Feed aggregator

  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.

A curious observer’s guide to quantum mechanics, pt. 2: The particle melting pot

ArsTechnica - 2 hours 45 min ago

One of the quietest revolutions of our current century has been the entry of quantum mechanics into our everyday technology. It used to be that quantum effects were confined to physics laboratories and delicate experiments. But modern technology increasingly relies on quantum mechanics for its basic operation, and the importance of quantum effects will only grow in the decades to come. As such, physicist Miguel F. Morales has taken on the herculean task of explaining quantum mechanics to the rest of us laymen in this seven-part series (no math, we promise). Below is the second story in the series, but you can always find the starting story here.

Welcome back for our second guided walk into the quantum mechanical woods! Last week, we saw how particles move like waves and hit like particles and how a single particle takes multiple paths. While surprising, this is a well-explored area of quantum mechanics—it is on the paved nature path around the visitor’s center.

This week I’d like to get off the paved trail and go a bit deeper into the woods in order to talk about how particles meld and combine while in motion. This is a topic that is usually reserved for physics majors; it's rarely discussed in popular articles. But the payoff is understanding how precision lidar works and getting to see one of the great inventions making it out of the lab, the optical comb. So let's go get our (quantum) hiking boots a little dirty—it'll be worth it.

Read 42 remaining paragraphs | Comments

AI-powered text from this program could fool the government

ArsTechnica - 4 hours 50 min ago
AI-powered text from this program could fool the government

Enlarge (credit: Elena Lacey | Getty Images)

In October 2019, Idaho proposed changing its Medicaid program. The state needed approval from the federal government, which solicited public feedback via Medicaid.gov.

Roughly 1,000 comments arrived. But half came not from concerned citizens or even Internet trolls. They were generated by artificial intelligence. And a study found that people could not distinguish the real comments from the fake ones.

The project was the work of Max Weiss, a tech-savvy medical student at Harvard, but it received little attention at the time. Now, with AI language systems advancing rapidly, some say the government and Internet companies need to rethink how they solicit and screen feedback to guard against deepfake text manipulation and other AI-powered interference.

Read 16 remaining paragraphs | Comments

After a decade, NASA’s big rocket fails its first real test

ArsTechnica - Sat, 01/16/2021 - 8:57pm

STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss.—For a few moments, it seemed like the Space Launch System saga might have a happy ending. Beneath brilliant blue skies late on Saturday afternoon, NASA’s huge rocket roared to life for the very first time. As its four engines lit, and thrummed, thunder rumbled across these Mississippi lowlands. A giant, beautiful plume of white exhaust billowed away from the test stand.

It was all pretty damn glorious until it stopped suddenly.

About 50 seconds into what was supposed to be an 8-minute test firing, the flight control center called out, “We did get an MCF on Engine 4.” This means there was a “major component failure” with the fourth engine on the vehicle. After a total of about 67 seconds, the hot fire test ended.

Read 24 remaining paragraphs | Comments

What motivates the motivated reasoning of pro-Trump conspiracists?

ArsTechnica - Sat, 01/16/2021 - 11:54am
A white pickup truck is decorated in pro-Trump paraphernalia.

Enlarge / January 7, 2021 - St. Paul, Minn. — Trump supporters gather at the Minnesota Governor's Residence after a "Storm The Capitol" event at the Minnesota State Capitol. (credit: Chad Davis / Flickr)

Motivated reasoning is the idea that our mental processes often cause us to filter the evidence we accept based on whether it's consistent with what we want to believe. During these past few weeks, it has been on display in the United States on a truly grand scale. People are accepting context-free videos shared on social media over investigations performed by election officials. They're rejecting obvious evidence of President Donald Trump's historic unpopularity, while buying in to evidence-free conspiracies involving deceased Latin American dictators.

If the evidence for motivated reasoning is obvious, however, it's a lot harder to figure out what's providing the motivation. It's not simply Republican identity, given that Trump adopted many policies that went against previous Republican orthodoxy. The frequent appearance of Confederate flags confirms some racism is involved, but that doesn't seem to explain it all. There's a long enough list of potential motivations to raise doubts as to whether a single one could possibly suffice.

