N e w s - F e e d s

[ Reuters | Slashdot | BBC News ]
[ Image Archive ]

Slashdot

    - Conspiracy Theorists Who'd First Popularized QAnon Now Accused of Financial Motives
    QAnon "was first championed by a handful of people who worked together to stir discussion of the 'Q' posts, eventually pushing the theory on to bigger platforms and gaining followers — a strategy that proved to be the key to Qanon's spread and the originators' financial gain..." reports NBC News, in an article shared by long-time Slashdot reader AmiMoJo . "NBC News has found that the theory can be traced back to three people who sparked some of the first conversation about Qanon and, in doing so, attracted followers who they then asked to help fund Qanon 'research.'" In November 2017, a small-time YouTube video creator and two moderators of the 4chan website, one of the most extreme message boards on the internet, banded together and plucked out of obscurity an anonymous and cryptic post from the many conspiracy theories that populated the website's message board. Over the next several months, they would create videos, a Reddit community, a business and an entire mythology based off the 4chan posts of "Q," the pseudonym of a person claiming to be a high-ranking military officer. The theory they espoused would become Qanon, and it would eventually make its way from those message boards to national media stories and the rallies of President Donald Trump. Now, the people behind that effort are at the center of a fractious debate among conspiracy enthusiasts, some of whom believe the three people who first popularized the Qanon theory are promoting it in order to make a living. Others suggest that these original followers actually wrote Q's mysterious posts... Qanon was just another unremarkable part of the "anon" genre until November 2017, when two moderators of the 4chan board where Q posted predictions, who went by the usernames Pamphlet Anon [real name: Coleman Rogers] and BaruchtheScribe, reached out to Tracy Diaz, according to Diaz's blogs and YouTube videos. BaruchtheScribe, in reality a self-identified web programmer from South Africa named Paul Furber, confirmed that account to NBC News. "A bunch of us decided that the message needed to go wider so we contacted Youtubers who had been commenting on the Q drops," Furber said in an email... As Diaz tells it in a blog post detailing her role in the early days of Qanon, she banded together with the two moderators. Their goal, according to Diaz, was to build a following for Qanon — which would mean bigger followings for them as well... Diaz followed with dozens more Q-themed videos, each containing a call for viewers to donate through links to her Patreon and PayPal accounts. Diaz's YouTube channel now boasts more than 90,000 subscribers and her videos have been watched over 8 million times. More than 97,000 people follow her on Twitter. Diaz, who emerged from bankruptcy in 2009, says in her YouTube videos that she now relies on donations from patrons funding her YouTube "research" as her sole source of income. Diaz declined to comment on this story. "Because I cover Q, I got an audience," Diaz acknowledged in a video that NBC News reviewed last week before she deleted it. To reach a more mainstream audience (older people and "normies," who on their own would have trouble navigating the fringe message boards), Diaz said in her blog post she recommended they move to the more user-friendly Reddit. Archives listing the three as the original posters and moderators show they created a new Reddit community... Their move to Reddit was key to Qanon's eventual spread. There, they were able to tap into a larger audience of conspiracy theorists, and drive discussion with their analysis of each Q post. From there, Qanon crept to Facebook where it found a new, older audience via dozens of public and private groups... As Qanon picked up steam, growing skepticism over the motives of Diaz, Rogers, and the other early Qanon supporters led some in the internet's conspiracy circles to turn their paranoia on the group. Recently, some Qanon followers have accused Diaz and Rogers of profiting from the movement by soliciting donations from their followers. Other pro-Trump online groups have questioned the roles that Diaz and Rogers have played in promoting Q, pointing to a series of slip-ups that they say show Rogers and Diaz may have been involved in the theory from the start. Those accusations have led Diaz and Rogers to both deny that they are Q and say they don't know who Q is.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.



