US offshore oil and gas installation at 'increasing' risk of cyberattack

The Register - Mon, 11/21/2022 - 08:02
GAO says 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster will look like a walk in the park

The US Government Accountability Office (GAO) has warned that the time to act on securing the US's offshore oil and natural gas installations is now because they are under "increasing" and "significant risk" of cyberattack.…

Categories: Tech News

FTX Founder Deepfake Offers Refund to Victims in Verified Twitter Account Scam

Motherboard (Vice) - Mon, 11/21/2022 - 07:51

A deepfake of FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried circulated on Twitter on Friday, where the founder of the collapsed cryptocurrency exchange appeared to claim he could make users whole again by doubling their cryptocurrency in a typical giveaway scam. Making matters worse, the account was verified and mimicked SBF’s real account.

“Hello everyone. As you know our FTX exchange is going bankrupt,” the deepfake of Bankman-Fried said in the video. “But I hasten to inform all users that you should not panic. As compensation for the loss we have prepared a giveaway for you in which you can double your cryptocurrency. To do this, just go to the site ftxcompensation.com”

Bankman-Fried is the self-styled altruistic genius in charge of the imploded cryptocurrency exchange FTX. The company is bankrupt, owes $3 billion to creditors, and has balance sheets so unreliable that experts have called the scandal worse than Enron. While FTX burns, its stakeholders are looking for some kind of compensation and that has opened the door for scammers.

On Friday, in a tweet viewed by Motherboard before the account was suspended by Twitter, user “s4g4_ETH” tweeted out a video that seemed to show Bankman-Fried offering to help people who’d been screwed by FTX. The account has a blue verified checkmark, Bankman-Fried’s Twitter handle “SBF” and his Twitter avatar. The scam appeared to take advantage of the fact that Twitter CEO Elon Musk is selling blue checks for $8, leading to a flood of parodies and scams backed by purchased credibility on the site.

Screen Shot 2022-11-21 at 10.30.22 AM.png

The deepfake video directed people to a website where people could enter a giveaway to win crypto. Crypto giveaways are a common scam, often using fake celebrity accounts, where the victim sends tokens to the scammer but receives nothing in return. The site prominently features Bankman-Fried’s face and FTX’s logo and is registered to an individual in Nevis, an island near Puerto Rico. 

“Biggest giveaway crypto of $100,000,000,” the site says. “Send the desired number of coins to the special address below. Once we receive your translation, we will immediately send the requested amount back to you. You can only take part in our giveaway once. Hurry up!” 

The site shows a rolling list of fake transactions to entice victims to send crypto. The linked Bitcoin address has received no tokens, while the Ethereum address currently holds just over $1,000 in ETH. 

Needless to say, getting scammed on Twitter by a deepfake after already losing all your crypto on a collapsed exchange adds insult to injury.

Categories: Tech News

Aviation regulators push for more automation so flights can be run by a single pilot

The Register - Mon, 11/21/2022 - 07:01
This is despite a wealth of evidence showing the value of having two in the cockpit

Regulators are pushing the UN's International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to examine ways of making single pilot operations the eventual norm in commercial flights.…

Categories: Tech News

Finding Brotherhood in a Trans Motorcycle Club

Motherboard (Vice) - Mon, 11/21/2022 - 07:00

A group of mostly bearded and tattooed motorcycle riders rolls through downtown Kansas City, turning heads with the braap-braap noise of their exhaust pipes. It’s the sound of ultimate freedom on the road, and it ripples deep in the chests of onlookers. Emblazoned on the back of the riders’ leather vests is their club name, Original Gents, and a logo of a skull with a pipe and top hat. The bottom rocker patch, which traditionally notes a club’s location, simply says ‘Brotherhood.’ It’s a word with added significance for the Original Gents, the first and only motorcycle club, or MC, by and for transmasculine people. 

tktkDakota, one of the founders of the OGMC

The Original Gents MC (OGMC for short) was founded in November 2020, by presidents Dakota Cole and Jami Ryan, and their name alludes to a common experience among its eight members: They were originally men or masculine of center from the beginning, regardless of how society viewed them. The club hosts a regular schedule of rides (including some that welcome non-members), supports LGBTQ+ events, and leads an annual Trans Day of Remembrance (TDOR) ride, one of Kansas City’s few TDOR events. “That ride was something we all agreed on that we wanted to do every year,” Cole said. ”No matter how many people turned out, no matter how many people came. That was something for our community.” 

This year’s TDOR ride started and ended at LGBTQ+-owned Big Rip Brewing Company, with a group of over 50 allies and supporters riding along on motorcycles or in cars. While it’s not readily obvious that OGMC is a transmasculine club, its TDOR ride is one example of being intentionally visible for those who can’t be: Cole rode with a trans Pride flag mounted next to the OGMC flag on the back of his 1998 Honda Shadow 750 ACE. At the closing ceremony, the club read aloud the names of trans people murdered this year, followed by a moment of silence. Later, they hung out with supporters, drinking and chatting until late. 

BarrettEmke_Vice_OriginalGents_DSC9441.jpgJami, one of the founders of the OGMC

Cole had always wanted to be part of a motorcycle club, but he wasn’t OK with the toxic masculinity biker culture is known for, and he didn’t like feeling that joining an MC meant he had to be stealth—not out about his trans experience. In 2020, he floated the idea of an all-transmasc MC on some local trans groups on Facebook, and his friend Ryan, who works at a local hospital, quickly got on board. Engineering technician Hunter Wills—now the OGMC Road Captain—and Ruben Castillo joined shortly after. Today, the club’s members come from different backgrounds and lived experiences, with an age range from 22 to early 50s. Some members are queer or nonbinary. Some are married, some are parents, and they all hold a wide variety of jobs.

“We have different lives,” said Ryan, who rides a 2001 Honda Shadow. “But we connect in being trans and loving motorcycles and loving being out on the road. It's incomparable to anything else… We're just brothers. We show up for each other. It’s a brotherhood and a family.”

BarrettEmke_Vice_OriginalGents_DSC9649 diptych2.jpgHunter with some of the riders

Saxon Funk is a Jr. Road Captain, a role responsible for planning and leading the club’s rides, and the only one who rides a sport bike, a Honda CBR 500. Funk was part of another riding club in the past but never quite meshed with the other riders who were straight and cisgendered. Being part of OGMC makes an “astronomical” difference, they said: “You don't have to worry about feeling uncomfortable or worry about getting misgendered or somebody using your deadname. You have things in common that you don't with other people, like T [Testosterone therapy] and surgeries and just being able to talk about hardships.”

“There have been moments where I've dropped everything that's been going on just to make sure someone's OK,” Cole added. “That was more than them just being a member of the club. They really are my family.”

OGMC isn’t an outlaw biker club like those portrayed in movies and TV shows, but given the current political climate, they might be closer to a different kind of outlaw than they intended. Violent anti-trans propaganda was part of a number of GOP candidates’ campaigns in the recent midterms, and that vitriol has real-life impacts. The number of reported transgender killings in America—the overwhelming majority being Black trans women—has doubled in four years, with 32 murders to date in 2022. “Honestly, I think that’s partly why we don't have more members. There are people around here who are scared to be out,” Cole said. 