A recent paper in PNAS, however, provides a single explanation that incorporates a lot of the potential motivations. Called "hegemonic masculinity," it involves a world view that places males from the dominant cultural group as the focus of societal power. And survey data seems to back up the idea.

Read 15 remaining paragraphs | Comments

The local politics of AirBNB’s ban on DC rentals

ArsTechnica - Sat, 01/16/2021 - 4:50am
A row of DC brownstones.

Enlarge / Airbnb said it will refund guests who had booked stays in DC next week and reimburse hosts for lost income. (credit: Bonnie Jo Mount | Washington Post | Getty Images)

On January 9—three days after supporters of President Trump started a riot at the US Capitol—Sean Evans decided it was time for action. Evans had seen a post on Nextdoor about neighbors running into hostile Trump supporters the night of the riot, leading to a verbal altercation that had left residents of his corner of Northwest DC on edge. Now, rumors flew online that the upcoming inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden would bring more protesters and more armed violence to the streets of his city. “I don’t want them in my neighborhood,” Evans thought to himself. In fact, he didn't want insurrectionists in the city at all.

So on Nextdoor, Evans asked his neighbors to stop renting out their properties via Airbnb and VRBO. A few hours later, another neighbor devised a hashtag: #DontRentDC.

Separately, a group called ShutDownDC gathered 500 volunteers to message DC area Airbnb hosts. The group sent messages to the managers of 3,400 properties in the region—polite ones, according to ShutDownDC organizer Alex Dodd. The messages alerted the Airbnb hosts to an upcoming threat and asked them to please refrain from booking anyone in their homes in the days surrounding the inauguration.

Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Hackers alter stolen regulatory data to sow mistrust in COVID-19 vaccine

ArsTechnica - Fri, 01/15/2021 - 3:40pm
Hackers alter stolen regulatory data to sow mistrust in COVID-19 vaccine

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images)

Last month, the makers of one of the most promising coronavirus vaccines reported that hackers stole confidential documents they had submitted to a European Union regulatory body. On Friday, word emerged that the hackers have falsified some of the submissions’ contents and published them on the Internet.

Studies of the BNT162b2 vaccine jointly developed by pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and BioNTech found it’s 95 percent effective at preventing COVID-19 and is consistently effective across age, gender, race, and ethnicity demographics. Despite near-universal consensus among scientists that the vaccine is safe, some critics have worried it isn’t. The hackers appear to be trying to stoke those unsupported worries.

Data unlawfully accessed by the hackers “included internal/confidential email correspondence dating from November, relating to evaluation processes for COVID-19 vaccines,” the European Medicines Agency based in Amsterdam said in a statement. “Some of the correspondence has been manipulated by the perpetrators prior to publication in a way which could undermine trust in vaccines.”

Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

With Trump’s vaccine rollout in chaos, Biden unveils five-point plan

ArsTechnica - Fri, 01/15/2021 - 3:30pm
US President-elect Joe Biden delivers remarks on his plan to administer COVID-19 vaccines in Wilmington, Delaware on January 15, 2021.

Enlarge / US President-elect Joe Biden delivers remarks on his plan to administer COVID-19 vaccines in Wilmington, Delaware on January 15, 2021. (credit: Getty | Angela Weiss)

President-elect Joe Biden on Friday unveiled a five-point plan to try to rescue the country’s beleaguered COVID-19 vaccination campaign and achieve his stated goal of reaching 100 million shots in his first 100 days in office.

The five steps include, in brief:

  • Working with states to open and clarify eligibility for vaccination
  • Help set up additional vaccination sites
  • “Fully activate” pharmacies to act as vaccination sites
  • Ramp up manufacturing of vaccine and supplies
  • Commit to transparency and rollout a massive public information campaign to combat disinformation

“The vaccine rollout in the United States has been a dismal failure thus far,” Biden said in speech. These five things are an attempt to turn things around, to “turn frustration into motivation.”

Read 13 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Wandavision premieres in ways that would never work on ABC—and that’s great

ArsTechnica - Fri, 01/15/2021 - 3:00pm
The black-and-white world of <em>Wandavision</em>, as occasionally interrupted by color in its first two episodes on Disney+ as of today.

