Linux kernel 6.1 will contain fixes, features. Useful Rust modules? Not yet

The Register - Fri, 10/14/2022 - 11:00
But you get a super practical patch that prints CPU, core, and socket when you get a segfault

The merge window for contributions to Linux 6.1 is still open and incoming features include Wi-Fi security fixes and hardware tests.…

Categories: Tech News

The Pixel 7 tests out 64-bit-only Android, can’t run 32-bit apps

ARS Technica - Fri, 10/14/2022 - 10:41
The Pixel 7 in a lovely "hazel" color.

Enlarge / The Pixel 7 in a lovely "hazel" color. (credit: Google)

Here's a surprise: We knew Android was getting ready to drop 32-bit app support sometime soon, with the upcoming Pixel Tablet receiving code check-ins to prep it for a 64-bit only version of Android. What nobody noticed was that the Pixel 7 is also dropping 64-bit app support, so its release yesterday is taking a big step toward Android's 64-bit-only future. Esper Senior Technical Editor Mishaal Rahman figured out the ins and outs of how this is going to work.

It sounds like the Pixel Tablet will still be the first to run a 64-bit-only version of Android, and the Pixel 7 is only taking a half step toward that milestone. Thirty-two-bit apps are disabled via a software flag, but it's not running a 64-bit-only build of Android yet. Trying to install a 32-bit app will display an error message that says: "App not installed as app isn't compatible with your phone."

It sounds like the OS is not quite ready for 64-bit-only builds, since some system libraries are still 32-bit, but Google is getting there. Plus, starting out with an artificial software flag is a good test case. Google can see exactly how many problems 64-bit only will cause and could easily turn the flag off in a software update if things get too bad.

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Dwarf Fortress, the most inscrutable game of two decades, is getting a tutorial

ARS Technica - Fri, 10/14/2022 - 10:38
Screen showing the

Enlarge / Part of the tutorial that will give new Dwarf Fortress players some pointers, if not full understanding, when the game is available on Steam at some point. (credit: Bay 12 Games / Steam)

Dwarf Fortress, the fantasy mining simulation with the motto "losing is fun," is softening its learning curve just the tiniest bit. In its upcoming (but not yet dated) Steam release, a new tutorial will explain what you can do and how things work—if not, exactly, how to survive.

Co-creator Zach Adams showed off some images from an optional tutorial in an update on the game's Steam Store page. Even with the upgraded pixel art and improved control scheme of the Steam release, the team thought the newcomer experience "still needs something." So they built a tutorial that walks a player through camera controls, mining, stockpiling, woodcutting, and, at a basic level, survival.

What's more, the developers are testing it on Annie, Zach Adams' wife. After a failed attempt with an earlier version, the latest tutorial took Annie far enough to where she could "tunnel under a bog and drown her fortress." Presumably, that is good.

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Brazil court orders Apple to reimburse customers for charger-less iPhones

ARS Technica - Fri, 10/14/2022 - 10:35
A black smartphone with two cameras.

Enlarge / Apple has been repeatedly fined in Brazil for selling devices like this iPhone 13 Mini without a charger. (credit: Samuel Axon)

Apple has received its third fine in Brazil for not including chargers with its iPhones. A civil court judge in São Paulo issued the tech giant a 100 million real (about $19 million) fine on Thursday, French news agency Agence France-Presse reported via Barron's.

Civil court Judge Caramuru Afonso Francisco in São Paulo reportedly issued the fine as damages in a lawsuit from the Brazilian Consumers' Association.

The judge is also said to have ordered Apple to start selling chargers with the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 series in Brazil. Further, the judge ordered Apple to provide chargers to customers in Brazil who bought an iPhone 12 or 13 over the last two years.

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Nvidia will “unlaunch” the 12GB RTX 4080, says it’s “not named right”

ARS Technica - Fri, 10/14/2022 - 10:23
Nvidia will “unlaunch” the 12GB RTX 4080, says it’s “not named right”


Nvidia announced today that it would be "unlaunching" the 12GB version of its upcoming GeForce RTX 4080-series GPU on the basis that "having two GPUs with the 4080 designation is confusing." The card will not be launching in the originally planned November window, but it will return at some point following a rebranding.

"The RTX 4080 12GB is a fantastic graphics card, but it's not named right," reads a brief, anonymous Nvidia blog post. The 16GB version of the 4080 will still launch on November 16.

The 16GB version of the 4080 was in keeping with past xx80-series Nvidia cards—it used the same GPU die as the high-end RTX 4090, but with some of the CUDA cores switched off and the clock speeds reduced. But the difference between the 12GB and 16GB versions of the 4080 was much larger than their names would suggest; the 12GB version came with many fewer CUDA cores and a narrower 192-bit memory bus, and rumors indicated it used a totally different GPU die. Benchmarks from Nvidia suggested the 12GB version could be as much as 30 percent slower than the 16GB version of the 4080.