BarrettEmke_Vice_OriginalGents_DSC9697.jpgJami

Jordan Ecclefield, an OGMC prospect with a long salt-and-pepper beard, has endured transphobic harassment for years. “They broke me with the Trump shit. People have been like, ‘We love you. We will still hang out with you. But we're gonna vote against your rights.’ Well, I'm tired of pretending like that doesn't matter because it does … It seems like we're [the] punching bags lately.” Ecclefield rides a matte-black Harley-Davidson Iron 883 Sportster, and has worked in a factory for 22 years. He came out as trans 16 years ago and faces frequent misgendering and harassment at work. “My goal is to not speak to anyone for those 10 hours and go home and hope, you know, nobody's waiting for me in the parking lot,” he said. 

For OGMC, though, the rewards of visibility outweigh the risks. Thinking back to when he came out in the early-2000s, Ruben Castillo remembered the profound inspiration he got from simply meeting older trans men. “Seeing some of the older trans men living happy lives and doing what they loved was like, I can have that at some point, you know?” he said. Now, with OGMC, “We’re able to paint that picture [for a new generation].” When he rode his Honda Rebel in this year’s Kansas City Pride parade, he said, “There was this younger trans kid who found out we were an all-transmasculine group, and he was like, ‘Wow, I can’t wait till I’m 18 and I can join.’ Just seeing that light in his eyes, this is why we do it.”

BarrettEmke_Vice_OriginalGents_DSC0003.jpgRiding in bliss

On Instagram, the club shares photos of its events, rides, and supporters. Cole estimated there have been trans people from almost every state, and from other countries like Scotland, that have reached out through Instagram, sometimes expressing interest in starting an OGMC chapter of their own. It’s an idea the members are already on board with. Wills is in the process of moving to Colorado, where he’s already in talks with friends about starting a chapter there. “I'd like to see it become a national motorcycle club, if not international,” said Wills, who rides a Harley Street Glide Special. “I want the club to be there for people who need it, who need somewhere to go and where they can be themselves even if they don't have anywhere else in the world.”

Follow Mark Van Streefkerk on Twitter or at his website.

Categories: Tech News

Inside the Fantastically Silent World of Deaf Streamers

Motherboard (Vice) - Mon, 11/21/2022 - 06:39

You’ve entered the livestream. Stickers and comments flood the screen as questions from eager fans come in. But there are no bombastic sound effects or karaoke sing-offs. In this stream, silence reigns—and visuals are queen.

“To my knowledge, I’m probably known as the first deaf streamer [in China],” Ruolan Zhang, who began streaming on the Chinese platform Yingke in 2015, told VICE World News.

Every night until about 4 a.m., Zhang goes live on Douyin, the Chinese and original version of TikTok. Her followers stay up late due to insomnia, while Zhang, 28, stays up late to host silent streams. Curious fans shower her with compliments and questions, wondering if they too can achieve her glossy it-girl aesthetic. “What shade of lipstick are you wearing?” and “Where did you get the fit?” are her most frequently asked questions. It’s a routine she’s had for the past seven years, which, in turn, has helped her make a living. 

Growing up, Ruolan Zhang learned how to lip-read and taught herself Chinese Sign Language. Photo courtesy of Ruolan ZhangGrowing up, Ruolan Zhang learned how to lip-read and taught herself Chinese Sign Language. Photo courtesy of Ruolan Zhang

Zhang lost her hearing gradually after unknowingly taking now-banned medications as a child. She uses self-taught Chinese Sign Language and a portable writing tablet to communicate with her fans. Now, with over 820,000 fans, she attributes her success partly to the pandemic, which has kept many at home—and in need of online entertainment.

“Deaf friends may not have the easiest time finding work, so they’ve started, one after the other, to invest in or devote themselves to the world of livestreaming,” said Zhang, who is based in the southwestern Chinese city of Chengdu.

Other deaf and hard-of-hearing livestreamers around the globe have in recent years done the same, using a combination of digital writing tablets, sign language, or oral language to engage with eager fans online.

Fengli Zhao, who was born deaf, said silent livestreaming brings about a sense of tranquility as he and his followers chat about life and the bigger picture. 

“[My fans are] full of positivity,” the 28-year-old streamer said. He learned how to sign early on from his mother, who is also deaf. 

“Fans feel that the ambiance of a silent livestream brings them peace and joy. This can help heal the state of their hearts,” the Beijing-based creator said.

Those mental health benefits came into play when Zhao found himself looking for new ways to make connections without face-to-face contact in April. In maintaining its stringent “zero-COVID policy,” China’s citywide lockdowns kept millions inside their homes for weeks on end. 

“I stayed in for nearly a month,” he said.

It was then that Zhao began posting more consistently online, eventually tapping into silent streams in which he not only teaches Chinese Sign Language but also shares his love for photography, art, camping, cooking, and working out with his 40,200 followers.

Perhaps one of the biggest challenges for deaf livestreamers around the globe is the sheer lack of awareness outside of certain online communities. 

Earlier this year, users on TikTok and Twitter were quick to call out Swedish YouTuber PewDiePie for his response video to deaf content creator Scarlet Watters, who uses both sign language and spoken English in her videos. In the duet, the YouTuber appeared to mock Scarlett Watters by waving his hands around as if he was trying to speak ASL. He later issued a statement saying it was an “honest mistake.” 

And a common misconception is that a person who speaks American Sign Language (ASL) or International Sign Language (ISL) can understand other sign languages. But there are over 300 different types of sign language spoken around the globe, and accents can also vary based on region, according to the Department of Linguistics at Gallaudet University, a private research university for deaf and hard-of-hearing students in Washington, D.C. Some internet users on Tandem, a community language learning app, mistakenly declare fluency in sign language and “emoji” speak, which further indicates a need for increased awareness of sign language. 
With tens of thousands of users participating in silent streams on apps like Bigo Live —Asia isn’t the only region where deaf and hard-of-hearing creators make their voices known. Deaf streamers in the U.S. are also finding ways to make silent streams on Twitch more inclusive for all audiences. 

“There’s a mix of hearing people who are curious about how deaf people play games, and there are deaf and hard-of-hearing people [in my channel],” said Christopher Robinson, a Chicago native who was born deaf. The 34-year-old created the @DeafGamersTV Twitch channel to boost deaf awareness. “Since I’ve always wanted to have a good vibe, a positive and respectful community, I’ve been able to do just that.”

In a silent co-stream last month, Robinson and Philadelphia-based Brandon Chan chatted with other gamers during an event organized by the video game company Ubisoft, using both ASL and English text in the chat bar to communicate. Robinson also shared Ubisoft’s BSL (British Sign Language) and ASL translations on screen using OBS Studio, software that allows a streamer to share multiple windows at a time. The streaming event, which garnered over a million combined views on YouTube and Twitch, gave viewers a chance to watch the event in 20 languages, including German Sign Language, ASL, BSL, and ISL.

“​​I do a mix of signing and typing because I’ve also met deaf or hard-of-hearing people from different countries, and they may not understand ASL,” Robinson said of his streams. “So, I sign and type so that no one is left out.”

