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Updated: 1 hour 34 min ago

Amazon and Google Patch Major Bug in Their DNS-as-a-Service Platforms

2 hours 7 min ago
At the Black Hat security conference Wednesday, two security researchers have disclosed a security issue impacting hosted DNS service providers that can be abused to hijack the platform's nodes, intercept some of the incoming DNS traffic, and then map customers' internal networks. From a report: Discovered by Shir Tamari and Ami Luttwak from cloud security company Wiz, the vulnerability highlights the amount of sensitive information collected by managed DNS platforms and their attractiveness from a cyber-espionage and intelligence data collection standpoint. Also known as DNS-as-a-Service providers, these companies effectively rent DNS servers to corporate entities. While it's not hard to run your own DNS name server, the benefit of using a service like AWS Route53 or the Google Cloud Platform is that companies can offload managing DNS server infrastructure to a third-party and take advantage of better uptime and top-notch security. Companies that sign up for a managed DNS provider typically have to onboard their internal domain names with the service provider. This typically means companies have to go to a backend portal and add their company.com and other domains to one of the provider's name servers (i.e., ns-1611.awsdns-09.co.uk). Once this is done, when a company employee wants to connect to an intranet app or an internet website, their computer will query the third-party DNS server for the IP address it needs to connect. What the Wiz team discovered was that several managed DNS providers did not blacklist their own DNS servers inside their backends.

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Australian Mathematician Discovers Applied Geometry Engraved on 3,700-year-old Tablet

2 hours 48 min ago
An Australian mathematician has discovered what may be the oldest known example of applied geometry, on a 3,700-year-old Babylonian clay tablet. Known as Si.427, the tablet bears a field plan measuring the boundaries of some land. From a report: The tablet dates from the Old Babylonian period between 1900 and 1600 BCE and was discovered in the late 19th century in what is now Iraq. It had been housed in the Istanbul Archaeological Museum before Dr Daniel Mansfield from the University of New South Wales tracked it down. Mansfield and Norman Wildberger, an associate professor at UNSW, had previously identified another Babylonian tablet as containing the world's oldest and most accurate trigonometric table. At the time, they speculated the tablet was likely to have had some practical use, possibly in surveying or construction. That tablet, Plimpton 322, described right-angle triangles using Pythagorean triples: three whole numbers in which the sum of the squares of the first two equals the square of the third -- for example, 3^2 + 4^2 = 5^2.

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Russia Tells UN It Wants Vast Expansion of Cybercrime Offenses, Plus Network Backdoors, Online Censorship

3 hours 26 min ago
An anonymous reader writes: Russia has put forward a draft convention to the United Nations ostensibly to fight cyber-crime. The proposal, titled "United Nations Convention on Countering the Use of Information and Communications Technologies for Criminal Purposes," calls for member states to develop domestic laws to punish a far broader set of offenses than current international rules recognize. Russia, the ransomware hotbed whose cyber-spies were blamed for attacking US and allied networks, did not join the 2001 Budapest Convention on Cybercrime because it allowed cross-border operations, which it considers a threat to national sovereignty. Russian media outlet Tass also said the 2001 rules are flawed because they only criminalize nine types of cyber offenses. The new draft convention from Russia, submitted last week, defines 23 cybercrimes for discussion. Russia's proposed rule expansion, for example, calls for domestic laws to criminalize changing digital information without permission -- "the intentional unauthorized interference with digital information by damaging, deleting, altering, blocking, modifying it, or copying of digital information." The draft also directs members states to formulate domestic laws to disallow unsanctioned malware research -- "the intentional creation, including adaptation, use and distribution of malicious software intended for the unauthorized destruction, blocking, modification, copying, dissemination of digital information, or neutralization of its security features, except for lawful research." It would forbid "the creation and use of digital data to mislead the user," such as deep fakes -- "the intentional unlawful creation and use of digital data capable of being mistaken for data already known and trusted by a user that causes substantial harm."

