2018-07-01 00:00:00 ..
2018-10-19 05:37:17 UTC
2018-10-20 14:37:07 UTC
We always have a place for talented people, visit the Get Involved section on the wiki to see how you can make SoylentNews better.
Air pollution in the U.S. has decreased since about 1990, and a new study conducted at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill now shows that this air quality improvement has brought substantial public health benefits. The study, published in the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, found that deaths related to air pollution were nearly halved between 1990 and 2010.
The team's analyses showed that deaths related to air pollution exposure in the U.S. decreased by about 47 percent, dropping from about 135,000 deaths in 1990 to 71,000 in 2010.
These improvements in air quality and public health in the U.S. coincided with increased federal air quality regulations, and have taken place despite increases in population, energy and electricity use, and vehicle miles traveled between 1990 and 2010.
"We've invested a lot of resources as a society to clean up our air," said Jason West, professor of environmental sciences and engineering at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health and study co-author. "This study demonstrates that those changes have had a real impact with fewer people dying each year due to exposure to outdoor air pollution."
[...] Still, despite clear improvements, air pollution remains an important public health issue in the U.S. The estimated 71,000 deaths in 2010 translates to 1 of every 35 deaths in the U.S. -- that's as many deaths as we see from all traffic accidents and all gun shootings combined.
[...] "New federal policies curtailing air pollution regulations likely will slow the improvement in air quality or possibly make air quality worse."
Journal Reference: Yuqiang Zhang, et. al. Long-term trends in the ambient PM2.5- and O3-related mortality burdens in the United States under emission reductions from 1990 to 2010. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 2018; 18 (20): 15003 DOI: 10.5194/acp-18-15003-2018
Submitted via IRC for Fnord666
The nation's largest broadband industry lobby groups have sued Vermont to stop a state law that requires ISPs to follow net neutrality principles in order to qualify for government contracts.
The lawsuit[pdf] was filed yesterday in US District Court in Vermont by mobile industry lobby CTIA, cable industry lobby NCTA, telco lobby USTelecom, the New England Cable & Telecommunications Association, and the American Cable Association (ACA), which represents small and mid-size cable companies.
CTIA, NCTA, USTelecom, and the ACA also previously sued California to stop a much stricter net neutrality law, but they're now expanding the legal battle to multiple states. These lobby groups represent all the biggest mobile and home Internet providers in the US and hundreds of smaller ISPs. Comcast, Charter, AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile US, Sprint, Cox, Frontier, and CenturyLink are among the groups' members.
While the California law applies to all consumer broadband providers, Vermont's law is narrower and may be more likely to survive legal challenge. Vermont's law creates a process in which ISPs can certify that they comply with net neutrality guidelines, and it says that state agencies may only buy Internet service from ISPs that obtain those certifications.
Vermont Governor Phil Scott, a Republican, also issued an executive order[pdf] imposing similar requirements on state agencies. The broadband industry lawsuit asks the court to rule that both the Vermont law and executive order are preempted by federal law.
The lobby groups point to the Federal Communications Commission repeal of US-wide net neutrality rules because the FCC order claims the authority to preempt state net neutrality laws.
[...] The state law is also preempted because of "the inherently interstate nature" of broadband, the complaint said.
To get certified for state contracts, Vermont says that ISPs must demonstrate that they do not block or throttle lawful Internet traffic or engage in paid prioritization. The certification also prohibits ISPs from "engaging in deceptive or misleading marketing practices that misrepresent the treatment of Internet traffic or content to its customers." ISPs seeking certification also have to publicly disclose accurate information about their network management practices, network performance, and the commercial terms of their Internet service.
[...] The lawsuit could serve as a test case for other states that are attempting to regulate net neutrality indirectly through state contracts. Besides Vermont, the governors of Hawaii, Montana, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island have also issued executive orders to impose net neutrality rules on ISPs that provide Internet service to state government agencies.
Sunday Times Driving reports under 50% of surveyed UK drivers know what a roundabout sign looks like, and only 68% knew what the speed bump sign means.
Only 32% of drivers knew you should allow at least a two-second time gap to the vehicle ahead when driving on a dry open road. It appears many motorists are conflating this with two car lengths in distance, as 53% of those surveyed responded with that answer.
[...] Younger motorists were the most likely to answer incorrectly, with 17 to 39 year-olds having the lowest correct answer percentage rates in 14 of the 23 questions, but older drivers didn't do very well either.
The Sunday Times article has an embedded googleforms survey, so you can test your knowledge of UK road rules.