Enlarge / The black-and-white world of Wandavision, as occasionally interrupted by color in its first two episodes on Disney+ as of today. (credit: Disney)

The modern era of Marvel Comics television has been a jumpy one, with ABC and Netflix dividing-and-conquering based on available comic series, exclusivity deals, and otherwise trying not to step on Marvel Studios' gargantuan toes. Fans got some fascinating television out of the process, but those network deals eventually fizzled—perhaps not coincidentally, right around the time that the Disney corporate umbrella began plotting its own content-filled streaming service.

As a result, today's premiere of Wandavision on Disney+ is far from the first TV series with clear links to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But it's definitely the clearest one yet. Take two major actors from repeat MCU films, slap them into the first-ever TV series that opens with a Marvel Studios logo, and you've got yourself one massive statement of intent.

As if that weren't gutsy enough, Wandavision goes further in terms of ambition with a two-part series premiere that will befuddle fans and outsiders alike. After over a year of squint-worthy reveals, with hints of black-and-white TV throwbacks and superhero-filled intrigue, we have 65 minutes of goofiness, dread, and a sense that this weird series is only going to get weirder.

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Report: Xbox’s “instant on” feature could consume 4 billion kWh by 2025 [Updated]

ArsTechnica - Fri, 01/15/2021 - 2:00pm
A lot of neon green power potentially

Enlarge / A lot of neon green power potentially (credit: Aurich Lawson / Getty Images)

Update 8:45pm EST: A Microsoft spokesperson provided Ars with the following statement:

Users are given a choice during setup between the two power modes for the console: energy saving and instant on. To ensure players can select the option they prefer, they are not opted-in to either power mode by default. At Microsoft, we are committed to sustainability and, as we begin a new generation of gaming with Xbox Series X|S, we’re continuing to explore how we can reduce our environmental impact across the product life cycle—from conceptualization, design, production, and packaging, to what happens once our consoles are in the hands of consumers and at their end-of-life. As part of this commitment, we are evaluating additional methods to highlight the benefits of energy saving mode, but have nothing further to share at this time.

Original Story 4:00pm EST: The "instant on" feature on new Xbox Series S/X consoles could suck up a total of 4 billion kWh—the equivalent of a year's operation for a large power plant—from US owners alone through 2025. That's according to a preliminary report released this week from the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmentally focused nonprofit advocacy group.

As the name implies, the "instant on" feature of the Series S/X (and the Xbox One before it) lets users skip the usual startup time when turning the console back on. That saves about 10 to 15 seconds of waiting per power cycle on the Series S/X, down from about 45 seconds on the Xbox One. (This is separate from the Xbox Series S/X's heavily promoted "quick resume" feature that loads the game state for recent titles directly from the system's fast SSD storage and works in either mode)

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As it turns out, the Biden administration will listen to scientists

ArsTechnica - Fri, 01/15/2021 - 1:46pm
Co-Founder & CEO of 23andMe, Anne Wojcicki President & Founding Director Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard Professor, Eric Lander, speak onstage during the TIME 100 Health Summit in 2019.

Enlarge / Co-Founder & CEO of 23andMe, Anne Wojcicki President & Founding Director Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard Professor, Eric Lander, speak onstage during the TIME 100 Health Summit in 2019. (credit: Brian Ach/Getty Images)

During the height of the presidential election last October, President Trump warned voters that if Joe Biden was elected president, he would "listen to the scientists." Now, as the president-elect is about to be inaugurated as the 46th president of the United States, Biden appears to be leaning into this attack line.

On Friday, the incoming Biden administration announced that it would name Eric Lander to become director of the Office of Science Technology and Policy. As is customary in this role, Lander will also serve as chief "science advisor" to the president. In addition, Biden announced that he is making the science advisor a cabinet-level position. This is a first for this role.

“Science will always be at the forefront of my administration—and these world-renowned scientists will ensure everything we do is grounded in science, facts, and the truth," President-elect Biden said in a news release announcing the appointments.

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FDA blindsided as Trump Admin cripples agency on its way out

ArsTechnica - Fri, 01/15/2021 - 1:40pm
Stephen Hahn, commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration.