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Microsoft Exchange Used To Hack Diplomats Before 2021 Breach

3 hours 52 min ago
An anonymous reader shares a report: Late last year, researchers at the Los Angeles-based cybersecurity company Resecurity stumbled across a massive trove of stolen data while investigating the hack of an Italian retailer. Squirreled away on a cloud storage platform were five gigabytes of data that had been stolen during the previous three and half years from foreign ministries and energy companies by hacking their on-premises Microsoft Exchange servers. In all, Resecurity researchers found documents and emails from six foreign ministries and eight energy companies in the Middle East, Asia and Eastern Europe. The attacks, which haven't been previously reported, served as a prequel to a remarkably similar, widely publicized hack of Microsoft Exchange servers from January to March of this year, according to Resecurity. A person familiar with the investigation into the 2021 attack, who wasn't authorized to speak publicly and requested anonymity, made a similar allegation, saying the data theft discovered by Resecurity followed the same methods. The 2021 hack was extraordinary for its scope, infecting as many as 60,000 global victims with malware. Microsoft quickly pinned the 2021 cyberattack on a group of Chinese state-sponsored hackers it named Hafnium, and the U.S., U.K., and their allies made a similar claim last month, attributing it to hackers affiliated with the Chinese government. Resecurity can't say for sure the attacks were perpetrated by the same group. Even so, the cache of documents contained information that would have been of interest to the Chinese government, according to Gene Yoo, Resecurity's chief executive officer. The person familiar said the victims selected by the hackers and type of intelligence gathered by attackers also pointed to a Chinese operation.

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Amazon To Cut Waste Following Backlash Over the Destruction of Unused Products

4 hours 41 min ago
Amazon has launched two programs as part of an effort to give products a second life when they get returned to businesses that sell items on its platform or fail to get sold in the first place. From a report: The so-called Fulfilment by Amazon programs, announced in a blog post on Wednesday, will help to build a circular economy, the company said. It comes less than two months after British broadcaster ITV reported that Amazon was destroying millions of items of unsold stock at one of its 24 U.K. warehouses every year, including smart TVs, laptops, drones and hairdryers. The online giant was sharply criticized by U.K. lawmakers and environmental campaigners at the time and Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged to look into the allegations. In a blog post on June 28, Greenpeace said ITV's investigation showed it was clear Amazon "works with within a business model built on greed and speed." The group also described the environmental and human cost of Amazon's wastefulness as "staggering."

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Leaked Document Says Google Fired Dozens of Employees for Data Misuse

5 hours 24 min ago
Google has fired dozens of employees between 2018 and 2020 for abusing their access to the company's tools or data, with some workers potentially facing allegations of accessing Google user or employee data, according to an internal Google document obtained by Motherboard. From a report: The document provides concrete figures on an often delicate part of a tech giant's operations: investigations into how company's own employees leverage their position inside the company to steal, leak, or abuse data they may have access to. Insider abuse is a problem across the tech industry. Motherboard previously uncovered instances at Facebook, Snapchat, and MySpace, with employees in some cases using their access to stalk or otherwise spy on users. The document says that Google terminated 36 employees in 2020 for security related issues. Eighty-six percent of all security-related allegations against employees included mishandling of confidential information, such as the transfer of internal-only information to outside parties. 10 percent of all allegations in 2020 concerned misuse of systems, which can include accessing user or employee data in violation of Google's own policies, helping others to access that data, or modifying or deleting user or employee data, according to the document. In 2019, that figure was 13 percent of all security allegations.

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Microsoft Pauses Free Windows 365 Cloud PC Trials After 'Significant Demand'

6 hours 9 min ago
Microsoft launched its new cloud PC Windows 365 service earlier this week, and the company has already had to pause free trials due to demand. From a report: Windows 365 lets you rent a cloud PC -- with a variety of CPU, RAM, and storage options -- and then stream Windows 10 or Windows 11 via a web browser. The service reached max capacity after only a day of signups. "Following significant demand, we have reached capacity for Windows 365 trials," reads a statement from the Microsoft 365 Twitter account. "We have seen unbelievable response to Windows 365 and need to pause our free trial program while we provision additional capacity," explains Scott Manchester, director of Windows 365 program management.