In late 2017 California amended its labor laws to forbid employers from inquiring into previous compensation and to compel employers to provide candidates with pay range information upon reasonable request. I refer to Assembly Bills(AB) 168 and 2282, both of which passed and were approved by the Governor:
Assembly Bill 168 ("Employers: salary information") added Section 432.3 to the California Labor Code.
Assembly Bill 2282 ("Salary history information") amended Sections 432.3 and 1197.5 of the Labor Code to provide clarification on AB 168.
A brief summary of the changes brought about by AB 2282 is available on JDSupra: California Clarifies its Salary History Ban.
If you are a candidate, applying for a job in California:
A government computer system that interacts with HealthCare.gov was hacked earlier this month, compromising the sensitive personal data of some 75,000 people, officials said Friday.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services made the announcement late in the afternoon ahead of a weekend, a time slot agencies often use to release unfavorable developments.
Officials said the hacked system was shut down and technicians are working to restore it before sign-up season starts Nov. 1 for health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act.
About 10 million people currently have private coverage under former President Barack Obama's health care law.
Consumers applying for subsidized coverage have to provide extensive personal information, including Social Security numbers, income, and citizenship or legal immigration status.
The system that was hacked is used by insurance agents and brokers to directly enroll customers. All other sign-up systems are working.
I first learned of GitHub having problems from a story on Hacker News. Since SoylentNews hosts its code there, I was curious as to what was going on. If it was indeed down, I wanted to pass the word on to the rest of the SoylentNews community.
The comments on that story suggested that GitHub read access was working okay (and a very quick check on my part of our code there confirmed that), but attempts to make changes are failing.
Then I took a look at GitHub's Status Page, where I found something even stranger... how they phrased their status messages! Take a look:
22:42 Eastern Standard Time
We continue to repair a data storage system for GitHub.com. You may see inconsistent results during this process.
22:23 Eastern Standard Time
We are continuing to repair a data storage system for GitHub.com. You may see inconsistent results during this process.
22:01 Eastern Standard Time
We continue work to repair a data storage system for GitHub.com. You may see inconsistent results during this process.
21:41 Eastern Standard Time
We are continuing to work to migrate a data storage system in order to restore access to GitHub.com.
21:22 Eastern Standard Time
We continue to work to migrate a data storage system in order to restore access to GitHub.com.
21:02 Eastern Standard Time
We continue to migrate a data storage system in order to restore full access to GitHub.com.
20:43 Eastern Standard Time
We continue to work on migrating a data storage system in order to restore access to GitHub.com.
20:23 Eastern Standard Time
We're continuing to work on migrating a data storage system in order to restore access to GitHub.com.
20:05 Eastern Standard Time
We're failing over a data storage system in order to restore access to GitHub.com.
19:43 Eastern Standard Time
We're investigating problems accessing GitHub.com.
19:13 Eastern Standard Time
We are investigating reports of service unavailability.
19:09 Eastern Standard Time
Seems to me someone on GitHub once spent a little too much time exploring mazes in Colossal Cave. Will they be able to fix the problem before they run out of permutations?
Submitted via IRC for Bytram
Twitter has released a data store of posts from 3,841 accounts that have been identified as being connected to the Internet Research Agency (IRA), the Russian "troll factory" that used Twitter and Facebook to conduct an "influence campaign" aimed at causing political turmoil during the 2016 US presidential election as well as undermining the political process in other countries, including Germany and Ukraine. The company has also released another set of data connected to 770 accounts believed to be connected with an Iranian influence campaign.
Totaling over 360 gigabytes—including more than 10 million tweets and associated metadata, and over 2 million images, animated GIFs, videos and Periscope streams—the data store provides a picture of how state-sponsored agencies have used the Twitter platform. Some of the content dates back as far as 2009.
In a post announcing the release, Twitter Legal, Policy and Trust & Safety lead Vijaya Gadde and Twitter's head of Site Integrity Yoel Roth wrote that Twitter was providing the data "with the goal of encouraging open research and investigation of [state-sponsored influence and information campaigns] from researchers and academics around the world."
The archive of the IRA's tweet metadata alone is 5.4GB of comma-separated data when expanded. In many cases, the user ID and screen name of many accounts—those with fewer than 5,000 followers—have been concealed with hash values to "reduce the potential negative impact on real or compromised accounts," a Twitter spokesperson said in a statement on the data archive. The hash values still allow individual accounts to be analyzed without exposing the actual names associated with them.
[...] Gadde and Roth noted that Twitter expects these sorts of campaigns to continue and said that Twitter's Site Integrity team will "continue to proactively combat nefarious attempts to undermine the integrity of Twitter, while partnering with civil society, government, our industry peers, and researchers to improve our collective understanding of coordinated attempts to interfere in the public conversation."
Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story:
On 106 acres in Fishlake National Forest in Richfield, Utah, a 13-million-pound giant has been looming for thousands of years. But few people have ever heard of him.
This is "the Trembling Giant," or Pando, from the Latin word for "I spread." A single clone, and genetically male, he is the most massive organism on Earth. He is a forest of one: a grove of some 47,000 quivering aspen trees — Populus tremuloides — connected by a single root system, and all with the same DNA.
But this majestic behemoth may be more of a Goliath, suggests a study published Wednesday in PLOS ONE. Threatened by herds of hungry animals and human encroachment, Pando is fighting a losing battle.
The study, consisting of recent ground surveys and an analysis of 72 years of aerial photographs, revealed that this unrealized natural treasure and keystone species — with hundreds of dependents — is shrinking. And without more careful management of the forest, and the mule deer and cattle that forage within him, the Trembling Giant will continue to dwindle.
"It's been thriving for thousands of years, and now it's coming apart on our watch," said Paul Rogers, an ecologist at Utah State University who led the study.
How Pando got so big is a mystery. Perhaps it lived among other clones and became dominant over time. Or maybe the relatively flat land where it grows encouraged its spread. Maybe Pando just outcompeted other trees.
But there's hope for Pando as managers learn from past mistakes and take advantage of an improved understanding of forest ecology.
Where one section of the forest has been properly fenced off and managed, trees have grown tens of feet in just a few years. Pando's genetics may encourage its fast growth in new areas.
More fencing, culling of deer, and experimentation with the forest's natural ecology ultimately might save Pando, Dr. Rogers said. And educating the public about the giant's significance may spur novel conservation methods. For instance, saving common species such as aspen, which support high biodiversity, might be just as important as saving rare, charismatic species.
"If we can save this, there are lessons that may help us save hundreds to thousands of species worldwide," Dr. Rogers said. "If we can't manage that 106 acres and restore it, what does that say about our greater interactions with the earth?"
-- submitted from IRC
Imagine that in the future you can rent time machines just as easily as you can rent a car. Paradoxes are nicely sidestepped, and you even get the handy pamphlet "1001 Fun Ways to kill Hitler". Sounds great, right? Suppose that time machine breaks down. Turns out it's easier to re-invent civilization than it is to fix said machine, and that's what this book purports to do.
This book is chock full of tidbits, like this on buttons. People wore buttons for thousands of years as ornaments. It was only fairly recently someone realized they could hold clothes closed. This is disgraceful and embarrassing. You can do better.
Scalzi's page describes this book much better than I can. Need to know which animals to domesticate? Covered. Foods to cultivate? Covered. Crop rotation? Compass? Non-sucky numbers? Forge? Birth Control? Logic? Chemistry? Steel? check, check, check, check, ...., check.
This is not a textbook, there is no math, and minimal theory on why things work. It's focused on why and how, not "how does it work?".
I got my copy from the library and, after an hour or two, ordered my own copy from Amazon. I'm sure my fellow Soylenters will also love this book.
OpenBSD 6.4 has dropped, and has a bunch of improvements, including:
...and much more.
Julian Assange announced on Friday that he was suing the Ecuadorean government for "violating his fundamental rights," claiming that his longtime hosts at the country's embassy in London are limiting his contact with the outside world and censoring his speech.
His legal team in the matter, led by the former Spanish judge Baltasar Garzón, revealed the suit at a news conference in Quito, where the lawsuit was filed. The action aims to prevent strict new rules governing Mr. Assange's visitors and online activity from taking effect.
The policies were laid out in a nine-page memo that was published by a news site this month. (They include directives to clean his bathroom and look after his cat.)
Clean up your room and brush your teeth before you go to bed.
Previously: Julian Assange has His Internet Access Cut Off by Ecuador
Ecuador Spent $5 Million Protecting and Spying on Julian Assange
Ecuador Reportedly Almost Ready to Hand Julian Assange Over to UK Authorities
Associated Press Publishes Supposedly Leaked WikiLeaks Documents
The Guardian: Russian Diplomats Planned to Sneak Julian Assange Out of the UK
Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story:
In a new study, scientists from Imperial College London investigated how a recently discovered hormone called kisspeptin alters brain activity in healthy volunteers.
The hormone, known as the master regulator of reproduction, not only has a crucial role in sperm and egg production, but may also boost reproductive behaviours.
In the new research, the scientists investigated how the hormone affects the brain when it is 'at rest'. So-called resting brain activity is the state our brain enters when not concentrating on a task, and is akin to a car ticking over in neutral. Studying this 'neutral', resting state is crucial for understanding what happens when the brain is active, and the car accelerates. Furthermore, studying the resting brain allows scientists to examine large brain networks they know are abnormal in various psychological disorders, and see if certain hormones or drugs can affect this.
