Google Play to ban Android VPN apps from interfering with ads

The Register - Mon, 08/29/2022 - 17:43
Developers say this is not the privacy protection it's made out to be

Google in November will prohibit Android VPN apps in its Play store from interfering with or blocking advertising, a change that may pose problems for some privacy applications.…

Categories: Tech News

US court backs FCC decision to let SpaceX fly Starlink sats at lower altitudes

The Register - Mon, 08/29/2022 - 17:24
Appeal judges just didn't buy Viasat's concerns of in-orbit crashes

Judges in the US have upheld the FCC's decision to allow SpaceX Starlink satellites to fly at a lower altitude.…

Categories: Tech News

AMD makes Ryzen 7000 official: Launching September 27, starting at $299

ARS Technica - Mon, 08/29/2022 - 16:30
AMD CEO Dr. Lisa Su holding a sample of the flagship Ryzen 9 7950X.

Enlarge / AMD CEO Dr. Lisa Su holding a sample of the flagship Ryzen 9 7950X. (credit: AMD)

Nearly two years after releasing its first Ryzen 5000 desktop processors, AMD is finally ready to follow them up. Today, the company announced pricing and availability for the first wave of Ryzen 7000 CPUs based on the Zen 4 architecture, along with more details about the accompanying AM5 platform and the performance increases that early adopters can expect.

The first four Ryzen 7000 CPUs will be available on September 27, and AMD is using the same strategy it used to launch the 5000 series (if you're wondering about the skipped number, 6000-series CPUs are only available for laptops). It's starting with four higher-end, higher-priced parts, while lower-end CPUs for mainstream and budget builds will follow next year.

CPU MSRP Cores/threads Clocks (Base/Boost) Total cache (L2+L3) TDP Ryzen 5 7600X $299 6c/12t 4.7/5.3 GHz 38MB (6+32) 105 W Ryzen 7 7700X $399 8c/16t 4.5/5.4 GHz 40MB (8+32) 105 W Ryzen 9 7900X $549 12c/24t 4.7/5.6 GHz 76MB (12+64) 170 W Ryzen 9 7950X $699 16c/32t 4.5/5.7 GHz 80MB (16+64) 170 W

AMD is sticking to the same core counts it used for Zen 3. The entry-level model is the 6-core Ryzen 5 7600X, launching for the same $299 that the 5600X cost in 2020; the 12-core Ryzen 9 7900X is also launching for $549, the same price as the Ryzen 9 5900X. The other two chips are a little cheaper than their Ryzen 5000 counterparts; the 16-core Ryzen 9 7950X launches for $699, $100 less than the 5950X, while the 8-core Ryzen 7 7700X starts at $399, $50 less than the launch price for the Ryzen 7 5800X (technically, this is a price increase over the $299 Ryzen 7 5700X, but that chip wasn't released until nearly a year and a half after the 5800X).

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FTC sues data broker for selling millions of people's 'precise' location info

The Register - Mon, 08/29/2022 - 15:09
Which would be very problematic in this Post-Roe era

The Federal Trade Commission has accused data broker Kochava of trampling over people's privacy by selling the "precise" whereabouts of hundreds of millions of mobile devices.…

Categories: Tech News

Poliovirus outbreak expands in NY: Third county has vaccination rate of 62%

ARS Technica - Mon, 08/29/2022 - 14:44
A polio vaccine box is displayed at a health clinic in Brooklyn, New York on August 17, 2022.

Enlarge / A polio vaccine box is displayed at a health clinic in Brooklyn, New York on August 17, 2022. (credit: Getty | Ed Jones)

A third county in New York with a low vaccination rate has detected poliovirus in its wastewater, suggesting that spread of the dangerous virus is expanding, which continues to pose a significant threat to anyone unvaccinated.

Wastewater sampling in Sullivan County detected poliovirus twice in July and twice in August, the New York State Health Department announced. Genetic sequencing determined that the positive samples are linked to the case of paralytic polio reported from Rockland County in July, which was genetically linked to viruses circulating in London and Israel.