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Researchers make cyborg cockroaches that carry their own power packs

ARS Technica - Fri, 10/14/2022 - 10:19
Researchers make cyborg cockroaches that carry their own power packs

Enlarge (credit: Kenjiro Fukuda, RIKEN)

Have you ever thought you’d be seeing a cyborg cockroach that runs on solar power and carries a backpack that looks like an electric circuit? A team of researchers at Japan’s RIKEN research institute has turned a regular Madagascar hissing cockroach into a real cyborg insect by connecting a lithium battery, a solar cell, multiple wires, and a tiny electronic circuit. The cyborg can be controlled using Bluetooth signals, and the researchers suggest that, in the future, such robo-bugs could be employed for search-and-rescue missions.

The researchers refer to their cyborg as an insect-computer hybrid system, and it incorporates a living insect as a platform and a mini-electronic system as its controller. Basically, it’s a biobot that can be controlled like a robot, but it has the power to explore and navigate a complex environment with the proficiency of an insect. The researchers claim that insect cyborgs could even beat traditional soft robots when it comes to usefully navigating the real world.

Going solar

Keeping the body shape of the 6-cm-long cockroach in mind, the researchers designed a polymer backpack that could carry all the electronic equipment without disturbing the insect when it moved. The backpack carried an electronic controller, a lithium battery, and multiple wires. Each wire was connected to the controller on one side and to different legs of the cockroach on the other.

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Broker-dealers can stop burning records to CD, but they don’t have to, says SEC

The Register - Fri, 10/14/2022 - 10:00
New-fangled cloud storage now an option. What's that internet app the kids are all using again? Whatsupp?

The world's financial regulators seem to have only become aware of the possibilities of OTT apps like WhatsApp and Signal over the past year or so, and now they have learned about cloud storage too.…

Categories: Tech News

Alaska Canceled Snow Crab Season for the First Time Ever Because All the Crabs Are Gone

Motherboard (Vice) - Fri, 10/14/2022 - 09:39

For the first time in history, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game has canceled snow crab season due to the dwindling numbers of crabs available. This decision follows a report released in August that showed that snow crab abundance in Alaska is on a steep decline, with stocks down 90 percent in the last two years. Researchers have yet to come up with a cause for this decline, but they have already agreed—climate change is a main factor.

“Understanding crab fishery closures have substantial impacts on harvesters, industry, and communities, ADF&G must balance these impacts with the need for long-term conservation and sustainability of crab stocks,” the Alaska Department of Fish and Game stated in a press release. “Management of Bering Sea snow crab must now focus on conservation and rebuilding given the condition of the stock. Efforts to advance our science and understanding of crab population dynamics are underway.”

The Bering Sea, the habitat of these crabs, faced unprecedented warming from 2017 through 2019. Snow crabs, which thrive in cold water, could no longer survive in these warming waters. Still, studies found that the snow crabs did not migrate to colder habitats, which was why fishers still held out hope for finding their catches in their usual grounds heading into the 2021 season. Fishermen were blindsided by their empty nets. Gabriel Prout, a commercial farmer, told the Washington Post, “It was a struggle. We were pulling up close to blank pots. We’d be searching several miles of ocean floor and not even pulling up 100 crabs. We were grinding away and barely caught what we were allowed to catch.”

Snow crabs are the second of Alaska’s three major crab stocks to collapse, the remaining available stock being the bairdi crab. In 2021, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game canceled the king crab harvest for the first time since the 1990s and it remains closed for the upcoming season.

The crab fishery closures are devastating to Alaskan crab fishers, who in past years have grossed more than $200 million from snow crab sales. “Second and third-generation crab-fishing families will go out of business due to the lack of meaningful protections by decision-makers to help crab stocks recover,” the Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers trade association said in a statement. Jamie Goen, the executive director of the Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers trade association, told the Washington Post that the crab collapse is affecting blue-collar workers and small family businesses the most. Although the U.S. Department of Commerce is sending $132 million to Alaska for fishery disasters, it will take many years for money to get to those most affected.

As an estimated one billion crabs have mysteriously disappeared in the last two years, researchers are worried that the unexpected decline in crabs is a precedent for how species can be impacted by quick changes in climate. Climate change has also caused a decline in salmon runs in the Yukon and Kuskokwim river systems, hurting commercial and recreational fisheries and the communities that rely on salmon for subsistence.

Categories: Tech News

Only PC players need a registered phone number for Modern Warfare 2

ARS Technica - Fri, 10/14/2022 - 09:33
Artist's conception of Team Ricochet targeting cheaters on PC.

Enlarge / Artist's conception of Team Ricochet targeting cheaters on PC.

Recent updates to online store and support pages suggested that all Modern Warfare II players would have to register a unique, text-capable phone number with their account to play the game. In a blog post this week, though, the team behind the game's Ricochet anti-cheat system suggests that the requirement will only apply to PC players.