Enlarge / Stephen Hahn, commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration. (credit: Getty | Bloomberg)

The US Food and Drug Administration is under siege from the Trump Administration, which is forcing through a steady stream of changes in its final days that threaten the remaining independence of the regulatory agency.

Perhaps the most dramatic meddling came on Monday, when FDA officials were blindsided as the agency cycled through three different top lawyers. FDA’s Chief Counsel, Stacy Cline Amin—a Trump appointee—resigned Monday, which FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn announced in an email. Hahn’s email also included the news that career civil servant Mark Raza, the FDA’s principal deputy chief counsel, would serve as Cline Amin’s replacement on an acting basis. But that decision was abruptly overturned Monday night when the Department of Health and Human services tweeted that James Lawrence, deputy general counsel for the HHS, would serve as the FDA’s new chief counsel until January 20.

"We were all very surprised," a senior FDA official told Politico. "But it's consistent with all the fire bombs that keep getting thrown over the fence."

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FCC fines white-supremacist robocaller $10 million for faking caller ID

ArsTechnica - Fri, 01/15/2021 - 1:03pm
Former Florida gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum speaking to a crowd.

Enlarge / Former Florida gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum addresses an audience on March 20, 2019 in Miami Gardens, Florida. Gillum's campaign was targeted by racist robocalls in 2018. (credit: Getty Images | Saul Martinez )

A neo-Nazi, white-supremacist robocaller who spread "xenophobic fearmongering" and "racist attacks on political candidates" has been ordered to pay a $9.9 million fine for violating the Truth in Caller ID Act, a US law that prohibits manipulation of caller ID numbers with the intent to defraud, cause harm, or wrongfully obtain anything of value. The Federal Communications Commission finalized the fine against Scott Rhodes of Idaho yesterday, nearly one year after the FCC first proposed the penalty.

"This individual made thousands of spoofed robocalls targeting specific communities with harmful pre-recorded messages," the FCC said in an announcement. "The robocalls included xenophobic fearmongering (including to a victim's family), racist attacks on political candidates, an apparent attempt to influence the jury in a domestic terrorism case, and threatening language toward a local journalist. The caller used an online calling platform to intentionally manipulate caller ID information so that the calls he was making appeared to come from local numbers—a technique called 'neighbor spoofing.'"

Rhodes made "4,959 unlawful spoofed robocalls between May 2018 and December 2018," with several different calling sprees that "targeted voters in districts during political campaigns or residents in communities that had experienced major news events relating to or involving public controversies," the FCC's forfeiture order said.

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Facebook will pay more than $300 each to 1.6M Illinois users in settlement

ArsTechnica - Fri, 01/15/2021 - 12:39pm
You see Facebook, Facebook sees you...

Enlarge / You see Facebook, Facebook sees you... (credit: Chris Jackson | Getty Images)

Millions of Facebook users in Illinois will be receiving about $340 each as Facebook settles a case alleging it broke state law when it collected facial recognition data on users without their consent. The judge hearing the case in federal court in California approved the final settlement on Thursday, six years after legal proceedings began.

"This is money that's coming directly out of Facebook's own pocket," US District Judge James Donato said, according to the Chicago Tribune. "The violations here did not extract a penny from the pockets of the victims. But this is real money that Facebook is paying to compensate them for the tangible privacy harms that they suffered."

Three different Illinois residents filed suit against Facebook in 2015 and claimed that the service's "tag suggestions" feature, which uses facial recognition to suggest other users to tag in photos, violated their rights under the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA). The suits were eventually rolled together into a single class-action complaint and transferred to federal court in California.

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Trump team modernizes car safety regulations for the driverless era

ArsTechnica - Fri, 01/15/2021 - 12:29pm
Nuro makes small electric vehicles for hauling cargo. They are designed to be street-legal but have no room for passengers.

Enlarge / Nuro makes small electric vehicles for hauling cargo. They are designed to be street-legal but have no room for passengers. (credit: Nuro)

Until this week, the federal government's car safety regulations were based on two assumptions that probably seemed self-evident when they were written: that every car will have people inside, and that one of those people will be the driver. To protect the safety of the driver and possible passengers, the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) requires that every car have seatbelts and airbags. It also sets minimum standards for everything from windshield strength to crash test performance.