Sullivan Country joins nearby Rockland County, Orange County, and New York City in having poliovirus detected in sewage. At least 13 sewage samples from Rockland and eight from Orange have tested positive since April. The three counties are all in a northwest-pointing line from New York City, along the state's southern border. Earlier this month, New York City also announced finding poliovirus in wastewater surveillance

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Source: IBM disguised Watson Health layoffs as a 'redeployment initiative'

The Register - Mon, 08/29/2022 - 14:10
Funnily enough, most of those hit were aged over 40, it is claimed

Exclusive  After announcing in January it was selling its Watson Health group to investment firm Francisco Partners, IBM assured staff left behind from the sale that they would be redeployed within Big Blue.…

Categories: Tech News

Musk subpoenas Twitter whistleblower, hoping to prove company lied about spam

ARS Technica - Mon, 08/29/2022 - 14:00
Former Twitter security chief Peiter Zatko poses for a portrait.

Enlarge / Former Twitter security chief Peiter Zatko, also known as Mudge. (credit: Getty Images | Washington Post)

Elon Musk's lawyers have subpoenaed Twitter whistleblower Peiter Zatko in hopes of bolstering Musk's defense against the lawsuit Twitter filed over their broken merger deal.

The subpoena orders Zatko to produce a list of documents and to appear for an oral deposition on September 9, about five weeks before the Musk/Twitter trial is scheduled to begin at the Delaware Court of Chancery. The subpoena was filed Thursday and made public today.

Zatko, a network security expert also known as "Mudge," worked at Twitter from November 2020 until being fired in January 2022. His whistleblower complaint, which was made public last week, alleges that Zatko "uncovered extreme, egregious deficiencies by Twitter in every area of his mandate including... user privacy, digital and physical security, and platform integrity/content moderation." It also claims that Twitter is guilty of "lying about bots to Elon Musk."

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Daily Horoscope: August 30, 2022

Motherboard (Vice) - Mon, 08/29/2022 - 14:00

The moon in Libra makes a harmonious connection with taskmaster Saturn in Aquarius at 8:13 PM, inspiring responsibility, focus, and maturity. It’s a powerful time to explore our feelings, set expectations, and get clear on future plans. Community efforts can be productive at this time.

All times ET.

Stay in the cosmic loop with the VICE horoscopes newsletter. Get horoscopes straight to your inbox when you sign up here!

Aries glyph Aries: March 20, 2022 - April 19, 2022

Solid social connections can form as the moon in Libra mingles with Saturn in Aquarius, and this could be an excellent time for teamwork, and discussing commitments and future plans with your partners.

Taurus glyphs Taurus: April 19, 2022 - May 20, 2022

Today the moon in Libra mingles with Saturn in Aquarius, which can bode well for your career and productivity! Communication flows easily, and it may be a great time to get reorganized.

Gemini glyph Gemini: May 20, 2022 - June 21, 2022

The moon is in fellow air sign Libra today, inspiring romance and creativity, and solid plans can be set in motion as the moon connects with taskmaster Saturn in Aquarius, also an air sign. Productive discussions could take place!

Cancer glyph Cancer: June 21, 2022 - July 22, 2022

The moon in Libra can find you focused on home and family, and solid boundaries may be set in your personal life and your finances as the moon connects with taskmaster Saturn in Aquarius.

Leo glyph Leo: July 22, 2022 - August 22, 2022

Solid discussions and commitments can be set in motion as the moon in Libra makes a helpful connection with Saturn in Aquarius. A supportive, focused energy flows in your partnerships today.

Virgo glyph Virgo: August 22, 2022 - September 22, 2022

The moon in Libra makes a helpful connection with hardworking Saturn, currently in Aquarius, which can bode well for your finances or productivity. You may be setting important boundaries at work, too.

Libra glyph Libra: September 22, 2022 - October 23, 2022

The moon is in your sign today, Libra, encouraging you to connect with your feelings, and the moon mingles with Saturn in fellow air sign Aquarius, which can find you and your romantic partners having solid discussions about expectations and values. You could be committing to a creative project at this time, too.

Scorpio glyph Scorpio: October 23, 2022 - November 22, 2022

The moon in Libra encourages you to slow down, and as it connects with taskmaster Saturn in Aquarius, you’re setting important boundaries around your energy and availability.