That's a significant difference from Blizzard's policy regarding Overwatch 2, which initially required all players across PC and consoles to register a phone number for its "SMS Protect" system. Blizzard later partially rolled back that policy to exempt players that used a account to play the original Overwatch.

Activision's SMS security requirement will also extend to PC players of the free-to-play Warzone 2.0, Team Ricochet writes. Players who accessed the original Warzone on PC have needed to link a phone number since May 2020, and will not be exempt from that requirement for the sequel.

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How a Microsoft blunder opened millions of PCs to potent malware attacks

ARS Technica - Fri, 10/14/2022 - 09:26
How a Microsoft blunder opened millions of PCs to potent malware attacks

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images)

For almost two years, Microsoft officials botched a key Windows defense, an unexplained lapse that left customers open to a malware infection technique that has been especially effective in recent months.

Microsoft officials have steadfastly asserted that Windows Update will automatically add new software drivers to a blocklist designed to thwart a well-known trick in the malware infection playbook. The malware technique—known as BYOVD, short for "bring your own vulnerable driver"—makes it easy for an attacker with administrative control to bypass Windows kernel protections. Rather than writing an exploit from scratch, the attacker simply installs any one of dozens of third-party drivers with known vulnerabilities. Then the attacker exploits those vulnerabilities to gain instant access to some of the most fortified regions of Windows.

It turns out, however, that Windows was not properly downloading and applying updates to the driver blocklist, leaving users vulnerable to new BYOVD attacks.

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TikTok made money from getting Syrian refugees to beg in livestreams

ARS Technica - Fri, 10/14/2022 - 09:22
TikTok profited off livestreams of Syrian refugees recruited to beg for help

Enlarge (credit: picture alliance / Contributor | picture alliance)

After the BBC launched an investigation into how TikTok profits off Syrian families in crisis—reportedly violating TikTok policies by begging live for TikTok gifts that are exchangeable for cash—TikTok immediately took action, banning all accounts that BBC identified. These accounts, a TikTok spokesperson told Ars, violated TikTok community standards that prohibit "exploitative begging."

TikTok defines exploitative begging as using children or other vulnerable people in attempts to increase gifts. The platform also prohibits children under 18 from receiving gifts.

"We are deeply concerned by the information brought to us by the BBC," a TikTok spokesperson said.

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Oops: Woman Dr. Oz Appeared to Spontaneously Comfort Was Actually a Paid Staffer

Motherboard (Vice) - Fri, 10/14/2022 - 09:18

During an event in Philadelphia last month, ex-TV doctor and GOP Senate nominee Dr. Mehmet Oz comforted a Black woman whose family had suffered multiple tragic losses to gun violence, in what appeared to be a spontaneous moment of empathy and compassion. 

But it turns out the woman is an Oz campaign staffer in Philadelphia, and she organized the event herself.

The woman at the so-called “Safer Streets Community Discussion” event is Sheila Armstrong, who identifies herself on her Facebook page as Oz’s Philadelphia County coordinator. Armstrong has been on the campaign’s payroll since at least June, according to Federal Election Commission records showing she’d been paid more than $2,000. 

In the emotional exchange, Oz shared a moment of compassion with Armstrong, who lived through the trauma of losing both a brother and a nephew to gun violence. Oz hugged her and asked how she’s managed to stay strong through such tragedy. Neither he nor Armstrong disclosed to the many journalists at the event that she was on the campaign’s payroll.

Brendan McPhillips, the campaign manager for Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. and Democratic nominee John Fetterman, first noted Armstrong’s ties to the campaign. It appears reporters for the Associated Press and Philadelphia Inquirer, both of which covered the event, were unaware of Armstrong’s role in the Oz campaign. (Both outlets have since clarified that Armstrong was a paid staffer.)

McPhillips called out her inclusion in an Associated Press article highlighting the importance of the Black vote in the upcoming Senate race, which was published this week. The Intercept later confirmed McPhillips’ claim.

Oz’s campaign did not immediately respond to a VICE News request for comment regarding Armstrong’s appearance at the event.

Armstrong helped coordinate the event, according an Instagram post published days before. In the post, Armstrong also notes losing two of her family members to street violence, which was a major part of her decision to support Oz.

“My service is NOT about a ‘political party’ but about where God places me and the people of God that I serve during my assignment,” she wrote. The notice also asked those who wished to attend to email her directly.

But few people actually showed up to the event. An image tweeted by Democrat State Rep. Chris Rabb, who says he wasn’t invited to the event even though it was held in his own community, shows less than half a dozen participants taking part in the discussion. Participants appear to have been outnumbered by reporters, and half of them, Rabb said in the tweet, were featured in Oz’s campaign material, including a TV spot in which Armstrong makes a brief appearance.