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Law School Applicants Surge 13%, Biggest Increase Since Dot-Com Bubble

7 hours 9 min ago
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: The number of people applying for admission to law school this fall surged nearly 13%, making it the largest year-over-year percentage increase since 2002, according to the latest data from the Law School Admission Council. And they were an impressive bunch. The number of people applying with LSAT scores in the highest band of 175 to 180 more than doubled from 732 last year to 1,487 this year. In total, 71,048 people applied to American Bar Association-accredited law schools this cycle, up from 62,964 at this point in 2020. That's still significantly lower than the historic high of 100,601 applicants in 2004, but it's by far the largest national applicant pool of the past decade. Experts attribute the crush of applications to a number of factors, particularly the slowdown in the entry-level job market caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Law school and other graduate programs historically become more popular when jobs are tougher to come by in slow economies. Law school applicants shot up nearly 18% in 2002, amid the bursting of the so-called dot-com bubble. The number of people applying also climbed nearly 4% in 2009, amid the Great Recession. But current events separate from the economy also prompted more people to consider a law degree this cycle [...]. The death of George Floyd, the national reckoning over systemic racism and inequality, and the death of iconic U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg all focused attention on the rule of law and the role lawyers play in pushing for a more equitable society. Election years also tend to yield more law school applicants.

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'Totally New' Idea Suggests Longer Days On Early Earth Set Stage For Complex Life

10 hours 9 min ago
"A research team has proposed a novel link between how fast our planet spun on its axis, which defines the length of a day, and the ancient production of additional oxygen," reports Science Magazine. "Their modeling of Earth's early days, which incorporates evidence from microbial mats coating the bottom of a shallow, sunlit sinkhole in Lake Huron, produced a surprising conclusion: as Earth's spin slowed, the resulting longer days could have triggered more photosynthesis from similar mats, allowing oxygen to build up in ancient seas and diffuse up into the atmosphere." From the report: As a postdoc at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Klatt had studied microbial mats growing on sediments in the Middle Island Sinkhole in Lake Huron. There, the water is shallow enough for the cyanobacteria to get enough sunlight for photosynthesis. Oxygen-depleted water and sulfur gas bubble up from the lake floor, creating anoxic conditions that roughly approximate conditions of early Earth. Scuba divers collected samples of the microbial mats and in the lab, Klatt tracked the amount of oxygen they released under various day lengths simulated with halogen lamps. The longer the exposure to light, the more of the gas the mats released. Excited, Klatt and Arjun Chennu, a modeler from the Leibniz Center for Tropical Marine Research, set up a numerical model to calculate how much oxygen ancient cyanobacteria could have produced on a global scale. When the microbial mat results and other data were plugged into this computer program, it revealed a key interaction between light exposure and the microbial mats. Typically, microbial mats "breathe" in almost as much oxygen at night as they produce during the day. But as Earth's spin slowed, the additional continuous hours of daylight allowed the simulated mats to build up a surplus, releasing oxygen into the water. As a result, atmospheric oxygen tracked estimated day length over the eons: Both rose in a stepped fashion with a long plateau. This "elegant" idea helps explain why oxygen didn't build up in the atmosphere as soon as cyanobacteria appeared on the scene 3.5 billion years ago, says Timothy Lyons, a biogeochemist at the University of California, Riverside. Because day length was still so short back then, oxygen in the mats never had a chance to build up enough to diffuse out. "Long daytimes simply allow more oxygen to escape to the overlying waters and eventually the atmosphere," Lyons says. Still, Lyons and others say, many factors likely contributed to the rise in oxygen. For example, Fischer suspects free-floating cyanobacteria, not just those in rock-affixed mats, were big players. Benjamin Mills, an Earth system modeler at the University of Leeds, thinks the release of oxygen-binding minerals by ancient volcanoes likely countered the early buildup of the gas at times and should be factored into oxygen calculations. Nonetheless, changing day length "is something that should be considered in more detail," he says. "I'll try to add it to our Earth system models."

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What if Highways Were Electric? Germany Is Testing the Idea.