Sagittarius glyph Sagittarius: November 22, 2022 - December 21, 2022

The moon in Libra lights up the sector of your chart that rules your social life today, and as the moon connects with Saturn in Libra, you may be having important discussions or making solid plans for the future!

Capricorn glyph Capricorn: December 21, 2021 - January 19, 2022

The moon in Libra can find you focused on your career today. The moon mingles with your ruling planet Saturn, which is currently in Aquarius, and boding well for you professionally or financially!

Aquarius glyphs Aquarius: January 19, 2022 - February 18, 2022

The moon is in fellow air sign Libra today, and as it connects with your ruling planet Saturn, currently in your sign, you could be exploring new opportunities and making long-term plans.

Pisces glyph Pisces: February 18, 2022 - March 20, 2022

The moon in Libra makes a helpful connection with taskmaster Saturn in Aquarius, inspiring determination and productivity! Your focus is on finances as you organize your budget.

Categories: Tech News

Trademark filing for “Reality Pro” suggests Apple’s headset is on the way

ARS Technica - Mon, 08/29/2022 - 13:35
A building at Apple Park, the company's Cupertino, California, HQ.

Enlarge / A building at Apple Park, the company's Cupertino, California, HQ. (credit: Apple)

Trademarks have been filed for "Reality One," "Reality Pro," and "Reality Processor" ahead of Apple's plans to launch a mixed reality headset, according to a report in Bloomberg.

The trademarks were filed by legal firms (not Apple itself) in the US, UK, EU, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Uruguay, and Costa Rica. Apple has turned to the same firms to secure other trademarks in the past.

The filings have not been traced directly to Apple, but they fit well with prior leaks that Apple was considering naming its AR/VR operating system realityOS, rOS, or something along those lines—in fact, a trademark filing for realityOS previously appeared earlier this year. The company already offers a developer framework called RealityKit for iOS apps, which will likely be the basis for some future headset applications. Apple employees have used the word "reality" to refer to the upcoming headset internally before, according to the report.

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Sony launches lighter PS5 model for second straight year

ARS Technica - Mon, 08/29/2022 - 13:19
Let's open you up and see if we can get rid of some of those weighty internal components, OK?

Enlarge / Let's open you up and see if we can get rid of some of those weighty internal components, OK?

At its launch in 2020, the PlayStation 5 wasn't just one of the biggest game consoles ever made. It was also one of the heaviest, with the full-fledged Disc Drive Edition weighing in at 9.9 pounds (4.5 kg) and the Digital Edition hitting 8.6 lbs (3.9 kg). Today, though, the eagle-eyed reporters at Press Start have noted the release of a new set of PS5 models that weigh about 13 percent less than their launch counterparts.

The new PS5 models (CFI-1202A and B for the Disc and Digital versions, respectively) first showed up on some Japanese retail sites over the weekend with a planned September 15 launch date. But Press Start reports that the new models are on shelves in many Australian retailers right now, including manuals listing their official weights at 8.6 lbs (3.9 kg) for the Disc Drive Edition and 7.5 lbs (3.4 kg) for the Digital Edition. No other changes are apparent in either the size of the system's casing or the listed system specs, according to the report.

Lighter and more expensive than ever

Those who follow the minutiae of game console hardware manufacturing might remember that this isn't the first internal revision to the PS5 hardware. The CFI-11XX models—which also hit Australia first in August 2021— came in at 9.25 lbs (4.2 kg) and 7.9 lbs (3.6 kg) for their Disc and Digital Editions, respectively. That effectively splits the weight difference between the launch model and the newest model hitting Australia today.

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Microsoft adds virtual core licensing to Windows Server

The Register - Mon, 08/29/2022 - 13:03
Yes, we're totally doing this as a favor for partners and not because we were being sued in Europe

Microsoft has announced a major overhaul to its Windows licensing regimes that make it rather easier to use its operating system in the cloud – without mentioning the real reason for the change is to get the European Union off its back.…

Categories: Tech News

Warning sign? NASA never finished a fueling test before today’s SLS launch attempt

ARS Technica - Mon, 08/29/2022 - 12:39
The SLS rocket did not leave the planet on Monday morning.