Rikki Poynter, a deaf YouTuber and accessibility consultant, said silent streams may appeal to other viewers besides those who are deaf or hard-of-hearing. 

“There are hearing people who get overstimulated by too much noise or any noise, so I can see why they’d like the quiet streams,” Poynter said.

From Pakistan to the Philippines, thousands of deaf and hard-of-hearing streamers have also found community online via the Bigo Live livestreaming app, where they can stream solo or join multi-streams. The multi-streams allow for several people to stream at the same time, with sub-groups typically based on location or common interests. As part of its plans, Bigo Live—headquartered in Singapore—will soon offer a feature that allows users to include captions in English, Bangla, Chinese, Arabic, and more.

 

For years, content creators on YouTube and TikTok alike have expressed frustration as many media companies have failed to include proper caption tools during livestreams. Though Google was one of the first to pave the way for video captions in the early 2000s with manual captions, it wasn’t until October 2021 that YouTube rolled out its livestream auto-caption feature, which finally gave users the opportunity to auto-caption streams without having a minimum of 1,000 subscribers. 

People and developers may forget that disabled people exist in the gaming community.

A few weeks ago, YouTube—owned by Google’s parent company, Alphabet—also announced users would be able to suggest edits for automatic captions for videos. The feature, still in beta mode, is currently only available for a select group of users using English-language captions. 

“Our goal is to improve automatic captions and make videos more accessible for all viewers. This test will roll out to a small percentage of videos,” a Google employee said in a YouTube community thread. 

Despite the obvious interest in silent streams and similar content, another concern, Robinson said, is that many video game and film trailers are initially released without captions. 

“My biggest goal is to educate [people in] the gaming space,” he said. “People and developers may forget that disabled people exist in the gaming community.”

Live auto-captions on online platforms can be helpful for obvious reasons, but they typically rely on speech-recognition technology, which creators and experts say is often hit or miss. 

“Experiences vary from streamer to streamer,” said Poynter, who has long advocated for proper closed captioning on social media. “Sometimes, the captions are decent because of the person’s voice clarity, and the equipment and settings they use are really good and high quality—so the live auto-captions may deliver the proper words.” 

In other cases, Poynter says auto-captions may cause unnecessary drama by adding in inappropriate words or other wonky interpretations that aren’t visible to the streamer. Still, deaf and hard-of-hearing creators see captions as an easy way to provide accessibility for all audiences. 

“The important thing is to just keep it simple, especially when captioning your content,” Robinson said. “Don’t use any fancy text that’s just gonna be difficult to read. Readability is the key.”

Besides navigating sites or platforms that lack basic accessibility, there’s another, more sinister challenge facing deaf content creators—online scammers who pretend to be deaf. As she shares her story with her followers, Zhang, who earns about a thousand dollars a month livestreaming, says her content has been met with opposition by people who don’t believe she is actually deaf.

The skepticism online may not be completely unfounded. Zhang said she knew of people who pretended to be deaf to gain favor with fans and earn their trust and money. 

In one exposé video on Douyin, cops in Jiangsu pulled over a man who instantly pretended to be deaf to gain sympathy from them. One of the officers noticed, and later verified, that the man had exchanged and listened to multiple voice messages with his wife via WeChat. In September, another user on the platform called out a livestreamer whom he believed was pretending to be deaf. These incidents aren’t exclusive to China—scammers and con artists have also pretended to be deaf in Australia, New Zealand, and elsewhere to gain donations from people in public settings. 

“So, because these people [who cheat others] have existed in the past, we do face skeptical fans online,” Zhang said. “But I patiently explain [my story] to them with clear proof in order to dispel their apprehensions.”

In trying to con internet users, these types of scammers may end up deterring deaf and hard-of-hearing content creators who genuinely want to share their stories with online communities. 

“Except for hearing, we can do everything.”

“Deaf people, especially oral deaf people, have enough of a difficult time dealing with people accusing us of faking if we’re speaking,” Poynter said. “So, this essentially adds on to that.” 

Still, deaf and hard-of-hearing content creators are keen to focus on what people within their communities can achieve—despite internet users’ quick or false assumptions. 

“Except for hearing, we can do everything,” he said. “I never thought about [breaking boundaries] because I don’t pay attention to those things. Firstly, we have to learn how to be self-confident, realizing that we, ourselves, are not perfect. Why should we care what others think?” 

Robinson and other deaf streamers participating in silent streams ultimately hope that their content reminds viewers to put things in perspective. 

“There’s still a lot to be done to break down barriers in almost any industry,” he said. “People need to remember that deaf and hard-of-hearing people exist. We don’t just exist in movies or TV shows—or whatever. We are real, and we want to be part of the community.”

Categories: Tech News

The Most Complicated Labor Negotiation in the Country Just Got More Complicated

Motherboard (Vice) - Mon, 11/21/2022 - 06:28

The two largest freight rail unions split their vote on whether to ratify the proposed collective bargaining agreement, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen and SMART-Transportation Division announced. These 60,000 workers operate one of the country's most critical infrastructure networks, key to moving products that make the economy function including food and fuel. BLET voted to ratify with 53.5 percent in favor. And 62.48 percent of SMART-TD’s yardmasters also voted to ratify. But SMART-TD’s train and engine service members, who operate the trains, narrowly rejected the agreement with 50.87 percent of the vote. Three other unions have previously rejected the contract and resumed bargaining with the railroads.

Although this technically means a strike is still on the table since one craft rejected the agreement and all unions would respect a picket line in the event one strikes, union leaders signaled in their statements their willingness to reach a settlement in negotiations without a strike.

“SMART-TD members with their votes have spoken, it’s now back to the bargaining table for our operating craft members,” said SMART-TD President Jeremy Ferguson in a statement. “This can all be settled through negotiations and without a strike. A settlement would be in the best interests of the workers, the railroads, shippers and the American people.”

Although three other unions voted against ratification, SMART-TD and BLET are regarded as the most influential of the 12 unions involved in the highly complex negotiations.

The two unions represent the workers who are subject to the most draconian attendance policies the railroads offer, which Motherboard has been reporting on this year. Many workers Motherboard interviewed regarded this contract negotiation as their last chance to win better working conditions. But they also understood the difficulty involved in winning more humane working conditions given the way railroad contract negotiations work. If they rejected the terms and tried to strike, Congress could force them back to work on any terms it wished, but most likely under the terms of the contract on the table or even the original and slightly worse terms proposed by the Presidential Emergency Board. Even some relatively militant workers admitted rejecting the contract could be a dead end.

Although the outcome of the vote is important, it changes little of the fundamental issues facing U.S. freight rail, its working conditions, and its impact on the economy. The contract on the table has nothing to say about the railroads’ draconian attendance policies—it adds one sick day but railroad workers are largely skeptical that, due to the way their attendance policies work, a sick day on paper will translate into reality or make a meaningful difference in their lives—an issue the railroads have refused to bargain over. The contract has no bearing over the business philosophy that has taken money out of the railroads and put it into Wall Street shareholder pockets, making the railroads slower, more dangerous, less efficient, and a major bottleneck of the American supply chain. And it will only exacerbate the labor shortage railroads are facing since few people want to surrender their entire lives to a corporation, forsaking their friends and family in the process.