13 hours 8 min ago
An electrified highway is theoretically the most efficient way to eliminate truck emissions. But the political obstacles are daunting. From a report: Traton is among the backers of the so-called eHighway south of Frankfurt, a group that also includes Siemens and Autobahn GmbH, the government agency that oversees German highways. There are also short segments of electrified road in the states of Schleswig-Holstein and Baden-Wurttemberg. The technology has been tried in Sweden and, in 2017, on a one-mile stretch near the Port of Los Angeles. So far the sections of highway equipped with overhead cable in Germany are short -- about three miles long in both directions near Frankfurt. Their purpose is to test how the system performs in everyday use by real trucking companies hauling real goods. By the end of the year more than 20 trucks will be using the systems in Germany. Enter Mr. Schmieder, who learned to drive a truck in the German army, and his employer, a trucking firm called Schanz Spedition in the small town of Ober-Ramstadt, in a hilly, thickly forested region about a 35-mile drive from Frankfurt. If the eHighway is ever going to be rolled out on a large scale, it has to work for companies like Schanz, a family-owned firm managed by Christine Hemmel and Kerstin Seibert, sisters who are great-granddaughters of the founder. Their father, Hans Adam Schanz, though technically retired, was at the wheel of a forklift maneuvering pallets into the back of a truck recently as Mr. Schmieder climbed into the cab for his second run of the day hauling paint to a distribution center in Frankfurt.

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Study: Which Countries Will Best Survive a Collapse?

Tue, 08/03/2021 - 22:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The New York Times: Will civilization as we know it end in the next 100 years? Will there be any functioning places left? These questions might sound like the stuff of dystopian fiction. But if recent headlines about extreme weather, climate change, the ongoing pandemic and faltering global supply chains have you asking them, you're not alone. Now two British academics, Aled Jones, director of the Global Sustainability Institute at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge, England, and his co-author, Nick King, think they have some answers. Their analysis, published in July in the journal Sustainability, aims to identify places that are best positioned to carry on when or if others fall apart. They call these lucky places "nodes of persisting complexity." The winner, tech billionaires who already own bunkers there will be pleased to know, is New Zealand. The runners-up are Tasmania, Ireland, Iceland, Britain, the United States and Canada. The findings were greeted with skepticism by other academics who study topics like climate change and the collapse of civilization. Some flat-out disagreed with the list, saying it placed too much emphasis on the advantages of islands and failed to properly account for variables like military power. And some said the entire exercise was misguided: If climate change is allowed to disrupt civilization to this degree, no countries will have cause to celebrate. "For his study, he built on the University of Notre Dame's Global Adaptation Initiative, which ranks 181 countries annually on their readiness to successfully adapt to climate change," the NYT adds. "He then added three additional measures: whether the country has enough land to grow food for its people; whether it has the energy capacity to 'keep the lights on,' as he put it in an interview; and whether the country is sufficiently isolated to keep other people from walking across its borders, as its neighbors are collapsing." "New Zealand comes out on top in Professor Jones's analysis because it appears to be ready for changes in the weather created by climate change. It has plenty of renewable energy capacity, it can produce its own food and it's an island, meaning it scores well on the isolation factor, he said."

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UK Considers Blocking Nvidia Takeover of ARM Over Security

Tue, 08/03/2021 - 20:25
According to Bloomberg, the U.K. is considering blocking a takeover of Arm by Nvidia due to potential risks to national security. SoftBank announced plans to sell Arm to U.S. chip company Nvidia last September for more than $40 billion. It's been under investigation and protested ever since. Bloomberg reports: In April, U.K. Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden asked the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to prepare a report on whether the deal could be deemed anti-competitive, along with a summary of any national security concerns raised by third parties. The assessment, delivered in late July, contains worrying implications for national security and the U.K. is currently inclined to reject the takeover, a person familiar with government discussions said. The U.K. is likely to conduct a deeper review into the merger due to national security issues, a separate person said. No final decision has been taken, and the U.K. could still approve the deal alongside certain conditions, the people added. Dowden is set to decide on whether the merger needs further examination by the U.K.'s competition authorities. "We continue to work through the regulatory process with the U.K. government," said an Nvidia spokesperson in a statement. "We look forward to their questions and expect to resolve any issues they may have."