    - After 17 Years OS X Notifier App 'Growl' Retired
    Growl is being retired after surviving for 17 years. Its page on GitHub explains: Growl is a notification system for OS X. Growl has been around since 2004, and was originally called Global Notifications Center. The name was changed to Growl (like the noise a dog makes) since we felt the name Notifications Center was too geeky. We were wrong about that haha. Growl was meant as a proof of concept which became something more for a long period of time. Before Growl was made developers either had to pop up a very basic window or some other ugliness nobody liked. Working with developers on Adium and Colloquy who wanted to implement their own custom notifications into their applications is what birthed this project. Growl is a retired project, we couldn't think of another thing to change which would be substantial enough to bring out a new updated release. Growl is stable and should work for as long as intel based programs work. Anyone who wants to run Growl is free to do so in an unsupported fashion. Lead developer Christopher Forsythe writes at 336699.org: With the announcement of Apple's new hardware platform, a general shift of developers to Apple's notification system, and a lack of obvious ways to improve Growl beyond what it is and has been, we're announcing the retirement of Growl as of today. It's been a long time coming. Growl is the project I worked on for the longest period of my open source career... There's even a SourceForge project for Global Notifications Center still out there if you want to go find it... Without Growl I do not know that we would have any sort of decent notification system in OS X, iOS, Android or who knows what else... For developers we recommend transitioning away from Growl at this point. The apps themselves are gone from the app store, however the code itself still lives. Everything from our rake build system to our code is available for use on our GitHub page.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.



    - New Videogame Bug Turns Spider-Man Into a Trash Can
    A new bug in the PlayStation game Spider-Man: Miles Morales "turns Miles into various inanimate objects, including bricks, cardboard boxes, and even a trash can," reports GameSpot: Despite Miles' changed appearance, he can still perform many of his heroic antics, including web-swinging and beating up bad guys. It's an important lesson to all of us in these trying times: You might look like trash, but you can still do your job. Today Engadget reports that the glitch even turns Spider-Man into a patio heater: If you've ever wanted to keep people toasty warm while fighting crime, now's your chance. We've asked [the game's creator] Insomniac Games for comment, although it already tweeted that the hiccup was "equally embarrassing as it is heart-warming." Into the Spider-Verse's Phil Lord joked that the heater would find its way into the sequel if the team had "any self respect at all."

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.



    - Raspberry Pi Used To Hack Tesla Model X SUV Key Fob
    Pig Hogger (Slashdot reader #10,379) writes: According to this Tom's Hardware story, a Belgian PhD student managed to wrest full control of a Tesla Model X SUV, by way of hijacking the Bluetooth keyfob and reprogramming it, using a Raspberry Pi. Tesla has since issued a software update to protect against that kind of attack Since the attack is done via Bluetooth, control could be gained wirelessly from 5 meters away. According to the article this is the third time the same student "has managed to exploit the key fob and gain access to the car. Previously he was able to clone the fob..." Computer Weekly also got an interesting quote from a senior security consultant at the electronic design automation company Synopsys, who argues that the research "demonstrates the impacts of security requirements and security features not having proper validation."

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.



    - The ESA Starts a New Commercial Sector in Space: Removing Space Debris
    Long-time Slashdot reader SonicSpike brings some big news from outer space. European Space Agency announced this week that they're signing "a €86 million ($102 million USD) contract with an industrial team led by the Swiss start-up ClearSpace SA to purchase a unique service: the first removal of an item of space debris from orbit" in the year 2025. "With this contract signature, a critical milestone for establishing a new commercial sector in space will be achieved..." In almost 60 years of space activities, more than 5,550 launches have resulted in some 42,000 tracked objects in orbit, of which about 23,000 remain in space and are regularly tracked. With today's annual launch rates averaging nearly 100, and with break-ups continuing to occur at average historical rates of four to five per year, the number of debris objects in space will steadily increase. ClearSpace-1 will demonstrate the technical ability and commercial capacity to significantly enhance the long-term sustainability of spaceflight... "This is the right time for such a mission..." says Luc Piguet, founder and CEO of ClearSpace. [I]n the coming years the number of satellites will increase by an order of magnitude, with multiple mega-constellations made up of hundreds or even thousands of satellites planned for low Earth orbit to deliver wide-coverage, low-latency telecommunications and monitoring services. The need is clear for a 'tow truck' to remove failed satellites from this highly trafficked region...." Supported within ESA's new Space Safety programme, the aim is to contribute actively to cleaning up space, while also demonstrating the technologies needed for debris removal. "Imagine how dangerous sailing the high seas would be if all the ships ever lost in history were still drifting on top of the water," says ESA Director General Jan Wörner. "That is the current situation in orbit, and it cannot be allowed to continue. ESA's Member States have given their strong support to this new mission, which also points the way forward to essential new commercial services in the future..." "NASA and ESA studies show that the only way to stabilise the orbital environment is to actively remove large debris items. Accordingly we will be continuing our development of essential guidance, navigation and control technologies and rendezvous and capture methods through a new project called Active Debris Removal/ In-Orbit Servicing — ADRIOS. The results will be applied to ClearSpace-1. This new mission, implemented by an ESA project team, will allow us to demonstrate these technologies, achieving a world first in the process." The ClearSpace-1 mission will target the Vespa (Vega Secondary Payload Adapter) upper stage left in an approximately 800 km by 660 km altitude orbit after the second flight of ESA's Vega launcher back in 2013. With a mass of 100 kg, the Vespa is close in size to a small satellite, while its relatively simple shape and sturdy construction make it a suitable first goal, before progressing to larger, more challenging captures by follow-up missions — eventually including multi-object capture. The ClearSpace-1 'chaser' will be launched into a lower 500-km orbit for commissioning and critical tests before being raised to the target orbit for rendezvous and capture using a quartet of robotic arms under ESA supervision. The combined chaser plus Vespa will then be deorbited to burn up in the atmosphere.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.