Categories: Tech News

Arm confirms IPO delay till later in 2023, blames global markets

The Register - Mon, 11/21/2022 - 06:00
Just look at the 'state' of them, says UK semiconductor designer, but says float will still happen

The troubled public offering of Brit chip designer Arm looks set to be delayed until sometime next year, amid fears that worsening economic conditions may make investors reluctant to buy into the company.…

Categories: Tech News

ID.me Lied About Its Facial Recognition Tech, Congress Says

Motherboard (Vice) - Mon, 11/21/2022 - 06:00

The controversial facial recognition firm hired by the US government during the height of the pandemic is being slammed by members of Congress, who say the company misrepresented how its technology works and downplayed excessive wait times which stopped Americans from collecting unemployment benefits.

New evidence shows that ID.me “inaccurately overstated its capacity to conduct identity verification services to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and made baseless claims about the amount of federal funds lost to pandemic fraud in an apparent attempt to increase demand for its identity verification services,” according to a new report from the two U.S. House of Representatives committees overseeing the government’s COVID-19 response.

The report also said that ID.me—which received $45 million in COVID relief funds from at least 25 state agencies—misrepresented the excessively long wait times it forced on people trying to claim emergency benefits like unemployment insurance and Child Tax Credit payments. Wait times for video chats were as long as 4 to 9 hours in some states.

“It is deeply disappointing that a company that received tens of millions in taxpayer dollars to help Americans obtain these benefits may have hurt their ability to access that critical relief,” Rep. James Clyburn, chairs the House’s Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, wrote in a statement.  “ID.me’s practices risked putting desperately needed relief out of reach for Americans who lack ready access to computers, smartphones, or the internet. Companies entrusted with implementing critical programs in a national crisis must be able to serve the needs of the people those programs are intended to benefit.

The IRS and other government agencies said they would stop using ID.me earlier this year after widespread backlash from benefits recipients and politicians. Members of Congress later called on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate the company’s practices. In that letter, congress members noted inconsistencies the company had made in describing its facial recognition system, which used a massive facial recognition database to identify benefits recipients. “Not only does this violate individuals’ privacy, but the inevitable false matches associated with one-to-many recognition can result in applicants being wrongly denied desperately-needed services for weeks or even months as they try to get their case reviewed,” the letter stated.

ID.me did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Categories: Tech News

GM Paid for the Hummer EV to Be In 'Warzone 2.0' and It Is Showcasing Its Killing Powers

Motherboard (Vice) - Mon, 11/21/2022 - 06:00

The most prominent product placement in the new Call of Duty Warzone 2.0 is the GMC Hummer EV. “There’s nothing like driving across Call of Duty: Warzone 2.0 in an all-electric, 1,000 horsepower supertruck,” said Activision’s director of Global Partnerships William Gahagan in a GMC press release. While the press release said the game will highlight the Hummer’s off-roading capabilities, it hasn’t taken players long to highlight another one of its attributes: Using its massive, hulking frame to run pedestrians over.

Warzone 2.0 was released on Wednesday, but clever gamers quickly realized what road safety advocates have been warning about since the Hummer was first announced. A near-silent, 1,000 horsepower behemoth comparable in size to many World War II tanks that can accelerate from 0 to 60 miles per hour in three seconds is a killing machine. And at six and a half feet fall weighing more than 9,000 pounds, if it hits you, you are not getting back up.

It looks like the Call of Duty’s game designers agree, because the digital version of the Hummer EV is quickly proving one of the game’s best weapons. While the Hummer can, like other vehicles in Warzone, obviously be shot up or blown up with explosives or RPGs, its speed and armor make it particularly good at running over enemies.

It is tempting to start doing some hand-wringing about this. There is an ongoing traffic violence epidemic in the U.S. in large part due to stupidly large vehicles dominating our streets. There is no vehicle larger or stupider than the Hummer EV. That is, in fact, the whole point of the Hummer, to be the largest and stupidest vehicle on the street. So far, GMC has sold 783 Hummer EVs, so most people have never seen one before. It is probably not great that the first exposure many people will have to the Hummer EV will be using it to run people over in Warzone.

But I’m not going to do that hand-wringing. Instead, I am here only to praise GMC for this inspired product placement. The Hummer is a commercialized descendent of an actual military vehicle which was designed for use in war. It belongs on the battlefield, both real and virtual. I’m going to regard the Hummer EV in CoD the same way I do all the guns: Fun to play with in a video game and praying to God I never see one coming at me in real life.

Categories: Tech News

Meet the Independent Artists Building the Metaverse

Motherboard (Vice) - Mon, 11/21/2022 - 06:00

I walk slowly around the Hidden Heights mansion holding a glass of red wine. No one’s home, and it’s nighttime, like a party has just ended or is about to begin. Inside, the stairway railings and arms of modern metal chairs gleam in the light cast from dripping chandeliers overhead. White couches and wall-to-ceiling windows, stainless steel appliances, dark wood, a glass wall-length wine rack—it feels expensive in here. Outside, fronds of a palm tree stir over the shifting pool that overlooks the city skyline, all lit up in white lights. I pick up an inflatable donut and fling it across the pool. 

I can’t actually touch any of this, or smell the night air, or drink the wine I’m holding. It’s a custom-made world created by Elaine, a digital designer who makes places like Hidden Heights and commissioned spaces for people to use in virtual worlds like VRChat, Horizon Worlds, and Altspace. Her work can bring in thousands of dollars a month; for corporate clients who want to commission a space, she requires a $10,000 minimum. 

Elaine is one of thousands of makers creating assets—including environments like houses and bars, or physical attributes like full custom avatars or small parts of a whole appearance—within the metaverse. They’re creating entire economies within virtual worlds, where people play in real-time with friends and strangers. The demand for these virtual goods is booming. 

“Social VR can act as an extension to someone's social life and it can feel very personal,” Elaine told me. “The avatar you use becomes something that represents you. It makes sense that people would want something they customized to be that representation of themselves. Same thing with environments. Just like you decorate your bedroom or home, I think for the people that are using social VR as an extension to their social life, they would want an environment that feels comfortable to them.” 

Like every other aspect of the metaverse, economies within virtual worlds aren’t a new phenomenon, and didn’t first spring up with VRChat, or even Second Life. In the 90s, games and social spaces implemented unique economies of their own, where players could earn in-world currency and exchange it for virtual goods and services. 

Launched in 1986 for Commodore 64 computers, LucasArts’ Habitat was one of the earliest massively multiplayer online role-playing games, or MMORPGs, and one of the first to include its own economy in-game. It was a side-scrolling 2D platformer where one’s character traversed cities, beaches, and suburbs, interacting with other players in real time. Players had bank accounts which they accessed by visiting in-world ATMs. Buying, carrying, and using objects was an important part of the game, as was theft and murder, two events that would cause players to lose their hard-earned items. Text based multi-user domains, where people roleplayed as fantasy versions of themselves, had similarly walled-off economies within their own virtual worlds. The money made and spent in these games didn’t translate to real-world currency, however, and players couldn’t craft custom items.