Oz’s campaign to succeed Republican Pat Toomey in the Pennsylvania seat, viewed by the GOP as vital to winning the Senate, has been plagued by mishaps and questions about authenticity. An Oz campaign video ostensibly meant to attack Fetterman and President Joe Biden over inflation went viral because Oz repeatedly referred to vegetables as “crudités,” and Fetterman has portrayed Oz as an out-of-touch outsider due to his longtime New Jersey residency, wealth, and fandom for the wrong sports teams

The lieutenant governor spent much of the summer with an enormous polling advantage in the race and still maintains a lead over Oz, but Oz has begun to close the gap in recent weeks after a wave of ads attacking Fetterman’s positions on crime and his health, as Fetterman continues to recover from a stroke he suffered in May. 

Fetterman has continued to hammer Oz on his highly questionable practice of hawking miracle cures during his career as a TV doctor, his authenticity, and a report from Jezebel earlier this month that Oz’s research at Columbia University resulted in the deaths of more than 300 dogs over the course of 21 years. 

Oz’s position on abortion has also been a focus in the Pennsylvania race, as it has been elsewhere. Leaked audio from before Oz won a contentious Republican primary in May showed the candidate telling Republican voters that abortion was “murder.” In an interview with NBC News published Friday, Oz wouldn’t say if he supports Sen. Lindsey Graham’s proposed national abortion ban but that he doesn’t “want any federal rules limiting what states do with abortion.”

“It should be up to the states,” Oz said, echoing a position Graham himself held as recently as May

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Categories: Tech News

Bitcoin energy consumption a feature, not a bug, says crypto-miner

The Register - Fri, 10/14/2022 - 09:00
But it's OK because we use non-carbon energy, argues CEO

Conspicuous energy consumption is a feature of the Bitcoin model, rather than a flaw, according to a crypto-miner defending the power-guzzling activity.…

Categories: Tech News

The next Ford Mustang won’t be easy to tune; blame cybersecurity

ARS Technica - Fri, 10/14/2022 - 08:53
The 2024 Ford Mustang might prove more resistant to modding than any Mustang in the past. The culprit? Modern-day cybersecurity protections.

Enlarge / The 2024 Ford Mustang might prove more resistant to modding than any Mustang in the past. The culprit? Modern-day cybersecurity protections. (credit: Ford)

People have been tinkering with and modifying vehicles since not long after the invention of the automobile. As an activity, it exploded in the wake of World War II, as surplus machinery mixed with bored young people with a bit of mechanical knowhow looking for a bit of a thrill. From hot rods and desert speed racers to the import-tuning scene at the turn of the century, being able to soup up one's ride has been a core aspect of car enthusiasm. But that may be a thing of the past, if the next Ford Mustang is any indication.

Ford debuted its 2024 Mustang in September. The seventh-generation car doesn't deviate much from the recipe that made the people's pony car such a big hit all these years: a two-door body that's recognizable as a Mustang and a choice of gasoline engines up front that drive the wheels at the back. There's no hybrid or electrified version—other than the Mustang Mach-E, of course, but that'll just start a flame war in the comments.

But as you might expect of a car being unveiled in 2022, no previous Mustang has been quite as digital as the incoming model. Advanced driver assists abound, there's a full digital cockpit, and among its connected features is Amazon Alexa integration.

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What to Expect from the Newly ‘Feistier’ Merrick Garland

Motherboard (Vice) - Fri, 10/14/2022 - 08:47

This content comes from the latest installment of our weekly Breaking the Vote newsletter out of VICE News’ D.C. bureau, tracking the ongoing efforts to undermine the democratic process in America. Sign up here to get it in your inbox every Friday. 

Now that the public part of the January 6 committee’s investigation of the coup attempt is (most likely?) done, the big question is, what will criminal prosecutors do about it? Right now, that question comes down to the judgment of two people: Fulton County (Georgia) DA Fani Willis and Attorney General Merrick Garland

Franklin Foer, a staff writer at The Atlantic, interviewed a whole bunch of Garland’s friends, former clerks, and deputies, as well as Garland himself. He’s concluded that federal charges for former President Donald Trump are “inevitable.” I called up Foer to talk about it, and edited our conversation for length. 

So you think that Merrick Garland is going to indict Donald Trump. What makes you say so?

Merrick Garland changed over the summer. First, he’s been changed by the job. As attorney general, he’s seen the threats to democracy. And I think he’s become less of a consensus-minded hyper-institutionalist and more concerned with these existential threats. So I think he’s become a bit more willing to engage in a confrontational approach with the anti-democratic forces in the country. Secondly, there’s the Mar-a-Lago case, which is, I think, a fairly black-and-white one. 

But is Merrick Garland no longer the incremental institutionalist we thought we knew? Is he a slash-and-burn prosecutor now?