In the coming years, these assumptions will be increasingly out of date. So on Thursday, as the Trump administration is coming to a close, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) published a new version of the FMVSS that recognizes that some cars don't have drivers—and some vehicles don't have anyone inside at all.

One of the biggest beneficiaries of these new rules will be Nuro, a startup that is building delivery robots designed to operate on streets rather than sidewalks. In a statement to Ars, Nuro hailed the rules as a "significant advancement that will help Nuro commercialize our self-driving delivery vehicles."

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A big wing and no back seats: The 2021 Mini John Cooper Works GP

ArsTechnica - Fri, 01/15/2021 - 11:15am

To some people, John Cooper is best known for the racing cars bearing his name that showed F1 and Indianapolis that the engine should go behind the driver. He taught that lesson back in 1960, and 61 years later it remains as true as ever. But more will associate his name with little front-wheel drive Minis, which he tuned in addition to building successful single-seaters.

The Mini Cooper was a budget bijou performance car, a good 16 years before VW thought up the Golf GTI, beloved by rally drivers and celluloid bank robbers alike. These days, there's an entire John Cooper Works lineup at Mini, with hot versions of the various vehicles that now make up the Mini range. And this is the hottest of them all, the $44,900 2021 Mini John Cooper Works GP.

Limited to just 3,000 cars, the JCW GP is the most extreme Mini you can buy that isn't a Dakar off-road racer. Its track has been widened, pushing the wheels farther apart from each other—hence the naked carbon fiber-reinforced plastic wing arch extensions with vents that you could lose a finger inside.

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How law enforcement gets around your smartphone’s encryption

ArsTechnica - Fri, 01/15/2021 - 10:54am
Uberwachung, Symbolbild, Datensicherheit, Datenhoheit

Enlarge / Uberwachung, Symbolbild, Datensicherheit, Datenhoheit (credit: Westend61 | Getty Images)

Lawmakers and law enforcement agencies around the world, including in the United States, have increasingly called for backdoors in the encryption schemes that protect your data, arguing that national security is at stake. But new research indicates governments already have methods and tools that, for better or worse, let them access locked smartphones thanks to weaknesses in the security schemes of Android and iOS.

Cryptographers at Johns Hopkins University used publicly available documentation from Apple and Google as well as their own analysis to assess the robustness of Android and iOS encryption. They also studied more than a decade's worth of reports about which of these mobile security features law enforcement and criminals have previously bypassed, or can currently, using special hacking tools. The researchers have dug into the current mobile privacy state of affairs and provided technical recommendations for how the two major mobile operating systems can continue to improve their protections.

“It just really shocked me, because I came into this project thinking that these phones are really protecting user data well,” says Johns Hopkins cryptographer Matthew Green, who oversaw the research. “Now I’ve come out of the project thinking almost nothing is protected as much as it could be. So why do we need a backdoor for law enforcement when the protections that these phones actually offer are so bad?”

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Report: New MacBook Pro models will arrive this year with MagSafe, M1 successor [Updated]

ArsTechnica - Fri, 01/15/2021 - 10:33am
A 16-inch MacBook Pro with the lid closed

Enlarge / This is the 16-inch MacBook Pro as it's being sold now. According to today's report, the new one will generally look quite similar. (credit: Samuel Axon)

According to a report in Bloomberg, Apple plans to launch new versions of its MacBook Pro laptops "around the middle of the year," and these machines will feature speed and display enhancements, as well as a return of the MagSafe charging design seen in MacBook computers several generations ago.

Citing "a person with knowledge of the plans," the Bloomberg story claims that Apple's 13-inch MacBook Pro will get a 14-inch successor, just as the 15-inch MacBook Pro became a 16-inch model when the screen bezel was reduced to allow more screen real estate in a similarly sized chassis.

Both the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro are slated for the middle of the year and will incorporate Apple's custom silicon. The company first introduced its own silicon with the M1 chip included in November refreshes of the low-end 13-inch MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, and Mac mini. The new machines described today would have a successor to Apple's M1 chip with more CPU cores and "enhanced graphics."