With the next generation of MMORPGs, like Everquest (1999), EVE Online (2003), and World of Warcraft (2004), that changed. Game economies became more complex, and people found new ways to capitalize on them. Players sold weapons and trinkets they’d gathered in Everquest on eBay for real currency—until eBay banned these auctions in 2001 for infringing on the developers’ intellectual property rights. In EVE Online, the economy isn’t tied to IRL events, but is its own ecosystem and still issues monthly economic reports. Eyjolfur Gudmundsson, an economist who embedded with EVE Online, told CBS in 2011 that “there are more people that believe in EVE Online credits than those that believe in the Icelandic Krono, my national currency.” It’s been at the center of gambling controversies and big bank fraud, and strictly bans selling anything from inside the game for real cash. World of Warcraft’s economy grapples with inflation and complex economic machinations.

The most notable of these early aughts economies, of course, is Second Life. Launched in 2003, Second Life was founded on the idea that people should be able to create and explore freely, in collaboration with others in real-time. The Second Life Marketplace, where residents can purchase everything from knee-high boots to stretch marks and cellulite, to real estate and decor for a virtual home. These are all crafted by other residents, many of whom make this their full-time job—Lindens, the in-world currency for Second Life, can be cashed out for dollars. Second Life paid out $86 million to creators in 2021, up from $60 million in 2014.  

Nylon Pinkney has been making items for Second Life since she first logged on around 18 years ago. “I knew you could sell virtual items for real money and that was very appealing,” she told me. “I took a look around and decided I could add in my own style. I was in my 20s and interested in recreating clothing and styles that were trendy at the time.” 

She was coming from other virtual worlds like The Palace, a mid-90s graphical chat room (which popularized those customizable Dollz avatars that were all over the internet as glittery GIFs in the 90s) and There, a virtual world where users could make and buy worldbuilding elements using in-game currency purchased with USD. 

In Second Life, Pinkney specializes in making avatar wearables—fishnet and lace bodysuits, glittery mermaid minidresses, elaborately detailed hairstyles—that often feature hand-painted textures. She said she makes enough from these sales to “get by,” and that the income from it varies month to month, as with any freelance work. It takes her three or four days to create a piece, plus the time it takes to get it ready to sell. “After you make something, you also have to prepare it for sales, making a display and ads. It isn't much different than selling in the real world,” she said.

Pinkney is one of many Second Life creators who transferred existing skills to the platform and found success. “Highly active Second Life users often find a niche that makes use of talents they already have as a way of generating supplemental income, or even turn it into a full time job,” Wagner James Au, author of The Making of Second Life: Notes from the New World, told me. “For instance, there's quite a few people who are professional wedding planners and DJs in Second Life, and they're already using those skills in real life on some level.” Second Life introduced “mesh” graphics in 2010, making it even easier for people already familiar with 3D modeling tools like Blender to adapt their skills to making things for Lindens. 

For a lot of people who immerse themselves in virtual worlds, a big part of the appeal of living and playing there is the ability to customize their appearance. For those with a virtual reality headset, the custom experience is even more important. An entire cottage industry for custom avatars has sprung up in VRChat, one of the most popular virtual social worlds, and people sell commissions and individual items for avatars on sites like Etsy and Fiverr. 

“Embodying a character in virtual reality is more immersive than playing a character on a flat screen so it makes sense to me that people want a custom experience,” Andre, who creates avatars and accessories for VRChat and sells them on Etsy, told me. “When you move your body, so does the avatar. People will set up mirrors in VR just to see themselves move or interact with other players. I can totally understand why a person would commission an avatar that really expresses some part of themselves or lets them play out a fantasy.” And it’s not just fantasy, either; one of Andre’s most popular requests, he said, is for accessories that people have in real life that they want to wear in VR. “People especially like to have some sort of hat or item they own in the real world turned into a digital item for their avatar,” he said.

a screenshot from Andre's Etsy shop

Custom, commissioned avatars can also be a status symbol in the metaverse, Andre said. Being unique and recognizable—outside of the pre-selectable hot dog suits, giant cactuses, and anime characters that are available when you first log in—is a way to stand out among as many as 75,000 active users on a given night. 

This capacity for self-expression might be one of the major reasons VRChat and platforms like it are more popular than Meta’s Horizon Worlds which only gives players a preset selection of appearance customizations. “The ability to customize avatars and worlds is one of the biggest draws for people in any metaverse-like setting which is why I think something like the Facebook Metaverse is dead in the water for VR gaming enthusiasts,” Andre said. “It’s too corporate and sterile to have any lasting appeal to the average player.”

The customization can get a lot more granular than hats, however. A creator who goes by RuzzaWolf, who started taking commissions in 2021 through Etsy, told me that they primarily sell retexturing of existing avatars. Clients send them images of their existing character or avatar, and they create a new texture to overlay on the avatar, to make it look more realistic, or add fur. “The only reason I started to take commissions for others is because they liked my texture work and wanted something of their own,” they said. “So I started to offer it as a commission but also tried to keep it affordable so everyone has a chance to get one.” The income they earn from these commissions isn’t much, they said, as it’s more of a hobby than a job.

screenshot from RuzzaWolf's Etsy shop

And, like Elaine, many people focus their commission work on environments for these avatars to roam around in. After joining VRChat in 2017 and noticing how many people make and upload their own content, from avatars to worlds, a creator who goes by LegendsVR said that he taught himself how to use Blender, Unity, and 3D modeling techniques and principles with the help of the community on the platform and grew into a professional 3D environment artist. In 2020, he had to leave his job as a “grunt factory worker,” he said; being able to turn to work in the metaverse paid his bills, and he now works full-time on commissions. His most requested kind of space from clients is the “comfy space,” or home worlds, where people can just hang out and socialize.

 “When people commission me, it is usually very large hangout spaces. The spaces usually have interiors and exteriors, interactives, and even theme changes like, Halloween, Christmas, or weather modes,” LegendsVR said. “People also love to throw parties or get-togethers on the weekend and often need big beautiful spaces to hold them.” A lot of commission requests also come from people seeking to throw big events in VRChat, and need interesting, interactive spaces to host them. These are popular with Vtubers—people who stream as avatars—and Twitch streamers, he said. 

“I'm still learning many things to this day, and see no moment of slowing down anytime soon,” LegendsVR told me. The momentum of demand for custom created player content is only going up, and exists in most platforms that allow this level of personalization. In 2020, for example, Roblox announced in its SEC filing that creators earned $209 million, nearly tripling payouts from the year before. 

“I always dreamt of making environments or games when I got older, but I would have never expected downloading VRChat in 2017 to be the outlet of creativity I needed, and I would have not expected VRChat to be the route that would lead me to this path,” LegendsVR said. “It was a hobby at first but is now a profession that has led to amazing lifelong friendships, and a career, all of which have changed my life in amazing ways.” 

Supported by Omidyar Network. VICE World News retains complete editorial autonomy.