I don’t think so. While he may be more confrontational than he was 18 months ago, he is who he is. And he cares very much about institutions, including the DOJ. And I think he doesn’t like to see its integrity being impugned by its opponents. He doesn’t like to hear that its agents are planting evidence in people’s summer beach homes. And so I think that his institutionalism has been one of the things that has brought him along in the Mar-a-Lago case.

We learned this week that Trump ordered a Mar-a-Lago employee to move boxes containing government documents that were later seized. What have you seen in the Mar-a-Lago case since the search that makes you think Garland has switched gears?

It’s really so interesting, because this is the first time we’ve seen Garland and Trump going mano a mano. And Garland has been much feistier and aggressive than I think a lot of people credited him. It begins with the search itself, which is a very aggressive action. There was maybe a norm that you don’t storm the house of former presidents that we've gone past. Then at the press conference afterward, Garland basically said, “I’m going to take credit for doing this. This was my decision, and we're gonna call out Trump’s bullshit.” Then came the filings, including the famous photo of documents on the floor. There’s just not a lot of deference. There’s almost a dismissiveness at times about the shoddy legal arguments that the Trump team is making. It’s really treating Trump as if he’s any other defendant making a bad case in court. So Garland has applied his dictum that no one is above the law, and he’s backed it up with action.

How affected do you think Garland is by the attempt to entangle DOJ in the coup plot? The attempt to get DOJ to lie to the public about election results and investigations.

I think it’s a big deal. But I think in his head these cases exist on separate tracks. The role of DOJ in the post-election coup is one case, January 6 and the rioting is a separate case. You have the false electors running in parallel and then you have Mar-a-Lago. And I really don’t think that in his head he’s intermingling these cases.

What do you see in the Jan. 6 prosecution universe that makes you think Garland is getting tough to a point that it might rise to Trump?

In my view, the January 6 prosecutions are much tougher for him. It will take more time to get to the point where he’s ready to indict in that case at a higher level. And I don’t think that’s terribly unusual for a prosecutor to take their time in a public corruption case, especially when you’re going after current and former elected officials. Those cases almost always go at a fairly plodding pace, and that’s just the culture of DOJ. 

So when does all this have to happen given that America is one big election cycle now and Trump is guaranteed to use a prosecution for political advantage?  

I think by late spring of next year, but I’m not saying Merrick Garland necessarily would think about it in this sort of way. Garland may not care that his case doesn’t come to fruition within this presidential term. He may just let the investigation plod ahead for however long until he has a strong case to prove.

Trump and his allies are promising violence and chaos if he’s prosecuted. How do you think Garland weighs that as he thinks about the pros and cons of charging Trump? 

I don’t actually know that it goes into his calculus. I think that it’s hard not to think about it because the threat is basically explicit at this point. Yes, there’s discretion involved, especially at this level. But my instinct is that when he says nobody is above the law, he means it. The prospect of right-wing violence is real, but there’s this other question, which is what happens to American democracy if you exempt somebody from the rule of law, or if you don’t punish these blatant crimes because you’re afraid of violence? My sense is he’s not going to bend to the threat.

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Mother-of-all T.W.I.S.™ Notes

This Week in Subpoenas doesn’t usually get an enchilada this spicy. You’ve probably heard by now that the January 6 committee dropped the gavel by authorizing a subpoena of the man at the center of their investigation: Donald Trump. If you haven’t heard, please shoot me your life coach’s contact info. 

Trump will do his best to bend this to his advantage while doing all he can to delay it. This legislative committee has no real enforcement power, so it could be the ideal place for Trump to ridicule and debase his critics in front of an irresistibly massive TV audience. 

On the other hand, he would have to do that under oath. And in Florida, Fulton County, Georgia, and Washington, D.C., criminal prosecutors will be watching. To wit: Just two months ago Trump talked a big game about how a “racist” New York AG was out to get him with fake accusations against his business. And by the time Leticia James got him under oath, Trump opted not to repeat that stuff, and instead used Fifth Amendment protection to avoid incriminating himself. More than 440 times.   

Trump’s lawyers will be the ones in charge of not letting him step on any legal rakes here. It’s no small task. As my colleague Greg Walters points out, in times like this it pays to remember the worlds of one-time Trump attorney John Dowd, who struggled to represent Trump through the Mueller investigation. Dowd told Bob Woodward, in the book Fear, that he didn’t think Trump was guilty of obstruction or collusion with the Russians. The problem, the lawyer says on page 357, is that Donald Trump “is a fucking liar.”

