nearly 1.7 million years of life were lost prematurely to opioids that year, a toll higher than that caused by diseases like HIV/AIDS, high blood pressure, and pneumonia. The toll isn’t evenly distributed among Americans, though. More than two-thirds of deaths were among men. And though much has been made of the growing number of deaths from drug overdoses among white, middle-aged Americans in recent years—so-called deaths of despair—the largest relative increase in mortality the researchers saw was in people from the ages of 25 to 34. Opioids accounted for about 4 percent of deaths in this age group in 2001, but a whopping 20 percent in 2016. “Despite the amount of attention that has been placed on this public health issue, we are increasingly seeing the devastating impact that early loss of life from opioids is having across the United States,” said lead author Tara Gomes, a scientist in the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute of St. Michael’s Hospital Hospital in Toronto, Ontario, in a statement. “In the absence of a multidisciplinary approach to this issue that combines access to treatment, harm reduction, and education, this crisis will impact the U.S. for generations.” Already, public health officials believe the worsening crisis—fueled by the greater availability of more potent street opioids like fentanyl—has played a large role in lowering the average life expectancy at birth in the US over the past three years. The crisis has seemingly had less of an impact in Europe, but the same can’t be said for Canada. In fact, Gomes and her team were building off earlier research of theirs that found a similar pattern of deaths in that country. “These numbers show us the dramatic impact of opioid-related harms across all demographics in the US,” she said in a statement. “We know this is not an isolated public health issue—it is one that spans across North America.” The CDC estimates that over 42,000 Americans were killed by opioid overdose in 2016. And in Canada, an estimated 4,000 people died due to opioids in 2017. Both are record highs. Source
  25. According to Alexa – the Amazon-owned web traffic analyzing platform – more people now visit Reddit than Facebook in the US Spotted, of course, on Reddit by user IamATechieNerd, the stats will be a big boost for the social sharing platform, especially with many users still irked about the recent re-design. It’s important to note that analyzing web traffic using a tool like Alexa is not an exact science, but it’s interesting that it has now put Reddit ahead of Facebook. If the stats are to be believed, Google is still the most visited site, followed by YouTube, Reddit, and Facebook, with Amazon rounding out the top five. On average, Reddit users spend 15 minutes and 10 seconds on it everyday, a figure substantially higher than its competitors. Google users spend 7 minutes 16 seconds, YouTube 8 minutes 31 seconds, Facebook 10 minutes 50 seconds and Amazon 7 minutes 37 seconds on the sites each day. This isn’t great news for Facebook on the face of things. The social media company’s audience is ageing and shifting to other platforms and, with the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the company’s lost a lot of sheen. Still, the Facebook-owned Instagram and WhatsApp are thriving, so Zuckerberg won’t be panicking too much yet. Whether long-term Reddit users will be happy with this increased traffic is another matter. But, let’s be honest, when are they ever satisfied? Source
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