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Categories: Tech News

Here are all the best early Black Friday deals live now

ARS Technica - Mon, 11/21/2022 - 05:56
Here are all the best early Black Friday deals live now

Enlarge (credit: Ars Technica)

Black Friday week is here, and a barrage of early Black Friday deals has gone live over the weekend. Black Friday and the ensuing days/weeks create a notoriously hectic and overloaded shopping event, but it's also the best time to find year-long low prices on some of our most highly recommended tech. Naturally, we've done days of research and hunting to deliver the best tech deals this event has to offer, and we'll continue to do so as things change shape through Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Each brings its own cascade of new deals.

The biggest retailers and manufacturers, like AppleMicrosoftAmazonBest BuyTarget, and Walmart, have all posted early Black Friday deals lists. There's already a lot to highlight for big-ticket items like 4K TVs, Apple iPads, MacBooks, and Surface devices. A range of 4K TVs made our list, from higher-end offerings from Samsung and LG to more reasonably priced options from Hisense and TCL, and much more. All of which received strong reviews from trusted sources like Rtings.com, among many others. If you're looking for smart home devices like smart speakers, video doorbells, and streaming sticks, Amazon and Google have large chunks of their lineups on sale, matching or beating record lows. Likewise with robot vacuums from Roomba.

As for smaller items, Target's buy-two-get-one-free deals on books and video games are an excellent value, packed with a good mix of new releases and modern classics. Xbox and Playstation have also launched video game sales in their respective stores, bringing down prices often by 50 percent on a number of in-demand titles. For stocking stuffers, we have deals on our favorite chargers from Anker, as well as microSD and SSD storage solutions from SanDisk, Western Digital, and Samsung.

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Categories: Tech News

Twitter set for more layoffs as Musk mulls next move

The Register - Mon, 11/21/2022 - 05:05
CEO runs poll saying 51.8% in favor of overturning Donald Trump's ban

Twitter CEO Elon Musk is considering more layoffs – including sales and commercial partnerships – as whoever remains following an exodus of software engineers enjoyed a "hardcore" weekend helping the tech industry veteran in a "code review" of the social media platform.…

Categories: Tech News

A history of ARM, part 2: Everything starts to come together

ARS Technica - Mon, 11/21/2022 - 04:00
The Acorn Archimedes 3000, released in May 1989.

Enlarge / The Acorn Archimedes 3000, released in May 1989. (credit: Wikipedia)

The story so far: At the end of the 1980s, Acorn Computers was at a crossroads. A small team, led by Sophie Wilson and Steve Furber, had invented a powerful new computer chip, the Acorn RISC Machine (ARM). Acorn released a new computer line, the Archimedes, that used these ARM chips. But the world wasn’t beating a path to the company's door. (Read part one here.)

From the beginning, it was hard to get anyone to care about this amazing technology. A few months after the first ARM chips had shipped, Acorn Computers' Steve Furber called a tech reporter and tried to get him to cover the story. The reporter replied, “I don’t believe you. If you’d been doing this, I’d have known.” Then he hung up.

As Acorn struggled, Furber tried to imagine how the ARM chip could be spun off into a separate company. But he couldn’t figure out how to make the business model work. “You’d have to sell millions before royalties start paying the bills,” he said in an interview. “We couldn’t imagine selling millions of these things.”

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Categories: Tech News

Veal Mantia Recipe

Motherboard (Vice) - Mon, 11/21/2022 - 04:00

Serves: 6 to 8 
Prep time: 30 minutes
Total time: 3 hours

INGREDIENTS

for the pasta: 16 large egg yolks
2 cups|300 grams “00” flour, plus more for dusting 
1 ½ teaspoons olive oil

for the filling: 1 tablespoon olive oil 
2 bay leaves
½ medium carrot, chopped
½ medium celery stalk, chopped 
½ small yellow onion, chopped plus ½ cup|80 grams onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more to taste 
3 ½ ounces|100 grams sweetbreads 
freshly ground black pepper, to taste 
1 tablespoon canola oil 
2 garlic cloves, unpeeled and smashed 
¼ cup|60 grams unsalted butter 
16 ounces|450 grams ground veal

**to serve: **1 cup|200 grams full fat Greek yogurt
16 tablespoons|225 grams unsalted butter

DIRECTIONS

  1. Make the dough: Mound the flour in the center of a large wooden cutting board. Make a well in the middle of the flour and add the eggs and olive oil. Using a fork, beat together the eggs and begin to incorporate the flour, starting with the inner rim of the well. As you expand the well, keep pushing the flour up from the base of the mound to retain the well shape. Once the dough starts to come together, knead it gently with both hands for 5 to 10 minutes, until smooth and elastic. You may need to add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, to achieve a smooth and slightly sticky dough. Cut the dough in half and form into two balls, then wrap in plastic and rest for 30 minutes at room temperature. 
  2. Cook the sweetbreads: Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high. Add 1 of the bay leaves, the carrot, celery, and onion and cook until they begin to soften, 2 to 3 minutes. Season with the salt, add the sweetbreads, then add water to cover. Bring to a boil over high, then pour over ice to cool completely. Using your hands, peel the membrane from the sweetbreads, pat them dry with a clean kitchen towel, and season with salt and pepper. 
  3. Heat the canola oil in a medium skillet over medium. Add the sweetbreads and cook until slightly golden, about 3 minutes, then add the remaining bay leaf, garlic, and the butter. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, basting often, until the butter is foamy and smells nutty and golden, and the sweetbreads are cooked through, about 5 minutes. (If the butter starts to get too hot, pull it off the heat to control the temperature.) Let the sweetbreads cool, then finely chop and add to a large bowl with the ground veal and minced onion. Season with salt and pepper, mix to combine, and place in a piping bag. Refrigerate until ready to use. 
  4. Line a sheet tray with parchment paper and lightly dust with flour. To thin the dough, set your pasta machine to its widest setting. Cut each of the doughs in quarters and keep the rest wrapped while you work. Roll the dough lightly in flour and then flatten it into a rectangle that is roughly the width of your pasta machine. Run the dough through the machine at this setting twice to give the dough a final kneading. Set the machine to its next thinnest setting and run the dough through. Continue running the dough through the machine's settings so that the dough gets progressively thinner each time; you don't have to hit every setting on the dial as is so often insisted, but do thin the dough gradually. If you run the dough through the machine and it shreds or tears or is too thin, simply fold it over and run it through a wider setting to smooth it out. If your dough sticks, you can flour it well without worry; the dough will not incorporate too much flour at this point. 
  5. Cut the dough into 2-inch squares, then place 1 scant teaspoon of filling in the middle. Lightly spritz with water, then pinch opposite corners to make a small pyramid and close. Place on the prepared sheet tray and repeat with the remaining pasta and filling. 
  6. Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until the pasta floats and the filling is cooked through, about 3 minutes. 
  7. In the meantime, heat a large skillet over medium. Add half of the butter and a ladleful of pasta water and cook until it smells nutty and golden, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, toss in the cooked mantia to coat. 
  8. In a small saucepan, melt the remaining butter over medium until it smells nutty and golden, about 3 minutes. Season with salt, remove from the heat, and keep warm.
  9. Smear 2 to 3 tablespoons of yogurt in each of the bowls. Plate the pasta, then finish with the foamy brown butter.