- Hutch you talkin’ bout, Willis

Fulton County prosecutor Fani Willis has a new witness in her criminal investigation of the plot to overturn the 2020 election. Cassidy Hutchinson, the aide to former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, is cooperating in Willis’ grand jury. Hutchinson famously told the January 6 committee all about how Donald Trump knew the Capitol crowd was armed; how everyone around Trump watched him refuse to act as the rioters inflicted mayhem in his name; and how multiple members of Congress sought pardons for participating in the coup plot. As such, she’s likely to be able to answer questions about what Meadows, Trump, or other White House officials said or did around Trump’s bid to steal Georgia. Reminder that Willis has said she could start charging people as early as December

Next of Kinzinger

One thing you can say for the people engineering America's anti-democratic lurch is that they make their intentions plain. Take Jim Marchant, the QAnon-jangled GOP candidate for Nevada secretary of state. Marchant made it clear at Trump’s rally earlier this week that he’s running in 2022 to hand 2024 to the former president. 

Enter Republican January 6 committee member Rep. Adam Kinzinger, who this week endorsed a slate of pro-democracy Republicans, indys, and Dems—including Marchant’s opponent Cisco Aguilar. Kinzinger also endorsed Pennsylvania’s Josh Shapiro and Arizona’s Katie Hobbs, both Democrats, in their governor’s races against anti-democratic Trumpists.

Cuffing season

An Iowa man was arrested and charged for threatening two Arizona election officials just days after the end of the partisan Cyber Ninjas election review. Mark A. Rissi, of Hiawatha, Iowa, could get up to 12 years for allegedly leaving threatening voicemails for a Republican, Trump-supporting Maricopa County supervisor and also for an employee of Attorney General Mark Brnovich.

Lane ends, purge now

Early voting has started in the 2022 midterms, and so have systematic efforts to suppress voting through purges. This week in Georgia, the Cobb County Board of Elections rejected a challenge to 1,350 voters whose registrations were missing dorm room numbers or names. It’s happening all over the country. But in Georgia the purge attempts are pouring in by the tens of thousands, thanks to new GOP-installed rules allowing any voter to challenge unlimited numbers of registrations in any county. 

Anon is sad 

The creator of one the internet’s most notorious homes of harassment, mass shooters, and QAnon tells VICE’s David Gilbert that he has a lot of regrets.

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“I’m gonna punch him out, I’m gonna go to jail, and I’m gonna be happy.” - House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, on Donald Trump, during the riot on Jan. 6, 2021.

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 Ballot’s in your court— Who better to recruit your county’s next generation of poll watchers than a Jan. 6 ringleader who urged protesters to “storm the gates” of the Capitol? Also, much more reporting here on how Republicans are using conspiracy groups to recruit poll watchers by the thousands. Their stated intent is to lawfully observe elections. Instead, they often wind up intimidating election workers. The worry is that poll watchers who’ve come up through the “stop the steal” farm system will throw up confusion at polling places and give partisan election officials the pretext they need for chaos. 

Ya gotta have good faith — This lifelong conservative Republican writes on why he’s voting for Dems for governor and senator in next month’s midterms despite decades of party loyalty. “Even more dear to me, and more important to the country, is protecting the Constitution.”

See more HerschHerschel Walker and Sen. Raphael Warnock debate just once before Election Day in their Georgia Senate race. Walker sought to manage expectations for tonight’s debate by reminding voters that he's “not that smart”. He’s also alternatively calling the woman who says he paid for her abortion a liar and talking a lot about redemption for sins.

Exit Poe — Did Edgar Allan Poe die of…voter fraud? Maybe

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Watching the watchers. THIS AMERICAN LIFE

How to make a semi-fascist party. NEW YORK MAGAZINE

‘Election denial’ does not capture the GOP’s corruption and violence. LUCID

Categories: Tech News

Microsoft preps DirectStorage 1.1 with GPU decompression for faster game loads

ARS Technica - Fri, 10/14/2022 - 08:42
DirectStorage facilitates direct communication between your GPU and speedy modern SSDs, which can reduce game load times and speed up asset streaming.

Enlarge / DirectStorage facilitates direct communication between your GPU and speedy modern SSDs, which can reduce game load times and speed up asset streaming.

One of the newer Xbox features that Microsoft has been working to bring to Windows is DirectStorage, a collection of features that allows fast PCI Express-based NVMe SSDs to communicate directly with your GPU. For DirectStorage 1.0, the main benefit was faster load times—up to 40 percent faster, according to Microsoft. This week Microsoft announced that it's readying DirectStorage 1.1 for release later this year, which will allow game assets to be decompressed on the GPU instead of the CPU, speeding up decompression operations and freeing up your processor to do other things.

Normally, compressed game assets are loaded into system memory and decompressed by the CPU before being sent to the GPU. This circuitous route adds to game load times and can contribute to "pop-in" in games with big open worlds—that effect where you see a bland, less-detailed version of an object for a brief instant before more detailed textures and models have time to load in.

A sample image showing the benefits of GPU-based decompression (left) vs CPU decompression (right). Note the much lower load time and the significantly lowered CPU usage.