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Theranos Patients: The Emerging Wild Card in the Trial of Elizabeth Holmes

Tue, 08/03/2021 - 19:45
The government hopes patient testimony -- if a judge allows it -- in the closely watched criminal fraud trial will support the charge that Elizabeth Holmes touted the company's medical tests as reliable despite knowing of bad results. The former executive has pleaded not guilty. From a report: After three back-to-back miscarriages, Brittany Gould said she turned to Theranos Inc. to know if her latest pregnancy was on track. Then, one of the company's trademark finger-prick tests indicated she was losing another baby, Ms. Gould said. The Mesa, Ariz., medical assistant recalled dreading the moment when she would have to tell her 7-year-old daughter, who was waiting for a sibling. "Mommy is not having a baby," Ms. Gould said she told her. Like those of other patients slated as potential witnesses in the criminal trial of Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes , Ms. Gould's test was wrong. Prosecutors have accused Ms. Holmes of defrauding patients and investors by falsely claiming her invention could accurately perform lab tests on just a few drops of blood. The repeatedly delayed trial -- postponed once because Ms. Holmes was due to have a baby herself -- is expected to be one of the most widely watched corporate-fraud cases in years. Scheduled to begin with jury selection on Aug. 31 in San Jose, Calif., the trial features a star-studded list of potential witnesses, including ex-Theranos directors Henry Kissinger and Jim Mattis ; ex-Theranos lawyer David Boies ; and high-profile investors, including Riley Bechtel, the former chairman of Bechtel Corp., and Rupert Murdoch, chairman of Fox Corp. and executive chairman of News Corp, owner of The Wall Street Journal. The lineup also could include a handful of previously unknown patients -- if the court allows them to take the stand. Ms. Holmes's lawyers have argued the patient witnesses should be excluded, and they have already had success in limiting the scope of their testimony. A ruling by the judge to eliminate the patients would be considered a big win for Ms. Holmes, and could significantly change the nature of the trial.

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Google Chrome To No Longer Show Secure Website Indicators

Tue, 08/03/2021 - 19:02
Google Chrome will no longer show whether a site you are visiting is secure and only show when you visit an insecure website. Bleeping Computer reports: To further push web developers into only using HTTPS on their sites, Google introduced the protocol as a ranking factor. Those not hosting a secure site got a potentially minor hit in their Google search results rankings. It has appeared to have worked as according to the 'HTTPS encryption on the web' of Google's Transparency Report, over 90% of all browser connections in Google Chrome currently use an HTTPS connection. Currently, when you visit a secure site, Google Chrome will display a little locked icon indicating that your communication with the site is encrypted, as shown below. As most website communication is now secure, Google is testing a new feature that removes the lock icon for secure sites. This feature is available to test in Chrome 93 Beta, and Chrome 94 Canary builds by enabling the 'Omnibox Updated connection security indicators' flag. With this feature enabled, Google Chrome will only display security indicators when the site is not secure. For businesses who wish to have continued HTTPS security indicators, Google has added an enterprise policy for Chrome 93 named 'LockIconInAddressBarEnabled' that can be used to enable the lock icon again on the address bar.

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AMD Ryzen 5000G Series Launches With Integrated Graphics At Value Price Points

Tue, 08/03/2021 - 18:20
MojoKid writes: AMD is taking the wraps off of its latest integrated processors known as Ryzen 7 5700G and the Ryzen 5 5600G. As their branding suggests, these new products are based on the same excellent AMD Zen 3 core architecture, but with integrated graphics capabilities on board as well, hence the "G" designation. AMD is targeting more mainstream applications with these chips. The Ryzen 7 5700G is an 8-core/16-thread CPU with 4MB of L2 cache and 16MB of L3. Those CPU cores are mated to an 8 CU (Compute Unit) Radeon Vega graphics engine, and it has 24 lanes of PCIe Gen 3 connectivity. The 5700G's base CPU clock is 3.8GHz, with a maximum boost clock of 4.6GHz. The on-chip GPU can boost up to 2GHz, which is a massive uptick from the 1.4GHz of previous-gen 3000-series APUs. The Ryzen 5 5600G takes things down a notch with 6 CPU cores (12 threads) and a smaller 3MB L2 cache while L3 cache size remains unchanged. The 5600G's iGPU is scaled down slightly as well with only 7 CUs. At 3.9GHz, the 5600G's base CPU clock is 100MHz higher than the 5700G's, but its max boost lands at 4.4GHz with a slightly lower GPU boost clock of 1.9GHz. In the benchmarks, the Ryzen 5 5600G and Ryzen 7 5700G both offer enough multi-threaded muscle for the vast majority of users, often besting similar Intel 11th Gen Core series chips, with highly competitive single-thread performance as well.