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Categories: Tech News

EU reaches agreement on satellite comms project: Opens Iris

The Register - Mon, 11/21/2022 - 03:30
Very keen to unhook infrastructure from 'third countries', private biz after Ukraine crisis brings situation into focus

Europe is constructing its own satellite constellation to guarantee communications services for the region, following an agreement between the European Parliament and EU member states to invest €2.4 billion ($2.481 billion) in the program.…

Categories: Tech News

How to Reverse an Overdose From Tranq, the Lethal Drug Spreading in the US

Motherboard (Vice) - Mon, 11/21/2022 - 03:00

A cocktail of fentanyl and the animal tranquilizer xylazine known as “tranq” is keeping drug users heavily sedated for longer, prompting people working on the front lines of the crisis to revamp their responses to overdoses, as the drug spreads across the U.S. 

Tranq, also known as tranq dope, has been linked to severe skin ulcers and amputations and is in at least 39 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico, as VICE News reported earlier this week. But because xylazine is not an opioid, naloxone—the antidote to opioid overdoses—is less effective in reversing tranq overdoses. 

Earlier this month, the FDA issued an alert about xylazine’s presence in the drug supply. 

“Health care professionals should be cautious of possible xylazine inclusion in fentanyl, heroin, and other illicit drug overdoses, as naloxone may not be able to reverse its effects,” the alert said. 

But it’s not accurate to say that xylazine renders naloxone “useless,” as some media outlets reported. People should still administer naloxone when responding to suspected tranq overdoses, and they should also continue rescue breathing and use oxygen tanks to revive people if possible, experts told VICE News. 

“Xylazine, to our knowledge, does not respond to naloxone, but the opioids that are almost always present with the xylazine will respond to it. And what you want to do is give that person the opportunity to breathe,” said Jen Shinefeld, a field epidemiologist with the City of Philadelphia’s Department of Public Health. 

Xylazine is in almost all of Philadelphia’s street opioid supply and was detected in 34 percent of the city’s fatal overdoses in 2021. 

“Xylazine, to our knowledge, does not respond to naloxone, but the opioids that are almost always present with the xylazine will respond to it.”

Prior to administering naloxone to someone who appears to be overdosing, check for their responsiveness by lightly shaking their shoulder or leg, or pressing a pressure point such as the space below their eyebrows or their nail, according to Shinefeld. Then, if the person is still not responding, loudly say, “Hey, I'm going to Narcan you,” Shinefeld said. (Narcan is a brand name for naloxone.)  

“Sometimes people just need to hear the word Narcan, and they're like, No, I don't want that,” because it will immediately send them into withdrawal. 

If the person is turning blue or purple, you can skip those steps and administer naloxone right away.

Naloxone is available via pharmacies, but rules around accessing it vary from state to state; it comes in either an injectable form or nasal spray, with two doses per package. 

Shinefeld said to administer naloxone in whatever form you have available (she favors injecting the lower 1 milligram doses into a person’s muscle) and wait about three-and-a-half minutes before administering the second dose. She said to call 911 after giving the person the first dose. 

After that, check that there’s nothing in the person’s mouth and make sure they’re on their back before you tilt their chin up and pinch their nose to start rescue breathing. 

“You're going to do two quick, strong breaths and then one breath every five seconds,” Shinefeld said. She said not to do chest compressions because most of the time the issue is respiratory depression, not a cardiac event. She also advised against doing aggressive sternum rubs, because it can hurt the person and isn’t effective at reversing an overdose. 

Shinefeld warned a person can be doing rescue breathing for a long time while awaiting paramedics—the longest she’s done it is 20 minutes. 

“It's exhausting,” she said. “Historically, when people do come back, there's like a gasp of air. But in the age of tranq, people are still going to be sedated.” 

“Historically, when people do come back, there's like a gasp of air. But in the age of tranq, people are still going to be sedated.” 

Due to the spread of COVID and monkeypox, she said it’s best not to directly go mouth to mouth. A person can cup one hand into a tunnel shape and use that as a buffer if they don’t have CPR masks available. 

Philadelphia-based harm reduction group Savage Sisters has started carrying around portable oxygen tanks to assist with tranq overdoses in Kensington, a neighborhood that’s often described as an open-air drug market. 

“We could be waiting for about 18 minutes for somebody to show up,” said founder Sarah Laurel. “In that interim time rather than us doing rescue breathing, we want to administer oxygen.” The group also posts guides to reversing tranq overdoses online and does in-person training. 

Oxygen tanks are expensive and not readily accessible to most people, but Laurel said harm reduction workers in areas with large concentrations of people who use drugs may want to consider getting them. She also said first responders should bring them out of their ambulances when they arrive on scene. 

“Education and communication with first responders about the change in the drugs and them being prepared is very important because if they responded in a timely manner with the oxygen, harm reduction groups on the ground wouldn't need it,” she said. “What they're doing is they're just pumping that person full of Narcan, which does nothing for xylazine.” 

Once a person starts breathing again, Shinefeld said to place them in the rescue position on their side to “keep the airway open and let the tongue drop from the mouth.” A person should also do this if they’re unable to start rescue breathing. 

Shinefeld said to avoid trying to sit someone upright because they’re so sedated that it could compress their airway again. 

While Philadelphia has been an epicenter of tranq-related overdoses, the drug is becoming more prominent in states like Maryland, Connecticut, and West Virginia. Laurel said harm reduction groups outside of Pennsylvania need to prepare themselves. 

“A lot of people are dying because people don't know that it’s xylazine and they're not doing the rescue breathing. So update your protocols and be ready for that wound care street side, so that they don't end up like Kensington.” 

Follow Manisha Krishnan on Twitter. 

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Categories: Tech News

Malaysia Sees Far-Right Islamists Rise as Election Ends in Hung Parliament

Motherboard (Vice) - Mon, 11/21/2022 - 02:41

Malaysia is facing a hung parliament for the first time in its political history, after its general elections swung in surprisingly hard favour of the country’s far-right Islamist party.

A record number of voters defied inclement weather and flooding to cast their ballots in the hotly anticipated election, as the nation of more than 33 million people sought to pry its way out of a period of political and social turmoil. The results, however, have only spurred more uncertainty.

Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS), a conservative group that has previously called for theocratic Islamic rule in Malaysia, far exceeded expectations by winning 49 of 222 parliamentary seats in Saturday’s election, becoming the country’s largest single party.

Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim’s Pakatan Harapan (PK) four-member alliance secured the most seats with 82, but it fell well short of the 112 majority needed to form a government. Second was Perikatan Nasional alliance, of which PAS is a member, securing 73 seats. Barisan Nasional, the controversy-ridden incumbent government, secured a mere 30 seats—its worst-ever performance.

The result—known as a “hung parliament” in the Westminster system—means that a combination of political groups will now have to agree to build a majority alliance to form a government.

Hung parliaments are often associated with fragile governments, as disparate parties scramble to form a majority via alliances and horse trades rather than public demand. For Malaysia, which has never experienced a hung parliament since hosting its first general election 67 years ago, the result speaks to the country’s deepening political crisis that has persisted since February 2020.