    - Python's Steering Council Assesses the After-Guido Era
    47 of Python's core developers participated in this year's Core Development Sprint, according to this report — "but what's more important is the very real and necessary community building that seemed to have taken place..." It's an especially critical time for Python, which switched to a steering council model in February of 2019, after Guido van Rossum had stepped down as the language's "benevolent dictator for life...." [During the Python Steering Council and Core Developer Q&A] core developer Ned Deily asked a question which had probably been on everyone's minds: how is the steering council experience working, now that van Rossum is no longer serving as the language's benevolent overseer? And core developer/councilmember Carol Willing was the first to respond. "I've been involved in a lot of governance organizations, and I would say the Steering Council has been towards the top in terms of sticking to the agenda and being thoughtful and collaborative in how things are working." They meet every week for an hour — with a pre-set agenda — and "in general, I think it's working quite well. If there's anything I take away from it, it's I'm amazed that Guido was able to do this function as a single person for as long as he had been. Because it's a lot of work, even amongst five people...." Core developer/councilmember Barry Warsaw agreed. "A couple of us have been on the Steering Council since its inception. And there was a lot of things that the governance PEPs didn't really cover. So we really had to figure out the process for a number of things. I couldn't be more happy to work with both the first year of Steering Council members, and this year of Steering Council members. I think everybody is doing this for the right reasons — because we love Python, and we love the Python community..." Deily agreed with their assessments. "My impression is things are going really well, better than might be expected. I was very proud how we as a community met the challenge of coming up with a governance, kind of from scratch. And I think — I don't know for sure all of Guido's motivation for doing it, but I think in a lot of ways he did it the right way, just kind of forced the community to come up with things. And I think all in all that worked out really well...." About 48 minutes in, there was a question from van Rossum himself about the issue tracker at Bugs.python.org (affectionately known as "BPO"). "So I'm desperately curious about the status of the BPO to GitHub migration." He paused, then asked delicately, "Uh, how much is the Steering Council willing to share of what they know, and how much do you actually know?" Cannon responded, talking about the group hired to run it, and thanking the groups whose donations had funded it. And then Deily suggested van Rossum volunteer for the working group, "because it's going to affect all of us." van Rossum asked if it would be appropriate if he volunteered, everyone agreed, and he responded, "Okay, I'm game."

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.



    - Facebook Removes Temporary Algorithm Change That Had Blocked Misinformation
    Facebook's employees and executives "are battling over how to reduce misinformation and hate speech without hurting the company's bottom line," reports the New York Times, after employees had spotted false and misleading election-related misinformation going viral on the site. The solution? Make temporary changes to the controversial algorithm "which helps determine what more than two billion people see every day" by highlighting "big, mainstream publishers like CNN, The New York Times and NPR, while posts from highly engaged hyperpartisan pages, such as Breitbart and Occupy Democrats, became less visible, the employees said." The Wrap reports: Zuckerberg's decision came after Facebook employees, seeing President Trump claim the election was rigged against him, "proposed an emergency change" to make "authoritative news" more prominent. It's unclear how long the changes were in place for, but they appear to have ended. Facebook vice president Guy Rosen told the Times "there has never been a plan to make these permanent...." Since making the changes a few weeks ago, some Facebook employees have pushed for the "nicer" News Feed to become permanent, the report added. The New York Times argues the incident "illustrates a central tension that some inside Facebook are feeling acutely these days: that the company's aspirations of improving the world are often at odds with its desire for dominance.... "Even as Election Day and its aftermath have passed with few incidents, some disillusioned employees have quit, saying they could no longer stomach working for a company whose products they considered harmful."

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.