A sample image showing the benefits of GPU-based decompression (left) vs CPU decompression (right). Note the much lower load time and the significantly lowered CPU usage. (credit: Microsoft)

DirectStorage's GPU-based decompression works with a new GPU-optimized compression format called "GDeflate," originally created by Nvidia. Microsoft's sample image comparing GPU decompression with GDeflate and CPU decompression using Zlib showed much faster load times (0.8 second on the GPU, compared to 2.36 seconds on the CPU) along with much lower CPU usage, though Microsoft says that the exact results will vary based on your hardware and the game you're loading.

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Categories: Tech News

Elon Musk is under federal investigation for merger conduct, Twitter tells judge

ARS Technica - Fri, 10/14/2022 - 08:15
In this photo illustration, Elon Musk's official Twitter profile seen on a computer screen through a magnifying glass.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images)

Elon Musk is being investigated over "conduct" related to his pending acquisition of Twitter, the company said in an October 6 court filing that was just made public yesterday. "Elon Musk is presently under investigation by federal authorities for his conduct in connection with the acquisition of Twitter," Twitter told Delaware Court of Chancery Judge Kathaleen McCormick.

Twitter's filing mostly describes its efforts to obtain documents related to the ongoing investigations. It says a privilege log produced by Musk's law firm refers to "drafts of a May 13 email to the SEC [Securities and Exchange Commission]" and "a slide presentation to the FTC [Federal Trade Commission]," but that "the final communications themselves were neither produced nor logged."

"Through counsel, he has exchanged substantive correspondence with those authorities concerning their investigations," Twitter wrote. "Twitter wants those documents, because they bear upon key issues in this litigation. Twitter requested the production of those documents months ago. But with trial just 11 days away, Defendants have still not produced them."

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Boffins grow human brain cells to play Pong

The Register - Fri, 10/14/2022 - 08:00
Now let’s see what happens when we get it drunk, say researchers

Researchers have succeeded in growing brain cells in a lab and hooking them up to electronic connectors proving they can learn to play the seminal console game Pong.…

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Workers Say Amazon Is Punishing Them for Observing Union Vote

Motherboard (Vice) - Fri, 10/14/2022 - 07:27

Amazon’s ALB1 warehouse near Albany, New York, began its union election process on Wednesday. In a total of eight polling sessions through next Monday, workers will have the chance to vote on whether ALB1 will join the Amazon Labor Union and become the second Amazon warehouse to unionize.

But lawyers for the ALU say that Amazon has been retaliating against workers by saying if they serve as election observers—active representatives of the union there to ensure the voting goes smoothly—they would not be paid for their time, and their Unpaid Time Off (UPT) will be deducted.

Retu Singla, general counsel for the ALU, said in a series of emails to the National Labor Relations Board that that was a clear violation of worker rights, and that Amazon was disregarding its agreement with the union to release observers during polling times.

“It's specifically in the election agreement with Amazon that no one's supposed to be penalized for that time if they are an election observer,” Seth Goldstein, a lawyer for the ALU, said in a phone call with Motherboard. “So now we don't have an election observer, which of course makes it look like the union is weak and can’t protect people's rights. Amazon’s running the election.”

In a phone call with Motherboard, a spokesperson for Amazon said that the communication with workers had been a complete misunderstanding. They said the company would not deduct UPT from any election observers, and that they had fixed the issue. They also said that in the election agreement, there was no language specific to unpaid time.

“The only mistake that Amazon made was violating federal labor law,” Goldstein said.

Of the three polling sessions held as of Thursday evening, two had designated workers who were on shift at the time as observers. Both of these workers, Singla wrote in an email to the NLRB which was shared with Motherboard, were told that their UPT would be deducted, and had subsequently backed out of the role due to fear of retaliation. Motherboard has taken out the names of the workers at the request of the ALU.

“[One worker] continues to be uncomfortable and afraid of retaliation for acting as a Union Observer,” Singla wrote. “Clearly, the employer has acted to successfully chill [the worker’s] Section 7 rights to participate in this representation election which is [their] right under the NLRA.”

Singla wrote that the worker had been contacted at home by a member of ALB1’s internal Human Resources department. “Jessica Kuete from ALB1's internal Human Resources Office called our observer by phone late last night (when she was not on shift or working) to discuss [their] “voluntary”’ participation in the ALB1 election as an observer for the Union and telling [them] that [they] would have [their] UPT deducted, would lose [their] “Learning Ambassador” status and would not be paid if [they] chose to observe for the ALU in the representation election this morning,” the email reads.

“Moreover, [a second worker] contacted me very upset about the prospect that [their] UPT balance will be deducted for [their] participation in the election yesterday morning as a Union observer,” Singla’s email continued. “And now [they are] refusing to act as an observer for any further polling sessions. Essentially, Amazon is being permitted to violate the NLRA with impunity in the first 3 polling sessions in this representation election.”

A spokesperson for the NLRB said the organization’s Buffalo branch had not received any unfair labor practice charges relating to these events.