Enlarge / The SLS rocket did not leave the planet on Monday morning.

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla.—Despite all of the hard work by its engineers and technicians, NASA did not really get close to firing up the massive Space Launch System (SLS) rocket on Monday.

The rocket experienced several issues during the countdown early on Monday before running into a technical problem the launch team could not solve: an RS-25 rocket engine that did not properly chill down prior to ignition. Even if the engine problem had been resolved, weather along the Florida coast on Monday morning proved dicier than anticipated.

Space is hard, certainly. But Monday's attempt—which NASA had promoted heavily by inviting celebrities to the launch and which included a visit by Vice President Kamala Harris—was perhaps a bit rushed. Why? Because NASA rolled a rocket out to launch without accounting for all of the things that could go wrong.

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Company Tells Employees: Work 'Voluntary' Overtime or Go to Jail

Motherboard (Vice) - Mon, 08/29/2022 - 12:31

Last week, AlumaSafway, a Canadian scaffolding company, sent workers a memo demanding they accept "voluntary" overtime shifts or face termination, a hiring ban, legal action, and possible fines or jail time.

According to the Alberta Labour Relations Board (ALRB), on August 22 an anonymous letter was shared among scaffolders at a Suncor Inc. site in Alberta, Canada that asked workers to "collectively refuse to work overtime shifts for the purpose of compelling incentives from the Employer, including improvements in compensation or working conditions.” Suncor is one of Canada's largest fossil fuel companies.

According to the board, this resulted in no workers taking on overtime shifts. Ultimately, it decided that the action was illegal under the province's labour laws, which rule out strikes that occur while a collective bargaining agreement is in force and before a vote has been taken. 

"The Board finds the Employees' concerted refusal to accept overtime shifts for the purpose of compelling the Employer to agree to terms and conditions of employment, which constitutes a refusal to work, to be an illegal strike," it said in its decision. The board noted that it would file its decision with the Alberta courts, which would make it enforceable as a court order, and violating it would "result in civil or criminal penalties including contempt of court."

The union's collective bargaining agreement states that overtime is strictly voluntary, except for when there are not enough volunteers to complete a job. After the letter encouraging employees to not work overtime was circulated, AlumaSafway scaffold workers began refusing to work overtime shifts at the Suncor site. The company filed a complaint with the labour board on August 24. 

The situation went viral on the r/antiwork subreddit; a poster there, who claimed to be a worker's child, posted a letter sent by AlumaSafway to workers after the ALRB's ruling. In that letter, which is signed by two AlumaSafway managers the company warned that it's  "been patient and given your union an opportunity to convince you that this coordinated refusal constitutes an illegal strike, and that you may face consequences as a result. Obviously, this has not worked." Motherboard has not independently verified the letter, however, its contents refer to the ALRB ruling, which is hosted on the ALRB's official website. The two people who signed the letter do indeed work for AlumaSafway, according to their social media profiles and the company's website. 

AlumaSafway went on to warn that violation of this order could include consequences such as "discipline or termination of employment" along with a hiring ban "for those who continue to engage in illegal activity." AlumaSafway also threatened legal action "for all damages caused by the illegal strike" which could make workers "personally liable for added production costs, penalties owing to Owner or, even the loss of the contract with our client." 

In the worst case, contempt of court proceedings could open up "the possibility of fines and even potentially jail," the company's letter stated.

The letter closed with a plea from the company: “We do not want to impose any of the consequences set out above. This memo is intended to cause you to change your behaviour by impressing upon you the seriousness of this matter, including the consequences that you may suffer if the strike continues."

Sadly, there may not be much room for scaffold workers to continue their refusal to accept overtime shifts in the sweltering heat. The collective bargaining agreement that represents AlumaSafway scaffolders, negotiated by the Labourers' International Union of North America, Local 506, requires workers give up the right to strike so long as the agreement is in effect in accordance with provincial law.

The ALRB, AlumaSafway, and Local 506 all did not respond to Motherboard’s request for comment.