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NYC Will Require Vaccines For Entry To Restaurants and Gyms; Requirement Can Be Met With An App

Tue, 08/03/2021 - 17:40
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced today that New York City will become the first major U.S. city to require proof of vaccination to enter all restaurants, fitness centers and indoor entertainment venues. "If you're unvaccinated, unfortunately, you will not be able to participate in many things," de Blasio said. "If you want to participate in our society fully, you've got to get vaccinated." As The Verge reports, "New Yorkers can meet those requirements by carrying their vaccination card or scanning and storing it in one of two authorized mobile apps." From the report: The spread of the highly contagious Delta variant is being cited as a reason to increase restrictions without returning to a full lockdown or other measures. The program is scheduled to launch on August 13th, with enforcement slated to start on September 13th. It doesn't introduce any new documentation; the name is a reference to it serving as a "key" to the city's recovery. Workers and patrons can confirm their vaccination status (at least one dose administered) in one of three ways: Vaccination card; NYC COVID Safe exposure notification app (iOS, Android); or NYS Excelsior Pass app.

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Google Will Kill Off Very Old Versions of Android Next Month

Tue, 08/03/2021 - 17:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Google has started emailing users of very old Android devices to tell them it's time to say goodbye. Starting September 27, devices running Android 2.3.7 and lower will no longer be able to log in to Google services, effectively killing a big portion of the on-rails Android experience. As Google puts it in an official community post, "If you sign in to your device after September 27, you may get username or password errors when you try to use Google products and services like Gmail, YouTube, and Maps." Android is one of the most cloud-based operating systems ever. Especially in older versions, many included apps and services were tied to your Google login, and if that stops working, a large chunk of your phone is bricked. While Android can update many core components without shipping a full system update today, Android 2.3.7 Gingerbread, released around 10 years ago, was not so modular. The individual Google apps started to be updatable through the Android Market/Play Store, but signing in to Google was still a system-level service and is frozen in time. Any Google services wanting to allow sign-ins from those versions would have to conform to 2011-era security standards, which means turning off two-factor authentication and enabling a special "allow less-secure access" setting in your Google account. Really, these old Android versions have to die eventually because they're just too insecure. Google shows active user base breakdowns for Android versions in Android Studio, and Gingerbread has such a low device count that it doesn't even make the list. It's less than 0.2 percent of active devices, behind 14 other versions of Android. Users of these old devices could still sideload a third-party app store and find replacements for all the Google apps, but if you're a technical user and can't get a new device, there's a good chance you could load a whole new operating system with an aftermarket Android ROM. After September 27, the oldest version of Android you'll be able to sign in to is Android 3.0 Honeycomb, which is only for tablets.

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Proposed Federal Standard Would Require Cars To 'Prevent or Limit Operation' By Impaired Drivers

Tue, 08/03/2021 - 16:20
On Sunday, a bipartisan group of Senators published draft text of a massive new bipartisan infrastructure bill, proposing more than a trillion dollars in spending and a vast array of far-reaching provisions. But a little-noticed section in the bill could have significant implications in the fight against drunk driving, eventually mandating a new in-car safety technology to actively prevent Americans from driving while impaired. The Verge reports: Introduced under the heading "Advanced Impaired Driving Technology," the provision would require the Department of Transportation to set a new standard for detecting and preventing impaired driving. The bill calls on the secretary of transportation to release a standard within three years, with the requirement taking effect for new cars three years after that. The specific provisions of the standard are vague, but it would require cars to "passively monitor the performance of a driver of a motor vehicle to accurately identify whether that driver may be impaired" and "prevent or limit motor vehicle operation" if impairment is detected. The specific means of creating that system are still undetermined, but advocates say much of the technology is already available. Driver monitoring systems, which track a driver's face or eyelids to ensure they are alert and actively piloting the vehicle, are already offered in some models by Lexus, BMW, and Mercedes Benz. Systems like lane detection could also be used to detect impairment, creating an alert if the driver is consistently veering outside their lane. "Twenty years ago, this technology didn't exist," says Jason Levine of the Center for Auto Safety. "[But] we have the technology available now. We can install tech in vehicles that helps to monitor whether someone is impaired and stops that person from hurting themselves or others." Crucially, the new standard wouldn't be limited to drunk drivers. Because the systems measure impairment directly, they would be just as effective at detecting impairment from prescription drugs, emotional distress, or simple distraction. A longer-term effort would also seek to mandate passive alcohol monitoring systems, like those currently being developed by Volvo. While the provisions are aimed at creating a new mandatory requirement for automakers, such a requirement is still a long way off. Negotiations around the infrastructure bill are still in flux, and the provision could still be removed or altered by lawmakers. Even if it passes into law, the Department of Transportation will have wide leeway in how and when to implement the requirement and could easily delay it beyond the schedule set by Congress.