In the study, published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation Insight, the hormone was shown to change activity in key brain networks at rest, which was linked to decreased sexual aversion, and increased brain activity associated with sexual arousal. The scientists also observed that the hormone boosted several networks in the brain involved in mood and depression. Professor Waljit Dhillo, an NIHR Research Professor and senior author of the study from Imperial's Department of Medicine said: 'Although we have previously investigated how this hormone affects the brain when it is in an active state, this is the first time we've demonstrated it also affects the brain in its baseline, resting state. These insights suggest the hormone could one day be used to treat conditions such as low sex drive or depression'.
[...] [Co-Author] Dr Comninos concluded: "We have conducted previous studies that showed kisspeptin can activate specific brain areas involved in sex and emotions. However, this study enhances our knowledge of the hormone even further. Our findings suggest it can actually influence entire networks in the brain even when we are not doing anything, and this is linked to subsequent sexual and emotional function. Taken together, these findings provide the scientific basis to investigate kisspeptin-based treatments in patients with psychosexual and mood disorders, which are both huge health issues, and frequently occur together."
The team are now hoping to further investigate how kisspeptin affects sexual behaviours, and translate this work into patients with psychosexual and mood disorders.
-- submitted from IRC
"Paul Allen's Stratolaunch, the world's biggest airplane, completed a crucial taxi test just days after the billionaire philanthropist's death." foxnews.com/tech/paul-allens-stratolaunch-worlds-largest-airplane-completes-key-taxi-test-days-after-his-death
The Microsoft co-founder's humongous plane is scheduled to leap into flight soon — after a few more tests like the most recent one, where it reached 80 miles per hour on a runway in the Mojave Desert.
Sadly, Allen, who died of lymphoma on Oct. 15, will not get to see his massive creation take flight.
Stratolaunch, with a wingspan longer than a football field, two cockpits, six engines and 28 wheels, will eventually be used to transport rockets carrying satellites and rocket ships. [...] The astonishingly supersized plane has 80 miles of wiring, a 385-foot wingspan and a takeoff weight of 1.3 million pounds, according to Wired.
"You don't build [that plane] unless you're very serious, not only about wanting to see the plane fly but to see it fulfill its purpose. Which is getting vehicles in orbit," Allen told Wired magazine earlier this year.
Samsung's plans to make 256 GB memory modules using 16 Gb chips are moving forward:
Samsung this week demonstrated its first 256 GB memory module for upcoming servers. The new Registered DIMM (RDIMM) is based on Samsung's 16 Gb DDR4 memory devices introduced earlier this year and takes advantage of the company's 3DS (three-dimensional stacking) packaging. The new module will offer higher performance and lower power consumption than two 128 GB LRDIMMs used today.
Samsung's 256 GB DDR4 Registered DIMM with ECC carries 36 memory packages featuring 8 GB (64 Gbit) of capacity each, along with IDT's 4RCD0229K register chip (to buffer address and command signals and increase the number of ranks supported by a memory channel). The packages are based on four single-die 16 Gb components that are interconnected using through-silicon vias (TSVs). Architecturally, the 256 GB module is octal ranked as it features two physical ranks and four logical ranks.
1 TB can't be too far behind.
Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story:
Microplastics were found in sea salt several years ago. But how extensively plastic bits are spread throughout the most commonly used seasoning remained unclear. Now, new research shows microplastics in 90 percent of the table salt brands sampled worldwide.
Of 39 salt brands tested, 36 had microplastics in them, according to a new analysis by researchers in South Korea and Greenpeace East Asia. Using prior salt studies, this new effort is the first of its scale to look at the geographical spread of microplastics in table salt and their correlation to where plastic pollution is found in the environment.
"The findings suggest that human ingestion of microplastics via marine products is strongly related to emissions in a given region," said Seung-Kyu Kim, a marine science professor at Incheon National University in South Korea.
[...] The new study, she says, "shows us that microplastics are ubiquitous. It's not a matter of if you are buying sea salt in England, you are safe."
The new study estimates that the average adult consumes approximately 2,000 microplastics per year through salt. What that means remains a mystery.
A separate study by the University of York in Britain that sought to assess the risks of microplastics to the environment, published Wednesday, concluded not enough is known to determine if microplastics cause harm.
Boxall added that the focus on microplastics may divert attention from worse environmental (and more easily identifiable) pollution problems, such as small particles released from car tires.
-- submitted from IRC