Categories: Tech News

FTC sues data broker that tracks locations of 125M phones per month

ARS Technica - Mon, 08/29/2022 - 12:06
Map pin flat on green cityscape and Huangpu River

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images)

The Federal Trade Commission on Monday sued a data broker for allegedly selling location data culled from hundreds of millions of phones that can be used to track the movements of people visiting abortion clinics, domestic abuse shelters, places of worship, and other sensitive places.

In a complaint, the agency said that Idaho-based Kochava has promoted its marketplace as providing "rich geo data spanning billions of devices globally." The data broker has also said it "delivers raw latitude/longitude data with volumes around 94B+ geo transactions per month, 125 million monthly active users, and 35 million daily active users, on average observing more than 90 daily transactions per device."

The FTC said Kochava amassed the data by tracking the Mobile Advertising ID, or MAID, from phones and selling the data through Amazon Web Services or other outlets without first anonymizing the data. Anyone who purchases the data can then use it to track the comings and goings of many phone owners. Many of the allegations are based on the agency's analysis of a data sample the company made available for free to promote sales of its data, which was available online with no restrictions on usage.

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Euro watchdogs 'abandon $1b fine' against Qualcomm

The Register - Mon, 08/29/2022 - 11:47
Snapdragon giant was accused of bribing Apple not to use rival modems

The European Commission has reportedly called it quits in its bid to fine Qualcomm for alleged anti-competitive payments to Apple.…

Categories: Tech News

Even Artwork About Abortion Is Legally Risky Now

Motherboard (Vice) - Mon, 08/29/2022 - 11:39

Visitors to an installation at a reproductive justice conference last weekend were greeted by a warning.

“If you live in a state where self-managed abortion is illegal, be aware of criminalization risks,” read a sign, its warnings rendered in orange against a blue background and beneath a pair of ominous eyes. “The information in this exhibit is intended to advocate for greater understanding and availability of self-managed abortion, not to recommend or advise that any person obtain and manage an abortion.”

The people behind the installation, the sign added, could not answer any questions about obtaining a medication abortion or performing a self-managed one. 

The installation, titled the “Self-Managed Abortion Stigma-Free Zone,” was an exhibit at the Let’s Talk About Sex! conference in Dallas, Texas, hosted by the reproductive justice collective SisterSong. Through a series of Ikea-style room façades and placards about how self-inducing your own abortion works, it aimed to approximate the experience of a self-managed abortion. (The exhibition ended on Sunday, with the close of the conference.) But the installation and its organizers, the Abortion On Our Own Terms campaign, were haunted by a fear: What if someone arrests or sues them over this information?

In the months since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, abortion rights activists have grappled not only with a new wave of abortion bans, but with the risk that simply spreading information about abortion could land them in the crosshairs of law enforcement. This installation was perhaps especially perilous: Not only was it about self-managed abortion, which remains permitted across much of the country but still carries legal risks, but it took place in Texas, one of the most anti-abortion states in a country that’s full of them.

In addition to a near-total abortion ban triggered by the fall of Roe, which took effect last Thursday, Texas has long had a law on the books that lets people sue another for helping abortion patients get the procedure past roughly six weeks of pregnancy.  

“We knew, coming to Texas, that we would have to take certain precautions. We consulted with legal counsel,” Kimberly Inez McGuire, steering committee member of the Abortion On Our Own Terms Campaign, told VICE News.

“I have a 1-year-old daughter and I was going to bring her with me, but I made the decision to actually also bring my mother, because on the off-chance that we were unjustly and illegally arrested for doing this, I wanted to make sure there was someone to take care of my kid.”

Anti-abortion activists already seemed poised to attempt to tighten the boundaries of what, exactly, people can say about abortion. Ahead of Roe’s then-anticipated demise, the National Right to Life Committee debuted model legislation that proposed punishing people for “aiding or abetting an illegal abortion,” which they defined as including “giving instructions over the telephone, the internet, or any other medium of communication regarding self-administered abortions or means to obtain an illegal abortion,” as well as “hosting or maintaining a website, or providing internet service, that encourages or facilitates efforts to obtain an illegal abortion,” among other actions. 