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US declares Xiaomi a “Communist Chinese military company,” bans investments

ArsTechnica - Fri, 01/15/2021 - 10:03am
The Xiaomi Mi 11.

Enlarge / The Xiaomi Mi 11. (credit: Xiaomi)

The latest shot in the US Government's war on leading Chinese smartphone vendors is directed at Xiaomi, which today has landed on the US government's list of "Communist Chinese Military Companies" via a new executive order. The declaration makes it illegal for US citizens to own Xiaomi stock.

The US and China have been trading blows for a year and a half now over Huawei, which was added to the "entity list" by the US Department of Commerce. While on the entity list, American companies can't collaborate with Huawei or export products to it. It becomes illegal for Huawei to import any product of "US-Origin." US Origin doesn't just mean products made in the US by US companies; there's also a "viral" component to the law, where any product made internationally with some US-origin components also counts as a US-origin product.

Trade War! USA v. China

View more stories While Huawei got an all-encompassing ban, it doesn't look like Xiaomi is in the same boat right now. Huawei landed on the Department of Commerce's entity list, while Xiaomi is now on the Department of Defense's list of “Communist Chinese Military Companies” (Huawei is also on this list). The DOD designation seems to only ban US investment in Xiaomi, and any American stakeholders need to divest their holdings by November 11, 2021. (Xiaomi is a public company and had an IPO back in 2018.) The suffocating supply chain restrictions that apply to Huawei don't (yet?) apply to Xiaomi.

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There is no COVID vaccine reserve. Trump admin already shipped it

ArsTechnica - Fri, 01/15/2021 - 9:58am
Alex Azar, secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), who allegedly deceived states on the vaccine supply, receives the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine during an event at the NIH Clinical Center on Tuesday, December 22, 2020.

Enlarge / Alex Azar, secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), who allegedly deceived states on the vaccine supply, receives the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine during an event at the NIH Clinical Center on Tuesday, December 22, 2020. (credit: Getty | Bloomberg)

The Trump administration announced Tuesday, January 12, that it would begin shipping reserved vaccine supplies, raising hopes that states may see their vaccine supply potentially double as they work to accelerate the sluggish immunization campaign. But according to a report by The Washington Post, that promised vaccine stockpile doesn’t actually exist—it was already shipped out—and the limited vaccine supply available to states will remain as it is for now.

The news has not only left state health officials angry and confused by the false promises, they’re also left scrambling to sort out distribution changes. In addition to claiming they would release the (non-existent) stockpile, Trump administration officials told states to expand access to vaccines—now allowing anyone over age 65 to get vaccinated and people under 65 who have a documented underlying health condition that makes them more vulnerable to COVID-19.

The expanded eligibility covers around 152 million people in the US. But administration officials had previously estimated that it wouldn’t be until the end of March before they would have 200 million doses—enough to vaccinate only 100 million people—as STAT noted earlier.

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Trump tries to claw back billions from COVID vaccine distributor

ArsTechnica - Fri, 01/15/2021 - 8:55am
A picture taken on January 15, 2021, shows a pharmacist holding with gloved hands a vial of the undiluted Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for COVID-19.

Enlarge / A picture taken on January 15, 2021, shows a pharmacist holding with gloved hands a vial of the undiluted Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for COVID-19. (credit: Getty | JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER)

With mere days left in office, President Donald Trump has proposed $27.4 billion in brutal budget cuts—including clawing back 5.1 billion from global public health amid a raging pandemic. Of the proposed health cuts, $4 billion would be slashed from a vaccine alliance playing a central role in helping to distribute COVID-19 vaccines to low-income countries.

The proposed cuts are part of a rescission request, which has no chance of being enacted by Congress, as Politico reports. However, the proposed cuts—particularly to the vaccine alliance—are likely to add insult to injury to the global public health community, which continues to battle the out-of-control pandemic.

Worldwide, the total number of COVID-19 cases is over 93 million, and deaths are approaching 2 million. In the US alone, the seven-day rolling average of daily new cases is over 235,000, with 129,000 people currently hospitalized. Around 4,000 people have died each day for the past three days, bringing the US death toll to around 380,000.

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