Amazon is generally very strict with giving time off to its employees, paid or not. Motherboard has previously reported on workers who used up their time off because their five-hour-long commute across the U.S.-Mexico border made them late to work. Those workers would be fired after that time off was gone, with largely no compassion or adjustments from the company. Just last week, night shift workers at JFK8, Amazon’s Staten Island facility, held the first sit-in wildcat strike in the company's history after a fire broke out in the building and management refused to send them home with time off.

“UPT time is very precious to the workers,” Singla said in a phone call. “It’s just making it harder and harder to get participants to act as observers when the employer’s telling them they’re going to lose out.”

Singla said that Amazon has not interfered with the workers who go to polling events to vote, and that the sessions thus far have had good turnout. “They are not against getting out the vote,” she said. “They don't go about this by treating workers poorly for voting. They go about this by treating workers poorly for actively engaging in support for the union. When you act as an observer, you're literally an agent for the union.”

Goldstein said that Amazon was “making a mockery” of the union election process. “Action has to be taken immediately by the Board,” he continued. “How can we have this type of mockery of American democracy?”

Management at ALB1 has long been trying to disrupt the union organization process. Motherboard reported that the company hired third-party union-busting consultants to interact with employees around the warehouse. Many said they felt harassed and intimidated by them, but the union drive has so far been successful in gaining support. The results of the election will be known next Tuesday.

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Jamaica Just Banned Music About Drugs and Crime on the Radio

Motherboard (Vice) - Fri, 10/14/2022 - 07:17

Musicians in Jamaica are outraged after the country’s broadcasting regulator announced a new ban on content that glorifies drugs and crime.

The Jamaican Broadcasting Commission said in a statement released Tuesday that the ban reinforces their commitment to “keeping the airwaves free of harmful content given the important role traditional media still play as agents of socialisation.”

Jamaica regularly ranks as one of the deadliest country’s per capita in the Americas and is rife with gang violence.

“The use of the public airwaves to broadcast songs that promote/glorify illegal activity could give the wrong impression that criminality is an accepted feature of Jamaican culture and society,” the statement said. “It could also unwittingly lend support to moral disengagement and further normalise criminality among vulnerable and impressionable youth, and the young adult demographic.”

The ban, which does not apply to digital content platforms, prompted instant backlash from many of Jamaica’s most prominent musicians.

Romeich, a Jamaican musician and entertainment executive, took to social media to question the ban.

“While I understand why people feel like this and even I don’t agree with glorifying guns or any use of any drug at all, we can’t stop the creatives (artistes) from singing about what they see around them or grew around,” Romeich wrote on Instagram. “Are you going to ban Apple Music, Spotify, SoundCloud and other platforms where the same people have the same access to the same songs?”

In the comments, another Jamaican musician known as Rvssian replied that “This is crazy lol. Let’s just ask them to write the songs too.”

“Good thing we don’t need radio anymore. I can’t remember last royalties they paid me. YouTube d ting Deh anyway,” he wrote.

The broadcasting regulators defined the ban as targeting lyrics that promote or glorify crimes like “scamming, the use of illegal drugs, use of guns and other offensive weapons to perpetrate harmful/illegal actions, and jungle justice.”

“Jungle justice” is a common phrase used in Jamaica and other countries to refer to retribution or vigilante justice, often carried out by angry mobs.

This isn’t the first time that Jamaica has attempted to censor its local music industry. In 2009, the broadcasting regulators banned sexual explicit lyrics, but the sanctions have rarely been enforced over the years. Other countries have also dabbled in banning controversial music. In Mexico, various cities and states have attempted bans or regulations on the popular narcocorrido genre that churns out ballads dedicated to drug traffickers, but has similarly failed to stop its widespread popularity.

Legendary Jamaican reggae artist Tanya Stephens wrote an op-ed in the local Jamaica Observer newspaper following the ban, and noted how similar attempts have failed in the past.

“Every single time there is great pressure to curb crime or antisocial behaviour some of these very same unchanging heads meet again and roll out the same archaic ban as a 'measure,’” Stephens wrote. “If banning worked, why is there so much more music designated to be banned now?”

She suggested that instead crime and antisocial behavior should be addressed with "critical thinking and honest conversation.”

Other musicians seem unphased by the ban.

Skeng, a popular rapper who recently collaborated with Nicki Minaj, has racked up tens of millions of views on YouTube with his tracks about the streets of Jamaica like “Gvnman Shift” and “Gang Bang.” After news of the ban, Skeng tweeted a yawn emoji with a 21 second clip from his track “Rain Like Hell.”

In the video he raps while smoking a joint: “Real gunman, we run the island. Me Skeng don, me sing the gun song. And mе rеally don’t care who like mе entrance.”

The Jamaica Broadcasting Commission did not respond to requests for comment by VICE World News, or provide details about how the ban will be enforced, and what punishments offenders will receive.

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