State legislators in South Carolina have started to run with the idea. In June, just days after Roe fell, state senators introduced a bill to ban people from providing information “by telephone, internet, or any other mode of communication regarding self-administered abortions or the means to obtain an abortion,” or running a website that does something similar. 

McGuire told VICE News that the Abortion On Our Own Terms exhibition falls squarely within the protection of the First Amendment. But as she walked around the conference wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the words “mife” and “miso”—references to mifepristone and misoprostol, the drugs commonly used to induce a medication abortion—McGuire wasn’t shy about discussing the risks of the art.

“This is constitutionally protected free speech,” McGuire said. “That doesn’t mean that a rogue law enforcement officer might not misunderstand or that someone who’s seeking to sabotage this might not misrepresent what we’re doing here.”

If law enforcement wants to go after somebody for self-managing an abortion, experts warn, they’ll find a way to do so. At the time of Roe’s overturning, just three states had explicit laws against self-managed abortion on the books. But between 2000 and 2020, at least 61 people across 26 states faced criminal consequences for self-managing an abortion or helping someone else do so, according to research published by the legal advocacy group If/When/How earlier this month.

The installation’s organizers were so cautious that they also put up a sign suggesting that even visitors to the installation needed to watch out. This sign warned that “talking about self-managed abortion can be complicated and risky” and urged people to use some suggested, “vetted social media copy” if they wanted to share information about the exhibit on social media. 

Despite the lurking danger, the exhibit tried to cultivate a soothing, if relentlessly practical, atmosphere. The exhibit included a faux-kitchen, a bed with a pillow that read “Good Vibes,” and a toilet. That toilet was part of the exhibit’s focus on destigmatization: Having a self-managed abortion will very likely involve sitting on a toilet. The installation even set up a chair for someone to sit next to the toilet, as if whoever was sitting there could hold the hand of the person going through the abortion. (Medical experts widely agree that self-inducing an abortion using mifepristone and misoprostol, early on in pregnancy, can be safe.) 

The installation also offered information about Euki, an app developed by a group that supports self-managed abortion in order to help people track their reproductive health. Earlier this month, the app earned a rave review from Mozilla over its privacy features.

“It’s the only period tracker app that the cops can’t use to fuck with you. So we are making sure that people know that there’s an app available that doesn’t store their information,” McGuire said. “Because unfortunately, as we’re seeing, Facebook messages are being used to criminalize people.”

McGuire, who also serves as executive director of URGE: Unite for Reproductive & Gender Equity, said that she hopes to take this installation on the road. She envisions showing it at community centers, college campuses, health centers; perhaps future iterations of the installation could include the packaging for abortion-inducing drugs, so people can get familiar with what it looks like.

But the calculation of what information the exhibit can safely include changes from state to state and even from day to day, as the landscape of anti-abortion laws shift. 

“As we share this information, we’re [doing] an ongoing assessment of the risks and we want to share as much as possible while also protecting our staff,” McGuire said. “This exhibit is being staffed this weekend by three women of color. We're also about protecting our people.”

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Categories: Tech News

Archeologists Discover Huge Stone Penis in Ancient Roman Ruins

Motherboard (Vice) - Mon, 08/29/2022 - 11:31

In the modern world, stumbling across the image of a penis scribbled in Sharpie on a bathroom wall or carved into a wooden table is considered juvenile at best and vandalism at worst. Yet for Ancient Romans, whose empire stretched up to England and across the globe from Spain to Mesopotamia, phalluses were an essential piece of decor and considered a kind of good luck charm.

Many of these adornments have been lost to time, but this month researchers have uncovered the largest penis carving on record at a Roman and Iberian archaeological site called El Higuerón in southern Spain. Carved into limestone at the base of an uncovered Roman building, the phallus measured nearly 18 inches centimeters in length, close to 6 inches in the trunk, and almost 4 inches squared in the area of ​​the testicles, reports Spanish newspaper El País.

“Today we had a find that has quickly become the focus of the excavation,” the Historical Museum of Nueva Carteya wrote in a Facebook post announcing the find. “This is a phallic relief that has appeared on one of the ashlars that form the northeast corner of the Roman tower. These types of representations were common at the time despite the vision one may have today.”