    - PHP 8.0 Brings Major (And Breaking) Changes to a 25-Year-Old Language
    "PHP version 8.0 has arrived, bringing with it a major update to the 25-year-old programming language..." writes Tech Republic. New language features include the nullsafe operator and attributes (commonly known as annotations in other languages) to add metadata to classes — and more: The JIT compiler is designed to bring performance improvements to web applications by turning code into instructions for the CPU at runtime. Meanwhile, union types is a feature that allows data of more than one type to be held by a variable. Named arguments allow developers to assign values to a function by specifying the value name, allowing optional parameters to be ignored. Alongside these, version 8.0 of PHP brings optimizations and enhancements to the language's type system, syntax, error handling and consistency.... Commenting on PHP 8.0, PHP programmer and stitcher.io developer, Brent Roose, noted that the latest version of the language may require developers to review code for any breaking changes.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.



    - The Pope Praises Medical Workers, Criticizes 'Personal Freedom' Protests
    More Americans travelled Wednesday than on any other day in the last eight months — 1.1 million Americans — continuing the country's long-standing annual tradition of gathering to give thanks. The same week the Pope apparently felt compelled to publish an opinion piece in one of the country's largest newspapers to share his own thoughts about the pandemic. First, the Pope remembered life-saving medical procedures he'd had when he was 20 — including a wise nurse who'd doubled a dosage recommended by a doctor "because she knew from experience I was dying... Because of her regular contact with sick people, she understood better than the doctor what they needed, and she had the courage to act on her knowledge." And he also remembers another nurse who'd prescribed him extra painkillers for intense pain. "They taught me what it is to use science but also to know when to go beyond it to meet particular needs. And the serious illness I lived through taught me to depend on the goodness and wisdom of others. This theme of helping others has stayed with me these past months." Then he points out the great sacrifices made during the pandemic by doctors, nurses, and caregivers: Whether or not they were conscious of it, their choice testified to a belief: that it is better to live a shorter life serving others than a longer one resisting that call. That's why, in many countries, people stood at their windows or on their doorsteps to applaud them in gratitude and awe. They are the saints next door, who have awakened something important in our hearts, making credible once more what we desire to instill by our preaching. They are the antibodies to the virus of indifference... He contrasts this with groups opposing government measures protecting the public health: [S]ome groups protested, refusing to keep their distance, marching against travel restrictions — as if measures that governments must impose for the good of their people constitute some kind of political assault on autonomy or personal freedom! Looking to the common good is much more than the sum of what is good for individuals. It means having a regard for all citizens and seeking to respond effectively to the needs of the least fortunate. It is all too easy for some to take an idea — in this case, for example, personal freedom — and turn it into an ideology, creating a prism through which they judge everything... Our fears are exacerbated and exploited by a certain kind of populist politics that seeks power over society. It is hard to build a culture of encounter, in which we meet as people with a shared dignity, within a throwaway culture that regards the well-being of the elderly, the unemployed, the disabled and the unborn as peripheral to our own well-being. To come out of this crisis better, we have to recover the knowledge that as a people we have a shared destination. The pandemic has reminded us that no one is saved alone. What ties us to one another is what we commonly call solidarity. Solidarity is more than acts of generosity, important as they are; it is the call to embrace the reality that we are bound by bonds of reciprocity. On this solid foundation we can build a better, different, human future.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.



    - America's Top Court Strikes Down Covid-19 Restriction On Religious Groups
    DevNull127 writes: Earlier this year the governor's order had "restricted the size of religious gatherings in certain areas of New York where infection rates were climbing," reports the New York Times. But Wednesday night (in a close 5 to 4 decision) America's highest court ruled against the governor — and in favor of two religious organizations challenging him. "[T]hey tell us without contradiction that they have complied with all public health guidance, have implemented additional precautionary measures, and have operated at 25% or 33% capacity for months without a single outbreak," the ruling points out. CNN notes that the court's majority believed that the governor's enjoined regulations were "'far more restrictive than any Covid-related regulations that have previously come before the court, much tighter than those adopted by many other jurisdictions hard hit by the pandemic, and far more severe than has been shown to be required to prevent the spread of the virus' at the religious services in question." The Times concludes that "If unconstrained religious observance and public safety were sometimes at odds, as the governor and other public officials maintained, the court ruled that religious freedom should win out." Jeffrey D. Sachs, a professor and director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University, argues the court's ruling "proved the dangers of scientifically illiterate judges overturning government decisions that were based on scientific evidence."

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.