Since then, it has already seen three prime ministers in as many years and been beleaguered by corruption, rising inflation, and a cost-of-living crisis. Last month, incumbent prime minister Ismael Sabri Yakob called the snap election as his party hoped to capitalise on a weakened opposition to grow support and stabilise its fragile coalition—a move that has backfired.

Malaysia’s king previously set a deadline for political leaders to submit their choice for prime minister and a majority alliance for 2PM on Monday, but he has since postponed this by 24 hours as groups struggle to forge a deal.

The PAS-dominated PN alliance has already stated it has an agreement in place with legislators to form a government, but it is thought that Anwar’s PK alliance and the BN are also in talks. Both coalitions would need BN’s support to form a majority, leaving the group as kingmakers despite its historically poor showing.

But more shocking than the hung parliament was the so-called “green tsunami” that cemented the PAS’s influence in the political arena—more than doubling the party’s parliamentary head count from 18 to 49. The result caused stocks in gaming and alcohol to slump in Malaysia, as the party has previously called for the implementation of harsh Sharia law in the country and the unilateral conversion of minors to Islam.

“The most important part about this election was the rise of political Islam,” James Chin, professor of Asian studies at the University of Tasmania and an expert on Malaysian politics, told VICE World News. “The Islamic Party is now the largest bloc in parliament. Nobody saw that coming.”

The implication of an increased PAS presence in parliament, according to Chin, is that Muslim-majority Malaysia will now likely adopt a more conservative approach towards Islam.

“People knew that Malaysia was heading towards a more conservative political outlook,” said Chin, “but everybody was shocked.”

Saturday’s election was also the first time Malaysians between the ages of 18 and 20 were allowed to vote, after the government lowered the minimum age in 2019. This, combined with a new measure that created automatic voter registration, added more than five million voters to the rolls. Early indications suggest that many young people from rural areas voted PAS.

“The majority of the young people voted for the conservative Islamic party,” Charles Santiago, chairman of the ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights, and MP for Malaysia’s Klang constituency from 2008 to 2022, told VICE World News.

“It has madrasas [schools] all over the place, and there’s one perception that these young children have all been brainwashed by the party. This has been going on for some time.”

Amrita Malhi, a historian of Malaysia and the Malay World at Australia’s National University, also pointed to the party’s long-term investment in private kindergartens and religious schools for its supporters, which dates back to as early as the 1980s.

“PAS has a whole social infrastructure that it has invested in,” she told VICE World News. “It runs formal and informal institutions that care for its supporters from kindergartens through to funerals.”

“If it carries through with this sort of attitude into the federal government, I think we will have some big problems in terms of ethnic relations.”

PAS has courted controversy for its conservative beliefs and alignment with Islamic fundamentalists. Following the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban in August 2021, PAS international affairs and external relations committee chairman, Muhammad Khalil Abdul Hadi, congratulated the militant group for “successfully achieving victory for their country.” The leader of PAS's youth wing, Khairil Nizam Khirudin, later proposed closer ties between PAS and the Taliban, citing China’s warming relations with the group as a leading example.

In September 2021, PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang tabled a bill to raise the maximum punishments that Malaysian Islamic courts could mete out against those found in violation of sharia law—from three years jail, an RM 5000 ($1,093) fine, and six lashes of the cane, to 30 years’ jail, an RM 100,000 fine ($21,870), and 100 lashes. Many, including Malaysia’s human rights commission, warned that such laws would fuel violence against the LGBTQ+ community.

Chin described the religious beliefs espoused by the PAS leader in particular as “a very weird form of Islam that you don't find in many other parts of the world.”

“If it carries through with this sort of attitude into the federal government, I think we will have some big problems in terms of ethnic relations,” he said.

Three main major ethnic groups account for the vast majority of Malaysia’s 32 million people; Muslim Malays and other indigenous groups make up around 60%, ethnic Chinese around 25%, and ethnic Indians around 6.5%. Race and religion have long been divisive issues.

“It worries me a lot, speaking as a Malaysian,” Chin added. “Of course, I want the country to be more open and progressive—so for me this is a real backward [step].”

Santiago similarly suggested that the result spoke to growing divisions in Malaysian society, saying that of PAS’s supporters, “98% would be Malays.”

“You’re looking at a very divided nation. The phenomenal performance of the Islamic Party speaks to that reality,” he said.

While the green tsunami came as a shock to many—including pollsters who failed to anticipate PAS’s popularity—experts point to disenchantment with the government as another major factor in their rise. Malhi suggests that the incumbent BN party’s embroilment in corruption scandals meant that “PK and PAS have emerged as poles of attraction for disaffected voters.”

“For a long time, [PAS’s] Islamist critique of Barisan Nasional was the only type that ever had any social traction,” she said.

Santiago similarly pointed to the failures of the incumbent BN government. “Its leaders are seen as corrupt, its leaders are not seen as committed to the Malay community, and therefore people have given up and want to support something else,” he said.

Elsewhere, in another shock election result, Mahathir Mohamad was ousted from his parliamentary seat in Langkawi. Worse yet for the man known as the “Father of Modern Malaysia,” he lost his deposit after failing to garner at least one eighth of votes cast.

The 97-year-old, who ruled Malaysia from 1981 to 2003, is the country’s last elected prime minister having won the 2018 national election. That year, he secured a large majority by running on an anti-corruption platform, capitalising on public anger surrounding the 1MDB scandal that ousted the then-ruling BN government and has seen former prime minister Najib Razak handed a 12-year jail sentence on graft charges.

Mahathir, however, tendered a shock resignation in 2020 amid political infighting in his ruling coalition. He attempted to revive 2018’s successful messaging in the run up to this weekend’s election, positioning his Pejuang party as an alternative to the corrupt BN, and playing on fears that Razak may be pardoned if his party won re-election with a strong mandate.

But this messaging failed to galvanise support as it had done four years ago, with Mahathir losing his first election in more than half a century—comfortably at that—and leaving the almost-centenarian looking like a spent force in Malaysian politics.

Follow Gavin Butler on Twitter.

Follow Alastair McCready on Twitter.

Categories: Tech News

UK's National Health Service will roll existing Palantir work into patient data platform

The Register - Mon, 11/21/2022 - 02:30
Does spy-tech supplier have a head start in bidding for the controversial deal it considers a 'must win'?

Documents from NHS England show services provided by Palantir – which began in the COVID-19 emergency – will become part of the controversial £360 million ($429 million) Federated Data Platform, a move critics argue gives the US spy-tech biz an unfair advantage in the competition.…

Categories: Tech News

HPC's lost histories will power the future of tech

The Register - Mon, 11/21/2022 - 01:30
If you thought the '80s were cool, wait for the revival

Opinion  The first hints of an empire falling are only clear in retrospect. At the time they happen, they can look as if they are just part of existing trends. Crypto chaos as FTX falls apart like a giant rotting peach? The whole scene stinks. Everyone knows it, except the marks.…

Categories: Tech News

VMware refreshes desktop hypervisors, adds Apple Silicon support

The Register - Sun, 11/20/2022 - 23:15
Partial VM encryption enables the virtual TPMs Windows 11 guests can't live without

VMware has refreshed its desktop hypervisors, adding native support for Apple's Arm-based CPUs as well as Windows 11.…

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