Andrés Roldán is director of the excavation project and of the museum. He told El País that such artworks had a larger purpose than similar modern scribbles, and the newly-discovered example may be the largest ever found.

“It was common to place them on the facades of houses or for them to be small amulets worn by soldiers as a symbol of virility, but no such size as the one found now,” Roldán said. “We are consulting the bibliography and, at the moment, we have not found one of such dimensions.”

In addition to being symbols of virility, penis carvings were also viewed by ancient Romans as symbols of protection and good fortune and have been found in droves at other famous archaeological sites, from the ruins of Pompeii to Hadrian’s Wall which roughly divided Roman occupied England from Scotland.

The site of this penis in particular was first excavated in the 1960s and has become known as an important site of ancient Iberian culture, a group of prehistoric people who lived in southern and eastern Spain for whom the Iberian Peninsula is named. Through decades of studying this region, archaeologists have found that Iberians called the El Higuerón home until Romans invaded in 206 BC.

In a comment to El País, Roldán explained that ruins at the El Higuerón site suggest that Roman invaders completely demolished the Iberian settlement to build their own on top.

“They dismantled the town… and converted the old Iberian fortifications into pure supporting architecture,” Roldán said. He says this is a “much more complex history than could be expected from these archaeological sites.”

In addition to uncovering the phallic symbol, archaeologists have also uncovered underground rooms, which may have been used by the Romans to store food, and remnants of other materials like stucco, tiles, and Roman concrete.

There are still many more ancient mysteries to be uncovered at El Higuerón, but this phallic relief stands as a reminder that one group's symbol of power and good fortune may also be a sign of destruction for another.

Categories: Tech News

The USPS Underestimated the Benefit of Going Electric, Study Shows

Motherboard (Vice) - Mon, 08/29/2022 - 11:30

The United States Postal Service dramatically underestimated the benefits of an electric delivery fleet in its environmental review when it agreed to purchase nearly all gas-powered trucks, a peer-reviewed study by University of Michigan researchers found. The lead author of the study, Maxwell Moody, called the USPS’s environmental review “significantly flawed” in a press release, adding yet another layer of criticism to the USPS’s handling of its new delivery fleet procurement.

Back in February 2021, the USPS awarded a multi-billion dollar contract to Oshkosh, a firm that mostly builds big, honking gas vehicles for the Department of Defense, to replace up to 165,000 of the Postal Service’s delivery fleet which is rapidly aging and routinely catching on fire. At first, the USPS said there would be both an electric and a gas version of the truck but not how many of each. Shortly thereafter, it said the order would be 90 percent gas and 10 percent electric, even though the Biden administration said it wanted the government’s vehicle fleet to go electric. The USPS didn’t have to abide by this executive order because since 1970 it is an independent agency of the executive branch rather than a fully-fledged portion of the federal government. The USPS’s decision to largely stick with gas trucks enraged environmental groups, many Democrats, and generally flummoxed anyone who knows anything about electric cars because the USPS is an ideal use case for electric vehicles (EVs). But, for a while, nobody could do anything about it due to the USPS’s independence within the executive branch. 

That dynamic changed in February when the USPS released its legally-mandated environmental review of the delivery fleet purchase, as required by the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969. That law doesn’t require the USPS to do anything other than to comprehensively and accurately disclose the environmental impact of its purchase while considering plausible alternatives. In theory, the USPS could have conducted a very thorough analysis showing it was poisoning the planet and spending more money to do it and nobody could have stopped them.

But critics of the USPS’s decision were hotly anticipating this environmental review. If they were correct that the USPS was making a terrible decision for both the environment and its own finances—as detailed in a thorough study by Atlas Public Policy, a non-profit research group—then an honest accounting in the environmental review would lay it all out and at the very least embarrass the USPS and prove Louis DeJoy was acting as a poor steward for the agency’s future. In other words, the USPS would have to admit in writing that it knows it's making a bad decision but plans on doing it anyways.