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SEC Chair Calls On Congress To Help Rein In Crypto 'Wild West'

Tue, 08/03/2021 - 15:40
The chair of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on Tuesday called on Congress to give the agency more authority to better police cryptocurrency trading, lending and platforms, a "Wild West" he said is riddled with fraud and investor risk. Reuters reports: Gary Gensler said the crypto market involves many tokens which may be unregistered securities and leaves prices open to manipulation and millions of investors vulnerable to risks. "This asset class is rife with fraud, scams and abuse in certain applications," Gensler told a global conference. "We need additional Congressional authorities to prevent transactions, products and platforms from falling between regulatory cracks." The industry has been waiting with bated breath to see how Gensler, a Democratic appointee who took the SEC helm in April, will approach oversight of the market, which he has previously said should be brought within traditional financial regulation. On Tuesday, Gensler provided more insight on his thinking, saying he would like Congress to give the SEC the power to oversee cryptocurrency exchanges, which are not currently within the SEC's remit. He also called on lawmakers to give the SEC more power to oversee crypto lending, and platforms like peer-to-peer decentralized finance (DeFi) sites that allow lenders and borrowers to transact in cryptocurrencies without traditional banks. "If we don't address these issues, I worry a lot of people will be hurt."

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Amazon Unlawfully Confiscated Union Literature, NLRB Finds

Tue, 08/03/2021 - 15:02
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: Amazon illegally prohibited an employee from giving workers pro-union literature, confiscated that literature, and gave workers the impression that their organizing activity was being surveilled at the company's Staten Island fulfillment center in New York, according to National Labor Relations Board charges and other documentation reviewed by Motherboard. An NLRB investigation found that Amazon illegally prohibited Connor Spence, a Staten Island employee involved in union organizing, from distributing pro-union literature in a break room on May 16 -- and then confiscated the literature -- also in violation of U.S. labor law, according to evidence provided by the NLRB to the union's attorney. Connor Spence, a 25-year-old warehouse worker in Amazon's JFK8 fulfillment center in Staten Island, who filed the unfair labor practice charge, told Motherboard that on May 16, he was in the break room distributing leaflets about unions and copies of a notice that Amazon had to post in a Queens warehouse for violating workers' union rights, when an Amazon security guard approached him and told him he did not have permission to distribute the leaflets. "He took the union literature away and wouldn't give it back," Spence told Motherboard. "I filed the charge so that there's accountability in place that prevents them from doing this in the future." [...] "Amazon is very obviously anti-union. They cross the line a lot when it comes to stopping workers from unionizing," Spence said. "Unfortunately labor law isn't very strong in our country, but I'm hoping Amazon cares about its image and these stains on their record." "The finding comes on the same day as an NLRB officer in Alabama released a report recommending the rerun of a union election in an Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama," adds Motherboard. "The NLRB's report on the Bessemer election found that Amazon illegally discouraged labor organizing, in part by pushing post office officials to install a mailbox outside the warehouse where workers were urged to drop their mail-in ballots, which an NLRB officer wrote 'destroyed the laboratory conditions and justifies a second election.'" "The NLRB investigation also found that Amazon illegally created the impression of surveillance of workers' organizing activity at JFK8 on May 24."

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