    - Chinese Police Have Seized $4.2 Billion Cryptos from PlusToken Ponzi Crackdown
    Crypto assets worth more than $4.2 billion have been seized by Chinese police during the massive PlusToken Ponzi scheme crackdown, according to a new court ruling. From a report: In a November 19 judgment made public on Thursday, the Jiangsu Yancheng Intermediate People's Court has detailed the breakdown for the first time of all the crypto assets seized by Chinese police related to the PlusToken case. A total of 194,775 BTC, 833,083 ETH, 1.4 million LTC, 27.6 million EOS, 74,167 DASH, 487 million XRP, 6 billion DOGE, 79,581 BCH, and 213,724 USDT have been seized by Chinese law enforcement from seven convicts during the crackdown. These assets, at today's prices, are worth over $4.2 billion in total. As part of the ruling, the court said "the seized digital currencies will be processed pursuant to laws and the proceeds and gains will be forfeited to the national treasury." However, the Yancheng Intermediate People's Court doesn't elaborate on how much of the seized crypto assets have been or will be "processed" or via what method exactly. The PlusToken criminal case was initially ruled on September 22 by a lower-level district court in the city of Yancheng in China's Jiangsu province.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.



    - A Hacker is Selling Access To the Email Accounts of Hundreds of C-Level Executives
    A threat actor is currently selling passwords for the email accounts of hundreds of C-level executives at companies across the world. From a report: The data is being sold on a closed-access underground forum for Russian-speaking hackers named Exploit.in, ZDNet has learned this week. The threat actor is selling email and password combinations for Office 365 and Microsoft accounts, which he claims are owned by high-level executives occupying functions such as: CEO, COO, CFO, CMO, CTO, President, VP, Exec Assistant, Finance Manager, Accountant, and Director. Access to any of these accounts is sold for prices ranging from $100 to $1,500, depending on the company size and user's role.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.



    - Developer Successfully Virtualizes Windows for Arm on M1 Mac
    Developer Alexander Graf has successfully virtualized the Arm version of Windows on an M1 Mac, proving that the M1 chip is capable of running Microsoft's operating system. From a report: Currently, Macs with the M1 chip do not support Windows and there is no Boot Camp feature as there is on Intel Macs, but support for Windows is a feature that many users would like to see. Using the open-source QEMU virtualizer, Graf was able to virtualize the Arm version of Windows on Apple's M1 chip, with no emulation. Since the M1 chip is a custom Arm SoC, it is no longer possible to install the x86 version of Windows or x86 Windows apps using Boot Camp, as was the case with previous Intel-based Macs. However, he said in a Tweet that when virtualized on an M1 Mac, "Windows ARM64 can run x86 applications really well. It's not as fast as Rosetta 2, but close."

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.



    - Facebook's Libra Currency To Launch Next Year in Limited Format
    The long-awaited Facebook-led digital currency Libra is preparing to launch as early as January, Financial Times reported Friday, citing three people involved in the initiative, but in an even more limited format than its already downgraded vision. From a report [Editor's note: the link may be paywalled; alternative source]: The 27-strong Libra Association said in April that it had planned to launch digital versions of several currencies, plus a "digital composite" of all of its coins. This followed concerns from regulators over its initial plan to create one synthetic coin backed by a basket of currencies. However, the association would now initially just launch a single coin backed one-for-one by the dollar, one of the people said. The other currencies and the composite would be rolled out at a later point, the person added. Libra's exact launch date would depend on when the project receives approval to operate as a payments service from the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority, but could come as early as January, the three people said. Finma said it would not comment on Libra's application, which was initiated in May. First launched in June 2019, the scaling down of Libra's vision comes as it has received a sceptical reception from global regulators, who have warned that it could threaten monetary stability and become a hotbed for money laundering. While the restricted scope may appease wary regulators, critics have complained that a move to single-currency coins could hit users looking to convert currencies with additional costs, undermining its ambition to enable greater financial inclusion.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.



    - FCC Maintains Ban on Mobile Phone Voice Calls During Flights
    The U.S. Federal Communications Commission killed a proposal to allow in-flight voice calls via mobile phones, ending its examination of an idea that evoked fears of air rage from passengers trapped beside jabbering seat mates. From a report: The idea drew "strong opposition" from pilots and flight attendants, the agency said Friday in a four-paragraph order. The FCC in 2013 proposed allowing mobile telephone conversations above 10,000 feet, adopting practices followed in Europe and elsewhere, where in-flight voice calling is more common. But the proposal led to strong and immediate pushback, with travelers, flight attendants, members of Congress and others saying they were troubled by the idea of passengers talking on phones in flight. One group raised "the potential for air rage if passengers are using their cell phone."

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.





Old Board