Instead, the USPS chose a different approach: Fudge the numbers to make it look like a better decision than it is. One way it did so was to list the vehicle’s curb weight as one pound heavier than a critical regulatory threshold that allowed the trucks to emit more than they otherwise could. Another way it did so was to assume the price of gas would stay below $2.55 per gallon through 2040, despite gas being more expensive than that for much of the last 20 years. A third way it did so was to only study scenarios it considered infeasible, like buying 100 percent electric vehicles, so it could dismiss them regardless of what the results of the environmental assessment would be. Meanwhile, it didn’t study sensible middle ground scenarios like buying, say, 50 or 75 percent electric trucks.

All of these issues were immediately obvious to anyone who read the environmental impact statement, including the Environmental Protection Agency administrator who sent the USPS a strongly worded letter claiming that the environmental impact study done by USPS was "seriously deficient." Two months later, attorneys general from 16 states and five environmental groups sued the USPS on the grounds that it violated NEPA with its shoddy environmental review.

Which brings us to the University of Michigan study that confirms the environmental review was indeed shoddy. The study looked specifically at emissions estimates for the gas and electric versions of the trucks, including the so-called “cradle to grave” analysis that includes the entire vehicle life cycle, something the USPS opted not to do. Overall, they found the USPS underestimated the emissions of gas trucks and overestimated the emissions of electric trucks, making the electric trucks seem worse than they would be and the gas ones seem better. 

Even after accounting for the increased emissions for the battery manufacturing, electric trucks would result in fewer emissions than gas trucks. The study found this for every scenario it tested, including one in which the grid efficiency continues on its current trajectory even though most experts believe it will get much more efficient over time.

Not only that, but the study found the USPS drastically underestimated the benefits of electric trucks. Under the “business as usual” scenario where grid efficiency continues on its current path, the USPS understated the benefits of EVs by 32 percent. If the grid gets decarbonized by 2050, then the USPS underestimated the benefits of EVs by 44 percent, because the cleaner the grid is, the lower the emissions of EVs when they charge. 

The researchers also found discrepancies within the USPS review. For example, the USPS estimated a shockingly low estimate of 323 grams of CO2 equivalent per mile driven in the new gas trucks—equivalent to a MINI Cooper convertible or a Mazda 3 sedan despite weighing about twice as much—a figure the study says “cannot be reconciled” with a stated fuel economy estimate of 8.6 miles/gallon. When the authors calculated expected CO2 emissions on their own based on the combustion intensity of gasoline, they estimated an emission rate about three times higher than the USPS’s estimate. 

As it happens, the USPS has since upped its electric truck order to 40 percent of the total order, a scenario that was apparently never considered feasible and therefore not studied by the USPS in its environmental review.

Categories: Tech News

Critical hole in Atlassian Bitbucket allows any miscreant to hijack servers

The Register - Mon, 08/29/2022 - 11:08
Grab and deploy this backend update if you offer even repo read access

A critical command-injection vulnerability in multiple API endpoints of Atlassian Bitbucket Server and Data Center could allow an unauthorized attacker to remotely execute malware, and view, change, and even delete data stored in repositories.…

Categories: Tech News

Dish and Viasat’s fight against Starlink satellite deployment fails in court

ARS Technica - Mon, 08/29/2022 - 10:57
Illustration of a stamp that prints the word

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | Bet_Noire)

Dish Network and Viasat lost their attempt to block one of the key approvals Starlink received from the Federal Communications Commission. On Friday, the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit rejected the Viasat and Dish protests in a ruling that upheld the FCC decision.

Dish and Viasat sued the FCC after the commission's April 2021 decision to let SpaceX fly 2,824 of its Starlink satellites at a lower altitude than originally planned, in the 540-570 km range instead of 1,110-1,325 km. The FCC rejected protests from satellite competitors while agreeing with SpaceX that the altitude change would improve broadband speed and latency while making it easier to minimize orbital debris.

A panel of three DC Circuit judges heard the appeal and unanimously sided with the FCC and SpaceX, which was an intervenor in the case on the FCC's behalf. "Dish argued that the proposed changes would interfere with its GSO [geostationary orbit] satellite television service," the judges wrote. "Another competitor, Viasat, Inc., jointly objected with an environmental organization calling itself The Balance Group. They argued that NEPA [the National Environmental Policy Act] required the FCC to prepare an environmental assessment before granting the modification."

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Categories: Tech News